Melbourne Arcade Experiments with a New FPS Experience – VR Arena Hands-On

You know when VR first began its rise, and you wondered how long it would take until we were running on the spot like hamsters shooting at each other? Turns out, it’s here! On Sunday, Trav and I were lucky enough to secure a time to play The VR Arena, by Thunderhead Interactive.

The VR Arena operates with the HTC Vive, but more importantly, it’s a game designed to make use of the Omni Treadmill: A Platform that tracks complete 360-degree movement. This includes jumping, although, for the purpose of the demo and current development, it had been disabled to avoid more… Uneasy feelings.

The treadmill consists of a harness, a slippery platform for running, and some very fashionable shoes. After a brief explanation of how to play the game, I went through some calibration and was transported into the Arena.


The VR Arena is a 6v6 First-Person-Shooter, where players duke it out in a stripped-down virtual space, with laser swords (yes, fucking laser swords), guns and shields. In the full experience, players will be able to pick up a range of different weapons, and engage in a few traditional FPS modes. However, currently there are only two Omni treadmills in Australia, so the 6v6 component of the Arena couldn’t be tested at PAX. Though, I did get to run around and shoot at the developers who were playing on mouse and keyboard beside me.

Despite taking a little while to get a feel for it (maintaining the correct posture is not easy), the movement felt weird but instinctual, and it didn’t take long for me to completely lose myself in the VR. The tracking with the Vive controllers wasn’t perfect, but the game has only been in development for two weeks, and the experience was like nothing else.

The two-man development team of Thunderhead Interactive is partnering with Matt Gange, who runs the VR Insanity VIDEO GAME PARTY Arcade in Melbourne. In a month the VR Arena will be ready for full 6v6 FPS gameplay. Thunderhead Interactive is also developing Hull Breach, a new first-person-shooter currently on Steam Greenlight.