Oculus Spotlight: Enter the Futuristic Sporting Arena of Ripcoil

Featured Stories, Virtual Reality

Designed to take advantage of next-gen VR on Oculus Rift, Ripcoil is a blisteringly intense, sci-fi infused sporting event set in the distant future. The days of dusty stadiums and the clank of sword against shield are long past. In their place, you'll find stunning venues, soaring hoverboards, and whirling discs. It's all brought to life in VR by Oculus Rift and Oculus Touch controllers.

The goal of Ripcoil is to sneak a disc past your opponent. That basic foundation is used to build something special, however. It's not unlike a game of hockey, except here the experience is more visceral because you're right in the middle of the action, a human paddle riding a hoverboard while crowds on the sideline roar in approval when you do something fantastic, or jeer when you fail.

A Sci-fi Touch

Developed by the team at Sanzaru, previously best known for its work on recent entries in the Sly Cooper series of games for PlayStation, Ripcoil fuses classic gameplay with a thrilling sci-fi aesthetic to produce something fresh within the VR space.

"VR is the realisation of science fiction," explains Sanzaru’s Glen Egan. "Everything that we do going forward is building on the premise of the books and movies that we have grown up with. With Ripcoil, the fiction and gameplay came together hand-in-hand."

It is important that games evoking a sci-fi vibe not only look the part, but also play in ways that suit the presentation. There's no point in futuristic gladiatorial arena competition, for example, if the action feels little different from the sort of events that the Emperor Nero might once have watched many hundreds of years ago. The team had such concerns well under control.

"VR provides the ultimate sense of presence," Egan says, "and the Ripcoil environments project players forward into a fantastic time and space. The hoverboard mechanic in particular was one area that required a lot of iteration to get the best balance of speed and comfort, and the designs of the arenas are carefully tailored to maintain this balance."

Fierce Competition

As if the futuristic arenas and the antagonistic crowds weren't enough to ratchet up the tension, there's also the realization that you're going up against unpredictable opponents. Rather than face off against computer-controlled competitors, you'll deal with human players who don't stick to a script. It all comes down to skill, and there are numerous techniques that you must master in order to excel.

"The key skill players will need to master is learning to control their body to discern reaching and leaning," Egan notes. "We are teaching a whole new set of hand-eye coordination in VR with Ripcoil, so players will need to shift their balance to move their hoverboard and then swiftly reach out and grab the fast-moving disc."

That might sound intimidating, and it does mean you can expect to encounter a learning curve at first, but the payoff is well worth the required effort.

"VR and touch gameplay applied to sports is very liberating for players," Egan explains. "Their ability within the game is not governed by stats or unlocks. At its core, their movement is the key to success, and with any hand/eye challenge, practice is key!"

Only Possible with Oculus Rift

VR allows for a variety of gameplay experiences, both familiar and new. For those who are looking for games that merge the best of both worlds, Ripcoil has a lot to offer. The experience it provides simply couldn't have existed on previous hardware.

"The Oculus Touch is core to the gameplay," Egan says. "Without the precision and speed with which they function, a fast-paced game like this is just not possible. From the day we received the Touch controllers, we have constantly been unlocking new gameplay possibilities."

Expect that support to continue after launch, as players find new ways to compete and those experiences turn into feedback that allows the game to evolve.

"We have a lot of ideas for where we can take future gameplay," Egan says, "and once it is out in the wild, we will learn and develop these even more."

Ripcoil will be available to download exclusively on Oculus Rift for VR ready PCs starting on 6th December, and supports online play for two players. It should be just the ticket if you're looking for intense competitive action within the VR space.