Out of all of the booths at the San Diego Comic Con (SDCC) 2017 Interactive Zone across the street from Petco Park, the Recoil booth was easily the most impressive. The company behind the Recoil laser tag system, Skyrocket Toys, rented out a large space in the Interactive Zone lot that was designed to look like an urban war zone. There was artificial grass, wooden pallets, fake trees, and immobile cars all waiting for us to hide behind.
A setup like this won’t be possible for everyone that buys the Recoil system when it’s available in stores, but it did a great job of selling the potential of having a modern laser tag setup to play with.
Obviously Recoil doesn’t take advantage of AR quite as much as some other technologies out there. You don’t wear a visor at all and for all intents and purposes you don’t even really need to look down at your phone to “augment” anything. But when you do, the game gets a bit more interesting. It has all of your key information like ammo, health, and other similar details, but can also be used to target a massive missile strike for big damage as well. I got the missile strike in our game and a little list of names popped up on the screen of the phone. After picking a name that user got an alert with a radius that pops up they have to try and quickly evacuate in time.
Th entire system is powered by a single WiFi router that creates a circle of play space 250 feet from the router, making it a total of 500 feet across for the whole space. For most yards and parks, the recommended play areas, that’s more than enough room.
A big concern with any new toy like this though is that these devices could be mistaken for actual guns. From my perspective that is highly unlikely. Not only are they clearly toys given their design and colors, but the phone attachment on the side makes it very obvious these are part of a game and not actual weapons.
We only got to try the team deathmatch mode in the game. Teams were split into 4v4 with designated points to refill ammo on each side, as well as respawn points on each side. In this way the setup was very similar to the map you’d play in a first-person shooter video game.
Pulling the trigger shot invisible bullets out of the gun (complete with physical recoil) that have to hit sensors on your enemies’ guns to register hits. Over the game’s audio a computerized voice tells you if you’re getting shot, shooting someone else, or if your target is dead so you don’t waste bullets.
I’d have liked to see more AR-integration, but there is opportunity for that with other weapons. We only got to try the base-level pistol during our demo with an assault rifle, grenades, and sniper rifle also coming soon.
While Recoil is far from the “Call of Duty meets Pokemon Go” slogan that they’re pushing in their advertising campaign, it does represent a fun resurgence of laser tag as an outdoor activity. With the right environment and right group of people, this can be a ton of fun.
The Recoil system is expected to launch this summer on August 15th at major retailers and the base package will include two pistols and the Wi-Fi router together for just $130. The app will be free to download. You can buy extra pistols for $50 each with assault rifles (shown as the video thumbnail above) going for $80 and individual grenades sold for $15. A sniper rifle and shotgun are reportedly in development for early 2018 as well.