With shooters like PUBG (2017) and Epic’s Fortnite (2018) taking the traditional gaming world by storm as of late, many VR developers have seen the success of the battle royale games and attempted to replicate the winner-take-all game mode in virtual reality. While far from the first to do so, Against Gravity’s social VR game Rec Room (2016) is diving head-first into the battle royale genre with its newest activity, something they dub Rec Royale. It’s currently in open beta until the end of today for PSVR, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Windows “Mixed Reality” VR, and is slated for full release on June 7th.

If you haven’t played Rec Room before, here’s a quick primer:

Rec Room is a free social VR game set in a cartoony re-imagining of a YMCA, replete with activities like dodgeball and low-gravity racquetball, but also more fantasy-based multiplayer games,  called Quests, that let you team up with other players to have mini-adventures. You can also style your avatar in a number of ways, with some default items like hats, clothes, hair (etc) on offer, but now players can also earn in-game coin by exploring the platform and completing Quests. The more you play, the more coins you earn, and you can buy items in the store—all of it for fun, with no microtransactions or real world currency implied. Although free, it’s also one of the highest quality VR experiences out currently, and offers many of the same features you find in other social VR apps like being able to make friends, host private chats, and although it lacks the ability to share photos and stream video not captured from within the confines of Rec Room, people usually come back for the insane amount of games on the platform.

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Image courtesy Against Gravity

Now for Rec Royale:

This isn’t Rec Room‘s first shooter, as both paintball and a few other Quests feature guns too. Keeping with the game’s family-friendly vibe, Rec Room’s guns are modeled after either paintball guns or Nerf-style toys that let out varying degrees of splats and pops. Oh, and there’s a crazy number of kids on the platform too.

Putting a blanket mute on everyone in the game is an option if you don’t feel like chatting, trash talking, or dealing with kids under 13 (12 and under are officially limited to junior accounts, which prevent them from hearing and transmitting via voice chat and have other privacy restrictions). If you don’t mute everyone though, you’ll really only have to deal with about a minute of chatter before the game starts, and all 16 players are ready to hang glide from the giant flying gondola to the map below.

Image by Road to VR

Experienced battle royale players will instantly recognize what comes next. You have to scrounge for guns, ammo and health and duke it out with everyone on the map, all the while paying attention to the constantly shrinking barrier, called ‘The Swarm’, that limits the size of the play area, resulting in closer quarters combat until only one player is left. The map isn’t very large, but decidedly large enough for 16 players.

Image by Road to VR

You’re given two hip holsters for guns, and are allowed to fire only one at a time (no dual wielding). It took me a while to get used to the guns, and find out which ones were peashooters and which ones could land powerful shots. A mix of pistols, automatic rifles and sniper rifles fill the map, a big island which includes summer camps, mountains, forests, outposts, ravines and lakes—plenty of places to stock up and hunker down for when the Swarm begins. Drinkable health potions let you add health and armor, and of course you can loot your fallen enemy for anything they were holding.

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Reaching to your back, you can also take out your map, which shows your position on the island, and where the Swarm is at any given time.

Image by Road to VR

Games are typically very quick thanks to the 16-player cap on player numbers. Since all players have an integrated mic, there’s a lot more teaming-up than I originally expected, as the beta only offered a free-for-all deathmatch. I don’t suspect there will be any real punishment for players caught teaming up, although a team switcher icon in the lobby leads me to believe there will also be eight vs. eight team deathmatch available too (see update below).

Rooms featuring both teleportation and ‘free’ locomotion are available, but I found myself playing in the free locomotion games for greater immersion. Variable snap-turning is available as well, letting users with 180-degree sensors setups engage in the fun too while seated or standing.

Image by Road to VR

Once the game is over, you’re tossed back into the lobby to either chat with other players, or restart a new game.

That said, optimization can definitely be improved in Rec Royale; UI objects like your healthbar can be jittery, and judder is pretty apparent in the beta overall—not a gamebreaking, or entirely uncomfortable occurrence, but definitely on the checklist of things to address before serious shooter fans can call Rec Royale a true winner (winner, chicken dinner). This is, afterall, a pre-release open beta, so there’s bound to be bugs.

In the end, Rec Royale has proven to be a really fun game in its own right, and is built on some very strong core foundations, that over time could become a big draw for the already successful VR social platform. Giving people a reason to come back and stay is fundamental to continued user engagement, and it’s clear Rec Room is hoping to land another big score with Rec Royale. I would personally love a larger map with more players, but as Against Grav makes continual strides to attract users, we can only hope for more, bigger, and greater things to come.

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‘Rec Room’ Platforms

Update (6:00 PM ET): A member of Against Gravity reached out to us to clarify some points in the article. It was previously reported that children 12 and below weren’t allowed on the ‘Rec Room’ platform, but the studio has since updated the terms of service to allow children 12 and under, provided they signup with a junior account, which includes certain restrictions including the inability to transmit or hear voice chat.

Against Grav also reiterated via Reddit that the open beta was indeed intended for solo gameplay only, and that the inability to team-up was “a temporary pain that will be solved soon.”

Both points have been clarified in the article.

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  • PJ

    It’s pretty good, but it’s full of kids screaming, but that’s the issue I have with rec room full stop.

  • Firestorm185

    An absolute blast to play, for sure! Rec Room’s implimentation for a battle royale mode definitely keeps it family friendly while making it super fun for everyone involved. And yes, there are screaming kids, but typically only until you drop from the gondola, so it’s not a huge problem. ^^

    • Shawn Whiting

      Check out the link at the bottom of this post if you want some tips on how you can opt into avoiding JR accounts and other tips for tweaking your comfort settings: https://www.reddit.com/r/RecRoom/comments/8md3vt/rec_royale_issues_teaming_locomotion_comfort/

      • Firestorm185

        Thanks for sharing the link Shawn! I actually don’t have any problem with the kids, if they scream it doesn’t happen a lot close to me, and I’m normally pretty quite around most anyway, so any audio I hear, but it doesn’t bother me at all. ^^

  • dogtato

    It’s pretty good. The map is sort a hassle, always seems to be in a different spot that I have to grope for. It could really use an in-world indicator of where the circle will close-to. The holsters make it hard to pick things up off the ground. The later circles are WAY too slow. The weapons are all kind of garbage, but they’re just the same weapons that exist in other modes so if you like them in paintball and quests you’ll probably like them here.

    The map is nice, the game loop is nice. My favorite VR Royale is still Bullets and More though, mostly because it has the best weapons.

    • Shawn Whiting

      Thanks for the feedback! The legendary weapons are quite a bit more powerful than the common weapons. The loot tiers are white – green – blue – purple – orange. With weapons on the orange end of the spectrum doing by far more damage. The map does have an issue where it wont respawn into your backpack until you walk away from it on the ground so the issue you are having there is probably that you still have your map somewhere on the ground near you and when you reach back to your pack its not there. If you walk away from where you are standing a bit and reach over your shoulder you should be able to grab it quite consistently. But we’ll be making a lot of improvements to that system and many others. Cheers!

      • PJ

        I would like to see a change to the ammo is used, instead of finding ammo for a certain weopan, maybe instead you find paintballs that can be used for any paintball gun, and power cell or a battery for the lazers, I think change would fit well for the more casual game Rec Room is

      • dogtato

        I should maybe have said that I’m garbage with the weapons, Can’t hit with anything but the sniper rifle outside of close range.

        Other nice things are the
        * hangliding – requires some vr skills to control it, does good job of dispersing people
        * potions – drinking then smashing is very satisfying. guessing these are in other modes
        * chests – very visible, fun to open them, not clear if the color means anything

        headaches
        * inventory – two inventory slots, swapping weapons requires some juggling, unless there’s a swap mechanic I didn’t realize. Like if you hold a weapon over a holster that already has a weapon in it, you can swap them.
        * map – requires a free hand, mandatory to use it because there’s no in-world indication of where the swarm is heading. I wish the map was just on the wristwatch
        * footsteps – no sneaking. If someone is camping in a building, you have to clearly announce your presence to go after them, even if you’ve got plenty of time

      • kool

        Cool game. Two bugs tho, sometimes if your at the back of the lift you’ll pop out the back and be stuck floating. The only way out is to put your back to the lift when it comes back. And sometimes you’ll spawn in the gliders and the bars will be too far away.

  • shogoz

    This is an awesome game! There are so many game modes currently in it. Here’s me playing laser skirmish with my friend (he’s using PSVR and I’m using an HTC Vive) if you guys are interested: https://youtu.be/s4amEfKDMUs