How many times have you seen this sentence? "'X' is the first game I have ever played that made me want to buy a VR headset.'" Well, for me, "X" equals PlayStation VR game Sparc. Developer CCP Games announced Wednesday that the game would be available on August 29, 2017 for $30 via the PlayStation Store. UK and Australian pricing and availability are yet to be announced but the price roughly converts to £22 or AU$37.
While there are some fun VR games -- for me, Rec Room Paintball and Trials on Tattooine on HTC Vive spring to mind -- until Sparc there hadn't been an experience that I've really wanted to go back to.
Like the best VR experiences so far the concept behind Sparc is very simple: It's one-on-one dodgeball in the vein of Valve's Ricochet or more popularly "that scene from Tron with the frisbees." In fact, back when it was known as Project Arena, the game began as "Tron in VR" with players battling each other with throwing discs. At some point in development the discs changed to balls and it became the game we see today.
The title is the first non-space property from CCP Games, which previously developed Eve Online. It has high hopes of Sparc becoming an esport. Maybe it will. All I can tell you is that it's fun.
The idea is that two people face each other in a long corridor and try to hit their opponent with a ball (there are only two, one for you and your opponent). Using the Move controllers you can catch the balls hurtling toward you or create a shield to block throws. The skill in this game is in knowing where to throw and how much spin to put on the ball, as well as contorting your body to avoid incoming throws. The gameplay is fast-paced -- a round lasts 30 seconds. At the moment there are two modes, the beginner mode I played and a more advanced version with some of the "safety measures" removed.
I spoke to the developers at an event in NYC last week about the potential for having more players -- imagine four at a time! -- but they said they'd keep it to two for the time being and predominantly online. The developers were cagey about other platforms but hopefully you'll see this on PC in the not-too-distant future.
Could this be the Rocket League of VR? It's certainly just as easy to pick up and play, but it's hard to tell if there's as much scope for skill development. How good can people really get at virtual dodgeball? Still, if you already own a PSVR, this is a must-have game.