The VOID’s 20-minute hyper-reality experience is a non-stop thrill ride from start to finish.
Last week we had the chance to check out Marvel’s Avengers: Damage Control, a new location-based VR experience from ILMxLAB that’s heading to select VOID centers October 18th. Set after the events of Avengers: Endgame, Damage Control throws fans into an epic superhero battle, during which they’ll fight side-by-side alongside a handful of famous Avengers.
Here’s the situation: Ultron, the evil self-replicating artificial intelligence we thought destroyed in Avengers: Age of Ultron, is actually alive and has been taking advantage of the chaotic events surrounding the Infinity Stones to rebuild his robot army undetected. When the ruthless supervillain attacks a Wakandan Outreach Center, it’s up to you and three other friends to step-up and join Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in saving the world. To fend off this massive invading force, you’ll need to harness the power of Shuri’s prototype Emergency Response Suits, an advanced Iron Man-like armor built using a combination of Wakandan and Stark technology.
Unlike many other location-based experiences featured at The VOID, Avengers: Damage Control relies entirely on hand-tracking when it comes to player interaction. Whereas Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire and Ralph Breaks VR featured heavy-use of physical weaponry, Damage Control instead had us interacting with the world via hand gestures. By holding out our palms towards enemies, we were able to fire a series of powerful pulse lasers; by raising our arms in front of our bodies, we engaged a holographic shield capable of absorbing enemy fire. After blocking enough shots and storing enough energy, we could then extend both our hands forward to fire a series of auto-targeting projectiles, taking out entire groups of bad guys at once.
While the tracking felt slightly buggy during some of the more chaotic moments, firing pulse beams at bad guys and blocking incoming fire like Iron Man felt completely surreal. Unlike other, more linear location-based experiences, ILMxLAB wanted to ensure that Damage Control had players scanning the entirety of their environment in 360-degrees. Along with combat, your hands play a large factor when interacting with the physical set.
In order to progress through certain stages of the experience, we had to interact with buttons, railings, and several other physical elements. While this did increase the overall immersion of the experience, it does, however, introduce several concerns over safety. While other VOID experiences featured physical weaponry or light hand interaction, Damage Control relies entirely on rapid hand gestures. Visitors, especially younger children, could very easily end up hitting their arms and hands on the many different physical set pieces scattered around the environment. Thankfully, I think most visitors will be too busy soaking in all the incredible visuals to notice the searing pain.
Over the course of the nearly 20-minute experience, Damage Control took us across a generous helping of memorable locations within the Marvel Cinematic Universe; all of which enhanced by a variety of impressive haptic technology and immersive elements. For instance, one of the earlier levels had us at the home of Doctor Strange (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch), a multi-level townhouse located in NYC. While walking through the familiar halls of his Sanctum Santorum, we could actually grab hold of the ancient wooden banister leading us to the hero magician. As we traveled past an open window, we could feel the cold wind and wetness hit our faces as the harsh winter conditions spilled into the hallway.
In another portion of the experience, we teamed-up with Antman and Wasp (voiced by Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly) as we defended against a wave of Ultron forces at the airport featured in Captain America: Civil War. During one particularly memorable sequence, we were actually treated to scent-based immersion, similar to that featured in Ralph Breaks VR. While I won’t spoil exactly what this portion of the experience entails, I will say it makes great use of Antman’s specific abilities and is, without doubt, one of my favorite moments from the experience.
Another great portion is an action-packed chase sequence in which my team and I piloted several escape pods while blasting airborne enemies. While one teammate piloted the craft using a physical steering wheel, I leaned out the side door and took shots at a handful of bad guys; I could actually feel the wind on my face as I dangled outside the escape pod.
Avengers: Damage Control is the longest and arguably most action-packed location-based VR experience to be featured at The VOID so far. The use of hand-tracking technology in favor of physical weaponry adds a certain uniqueness to the experience, one that sets itself apart from past immersive releases. That being said, the experience could have used more interesting hand-based interactions. Apart from several brief encounters with basic buttons, Damage Control’s use of hand-tracking technology extended almost exclusively to combat. Whereas Ralph Breaks VR featured a variety of hand-based challenges, puzzles, and other elements to interact with, Damage Control is focused more on simple, extravagant set pieces and fast-paced combat.
And while there were moments of the experience that made great use of scent and temperature-based haptics, they all felt as though they were mere afterthoughts. Unlike Ghostbusters: Dimensions or Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire, the haptic elements featured in Damage Control feel like they were shoehorned in during development as opposed to incorporated organically into the experience.
“We’re always looking for new stories and corners of the universe for our characters to explore,” said Kevin Feige, President of Marvel Studios, in an official release. “Now, after more than a decade of amazing support, we are excited to give fans the same opportunity: to be a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Expanding how people can experience the MCU is something we’re always trying to do, and in Avengers: Damage Control, we wanted to give fans the chance to suit up alongside some their favorite heroes for the first time ever.”
“The opportunity to bring such a beloved universe alive through immersive storytelling has been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” added Shereif Fattouh, Senior Producer, ILMxLAB. “Avengers: Damage Control lets you feel what it’s like to shoot repulsor blasts with your own two hands, suited up in Shuri’s latest technology. This original adventure allows you to go beyond the screen, and become a character in the story itself.”
Avengers: Damage Control will be available at the following VOID locations beginning October 18th:
- Downtown Disney District in Anaheim, CA
- Santa Monica, CA
- Las Vegas, NV
- Mall of America – Minneapolis, MN
- Cinemark – Plano, TX
- World Trade Center – New York, NY
- The Battery – Atlanta, GA
- Genting Highlands – Malaysia
- The Rec Room at Round House Park – Toronto, Canada
- The Rec Room at Square One Shopping Centre – Ontario, Canada
- The Rec Room at the West Edmonton Mall – Edmonton, Canada
Tickets are available for purchase now through The VOID.
Feature Image Credit: ILMxLAB