If you or your kid have ever wanted to be an Avenger, you’ve probably gone through all the possibilities. Take your kid to Disney World or Disneyland in a costume to meet their favorite heroes, or just let them dress up at home. Get a game or three, or buy them some toys. But nothing compares to Avengers: Damage Control: a new Avengers virtual reality experience, located at The Void and licensed by Marvel.
With locations around North America, including Disney World, Disneyland and Mall of America, The Void’s immersive experience requires you to be on-site and in-person — and for good reason. Everyone is equipped with a virtual reality backpack and helmet, which are wired up with custom-ordered technology far better than consumer grade. Then players are ushered into a room, and the in-game world becomes mapped to the out-of-world set.
Avengers: Damage Control is latest official collaboration Disney and The Void (a VR attraction company that previously worked on Star Wars and Ghostbusters). In Damage Control, you arrive at a Wakanda International Outreach Center, where Wakandan scientists have set up to share the latest technology and information from the once-hidden nation. This time, you’re asked to test a new super-suit. However, with the Avengers, there’s never a dull day. You’re near-immediately asked to use the suits to assist with a potential threat to Wakanda’s high-tech research database.
In short, you get to blast things as an impromptu Avenger in virtual reality for a solid 15 minutes. And while the cost is high — just over $40 per person, per visit — any expectations you have will definitely be shattered.
Setting Ridiculous Standards For VR
The Void offers a number of games, which it calls “experiences.” I’ve done two of them in the past: Star Wars: Secrets of The Empire, an official Star Wars collaboration, and the horror game Nicodemus: Demon of Evanishment. (In other locations, there are also Ralph Breaks The Internet and Ghostbusters: Dimension.) Each time, I’ve been blown away by the tricks and technology used. I’ve felt everything from bravery to immense vertigo wandering the sets.
To sum up The Void experience, generally: after taking my roommate to Nicodemus (and screaming ceaselessly), he looked at me and said “This was unfair as a first VR experience. My standards are going to be ridiculous now.” In an era with increasingly more VR booths and “arcades” in malls, that just about sums it up.
The Void’s main shtick is incredibly impressive. If there’s a seat in the game, you can likely sit down there. If there’s a railing, feel free to stand against it. There are a few nifty tricks in different games — like buttons, switches or movable poles — that you can play around with to affect the in-game world. Your backpack also has a haptic feedback vest, which vibrates if you’re hit by something.
All this is enhanced by the virtual reality packs’ incredible visual quality. There’s a theory out there that motion sickness in VR is caused in part by poor graphics and hardware specs. After all, if your VR system can’t keep up with high levels of head-turning, it’s going to be disorienting. The Void’s hardware is pretty much entirely built for each game’s specific purpose, and it has the least lag and most high-end graphics I’ve seen in VR yet.
Not to mention the motion tracking is just as awesome. Those who’ve done The Void often tell newcomers to take a minute before the game starts and look at your hands. I agree! The game literally tracks your arms… right down to your fingers. It’s a lot of fun to hold your hand out, wiggle your fingers, and watch your virtualized limbs follow along. (In what I assume is to prevent nausea, they leave out the rest of your body.)
An Avengers Trial By Fire
Once Damage Control kicks in, you’re whisked away to the Wakandan Center, where Shuri helps you get acquainted with the suit’s combat features. The battles themselves are actually really cool, in concept. As Shuri explains beforehand, basically, you tap into the offensive capabilities of Iron Man with the defensive capabilities of Black Panther.
That’s to say, you blast things with your hands.
Seriously. That’s the combat. You hold your hand out and you blast things with laser beams. You can also do a two-handed blast if you like. That takes another few seconds to charge, but hits much harder. The Void has finally caught on to the “I can see my fingers!” praise.
If you’re so willing, there’s also a shield. You can wield it with two hands or one, and the latter allows you to block and attack at the same time. From the looks of things, absorbing attacks helps you keep your suit’s power levels up? (I could be wrong; it wasn’t very clear.)
