There were two types of offsites that dominated at San Diego Comic Con this year: immersive experiences and virtual reality experiences. The best offsites often combined the two, as is the case with Alcon Entertainment’s Blade Runner 2049 experience – which we’re comfortable in calling the best offsite of San Diego Comic Con 2017.
Two lines for the experience dictated how much time you waited, with the VR experience line essentially doubling your wait time to about three hours on average and the non-VR line wait time averaging between one to one and a half hours.
We were fortunate enough to be able to participate in the VR portion of the experience and found that it added an extra layer of immersion. Starting with a hallway of concept art and notated stills from the film, the atmosphere was hinted at before everyone loaded into theatre seats and we put on headphones and goggles.
Once everyone was settled and ready, the VR started up and our mission was outlined: scan the skies for a stolen Spinner, but definitely do not engage with it. I’m that person that looks up, down, and behind me when engaging with VR and I’m happy to say – glasses and all – the experience was great. After locking onto a few cars and clearing them, we located the stolen Spinner and, against the orders barked through headphones, gave chase.
Thus began an aerial dogfight as the chairs shook and jolted in time with car collisions until the stolen Spinner went down along with our own. That’s when the headphones and goggles came off – where there was once a screen that blocked our view when we first sat down, it had been raised up and we were thrown into the Spinner crash we’d just engaged in. This was also the same spot that those who opted not to do the VR began the offsite.
From there, the rest of the experience was totally immersive. Officers were investigating the scene and people loitering asked after witnesses. Some had umbrellas and it was soon obvious as to why – suddenly, it poured near the scene and I was infinitely grateful for the branded umbrella I’d been given.
Moving on from the crash site pushed people into a bustling street with a noodle shop and more wandering actors. One woman was very friendly and winked at me before moving on to flirt with others. There were scanners set up to separate humans from replicants and those unfortunate enough to be caught were dealt with (shouted at and giving a picture of Jared Leto from the film).
Using your wristband, you were emailed a picture of your scan and you could also score free swag by scanning it on a wall of monitors. Those who didn’t pre-link their social media got posters and those who did found shirts popping out of the machines. Honestly, the most fun part of it might have been the way your name showed up on twenty monitors at once when it was vending.
When you’d had your fill of interacting with the actors, taking all of the photos with the chef of the noodle shop, scoring swag, and perusing the film costumes on display, you could head for the food and whiskey. There were two types of noodles and three types of Johnnie Walker whiskeys on offer and all of it was absolutely delicious.
Alcon Entertainment put together a massive immersive experience that was worth the wait because, once you entered, there was absolutely no rush to get in and get out as fast as possible. I was able to move at my own pace, explore everything, and take all the coveted social media pictures that my heart desired. It was a lot of relaxed fun where I was able to create some solid memories and get extremely hyped for Blade Runner 2049.