As a child of the 80’s – whose close friends included Sonic The Hedgehog and a couple of rather famous plumbers – my affection for gaming was almost pre-determined. So, when I heard there was an addition to the Brighton pub scene on my doorstep which incorporated a retro arcade and the latest VR gaming tech – my inner child felt like it had been Hodoukened!
The World’s End pub on London Road has been modernised – and I mean modernised: The dreary lights and dive bar aesthetics of the previous venue are a thing of the past, as you walk wide-eyed into a bar which has perfectly fused hyper-modern gaming, with a friendly welcoming vibe. On paper it sounds like a strange mix, but in practice it absolutely works and it’s impossible to not feel instantly captivated by the flashing lights and arcade consoles. And with a young and old crowd mingling as they eagerly wait to participate; it appears we’re not the only ones excited to try everything out.
Heading to the bar we suddenly notice the VR stations: Four separate open cabins with VR tech dangling from the ceiling. We had to try this! As we all got strapped in it dawned on me that I’ve never tried an all immersive virtual reality experience, especially one that involved shooting aliens! Serious Sam VR: The Last Hope (HTC Vive/Oculus Rift) was the game of choice, where I teamed up with a buddy to fight off the evil hordes of ravenous creatures, with plenty of explosions and serious firepower. After several minutes in battle, lost in the moment, I’ve completely forgotten that I’m in a pub. Taking off the headset and blinking myself back into reality it was definitely time for some more old-fashioned pub activities: beer.
The pub still maintains its impressive range of craft beers, ciders, IPA’s and guest ales, which, quite frankly, would take forever to list, but the Highwire Pale Ale and Dark Arts deserve a mention. Now offering the schooner option as well as pints and halves, it meant we could enjoy a variety of craft beers over the evening without breaking the purse strings. After a tipple or two, we ventured upstairs to the new ‘arcade area’ which had a very ‘Stranger Things‘ vibe to it, and where you’re immediately dazzled by the newly installed ten-seater group racing experience, with real RC cars, race-track and commentary. Once you’ve signed up with your avatar on the main computer you can battle with your friends as you aim for glory, or in my case, laugh yourself into last place with the grace and finesse of tumbling plant pot. At £3 per person this was definitely worth it, no matter where you finish.
After smashing everyone on the track (quite literally) and getting whipped up in the excitement, it was time to savour some food. The Asian fusion Baby Chow, which is the sister company of Baby Bao came with high expectations. I wasn’t disappointed, and neither were my colleagues. All wolfing down the ‘steamed bun slider’ options and mixture of bites to share. The freshly prepared food had us all salivating, but it was the draw of the gaming area and racetrack that had us rushing back for more of that childish fun we all crave. If you are looking for a fun night out with mates, delicious food and amazing craft beverages on tap, then look no further than The World’s End, a pub which contrary to its name, might actually be the future.