Days out in London – Sandbox VR
Days out in London – Sandbox VR
The perfect rainy day holiday activity
I love a bit of VR and we have the PlayStation VR set-up at home but nothing quite prepared me for this whole kit-and-kaboodle experience at Sandbox VR. It’s already got quite the cool rep – my kids’ eyes lit up when they heard we were going – and offers a range of immersive worlds to play in along with full body sensors. It’s got celeb backers including Will Smith, Justin Timberlake and Katy Perry and London is its first UK location with another recently opening in Birmingham, which will be its largest to date.
Set between Holborn and Covent Garden, the London outpost features a stark white reception area with a striking robotic bar at its centre. We checked in and deliberated on which game to play and our team name.
We picked Seekers of the Shard – it’s the newest game on offer, for one, but also we did wonder whether we were quite ready for the zombies in games such as Deadwood Mansion. Younger kids are catered for with the likes of Curse of Davy Jones.
You strap into your ankle and wrist sensors, a vest and VR helmet and are then ushered into your gaming area or ‘holodeck’ (it is for your group only, which accommodates from two to six players – if you have more than six you can book two areas and they will try to start you both at the same time). The walls of the game are marked out by the red lines on the floor. Sandbox VR is different in that you can actually move around your world. If you usually suffer motion sickness with VR this could be worth a go as you are able to freely move around – motion sickness is caused by a difference between your actual and perceived motion. Because its motion capture technology tracks you in real-time, your real movements translate to your perceived movements.
You are given your weapons and then get to admire your avatars on the screen – quite strange to see your family as bearded knights and I got quite attached to my new look of warrior woman with a crossbow. The sensors pick up on vibration and motion and together with what’s going on inside your VR helmet it is designed to make you feel as if you’re in a film.
Seekers of the Shard has multiple storylines, so you can explore new adventures if you play again. There are incredibly designed ruined fortresses, haunted tombs and a dragon’s tower and you get to battle skeletons, goblins, and a dragon. Depending on your weapon, you can fight in hand to hand combat or attack from a distance. It’s really, really impressive. We had around 30 minutes or so of gaming time and could have happily signed up to another, but that’s when your day out can get really expensive!
While I despair at how much screentime my kids have, this experience is different. It actually felt like we were doing something together as a family. You have to work as a team – when someone loses life they need to be brought back with another member of your group touching your shoulder – and you are battling the enemies together.
It’s also huge fun to sit together in the bar area afterwards to watch a replay of your game and enjoy a cocktail or mocktail mixed by the robot bartender. ‘Toni’ measures, shakes and stirs up your drinks, and they’re good too. It’s clever touches like these that really make it – you even get to film a victory dance at the end of the game and are emailed the screen footage of your gameplay experience.
If you’re struggling to entertain a range of ages over the rainy holidays, then Sandbox VR could be your saviour.
sandboxvr.com/london prices range from £35 to £55 per person depending on how many people are in your group and when you play. Players need to be 1.2m or taller.
More ideas for the summer holidays