Awwwards
    21 Dec 2018

    How to Prepare for a Zombie Apocalypse: Outbreak Origins @ Zero Latency

    Article by Bernard Chen
    Graphics Design by Ryan Rivera


     

    It has finally come to this. Our bi-annual team cohesion – fending off hordes and legions of sinister undead. Why? Because it’s not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when’ a zombie outbreak befalls us. You can’t argue with hardened experience of undead slaying prowess.

    Only much more fully immersed in this Virtual Reality game. We’re not just talking 4D; imagine a literal 360° real-time virus-infested, zombie-run world torn to ruins.

    Outbreak Origins is an incredibly bleak first-hand view of how an apocalyptic event might unfurl – with dystopian backdrops of dilapidated buildings and the decaying walking dead – horrendous lumbering husks of their former selves. The in-game perception of depth is so realistic that the player’s fear, instincts and desperation becomes very physical, instantly.

    Zero Latency Singapore describes it best:

    “One moment you’re living in your own world, the next you’re lost in ours. You know you’re just visiting, but your mind is convinced otherwise. Your heart is pounding, the adrenaline is flowing, you try to remind yourself that these worlds aren’t real… but the feelings definitely are. One moment is all it takes to be completely consumed in a world that will blow your mind forever.”

    For creating these irresistibly lifelike VR environments, Zero Latency’s free-roaming multi-player sensory technology seizes the day!

     

    Gearing Up

    As we fiddled with our equipment and mounted our headsets – complete with VR goggles, headphones and backpacks which unfortunately were not jetpacks that could catapult us out of zombie mobs – we were psyched to bust some undead guts.

    To start off, we entered an empty room lined with walls and tiles that seemed like they were glazed with black varnish. It couldn’t have been bigger than an average office unit. The general vibe of the room was solitary, futuristic and reinforced – like one of those large sci-fi containment rooms where scientists run tests on dangerous machinery and creatures.

    We were told to put the goggles over our eyes and try out the equipment. It was like in The Matrix when Neo is introduced to the artillery stockroom with Trinity. We immediately found ourselves at a shooting range with targets for firing practice. After a few shooting trials, we were guided to step on individual circles on the ground to break up into 2 teams.

    Apparently, these circles are meant to be safe rooms or checkpoint portals, following a very similar concept to L4D. How were we to roam about in an enclosed area? Zero Latency has a sensory system which alerts you if you’re moving too close to a player or wall. This really helps if everyone starts panicking and jumping into each other’s arms in a frenzied scramble!

     

    We’re Going In

    So off we teleported, guns blazing into uncharted terror, rushing headlong into a small foyer with multiple doorways. It was a decrepit labyrinth that screamed ambush. Then it happened. We spotted a mutilated corpse lurching straight at us, shambling inches from our faces with its decomposing arms outstretched.

    Taking the first shots, we lunged forward, but I realised, like any novice horror gameplayer, with staggering dismay that our guns were far, far outmatched. A swarm of undead poured in and completely caught me off guard as I struggled to reload. My first reflex was to try and perform a melee attack by using the butt of my gun, but obviously that didn’t work. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only one who tried that!

    I found myself leaping backwards to avoid getting mauled and bitten. This was all in real physical time and superbly realistic, so people were yelling left and right, and the fear sunk into this scene straight out of a nightmare. It was clear that we had to form team tactics on the spot to survive.

     

    Making the Impossible Possible

    Each time we finished a level, we’d enter our individual circles in a safe room and take a breather. When the next stage came, we moved in a manner that covered all angles and every member kept a lookout in a specific direction. Most of the time though, we were just huddled together in a chaotic mess and hiding in the crossfire. Thank god there was no friendly fire!

     

    Of course, there was that occasional huge invulnerable Tank type of zombie that just wouldn’t go down no matter how many times we blasted it. Just for the record, it takes several headshots with the shotgun to fell it. Either that or multiple sprays of bullets spammed from everyone’s assault rifles.

    One of my favourite visual aspects of the ordeal was the perception of depth the VR gear conditions your mind to believe. Ascending the ramps was particularly scary, and you just can’t help but to walk shakily and teeter upwards or downwards. It’s a weird sensation to climb and see yourself rising above around, while being totally aware that you’re on flat ground.

    At the risk of spoiling the gameplay for anyone reading, we don’t want to reveal too much. All we’ll say is nearing the end of the game, it was more or less an all-out war – with a siege of zombies mowing us down from every corner, and our combined onslaught of barrage pelting against an airborne flamethrower spewing rains of fire. And now, we have bragging rights to saying we outlived a zombie apocalypse.

    If pictures paint a thousand words, what is written here covers a tiny abstract of the terrifyingly ensnaring, thrilling experience. If you want to find out how broken an abomination the final boss is, check out Outbreak Origins by Zero Latency.