It’s not every day your editor messages you to say “Hey, who wants to go to a NERF event?” and if anyone answers that question with anything other than “Oh fuck yes.” then they don’t deserve their place upon this mortal plane. Naturally, I said yes and boy howdy what a blast did I have!
Hasbro has been bringing rubber-tipped-foamy joy to millions the world over for decades with their ever-expanding armory of NERF blasters and other toys. Their bright colors and easy operation make them accessible to every, young or old, big or small. NERF‘s forays into other fields have also been wildly successful, including video games and lasers. People like me hold fond memories of NERF Arena Blast and NERF N-Strike. They showed that Hasbro were more than able to bring NERF into the modern era, now more so than ever with their new Laser Ops Pro series!
As the name suggests the Laser Ops Pro series will not be made up by their conventional dart-throwers but utilizes a refined laser-tag system that allows for all kinds of crazy play. The new system pairs the blaster via Bluetooth to a smart device with the Laser Ops Pro app installed allowing for a whole bunch of cool new features to be applied and really change the game!
Jay was more than happy to give a tech demo, showing off the app and the new blaster’s range of features. the device can be mounted on the blaster’s front end and used to play an augmented reality single player shooter game. Drones spawn and appear on the screen and fly around, making you move and aim to target them. Building a hit-combo earns bonus points that are totaled at the end of the game and then posted to a leaderboard, allowing players to compare and compete with players and friends the world over.
Points also earn XP which can be used to upgrade the paired blaster’s capabilities, increasing health and ammo as well as unlocking useful power-ups that can be used in competitive tag-play. The app also grants players the ability to customize their load outs, skills, and player profile, all of which can be applied to multiplayer games.
Multiplayer aspects can be engaged in two different ways, using a single device or multiple devices in the field of play. Single device play uses a centralized device as the hub, linking up to all of the blasters within range and coordinating the chaos. Multi-device play is the most impressive, connecting up to 66 players and blasters within a 225ft area. Devices are wrist mounted, displaying live feeds of information on weapon stats, health, special skills and even an in-game leaderboard, giving on the fly updates.
Once the tech demo was finished it was time to dive right into the combat and test the blasters out for real! Strapping on the wrist mount and grabbing my Alphapoint blaster made me feel more than a little badass as I stepped through the smoke into the battle arena. I’ll be honest the room could have been bigger but whatever, it was still good fun hiding behind cover and taking on two buyers from Selfridges and one of the tech reviewers from The Sun (the newspaper, not the star).
The lightweight blaster was easy to move and felt comfortable in hand. The reload button is mounted on the butt of the grip which makes it feel like you’re loading a new mag. Being completely honest it’s a little hard to keep a track of hits inflicted/taken and checking your ammo readout on the wrist-screen but that may be because of the thick and fast laser action. Ducking behind cover however gave plenty of time to take stock and check my ranking on the leaderboard for the game: Second. I’d like to say I could have done better but the leader’s device disconnected halfway through for a moment or three and she STILL won.
To say it was a lot of fun would be an understatement. I can only imagine that it would be more fun in a larger area and with more players involved. The test demo was great and amazingly simple to begin, use and operate. Playing in a larger environment with more players would only serve to make the experience more enjoyable. Imagine laying siege to a public park with a group of friends, linking up with devices and unleashing hell upon each other. All in all the preview event was a great laugh and Laser Ops Pro looks set to be a great addition to the NERF armoury!