Ripcoil is a two-player duelling game from Oculus Studios and Sanzaru Games, and as one of 30 titles coming to Touch later this year, it’s poised to help fill the growing VR eSports genre. I got a crack at the demo at this year’s Gamescom, and proved that I am much better at tossing things in VR than I am in real life.
Like something out of the Tron: Legacy (2010) reboot, you’re transported to an intergalactic battle dome where you duel with another player online. An alien crowd cheers you on as you battle.
Leaning your head either left or right sends you sliding in that direction, almost like you are on the sliding platform in Pong (1972). And like Pong, the rules in the demo version of Ripcoil are very simple, even more so than actual sports like tennis or racquetball: you take turns throwing a single disc, and make it as hard for your opponent to catch so you can tag one of the five goal sections behind them.
To accomplish this, you need to lob it at weird angles, whipping it quickly, and bouncing it off walls to give it a generally hard-to-anticipate trajectory, of course with the knowledge that your disc will never fly out of the allotted areas.
Tilting my head to the left was at first really surprising, as my in-game body slid very quickly to the left-side of the map. It took me about a minute to understand exactly how to control the hoverboard below me, finding that physically leaning my body in the direction of my titled head made the frenetic feeling of shifting my in-game body a lot less jarring. While locomotion at this speed in VR raises red flags for anyone who has been put into a dizzying experience before, for whatever reason (possibly that it’s controlled with body movements and not sticks or buttons), Ripcoil’s speedy locomotion gets you around without any lasting objection from your brain.
As with any VR experience, your mileage may vary–we’re all somewhat different when it comes to what can trigger dizziness in VR–but I’m wondering if this concept could be an effective means of VR locomotion in all four directions of movement, rather than just the left/right directions you are restricted to in Ripcoil.
That said, strapping out of the headset and resuming my Gamescom grind was an interesting feeling, as my legs felt a little wobbly from all the virtual motion I had gotten used to.
You’ll need to get into the habit of strapping on the controllers tightly (or at least have a steady supply of fresh computer monitors at your disposal), because both tossing and chasing after the discs to grab them can be pretty physical. There is some aim assist for both catching and throwing, so none of my usual flailing frisbee tosses to look forward to. While I am a better athlete by default in Ripcoil, ‘a rising tide lifts all boats’, so you’ll find out who has the better hand-eye coordination pretty quickly between you and your opponent.
Ripcoil makes me feel like a disc-throwing, futuristic badass, but I wonder if that feeling will start to wear thin after an hour of playing something that is essentially a first-person game of Pong.