However, in the midst of the game, my shield wasn’t consistent in staying up. My roommate had the same issue, and it seems to be a common complaint online. My two-handed blast wasn’t consistent either (though chances are I didn’t have the power for it). Maybe other locations have better hand tracking?
In struggling with this, I had a quick thought: it’s a railroaded game for tweens. You’re probably not gonna die. So I stopped really trying the shield and two-handed attacks (unless required) and just alternated hands in an edgy action wide-stance, blasting enemies mindlessly. It worked, because the stats at the end said I hit the most enemies, titling me the “Combat Leader.” However, for someone who’s meta-gaming a little less, I can imagine this being frustrating to navigate. Kids especially, who might be a little more reckless in their arm-swinging, might have trouble getting things to work consistently. So my advice, if you see this, is: turn your brain off and wreck some enemies hand by hand.
Traversing The Marvel Universe
One of The Void’s strong points is letting you explore the world of the game. With the help of certain Avengers, in Damage Control, you’re thrust alongside characters and into set-pieces reminiscent of the final 45 minutes of a Marvel Cinematic Universe flick.
Along the way, The Void pulls out all its stops for the experience. There are wind effects, plus a nifty scent effect. In one instance, a prop protruding out towards the players is actually usable to a point. Your party is even split in half at one point, though it’s nothing serious (they’re in view pretty much at all times).
But unlike what I’ve experienced with The Void so far, there are a few instances where navigation was awkward or confusing. One scene had us slowly descend down a spiral-like ramp. However, the stage remained flat, making the movement awkward and even slightly nauseating to move through. There was definitely supposed to be a “trick,” given the location (no spoilers), but it fell flat (literally) due to the lack of actual dimension on the “stage.”
In other instances, there were platforms close enough where, in real space, we could step over a minor gap to access them. Our instructor told us not to jump ever, though, and thankfully these moments were eventually remedied by in-game floors and platforms.
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Thankfully, at these destinations, they rope in a pretty big cast without diminishing your role in things. You’re put in the center of plenty of MCU banter as they entrust you on the mission. After all, with Iron Man gone, you’re pretty much the only person on Earth who can laser-attack things with your hands from afar. They even have some of the original actors reprise their roles, especially Letitia Wright as Shuri, who gives you the game’s introduction on camera.
As an adult who just wanted to blast stuff, though, I feel they put so focus on the Avengers “banter” that it can become a little droll sometimes. One scene drags out the dialogue while a character holds literally an entire helicopter above your head. Really, it was not the time for that. I understand the design choice to a degree, though. After all, if you’re flinging your arms around too much and too fast, it can get a little tiring, and the dialogue pads it out.
Still, the chatter will definitely be charming to kids who reach the height requirement and are hoping to become an Avenger. There’s no better flattery than being talked about by your heroes while you’re standing right there, and that’s what this Avengers virtual reality gives you.
Between that and the hand-blasting, I can imagine plenty of people who’d enjoy Damage Control. For fifteen minutes or so, even between the clunky navigation and gameplay, I definitely felt like I was saving the world.
[Author’s note: I experienced Avengers: Damage Control in New York, NY, but there are other locations, including in Disney World and Disneyland, plus Mall of America. Game experience and/or quality may vary per location based on the state of hardware and venue differences.]
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The Void: Avengers: Damage Control
A lot of fun for the whole family, if you're willing to push past the minor flaws and blast enemies repeatedly, Iron Man-style. The Void is still unmatched in regards to VR immersion experience.
- Fun Avengers adventure that plunges you into a typical MCU plot
- The tricks up The Void's sleeves, and the graphics, are a delight
- Blasting things is way too much fun
- Hand tracking for weapon and shield use is janky
- Navigation through the setting is trickier than other Void titles
- Characters' dialogue sometimes dominates the gameplay