Divr Labs

Moving on to Divr Labs, the genius of the setup is the multi-room layout of the single arena, allowing groups to start within minutes of each other (each following behind as the first group progresses ahead) and the illusion that you can freely walk around at will. There are actually six rooms you go through but it flows seamlessly.

These camera views show the connected rooms that players move through during the experience. The zany patterns you often see in LBVR attractions are usually to make it easier for VR headsets with inside-out tracking.

Set in an attractive welcoming room inside a shopping centre, it’s all blue neon and orange sofas.

You are zipped up in a bHaptics haptic suit and there are no heavy backpacks to carry. It’s very user friendly and easy to get started, even more so for my pal and technophobe Mark who struggles with controllers.

Of the two experiences we tried, The Lost Lab used a simple one-button device and the other, Meet The Dinosaurs, was played entirely through hand tracking. A third game is coming soon—the inevitable zombie shooter, Last Stand—with a ‘variety of cool and deadly guns’. For now there are no shooters in sight at Divr Labs.

You can see each other the second the headset is activated with nametags on our backs and clear voicechat. One press of a big red button and we go together into The Lost Labs, an adventure into a mining facility in underground tunnels.

It’s a fun escape room style puzzler with looting and an epic thrill ride. The full haptics came into effect early on with the suits electrical stimulation causing jumps and screams.

Meet The Dinosaurs was breathtaking in scope and features one of the best flying sequences you could hope for. Set 80 million years ago, it has an educational bent as you explore the jungle and collect data by touching everything around you.

Another participant, Harley, 11, was in VR heaven. “It’s a big level up from Quest 2. You can walk around which is much better, I really like it.”

The Lost Lab was good as you had to find different things like keys to open the door and you had a torch so you could look around.”

Divr Labs is equipped with fans and heaters that give an effective impression of wind and heat at the appropriate moments.

“With the dinosaurs you could feel the vibration when they were coming near and when you were flying in the glider over the volcano you could feel the heat of the lava,” says Harley.

His dad Mark thought it was “an incredible experience.”

“We were trying to get some DNA to recreate a missing dinosaur. With the swooping across the plains and the panoramic views, I really felt I was back in a different age. Loved it.”

“I was surprised how easy it was. There are tasks that you have to fulfil, but if you don’t reach those levels you still get the full experienced.”

“It felt like we’d travelled miles but we didn’t actually move very far. When we saw how it was done it was like pulling back the curtain on the Yellow Brick Road in The Wizard Of Oz.”


DNA VR has three venues in London. This one was under the arches in a redeveloped area around Battersea Power Station full of shops, bars and restaurants. It was London’s first VR arcade, opened in 2017, and it’s showing its age.

The VR arcade experiences are old and available for Quest 2 anyway (Eleven Assassin, Arizona Sunshine, Synth Riders). Then there are four escape rooms for up to six people, four premium ‘free roaming’ experiences and four Ubisoft-made VR escape rooms for two or four people that are wired.

We chose one of those, Beyond Medusa’s Gate. Four of us played but we were each our own small box and the virtual guardian was practically an ever-present intrusion. Apart from a controller there were no haptics to enhance the experience beyond a standard consumer VR headset, like fans or a rumbling floor.

Once in the game and after correcting feedback on our mics, we had fun customising our avatars and greeting each other virtually for the first time.

Beyond Medusa’s Gate is set in the re-creation of Ancient Greece from Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. You have to find a way out of a vast Aegean coastal cave where the legendary ship of the Argonauts is anchored. The scale is dramatic.

The puzzles require teamwork and we could call for hints over the voicechat when we got stuck, which wasn’t too often. Twelve-year-old Charlie was disappointed we didn’t manage to complete the game in our allotted hour.

“It was really cool. I’m normally very good at escape rooms, I do them all the time. It was hard this one, hard. We were in pairs and I think it would have been better if we had solved them as a four together. I like the Quest 2 but you’d need to have a lot of headsets to do anything remotely similar to this.”

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Being used to a standalone headset, the tethered wire proved problematic. “I tried to do a ballet pirouette and I got all tangled. I turned around to look at something behind me and I was asked to stop spinning.”

Charlie’s dad Fergus was impressed. “It’s the first time I’ve ever been together with others in VR and sharing it is amazing, it’s a big difference to playing solo.” Her mum Nina thought the scenery was incredible. “I thought it was more realistic than the games we do at home. It was more ‘wow’. It felt nice to share the experience.”

Continue on Page 3: Meetspace VR & Layered Reality »


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  • I tried both of the Divr Labs experiences in Prague and it was really nice. I liked it actually quite a lot more than home based VR. Hopefully in the future there will be some crazy VR theme parks or other big locations, because the stuff you can do there is much more advanced than what you can do at home in terms of graphics, haptics and other senses like heat, smell, wind etc.

  • XRC

    Great article!

    Sounds like the Jeff Wayne experience has improved?

    Went during opening when it first launched and the immersive theatre aspect was brilliant, the VR easily the weakest link with numerous technical issues including a tendency to make the boat passengers very sick by being sat in stationary boats whilst the sea went up and down in VR. They also didn’t have the balloon ride the author mentioned at the end.

    Visited the previous experience by the same team (Somnium power of sleep) very good immersive theatre but weak VR with numerous technical issues, especially tracking and colocation.

    Was a big fan of lbvr prior to the pandemic, haven’t been to many since as what survived became very expensive, and the several I did visit were disappointing (old equipment, limited experiences).

    “The army of the dead ” movie tie-in put players in taco trucks with Index headset and striker guns. Numerous broken headsets, on rail experience with buggy graphics, weak haptics on guns, overall very underwhelming and not inexpensive.

    Easily the standout was void “Star wars: secrets of the empire” absolutely stunning but not surprised at their financial demise as it was very expensive to set-up and operate according to a staffer I spoke with.

    And that comes down to the main issue, how much repeat business? Sandbox in London isn’t inexpensive, whilst time in VR seems limited, as with many lbvr there’s alot of time spent in briefing, onboarding, exit debrief, photos (to buy), etc.

    • I was going to tag you in the post to hear your impression, but I see you were faster than me :)

  • Daca123

    Quality content, thanks! I imagine spaces like this will evolve to provide consistently superior experiences to home based vr. The problem will be price, as the review shows, the technology evolves so fast that the spaces quickly become dated

    • Arno van Wingerde

      Yeah, this is a bit like the race betwen Cinema and TV…