January 20, 2023

Meet the Warthog Simulator | A full-motion HALO experience


Following the onset of the pandemic, Microsoft announced they were closing their retail stores and converting their four flagship stores into "Experience Centres".

One of their flagship stores is in London, UK - Oxford Circus, to be exact. Currently, the London store has the full motion McLaren Senna Forza Experience that VRX installed in 2019.

halo spartans vrx warthog

The Senna experience is being replaced with a full-motion Warthog simulator. The Warthog simulator runs Forza Horizon 5 and will provide visitors with an exciting and immersive way to experience driving a full-size Warthog from Halo in first-person view.

As part of a long-standing relationship with Microsoft, VRX spent several months working to put this project together and create a one-of-a-kind location-based experience. Below highlights the various technologies, skills, and capabilities that went into this project to continue the tradition of building a dream!

halo warthog vrx


Converting the Warthog into a fully immersive motion simulator had several engineering and technical challenges to overcome. Based on VRX's experience with motion simulators and the McLaren Senna motion conversion back in 2019, we have the knowledge and experience required to undergo a similar, yet albeit more complex, conversion project for Halo's Warthog.

Adding DBOX Motion to the Warthog

One of the key challenges of converting the Warthog into a full-motion simulator was adding the DBOX motion actuators at all four-wheel points and moving a large amount of weight with those actuators.

First, the actuator mounts had to be designed, fabricated and installed onto the simulator. Before this could happen, the wheels and suspension had to be removed.

Moving the Large amount of Weight

Each actuator is rated for a maximum weight of 500lbs. With 1,000lbs+ at each corner, moving the simulator with actuators alone wasn't going to work.

Similar to the Senna project, we fitted the Warthog with an airbag system that helped support the weight of the vehicle at each corner.

The airbag system works by monitoring the weight and position of the DBOX actuators and adds/releases air from the airbags to ensure the weight remains at a consistent and manageable level for the actuators.

Onboard Screen and Projection System

Unlike the McLaren Senna project, this system was required to have the visual experience on board. To accomplish this, we created a reverse projection screen that fit over the dashboard. We then mounted short-throw projectors underneath the windshield, which was blacked out to prevent light leakage and hide the electronics.

blacked out windshield for warthog

Using Pixelwix's projection mapping software, we mapped the display to the shape of the reverse projection screen in order to emulate the field of view from inside the vehicle.

Storing the Electronics

Adding the interactive functionality to the simulator involved an array of equipment that included, but was not limited to:

  • PC
  • Projectors
  • Air compressors
  • Sound system
  • Controllers for the air management system

The equipment needed to be hidden from view during general use but accessible for service and maintenance, so it couldn't be mounted underneath the vehicle.

A simple and elegant solution was to design a box based on a real, in-game crate. The crate was fully modelled in CAD and the pieces were 3D printed using a Stratasys F900 3D printer. They were then sanded, painted and finished to create an attractive and accurate crate that could sit in the bed of the Warthog.

The electronics were then mounted into the crate using a steel frame. They were hidden from view using a functional lid that can be opened for access.

Retrofitting the Vehicle with Simulator Controls

In order to make the vehicle driveable in-game, it was fitted with a direct drive steering system and sim pedals to interface with the onboard PC. The simulator controls were adapted to use the existing steering and pedal system in order to remain authentic to the game aesthetic.

An exterior keypad was also mounted on the side of the Warthog and programmed to provide control for an attendant in the experience center.


Aside from the advanced technology put into the Warthog experience, a team of talented artists completely rejuvenated the existing exterior of the Warthog replica. Various aspects of the Warthog were repainted and airbrushed with incredible detail to create a "battle-worn" simulator that remains true to the Halo aesthetic.

"It was an honour to be part of this project," says Robert Stanners, CEO of VRX. "It's been an amazing opportunity and yet another exciting project to be a part of for Microsoft."

"VRX started out creating a unique way for people to experience old-school racing games," says Stanners. "The Halo franchise has had an unfathomable impact on gaming as a whole and we were incredibly excited to be a part of bringing a cornerstone of the franchise experience to life for the fans."

Companies from varying industries continue to invest in unique and exciting experiences in order to engage their consumer base. VRX is no stranger to these experiences and has built solutions for Toyota, Hyundai, Microsoft, Intel, T-Mobile, and Ericsson - to name a few.

You can experience the Warthog experience for yourself at 253-259 Regent St in London, UK.

To learn more about VRX and other projects of which we have been a part, please check out our corporate portfolio.

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram