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Impressions: Ubisoft's "Escape the lost pyramid" on Vive Pro

logotomie
Level 5
I thought i share some thoughts on Ubisofts "Live VR escape room" experience https://www.ubisoftescapegames.com/escape-the-lost-pyramid/. ;
I learned about it by accident when visiting a friend who is a VR nut too. We spontaneously decided to try it out.

Background: I am into VR for a very long time, currently owning a Rift CV1, but having 1st hand experience with DK1, DK2, Go,  Hololens, Vive, StarVR and several vr setups starting in the 1990's that i do not remember the names of.

Tech:
The  Experience uses Vive Pro with regular Vive controllers. It works for for 2 or 4 players.
The installation probably varies across venues, but in our case all 4 players had a separate playing area of roughly 2x2 to 2.5x2.5m. The tracking area was separated into 2 parts, each with 4 base stations tracking 2 players. Tracking was mostly perfect during play with one minor hickup.

Cables where suspended from the ceiling on a flexible pole. The solution is ok but not perfect.  Moving in your play area felt free and unobstructed, but in some sequences it was quite easy to get your arms entangled in the cables. An assistant was there to help out in such cases.

The Vive pro is a solid upgrade on the Vive, Glare was not an issue at all for me (in general i am not very sensitive to glare but preferred CV1 glare over original Vive glare by a mile). Resolution is also a solid upgrade, white areas are pretty smooth with minor screendoor, its down to a level where i could ignore it (i am pretty sensitive for screendoor patterns) But one of the first screens was a red wireframe view and pentile showed its ugliness, Lines looked frayed and the illusion of "solidness" vanished. Also chromatic aberration was visible, but i would not dare to compare it with the CV1. The image is clearly better then CV1 but not to a point i would invest 1k in it (and i am in principle open to paying 1k for an improved headset)
Ergonomics of the Vive pro was worse then the CV1. My friend (a vive and oculus go owner) had trouble getting a good fit. It is a big and heavy headset. While i prefer CV1, ergonomics of the vive pro are no dealbreaker imho. The controllers of the vive i do not like at all but for the experience it only used one trigger.
each player has a mic and headphones, you largely do not hear your co-players directly but through the headphones which allow the game to simulate distance and echo.


The game:
We played the 4 player setup. 2 of us are VR veterans, the 2 other were newbies with little gaming experience altogether. All of us had a lot of fun. 
The game starts with a small tutorial detailing the ways of interaction in vr (including teleportation) after that you choose one of 4 characters and are transported to a large room with a mirror wall and tables with accessory to further customize the characters, here you first meet your co-players and have some time to learn the ways.
Avatars are full body  and i wish more games would  have full avatar bodies. Since only hands and  heads are tracked, the rest of the body follows through IK. It was fun to look down on your body, sway from left to right and see your feet move automatically. Altogether it felt more like playing a puppet then having an alternative body, not the least because hand orientation was pretty off and your virtual hands don't really behave naturally ( Would have been soo much better with oculus controllers)
Then you are transported into the pyramid. The game itself is pretty much standard adventure fare. You got (easy) puzzles  climbing sequences, throw things and shoot arrows. There is no violence. Experienced players will rush through it in probably 20min. we did it in about 45 min (60 min is max). The game plays a lot with heights, to  the extend that one of my friends who is afraid of heights, nearly quit (She did not and was ecstatic afterwards)
The fun of the game is really the interaction with your fellow players. When you are close you can hand over items, when you are separated, you often need to work together to progress. And it really feels like working together.
The graphics is good but not stellar. I would have wished for more oversampling as i saw some aliasing which was especially distracting when your co -players were further away and you wanted to guide them through a task.

Like i said before we all had a lot of fun. We will definitely also play "Escape from Athens" when it comes out. I would also love to play similar games over the internet.

That said there are some things that could be improved.
-When you are separated, its pretty hard to help each other out. If one player is stuck it halts the progress of the whole game. Tasks are not the same for everybody and it is not particularly clear beforehand who will be tasked with what. Somebody might have fun shooting the bow but the game might task him with mainly climbing while somebody with no aim might be tasked with crucial bow sequences.
-The game separated players quite frequently, often into partners of 2. With the others out of sight. The strongest sequences imho where the ones where all 4 of us had to work together.
-puzzles could be harder one or 2 harder puzzles with all of us in the same location , puzzling together would have been cool.
The presentation altogether could be improved. Avatar creation was fun but limited by too few choices.  

Final verdict:
Definitely recommended.


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