This paper presents a combined subjective and objective evaluation of an application mixing interactive virtual reality (VR) experience with 360° storytelling. The hypothesis that the modern immersive archaeological VR application presenting cultural heritage from a submerged site would sustain high levels of presence, immersion, and general engagement was leveraged in the investigation of the user experience with both the subjective (questionnaires) and the objective (neurophysiological recording of the brain signals using electroencephalography (EEG)) evaluation methods. Participants rated the VR experience positively in the questionnaire scales for presence, immersion, and subjective judgement. High positive rating concerned also the psychological states linked to the experience (engagement, emotions, and the state of flow), and the experience was mostly free from difficulties linked to the accustomization to the VR technology (technology adoption to the head-mounted display and controllers, VR sickness). EEG results are in line with past studies examining brain responses to virtual experiences, while new results in the beta band suggest that EEG is a viable tool for future studies of presence and immersion in VR.
Keywords: 360-video storytelling; EEG; cultural heritage; immersion; presence; virtual reality.