An immersive ‘Westworld’ VR experience

Last week, Sky Cable and HBO treated Manila Standard to a Virtual Reality experience designed and developed for the fans of the hit sci-fi cable series, Westworld. 

Along with a few avid Westworld fans from Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand, we flew to Kuala Lumpur to have a fully-immersive and interactive experience that took us into the futuristic world of humanoids.

The 360 video and real-time CG virtual reality tour that adds another dimension to the original series was open to the public in KL until April 29 and will then move to Singapore on May 8. 

A visitor trying out a rodeo bull that replicates the experience of riding a bucking animal. Sunway Pyramid Facebook.
The experience was rather brief, something between 10 and 15 minutes (or depending on how obedient you are to your virtual guide, who at the onset of the tour will tell you that there are no rules involved in this whole experience). But it was an enticing and effective introduction to the Emmy award-winning series, especially to those who have yet to see an episode of the American drama that boasts an ensemble cast including Evan Rachel Wood, James Marsden, Thandie Newton, Ben Barnes, and Ed Harris.

A few hours after we were billeted to Sunway Resort Hotel and Spa, HBO guys led us to Westworld VR booth located at the Blue Atrium of the posh Sunway Pyramid Mall, which is conveniently linked to the hotel we were staying at. The booth was set up for visitors who were willing to ride a mechanical bull, play a ring toss game, take video selfies in Wild West themed installations and experience the VR tour, of course.

The Malaysian hosts of 'Westworld' VR experience tour, which HBO unveiled in Asia for the first time.
The computer-generated expedition, which transports you into a world that is familiar from the show, begins with an introduction by a female host who also acts as your guide inside the booth. Just like the scene in the TV series where guests are being briefed about Westworld at the Delos office, the host is dressed in white.

Once inside, the VR operator will help you to don the VR goggles and headphones and give a few instructions on how to navigate the VR realm. 

Once in the VR universe, you will immediately meet the intimidating virtual host who will ask you to select either a black or white hat and pick your weapon of choice before being transported into the Wild West. In reality, everything is controlled by a joystick with a trigger.

Thereafter, you will now embark on different virtual activities within Westworld such as practicing at a shooting range or getting involved in a shootout with Sheriff Pickett until you get deeply involved in the virtual story. 

The author inside the 'Westworld' VR booth in Sunway Pyramid Mall in Kuala Lumpur.
Westworld, which debuted in 2016, tackles the rise of artificial consciousness and set in a wild west-themed amusement park populated by humanoid robots with artificial intelligence. In its second season, which premiered in the Philippines on April 23, the show delves deeper into the uprising of the robots that have now become sentient entities. After the chaos toward the end of Season 1, the fate of the entire Westworld was left uncertain.

It picks up from the commotion of the ending of the first season when runners of the amusement park were killed and the robots now have free reign over the park. 

A new episode airs every Monday, at 9:00 a.m. on HBO with a same-day primetime encore at 10:00 p.m..

Topics: Sky Cable , HBO , Westworld , Kuala Lumpur , SIngapore , Evan Rachel Wood , James Marsden , Thandie Newton , Ben Barnes , Ed Harris
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