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Grapple Tournament VR: a top-tier FPS game that deserves more players

Brief introduction to Grapple Tournament VR, the grandchild of Unreal Tournament and Quake.
Already available over PCVR, and soon to be released over Oculus.

It seems like the VR market is now at a stall in 2021.
We have seen the release of a good amount of VR games in these years, and it also proved that you indeed can profit by making VR games.

There are a few examples coming to my mind: Beat Saber, Pavlov and Half Life: Alyx.
(Yes, I know, you wanted a PC title instead… you said that at least 50 times). 

  • Beat Saber sold 4M copies, for an estimated $180M at the beginning of 2021. (Source)
  • Half Life: Alyx instead sold about 1 million copies, and helped selling 180,000 units of Valve’s VR headset ‘Index’ in just two months. (Source)
  • While I do not have economical info regarding Pavlov, it has an all time peak of 17,629 concurrent players at the time of writing this article (Source).
    Considering that Pavlov is an indie title I think that it is a pretty good result. They also recently released a WW2 themed update, featuring drivable tanks. I tried it and it’s an incredible experience.
    Wish I had friends to try it with though!
gif source: vrfocus.com

There are many more titles though that deserves more attention. 

One of them is Grapple Tournament VR.

This game is a mashup of Unreal Tournament and Quake but adapted for VR usage.
The title runs over Unreal Engine 4, and was released in PCVR early access (Basically beta) the 3rd of September 2020.
It also is supposed to be released the 11th of February 2021. 
Apparently Facebook is challenging Nintendo at being the slowest to approve titles over their platform.

The aesthetics are simple and pleasant. This means that the visibility and sight of other players during gameplay is never a problem.
The sound design is great. I do mean it, you clearly are able to understand what is happening around you thanks to the high quality of sound effects. Plus the main menu song is a banger. 
The music is so good that I already have a storyboard ready to be transformed into a short video, but sadly my PC is not powerful enough to record high quality in-game footage.

Besides, there is not that much to understand while playing such a game.
If it moves, shoot at it until it dies. ™

The game features a voice chat that is not dependent on in-game proximity and the coolest thing of them all: while you are waiting to respawn you are a ghost that can flip other people off.
It adds to the game atmosphere because it is exactly what you’d do in real life while playing CoD with your friends on the sofa.
And there is nothing wrong with that.
You get what you’d expect from any FPS Arena: A big arsenal of guns at your disposal.
You can only hold two at all times though, so you must be careful with that. Luckily there are several permanent weapon pickups in each map, and infinite ammo.
The main movement mechanic is the Grapple that you can use to fly all around the map. You can shoot it toward any surface and you will be pulled towards it.
Many people will probably not be happy about this, but you have to reload your gun when empty.
To reload, you simply move the empty gun towards the opposite side of your hip. Or you press the trigger button for an automatic process, but it will be slower and might happen at the wrong moment.

Ammo reload is part of the gameplay for a good reason: this is a VR game.
Not a PC one.
You cannot expect of doing the same crazy rocket jumps and flicks you’d do with KB/M (BTW greetings to my Warsow besties).
Not yet at least. VR Technology is not ready yet for that. 

The game maps are less than 10, but that is fine because:

  • The game is in early access.
  • The level design is in perfect symbiosis with the gameplay mechanics.
  • The art style is varied and each map looks different.
  • The maps are made for several game modes (Currently FFA, TDM and Capture Zones). 

For being an indie team, the developers are handling the game very well.

The game did contain minor bugs (Last time I played it was in December 2020, such as the voice chat occasionally not working properly.
Again, this is all to be expected since the game is a work in progress.
But the devs are active on the official Grapple Tournament Discord server, listen to feedback and always had a friendly and informal tone.

For the price of circa 13€ in Europe this game is a steal.
It is fun enough to play if you are solo queued, so I can’t imagine it with a group of friends. 

Because well… I have none!
Plus you will be supporting a small indie dev team building their dream game.

The game does have frame drops with a low-end PC (i7 7th gen, GTX1060 6GB, 16GB DDR4 RAM).
Sadly, that is the problem of using engines that focus on multi-platform compatibility rather than performance. 

There also is a problem though, that will hopefully be solved thanks to the Oculus version launch: No players are playing the game online.
Grapple Tournament had this problem since its launch.
This is not the fault of the developers though.
In my opinion they need to invest over marketing and promotional media material.
The promotional media’s quality is fine, but unless you pay money for a marketing campaign, your chances of gaining popularity are low.

Especially in a niche market such as VR Entertainment. 

As much as I disagree with Facebook’s policies regarding customer data, Oculus devices are affordable and cheaper than the competition.
They also offer a simpler solution for customers that would rather get an AIO system rather than a PC dependent one.
This is helping to break the niche-to-mainstream barrier. 

Images source: oculus.com

This is the perfect device for casual VR users.
It has its downsides too, though. The biggest one is that you will not be able to upgrade the hardware inside it.
Once an AIO VR headset becomes obsolete you will be forced to buy the next model.

With computers you simply can swap out a component and get a better one. (Obviously this does not work forever).
Not only that, but the graphical fidelity gap between an AIO VR and PCVR is impossible to close, due to the PC’s always evolving nature.
You do can play PCVR games on Oculus thanks to a data cable connecting the headset to a PC, but there will be latency added because it is a compressed video signal that has to be processed two times. Once from the pc, sent to the cable and then by the headset. 
Plus you risk of getting compression artifacts if there is not enough bandwith over the data cable.
This could be fixed by using the Thunderbolt 3 standard or USB 4.

For the love of God, please do not keep using confusing names for the USB standard.

Finally, I would also doubt the precision of built-in sensors compared to dedicated tracking hardware like the Vive or Index.

This is techie talk, and I do not want to stop people from having fun.
Grapple Tournament is a game that can both be enjoyed over PC and Oculus.
If you want to try it out, you can check the game official website here!