There’s big news for gaming fans – a virtual reality park has arrived. VR Park, run by master developer Emaar, dares us to “challenge reality”, and while on the face of things you’d be forgiven for taking a marketing strapline with a pinch of salt, we can’t really think of many more succinct ways of hitting the metaphorical nail on the head. We’ll talk you through it.
1 Challenge Reality
Among the 18 separate attractions (within which there can be multiple games) found inside the VR Park, you’ll be taken to distant planets, the distant future and the not-so-distant world of a fully virtualised Dubai, in a series of games that have been specially designed with some of the world’s top VR production houses. It’s actually slightly disorientating coming back to reality when your game ends.
2 Bring your mates
This isn’t a challenge to take on by yourself. Round-up three of your besties and take on some of the excellent co-op games available at the park. Firstly, there’s the specially created game based on The Walking Dead series that sees you in a wheelchair, having to shoot your way out of the show’s famous hospital and make a dash for relative safety.
Next up, there’s The Raft – which is excellent fun. Four of you all go into a 25 sq m room, gear up and enter a world where your titular raft is floating along a Deep-South river, where you’re attacked by mysterious beings from another dimension – what bad luck. Teamwork is essential, just try not to bump into each other too much. Finally, and perhaps the most fun, is The Heist. In the real world, you enter a magnificently designed bank, each enter your very own vault, plug in and meet each other again in a small-town US bank – in the midst of a bank robbery. Stave off the overly aggressive efforts of the local law enforcement and SWAT teams, and bundle as many bags of cash as you can into the back of your van. It’s the most realistic, by far, and it’s brilliant.
3 Try out the roller coasters
Adding to the not-at-all harrowing vibe within The Walking Dead VR room are the blood-curdling screams of other VR players coming from the Burj Drop and Dubai Drone rides. Actual, full-size roller coasters sitting proudly within this 7,000 sq m arcade. The Burj Drop dominates the centre of the VR Park, just to make sure everyone hears the yells. With a fairly self-explanatory name, the Burj Drop transports you to the edge of the Burj Khalifa (with a magnificent reproduction of Downtown Dubai to boot), in a bucket lift that’s on the fritz. In the physical world you’re lifted up slowly, then dropped down the edge of the world’s tallest tower in the virtual environment. It’s terrifying, ish, but also a lot of fun. There’s also the Dubai Drone – which places you in a malfunctioning self-flying taxi, and is a whirlwind, frantic tour of the city.
4 Bring the little ones
Because it’s not all about white-knuckle action and shoot ’em up adventures. VR Park is also designed to slowly and safely introduce kids to virtual reality, with experiences like Geminose, a soft-play carousel area that gently rotates while the little sprogs get transported through a fantasy world of flying unicorns, pink bunnies and lots of lovely, heart-warming vibes.
5 Save Dubai…
Dubai has become virtualised in a series of games that have been specially created, including the aforementioned roller coasters, but also in APE. Here you’ll play the role of a giant, cybernetic ape, escaping captivity from your creator and making a dash to freedom atop the skyscrapers of future Dubai, dodging incoming fire and taking down swathes of drones set on destruction. Ignore the fact that Dubai Marina and Downtown Dubai are somehow in the same place. You can also go dune bashing, and even skydive over Dubai in various other games inspired by the city.
6 …And save plenty of time
This isn’t a place to rush through. There’s more of a chance of you physically tiring out before you get bored, and that’s because, with the aforementioned 18 different attractions, each lasting between five and ten minutes, you could spend the best part of a day here. We completely lost track of time and found ourselves having gamed away three hours out of nowhere.
7 And come back again
Okay, so you might not want to blitz through the whole place in a day – that’s one serious VR mission and we’d leave questioning our own reality if we did. But you will want to come back, because on our visit we were told by the GM of Emaar Entertainment that VR Park is “just the beginning”. What does that mean? Well, he wouldn’t be drawn on specifics (we tried), but he did say that the technology is totally adaptable, so new games, new experiences and new attractions will come and go on a seasonable basis. So don’t miss The Walking Dead in town, which may (or may not) turn into a series of stories made for VR. The collective nerdfest that’s taken the Time Out Dubai office by storm looks set to continue for some time.
Free entry, games start from Dhs15. Open Sun-Wed 10am-11pm, Thu-Sat 10am-1am. The Dubai Mall, Downtown Dubai, www.vrparkdubai.com.
The number of rollercoasters you can jump aboard – Dubai Drone and Burj Drop.
The ideal group size for many ofthe games – the most fun kind of teamwork.
The number of attractions you can explore at the VR Park, so make the most of a full day here.
The square footage of this two-level arcade-meets-funfair at The Dubai Mall.