We had the absolute incredible opportunity this Christmas to go and visitThe Void in Westfield London to try out their immersive, hyper-reality Star Wars experience. I have to say this has been one of the best experiences of my life. I am someone that has always wanted to try out virtual reality of any sort and to have a complete full body experience and have it all set in the Star Wars universe….it was just amazing. I would recommend this to any Star Wars fans but even to gamers and thrill seekers that aren’t necessarily the biggest SW fans. Minor spoilers ahead for people who want to try this out – but I warn about those later on as well.
The basic outline of the game is that as a team of 3 or 4 of you have to infiltrate a base controlled by the Empire on Mustafar. When I found out we would be going to Mustafar of all places I couldn’t contain my excitement. Revenge of the Sith for me is one of my favourite SW movies and so to go to one of the places depicted in that was a dream come true (also Mustafar in itself I think can all agree is just a really awesome place).
The experience starts out with a message from Cassian Andor telling us to retrieve a crate from the base and find out what is hidden inside of it. We are told to gear up in Stormtrooper outfits and infiltrate the base. Next thing you know you are being geared up by one of the amazing crewmembers. It’s not only headgear of course but also an upper body armour that is strapped onto you and adds some weight onto your shoulders. The headset consists of headphones that cover your ears (slightly muting the outside world, which caused for some comical moments) that also allow you to hear the other members of your team through the earpieces. There are volume buttons allowing every single player to adjust their volume to a level that is clear to them. Then of course the goggles cover your eye and the whole headset is adjusted to perfectly fit the shape of your head. Two members of my team wore glasses and were also able to fully enjoy this experience which we had been slightly concerned about beforehand but it was absolutely no problem.
Once the goggles have been put on you are given time to adjust to what you are now seeing. I couldn’t contain my laughter as I looked to my left where previously my sister stood and now saw a Stormtrooper next to me. I looked at my hands which now also of course looked different. It took a minute or so to get used to the virtual reality and some minor readjustment to make sure my volume was exactly right etc. I have to say that it really was done very well, when I reached out to touch my sisters’ shoulder that really was what happened and I didn’t accidentally hit her in her face. This might sound very obvious but it just shows how well these goggles work that all the dimensions are right.
Once adjusted to our settings the experience began…
We were joined by K2SO who flew us to Mustafar and again briefed us on our mission. Once we landed in Mustafar we stepped out of the ship and boy it was hot. We could all feel the heat of the volcanoes and lava around us and smell the ash and smoke in the air. We retrieved our blasters and were soon met by Stormtroopers realising we were in fact rebels and so the shooting began. I have to say that the blasters were so accurate! I could see where each laser blast went which allowed me to adjust my aim and really hit our opponents. I was able to see where I hit them and they would only fall to the floor if I had properly hit them, they wouldn’t just disappear at some point. Because of this insane accuracy I felt like I was playing battlefront again but now I was in the actual game! I could feel the heat, I could feel the occasional lava falling on top of me and I could feel it if I got shot somewhere. This of course is why they give you a full body armour to ensure all of those sensations are heightened and work and it truly worked so well. (of course none of it hurt or anything like that)
We continued into the next few rooms where we had some challenged presented to us and then got to the final stage. Now if you are planning to do this yourself and don’t want to be spoiled too much I would advise to skip the next paragraph just to keep that element of surprise. Right, now that I have cleared that up the final room was one of the most intense moments and experiences I have ever had. We were faced with Darth Vader…that’s right, Darth Vader stood right in front of me and god it was daunting. We had tried to shoot him but all of our blasts were deflected and at one point our blasters even stopped working! He slowly made his way towards us and god I was absolutely terrified!! I wasn’t thinking oh how cool is this game that it looks like I am in the same room as Darth Vader, no I was thinking holy cow I need to get out of here with my team of rebels because Darth Vader is about to cut some of us in half and force choke the rest! This again just shows how immersive this entire experience is, you completely forget who you are and are absorbed in this game completely. Of course we made it out which brought us to the end of the mission.
The duration of the entire gaming experience I believe is only about 15 minutes or so. Of course the gearing up beforehand and the taking of pictures afterwards creates an experience of roughly 30 minutes in total. I have to say that every single second was absolutely worth it! The staff were so incredibly nice and it was clear were all star wars fans that enjoyed creating this entire environment of pumping you up before your mission. We had an absolutely amazing time and it was one of the best Christmas gifts I could have ever asked for! I would highly recommend anyone to try this whether it’s with friends, family or even on your own with strangers. Everyone can have an amazing time with this, Star Wars fan or not.