Survios, the studio behind Raw Data (2017) and Sprint Vector (2018), are gearing up to release a new VR game this year, an arcade boxing title that puts you in the shoes of Adonis Creed, son of Apollo Creed and protegé of Rocky Balboa.
Situated in the Valve booth at this year’s GDC, I got a chance to step into Creed: Rise to Glory, a single-player game which pits you against fighters of various abilities standing between you and your journey to the light heavyweight championship fight.
With only a little under 3 months of development since work began on Creed, I was pretty impressed with what the studio had put together already. Greeted by a fairly realistic-looking Sylvester Stallone, replete with pork pie hat and a not-too unconvicing voice impression, I began some training session mini-games; one hitpoint-based heavy bag session, and an accuracy-based session using on of those rubber ‘BOB’ punching dummies, and another heavy bag session with even more accuracy objectives. I’m no boxer, but I certainly felt like one flailing away at the bags, picking up the sort of training skills I’d need before heading into my first (and only) bout.
The core gameplay of the arcade boxer is really promising. Unlike Knockout League (2018), Creed makes heavy use of a purpose-built fighting system that puts heavy emphasis on cinematics during the match. One of the unique features Survios has developed for Creed is what they call ‘Phantom Melee Technology’, a combination of a full-body desynchronization when the player is staggered or knocked out and a virtual stamina system that not only throws everything into slow-mo for some seriously cool moments, but makes you pay more attention to your stamina so your gloves always stay in-sync with your physical movements.
I dodged incoming hooks and jabs, and landed a few good punches to my opponent too, a hulking 6-foot NPC. Going full tilt, I quickly ran out of stamina, which prompted a desync from my in-game boxing gloves from my controllers actual physical position. This naturally forced me to slow down and recollect stamina; an intuitive way of trying to ‘get back into the fight’ and stop me from trying to smash my opponent willy-nilly.
Even though I was blocking fairly well, raising both gloves to ward off incoming jabs, before I knew it I had been clocked in the face pretty hard, which prompted a complete disembodiment from my 6 pack ab-laden avatar in a ‘stagger’ mode. A sort of mini-objective appeared; I would have to match up the position of my controllers with my avatar’s gloves to reinitiate the fight. Soon, I was back in again, but this time a little more wary of my opponent.
It wasn’t long until he landed another big punch, and this time I was so low on health that I was ejected even farther from the ring, which forced me to run back into my body from about 100 meters away with a knout out timer ticking down. Survios told me the locomotion technique was inspired by Sprint Vector’s Fluid Locomotion system, which requires you to swing your arms to propel yourself forwards.
I’ve played plenty of active VR games before with my trusty Fitbit strapped to my wrist, so I have a pretty good idea of what sort of output my heart uses when flailing around my room at home. The 10-minute demo revealed exactly what I was feeling in games like Audioshield (2016) or Sprint Vector; I was out of breath, and my heart was pumping at what I later found out to be a steady 120 bmp, something Fitbit defines as ‘the fat burn zone’. Those two high peaks on the chart below indicate my heart rate whilst playing Creed.
Creed: Rise to Glory is releasing sometime later this year on SteamVR-compatible headsets including Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, so while we’ll have to wait a little longer to head back into Rocky’s boxing gym, what I saw here looks like the basis of a fun, heart-pumping time.