TOKYO – For game developers, creating an immersive environment that allows players to feel like they’ve been transported into the game is vital. Dragon Quest VR, a new collaboration between Square Enix, Bandai Namco Amusement and Vicon takes that concept to an entirely new level.
Dragon Quest VR opened to the public on Thursday, April 27th at the VR Zone, located in Tokyo’s Shinjuku ward. Players can take on the role of a warrior, priest or mage, with each class of character capable of attacks using handheld controllers. Wearing a customized HTC Vive VR headset connected to a backpack that grants them wireless mobility, teams of up to four can step into an empty 240-square-meter room where 40 Vicon V5 motion tracking cameras record their movements using location based VR. Players can then physically interact with the environment as they explore the monster-filled world of Dragon Quest.
“After the VR Zone facility launched last year, we’ve been looking at ways to take advantage of the open space, and this space really goes well with the concept of the role-playing game,” said Yukiharu Tamiya of Bandai Namco Amusement Inc., who oversees the facility. “The Dragon Quest games are about adventure, so going into a VR world and being able to walk around can give the players the sense of traveling through an unexplored land.”
While groups of up to four can compete together on a team, the room itself can hold up to three groups at a time. The Vicon cameras can track up to 150 different objects at 180fps, helping to ensure low latency and nearly instantaneous movement recreation in the virtual world.
“To see groups of people yelling, shouting and fighting virtual foes while being lost in the experience was amazing,” said Vicon’s Asia Pacific sales manager, Alex Muir. “We were there at the beginning of this with Bandai Namco as a technical partner, and to see the realization of being immersed in the game - not the technology - was mind blowing.”
Players fight familiar monsters from the series, including the jelly-like Slime and the bat-shaped Dracky, all leading to a final confrontation with the end boss, Zoma. Participants playing as the warrior will lead the charge with a sword or rod and a shield to defend the team, while the mage and priest concentrate on casting offensive and healing spells. Teams must work together and move as a group through a world unlike any other. Since pre-sales began, Dragon Quest VR has proven to be a hit. Tickets for Dragon Quest VR cost around $29 per session.
Following its debut in 1986, the Dragon Quest series has been shipped and downloaded more than 76 million copies, gaining an international following in the process. The franchise has spawned spinoff games, novels, manga, anime and more, and is often cited as the first true Japanese console RPG and one of the most influential game series of all time.