Far Cry VR offers a compelling location-based multiplayer VR experience for the experienced and new to VR alike. Read on for our full hands-on.
Announced in 2020 and rolled out to Zero Latency locations last year, I only recently got the chance to try out Far Cry VR: Dive Into Insanity, a 30-minute location-based multiplayer experience developed by nDreams in partnership with Ubisoft and Zero Latency.
Compared to other location-based VR I’ve tried, the attention to detail brought to Far Cry VR from nDreams was very welcome. The entire experience is also bolstered by the setup improvements found in Zero Latency’s new wireless multiplayer headset system.
As I wrote last month, Docklands in Melbourne is the first Zero Latency location worldwide to implement its new wireless system, using Wi-Fi 6E technology paired with Vive Focus 3 headsets. Gone are the days of long user setup times and heavy PC backpacks — all you need with this new system is the gun peripheral and the standalone headset, with all the content streamed wirelessly to each player from on-location PCs. Overall, the system delivers impressive performance with surprisingly minimal latency. It supports up to 8 players at once — the maximum for Far Cry VR — and I was able to try it out alongside seven of my friends as one big group. There was a mix of VR experience in our group — some were fairly well acquainted, while others were trying VR for the very first time. Everyone came away impressed and entertained.
While the new wireless system streamlines the entire onboarding process, it’s the prowess of nDreams as a VR studio that shines through in Far Cry VR. It’s a solid experience that takes advantage of VR in interesting ways. The game’s premise is simple — your group find themselves held hostage on an island and you’ll have to shoot down a ridiculous number of island pirates in order to escape. Knowledge of the Far Cry franchise is certainly not needed, but fans should be satisfied with the frequent appearances of Vaas, the iconic villain from Far Cry 3.
It’s a cooperative experience, so no one in the group will be directly competing against each other during the game. That being said, there is an ongoing leaderboard that you can check between encounters and after you finish and take the headset off. For those like me with competitive spirit, my best tip is to focus on getting headshots if you want to take the top position.
The group of eight will be split up into two smaller groups of four for most of the experience, but you’ll often still be able to see the others as you navigate through the environments. There’s also some entertaining combat encounters that will see you come together as a full group of eight again, fighting off bigger waves of enemies.
The majority of Far Cry VR is combat-focused, but there’s a good amount of variety in the environments and some interesting areas to explore as you progress through the linear narrative.
Things start simple — generic island environments with simple gun gameplay to get everyone warmed up — before moving onto to slightly more interesting areas and more complex encounters. One section will play out on a moving cable car, while another will give you a break from combat to explore a cave ridden with psychedelic gas-expelling fungi, leading to some fun hallucination effects.
There’s a trippy and engaging full-group combat sequence in said hallucinogenic cave, with enemies will popping up from all angles — the ground, sideways on walls, even upside down above you. It’s a a well thought out sequence — not only does it work within the story, but it also shows players how VR gameplay can let you experience sequences and interactions that simply aren’t possible in the real world. You’re not just playing a virtual version of laser tag here — it’s doing things that only work in VR to great effect.
This is clearly the advantage in bringing in an experienced studio like nDreams to handle development. While Zero Latency’s other developed-in-house experiences are still entertaining, they don’t feel quite as mature or considered as Far Cry VR does in terms of VR design.
The grand combat finale is a mixture of everything you’ve seen so far — hallucinations, pirates, Vaas and some new enemies thrown into the mix as well — which you’ll fight through as one big group of eight.
As can happen with many location-based VR experiences, though, it felt over too soon. Considering the experience is the kind that could attract those who are completely new to VR, Far Cry VR is a well-designed taster. There’s still lots to enjoy for experienced VR players too, but those who are newcomers should get an understanding of not just what works best in VR, but why it works so well.
Fans of Far Cry will certainly enjoy the experience too, but it’s not a mind-blowing franchise tie-in. It doesn’t have to be either — using existing franchises like Far Cry is a great way to give a substantial backdrop to relatively simple action gameplay, without needing too much narrative context or explanation.
If you’re looking to try a substantial location-based experience with a group of friends Far Cry VR comes recommended — especially if you’re able to play it on Zero Latency’s newest wireless system which significantly improves the setup and comfort of the entire process from start to finish.
When I visited last month Zero Latency told me that the Docklands location was the only venue with the new wireless system. However, there are imminent plans to expand the system as soon as possible in other venues worldwide, so keep an eye out.