The War of the Worlds is finally upon us. The team at Dot Dot Dot have taken over the former Old Metal Exchange; a huge 22,000 square foot venue in Shoreditch, London and transformed it into an immersive Martian experience. The team bring together augmented reality, VR technology, holograms, and live action, giving visitors a chance to live through the Martian invasion of 1898.
I headed down with the team from LovePopUps. Upon arrival, we were greeted at the door by a young Victorian man who led us into the waiting area; a huge space themed bar with memorabilia from the time of the War of the Worlds. A large alien spider hung from the ceiling and blasted out coloured smoke, which related to the coloured wristbands you are provided with when checking in. When the alien blows out your colour, it is your turn to enter the experience, so keep your eyes peeled!
The Experience – First Instalment
The journey begins with the holograms of George and Carrie, a couple who experienced the war of the worlds in 1898. As they begin reminiscing, you are taken back c.120 years to relive their memories.
Our first trip down memory lane was a visit to the Royal Observatory where we were met by a whacky professor, keen to show us the constellations. We each received our own telescopes and as we looked up into the night sky, we noticed something very odd going on at Mars. Well, some of us did. It was here our first technical problems began. My telescope was broken so I had to keep borrowing one from other people to find out what was going on. Fortunately, I managed to catch a glimpse of the spaceship hurtling towards Earth.
One of my favourite sections was ‘George’s house’ which required us to crawl through a window, into an empty living room and take a seat at the dining table, where we were met with the housekeeper. This live action scene was one of the scariest, as the power cut off, and we were plunged into total darkness. Your senses are heightened as you begin to hear and feel movement around the room and as the lights flicker on and off, glimpses of an unearthly creature can be seen in the corner of the room.
‘Brave’ was our first VR experience, which took us through the streets of London. As we walked around, we came face to face with the aliens that were terrorising the city. Soldiers were shooting up at the creatures as they made their way towards us, however we had no part to play at all. We all kind of aimlessly stood around watching, not knowing what to do. It makes sense that we could only watch as we were experiencing George’s memories, but this is a key example of why I don’t think the “memory lane” plot works. It was such a cool concept and would have been a great opportunity to include us more within the story. Personally, I think we should have been provided with our own guns, so we could shoot up at the aliens ourselves, which would have made it more fun and interactive.
Next up was the VR “Boat Ride”. We entered a boat shed where we hopped aboard large wooden rowing boats at an attempt to flee the aliens. I thought this was very well executed. As we began our journey across the oceans, it genuinely felt like you were sailing over the seas. Large waves rocked the boat, actors sprayed us with water, which added to the realism, and my VR technology worked perfectly. I also thought it lasted quite a long time, allowing you to truly enjoy the experience and escape! Although my VR worked amazingly, other members of the team were not so fortunate, with some experiencing severe glitches.
After an action-packed hour, there was a much-needed interval at the weed themed bar. The décor was incredible, with vines draped in fairy lights entwined across the ceiling and walls. Personally, I think a drink during the interval should be included in the initial ticket price, as the experience is already quite expensive.
The Experience – Second Instalment
The second instalment was shorter than the first, but contained just as much adventure. We were led to a confession booth where we put on our VR headsets and watched the drama unfold as aliens broke into the church. My equipment worked well, but once again, there were members of the team who experienced glitches and were unable to watch the show.
Following this, we each slid down a tunnel slide into an engineer’s workroom, where we watched an incredible video of how the citizens of Earth were planning to rebuild their cities and towns underground. As per the story, the underground cities ended up not being needed, as the Martians died from the common flu.
As we made our way into the final segment, we entered a garage, where a variety of hot air balloons were waiting for us. We each climbed aboard, placed our VR Headsets on, and soared into the sky, looking down on the end of the war. Apparently, this was the best part of the whole experience, but unfortunately, I wouldn’t know, as my VR equipment didn’t work at all. I didn’t get to experience any of it, and instead sat in darkness while my team mates enjoyed their virtual reality hot air balloon ride.
Once the ride was over, we exited via the main bar, and grabbed some food and a drink to talk about our experience.
War of the Worlds has huge potential to be a fantastic experience in London. A lot of effort has been put into the set design, the story telling, and the technology. What lets them down, is the number of glitches within their VR, and the constant technical issues that most of us faced throughout the adventure. Tickets are rather expensive at £62.50 (more with an added interval drink), and a price I cannot justify when the technology failed for at least one of us on every section. If they alter the plot line to make it more hands-on, and fix their issues around their VR, they will have something very special.
For info on how to book, please see their website: War of the Worlds Experience
I received a complimentary ticket to this experience in exchange for a review. Views are my own.