In the 90s virtual reality was a huge deal and tipped to be the next big thing. Dominik Diamond on Games Master would boast about how the future was here. There were a handful of arcades around the UK that boasted the next-gen kit. You could stand in a metre-diameter circle with an enormous mask on, and float through a world where you could look in 360°. The problem was, it is looked like absolute garbage. Your landscape and characters were built from giant garish Duplo, like a feverish nightmare scene from Lego Movie 2. Suffice to say, the horrendous cost and novelty value of the games meant it didn’t last beyond a fad.
In the past few years, Virtual Reality (now given the much cooler name ‘VR’) has become more mainstream, affordable, and compatible with modern consoles and home computers. One set of kit is Sony’s PS VR which I tried out. Out of the box, you get a small camera that nestles near your telly, a Tron-esque headset, and an additional box that goes between your PlayStation 4 and the headset that does the technical donkey work. A few minutes setup and you’re ready to go.
There’s a handful of titles available to download for free from the PS Store, and some others ready to buy for a small fee. One free app worth trying out is NextVR. NextVR is a TV and event service that plays sporting and music events in virtual reality. There are ballets, basketball matches, UFC events, and most interestingly some recent WWE events.
I watched NXT Takeover 2018. You don’t get the full show, there’s a selection of matches presented in supercut format focusing on the high spots and storylines. This Match of the Day style presentation works really well, a bit like those shady recaps of Raw that pop up Tuesday mornings on YouTube.
Concentrating on the War Games match itself, it’s an excellent showcase for the VR system. There are about 5 cameras positioned around the ring and entrance ramp, and it cuts between them at various highlights. At each station, you can look around a 150°ish angle taking in the crowd, the arena and of course the wrestlers themselves. With War Games being a two-ring affair, you have plenty of places to look. Want to watch Adams Cole hiding out by the ropes? Go for it. Hanson dealing out right hands? Treat yourself. Dunne stretching Fish? Fill your boots.
There was a particularly good slingshot tope from Ricochet across the ring boundaries. During this, the camera is mounted at the join between two rings. You can swing your head from one side to the other to track his full move. A bit like watching tennis.
If you didn’t see this match the first time around, do watch the ‘proper’ version first. The 47 minutes War Games match is only 10 minutes on VR so you don’t get the full story. It’s brave of a performance like wrestling where misdirection is a lot of the show to allow you some freedom to look where you want. Of course the match is heavily edited but it’s a really fun way to enjoy a PPV again. Well worth checking out if you can get your hands on the kit.