REVIEW: Battle for Eire at Busch Gardens Williamsburg is a fun and unique VR attraction
Earlier this week, we had Russell Holly, who is a writer for VR Heads, one of the leading sources for VR news, information, and tips, head over to Busch Gardens Williamsburg and take their new Battle for Eire action VR attraction for a spin.
Here are his thoughts on Battle for Eire:
Busch Gardens Williamsburg is offering up a VR ride unlike any other I have experienced so far, both in sheer immersion and a super simple onboarding process for park attendees. It’s called Battle for Eire, and if you’re in the area you should make some time to check it out.
As the name might hint at, this ride occupies prime real estate in the Ireland section of Busch Gardens, occupying a space that used to be Corkscrew Hill and Europe in the Air before that. Like those rides, this is a motion-based simulator. Also like those rides, you’re going to spend a lot of time feeling like you are flying during this ride. In order to fly, a shiny green fairy named Addie needs to give you some magic. Before that happens, you need to put on the Emerald Mask.
When you line up for this ride, you’ll see racks of masks labeled Magical Equipment. This is the Emerald Mask, and it’s ½ of the hardware you will need to ride this ride. While you are waiting your turn, you fit the mask to your face and tighten down a special gear in the back to secure it to your face. Unlike some other VR headsets, this design keeps the pressure away from your eyes and nose. Instead, it’s balancing the weight on the back of your head. As VR headsets go, this is pretty comfortable.
When you take your seats in the theater, you’ll be able to grab the Magic Lens and connect it to your Emerald Mask. This attaches the VR headset to you head with a simple magnet. As soon as you hear the snap, the headset lights up and you are good to go. As you look all around you, the VR headset does its thing and gives you a whole new world to look at. When the ride starts, you get a whole lot more than just a projector screen in front of you.
Battle for Eire takes you flying through portals and on the back of a dragon and all over the place, but the whole ride is happening all around you. It’s possible to turn around in your seat when riding the dragon and actually see its tail moving behind you. In fact, there are some fun easter eggs if you take the time to really look around at the world instead of just what is happening in front of you.
As you fly, the wind machines in the theater complete the sense of immersion by making you feel like you are flying through the air. There are no headphones, which means the excellent speakers in the theater do a great job making everything sound like it is happening all around you. But you are more than just a spectator. At times, you will need to participate in the story as Addie gives you instructions. As long as you do your part, the ride ends happily and you are ushered off to an area where you can deposit your Emerald Mask to be cleaned.
It’s clear the folks at Busch Gardens wanted something unique here, and I think they succeeded. This ride design solves a lot of the slower VR headset experiences found in other parks, and the hardware used in the ride itself is built to be quickly upgraded when headsets with higher resolution or better features come along. The ride is also a lot of fun, and doesn’t leave you with a case of “VR Face” as you come off the ride.
For those not wanting the VR experience, a standard version of the video will be available to view for those interested in a more traditional experience.
Battle for Eire opens to the public on April 1, 2018.