I Tried Moveo, the First Free Rotation Simulator in the World

The Moveo is the world's first free rotational VR simulator, and it could mean that the theme park of the future will probably be in your basement.

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The Moveo was announced by Krush Technologies in early 2016 and had hundreds of gamers, VR-heads, tech writers and gadget junkies salivating at its crowd-pleasing demos at CES and SXSW, myself included.

At a glance, it’s not hard to see why.

The Moveo is a full motion VR simulator with 3 degrees of freedom (DOF) and 360 degrees of free rotation. It’s a full roll, pitch, and yaw spacecraft simulator, which is appropriate because it looks like what a personal spacecraft from the future could look like: a small, fully-enclosed pod with clean lines, a sleek design, and butterfly doors, hinged on a massive robotic arm, around which it pivots and turns.

It looks like a slick piece of hardware, that’s for damn sure. But then again, so do lots of simulators.

An Instagram post alerted me that the world’s only Moveo prototype was coming to VR World in New York, and it was officially made available to the public last Monday, September 18.

I had to try it.

I’ve used flight simulators before for spaceship shooters like EVE: Valkyrie and Elite: Dangerous, and even with less than “only” 30 degree angles of pitch and roll, the overall effect is deeply immersive. This was the chance to try 360 degrees of free rotation; I had to. Okay? I had to.

A week after the Moveo opened for business at VR World in Manhattan, I stood in line and watched as a young girl about 8 or 9 years old decided at the last minute that this particular VR experience wasn’t for her, and shyly slipped down the small step-ladder and into her mother’s arms.

Willing myself to be braver than a 9 year old, I stepped forward and answered the attending technician’s questions: no, I didn’t have anything in my pockets; no, I don’t get nauseous easily; and yes, I know I’m going to go upside down.

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The demo is a short piece of gameplay from Anomalie (see above video), a riveting and cinematic first person space adventure that picks up in the middle of a simple courier mission gone utterly haywire.

The downside to the setup of this particular experience is that the better you are at the game, the shorter the gameplay is, since it ends when you accomplish the last of four simple objectives, of which three are navigational and one is targeting. Yeah, you pull the trigger a grand total of exactly one time before the Anomalie/Moveo demo is over. That was a little disappointing, but in fairness, there’s also a wormhole involved, and I don’t want to say too much, but the gameplay definitely takes advantage of all 360 of those rotational degrees.

My biggest source of trepidation was around whether or not the Moveo would live up to early predictions that it was nothing more than an overblown and robotic vomit comet, and I’m pleased to say that those fears were put to rest after my first few barrel rolls in the simulation.

Besides the 3-ton simulator and racing harness, the only other equipment was an Oculus Rift headset and a joystick with buttons for thrusters and triggers. Pushing, pulling, and tilting the joystick controls the movement of the pod.

At first, it’s tempting to re-orient oneself according to gravity whenever given a chance, but as the gameplay wore on, I became more focused on the objective at hand, and it wasn’t long before I was pretty satisfied to hang upside down while I activated the thrusters and steered my little pod towards an oxygen tank suspended in the void of space.

Actual footage of me once I took off my headset:

Yeah. It was all that and a bag of chips, and the chips were Cool Ranch Doritos. That is to say, it was freaking awesome.

In no particular order, here are my 3 top favorite features of the Moveo:

  • The pod movement is very smooth. I didn’t feel jerked around, or like I was on some kind of low budget carnival ride. And while we’re talking about motion,
  • The physics engine is sync’d up really well with the physical simulator, and I didn’t experience any discrepancy or latency that might disrupt immersion.
  • It’s compatible with the Vive, the Rift, Gear, PSVR, and other headsets, so the content base from which we could potentially see future free rotation simulators is as large as you could hope for.

It’s also worth noting that the Moveo experience is priced reasonably well. A standard VR World 2-hour pass costs $39, and another $15 will get you the Moveo flight pass, good for one trip in the pod. (If you want to buy just the Moveo flight pass, it’s $25.)

Most VR arcade and playlab sessions will run you about $20-$25 for 15-minute experiences, so even though the Moveo Anomalie simulation is only a few minutes, it packs much more of a punch, and the average player might become uncomfortable if suspended upside down for minutes on end. After experiencing the Moveo firsthand, it’s clear to me that it’s intended as more of a theme park experience, a virtual rollercoaster, more than a true hardcore VR gaming peripheral.

That being the case, I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I will totally do it again. If you like high-octane theme park rides, if you like rollercoasters, and if you happen to be near New York, the Moveo is worth the trip.

In April at the VRTL Summit, Paramount Pictures announced a partnership with MoveoPlus, the maker of Moveo, to provide Moveo VR simulators to theaters and theme parks, with content that would be produced by J. J. Abrams and Michael Bay.

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