One of the first thoughts I had when I first got my Vive was, “Will there be boxing? There must be boxing!” Shortly after that, I stumbled across The Thrill of the Fight, and needless to say I was psyched! It was fairly priced so when it came out I bought it immediately, especially as I was dying for new content, specifically punching content. I was expecting a VR Punch-Out essentially, and while it definitely needed work, it was enough to satiate my boxing desires at the time.
Then, the updates came pouring in. Every other week, I found there was a new update, with a new fighter and/or updates to the physics or balancing. There was a pretty intensive month or two when the game evolved and grew up right before my eyes. The Thrill of the Fight we all know and love today is thanks to the developers’ commitment to the title and incorporating user feedback and requests. At one point, they even added full body animation which ended up being a pretty hilarious week, until it was smartly removed.
The game we currently have is still being updated but is already hitting the sweet spot in terms of performance, features and options. They even now have glove calibration, so you can hold the Vive wands however is most comfortable for you, and you then align your real life hands with the in game boxing gloves. Or, you can choose between two default glove calibrations.
When you first launch the game, you choose your glove configuration/controller position, then you must weigh-in (height, technically — this mechanic is used to gauge the player’s height to adjust the experience to each player). You will then have to face off against your new “Trainer.” Knock him out 3 times and then you’re in! Different opponents are listed on a cork board in your own personal gym. After being greeted by your somewhat creepy trainer staring at you, simply punch the opponent listed on the board and you’ll be thrown into the ring against them.
You unlock new opponents as you defeat current ones, and the dev has promised there will be plenty of opponents down the road. Currently there are five, I believe, not including the two Halloween-themed monster opponents which are both awkward and scary but still a good time. These will likely be removed soon but I must admit I was pleased to see the dev celebrate with holiday-themed content. I wonder if we’ll see a Santa opponent in the near future.
As for the actual in-game punching and blocking, The Thrill of the Fight handles everything fairly well. Your opponent can bob and weave and block your punches, as well as each opponent having their own unique attacks and stat balance. For instance, Spyder is tall and lanky and has a mean 4-punch combo, and Blue Bomber is a barrel chested brute with speed for days! The opponents certainly keep you on your toes and give the game great replayability. I can honestly say this is a title I will usually go back to at least once a week.
Coming in the future will be full crowds, different boxing rings, aesthetic updates and more opponents. As it is now, it’s an empty arena, but there is crowd audio cheering for you and “ooooing” and “ahhhing” throughout your match. The dev wanted to focus on physics and gameplay before adding in the extra polish.
Thrill of the Fight is, not surprisingly, a fantastic game for exercise if you like to use your Vive to stay fit. It is one of the most active games, if you put in the effort. I should note, probably more so than any other current active Vive game, this game makes my heart rate skyrocket. It’s to the point where I have to take the headset off, take a break and hydrate in between each match. But I throw punches with a lot of force and really get into it, just something to be aware of when playing. Always know your chaperone bounds, take occasional breaks and don’t forget to hydrate!
Don’t miss the fight of a lifetime – go check out Thrill of the Fight on Steam.
P.S. Bonus Conan O’Brien footage from his recent VR skit aired on his TBS Late Night Talk Show “Late Night with Conan O’ Brien.” Hopefully, we will be seeing lots more of Conan and TeamCoCo indulging in VR!