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Tekken 7's PlayStation VR mode is a low-effort bolt-on

Must try Harada.

If you were hoping for something cool, interesting or even fun from Tekken 7's PlayStation VR mode, I'm sorry to report that it's none of those things. What it is is low effort - and it made me feel a bit sick.

The PlayStation 4 version of the fighting game includes a VR mode on its main menu. Select this for two options: VR Battle and VR Viewer. Both must be played with the headset and DualShock 4 controller only.

VR Battle is a bare-bones version of the game's training mode that presents the action from the same perspective as the main game (there's no first-person mode here). Of course, you're able to look around the arena by moving your head, you can shift the camera up, down, left and right to change your viewing angle, and you can zoom in and out. It's a bit like seeing the action from the eyes of an in-arena referee, except you also control one of the fighters. I can't be sure, but I think it's this disconnect caused by effectively controlling the camera as well as a fighter at the same time that made me feel like throwing up.

VR Battle itself is set on a lovely-looking stage called Infinite Azure. The night sky is filled with stars and the environment is lit up by the moon. The characters fight on a sheet of water, and make nice slash noises and they jump about kicking lumps out of each other.

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Seeing Tekken viewed in VR is at first impressive. I found myself looking at the character models from various angles and checking out the water effects on the arena floor for a few minutes, but the novelty soon wears off. After it does, you realise all that's left is to beat up your opponent, which is either set as a stationary training dummy or controlled by the AI's varying difficulty, ad infinitum.

There's no other way to play Tekken 7 in VR. It's just practice in an endless battle with no health bars and no training dummy options. None of the main training options are available. You can't even check out your character's move list or combos. All you can do is bash buttons. There's no progression on offer, or any Fight Money, Tekken 7's in-game currency, to earn. So, what's the point? Beyond giving it a shot just to see what it's like to play Tekken 7 in VR, I can't think of one.

What is it like to play Tekken 7 in VR? Well, given the camera angle is the same as when you play the game normally, it's not that impressive. At best it's a cool thing to do for five minutes. At worst it'll make you feel sick.

VR Viewer lets you check out the character models in VR, which you'd expect. You can zoom up close and move your head around to get a better look, if, you know, you're into that kind of thing. You can gawp at all the characters, complete with all the customisation items you've equipped, to your heart's content, and press the triangle button to trigger various motion-captured animations. This is what my slightly terrifying customised Ling Xiaoyu looks like in VR Viewer. And in case you're wondering, no you can't. I checked.

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I can't see anyone playing Tekken 7 in VR for any prolonged period of time. It may indeed be the case that fighting games simply aren't fun in first-person (the less said about Street Fighter 2: The Final Challengers' Way of the Hado mode, the better). So I can understand why Bandai's designers went with a third-person view for this. But then the mode has ended up so basic, you can't help but wonder why they bothered at all.

It's a shame, really, because I think there's scope to do a few interesting things with fighting games in VR. Why not let us spectate an online match in VR while we wait our turn in a tournament? Why not let us play arcade mode in VR? Why not let us play the story mode in VR?

I'd hoped the developers would have used Tekken 7 as the chance to come up with a cool way to play fighting games in VR that might have spawned a standalone effort. Unfortunately the only thing Tekken 7's VR mode is likely to spawn is my vomit.

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