While virtual reality still has quite a ways to go until it's considered mainstream, that doesn't stop businesses from building an entire, fully immersive experience with it. The Void is one of those places, and it has opened up 16 locations since it debuted in 2016. One of those storefronts is right here in Downtown Disney, and I got the opportunity to give the new Avengers: Damage Control VR a try.
I mean, who wouldn't want to fight alongside with the Avengers, Earth's Mightiest Heroes?
Book early to get a spot
Despite the Downtown Disney location opening up recently, I have actually never been to The Void before, even though I live minutes away. It has been something that's on my bucket list of things to do in the area though, so I'm actually a bit sad that I missed out on the Star Wars VR that they did when it first opened.
While you could technically walk in and book a spot, The Void is incredibly popular and does sell out of reservations often. Today they were completely full, but I still managed to get in last minute due to business reasons.
If you plan on checking out The Void, you should book a reservation on their website. This guarantees you a spot on the day you pick. The cost of the VR experience is $40 a person for Avengers, but the price actually depends on the current installment (Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire was $35).
You're an Avenger now
As you walk in with your group, you'll first enter a room with a large wall of screens. Shuri (played by the actual actress, Letitia Wright) has a message for you from Wakanda. This message plays just like a scene from Black Panther or The Avengers films, except they're talking and interacting with you. There is the Marvel Studios humor that we all love in this video, and it makes you feel like you are really in the Marvel Cinematic Universe — it did its job, and we haven't even suited up!
Keep your gear safe and secure
Next, you'll enter a room with lockers and the wireless weighted backpacks and headsets that you'll be using. You'll need to stash all of your personal belongings into these lockers, including any watches (yes, Apple Watches included), since they track hand movement and anything on your wrist may mess up the tracking.
Then you get strapped in to the wireless backpacks that are responsible for tracking all of your movement as you walk from room to room. They're worn like vests and are surprisingly hefty and weighted, so be prepared for that. The headsets are extra-sensory Oculus headsets that are a bit different from home VR headsets, but they're pretty comfortable once you get them on. As someone who needs glasses, it wasn't too bad wearing the headset, though it was a bit heavy, but you could easily lift the visor up if you need to.
Suit up and help the Avengers!
Once you're all suited up in your ERS "Emergency Response Suit", which is a hybrid of Iron Man and Black Panther's suits, you'll be taken to a room for some target practice.
Basically, your Super Suit lets you shoot a laser beam from your open hand (hold it steady to aim and fire), or you can hold both hands out for a stronger charged shot. You can also hold up your arm with your palm facing you to use an energy shield and absorb attacks. Then you can take that absorbed energy and fire it right back at enemies by doing the charged shot motion right after defending yourself.
I don't want to get too spoiler-y here, but you'll see some familiar faces from the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, including Dr. Strange, Ant-Man and the Wasp, and some more fan favorites. The enemy, though, is not someone new, and is one that you'll recognize instantly if you've watched the movies.
The voices for Dr. Strange, Ant-Man, and the Wasp are also voiced by their respective actors: Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Rudd, and Evangeline Lilly.
You'll go through several rooms that are taken from the movies, including Dr. Strange's Sanctum Santorum and the Avengers Helicarrier, where the epic boss battle takes place.
After you defeat the big bad, that's basically the end of the experience. Everyone will be given a score (all four of us got an A), and you're graded based on the following factors: Number of Kills, Accuracy, Friendly Fire, and Energy Absorbed. I'm not sure how each of these plays into the grade though, because I had the highest number in Friendly Fire, but still got an A, go figure.
The most immersive VR experience yet
So far, The Void has done Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire, Wreck-It Ralph: Ralph Breaks VR, Ghostbusters: Dimension, Nicodemus: Demon of Evanishment, and now Avengers: Damage Control. From what I'm hearing, Avengers: Damage Control is the longest (about 45 minutes total) and most immersive one yet.
This has been my first time at The Void, and I am very impressed with the entire experience. The employees are all friendly and helpful when it comes to getting all of the gear on and off when you're done. I was a bit surprised with how heavy the wireless backpack vest was, and the Oculus headset was the real deal (I only have PSVR at home, which is like nothing compared to this).
Walking with the backpack felt a little weird at first, but you quickly get used to it. I was constantly holding my hands out in front of me and looking at them, because I was a bit mesmerized by the fact, and the ERS suits looked cool as heck. From how I understand it, tracking each person in Avengers: Damage Control is integral, because of the fact that you shoot from your hands.
I felt that sometimes my suit wasn't firing off lasers as it should be, even though I had both my hands held out, or was just holding one up and trying to aim. So at times it felt like the tracking wasn't completely accurate, but it didn't deter me from the rest of the experience.
As I looked around my surroundings in-between battle scenes, I tried to touch everything I could. And since this is a sensory experience, you could feel the heat when explosions were nearby, and icy cold wind as you stuck your hand out the door of the aircraft while it flew.
The voice acting done by Cumberbatch, Rudd, and Lilly were a nice touch that I wasn't expecting. The other voices, though, seem to be close imitations.
When the VR part is over and you've retrieved your belongings, you have the opportunity to do a photo as proof of your experience (it's kind of hard to film with a huge VR headset on). There is also merchandise available to purchase at the front.
Being a first-timer at The Void, I walked away very impressed. I think this experience is worth the cost and something that everyone should do at least once.
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