One of the newest titles in VR brings dodgeball to the living room, exactly where Mom always said it should never be played. Dodgeball Simulator VR is a team-based game of catching and blocking incoming balls, while throwing balls at your opponents to get them “out”. It’s the quintessential school yard game, now in VR.

I… wut? Credit: Wooden Anchor Games

And I have to be honest: the screenshots don’t tell the whole story here. Dodgeball Simulator is surprisingly good for a first effort, with just enough zaniness and fitness potential to delight.

Dodgeball Simulator VR by Wooden Anchor Games

Dodgeball Simulator doesn’t waste a lot of time in menus. Before you is a table with controls to choose the number of opponents, reaction speeds, and then get into the game.

Choose either 1, 3 or 5 opponents, with just yourself or a team of two others beside you. I found that playing by myself was  far more intense workout, but I lost much more frequently. If you’re the type who wants a longer paced round, you might want to choose teammates.

The round pacing is extremely short while you learn the ropes. You can tell thanks to a time clock that counts how long a round lasted before everyone got out. You’ve got a good chance of winning if you can get past that first ten second bombardment.

Trackpad teleportation is the locomotion of choice here, and players can move between 5 locations on the court. Pull the trigger to pick up a ball and release it at the right time to throw. If your ball is glowing, it’s fast and seems much harder to catch.

The basic gameplay flow is:

  • Grab a ball
  • Block incoming balls
  • Throw a ball and hopefully get someone out
  • Rinse and repeat

It’s a pretty great formula that uses fundamentals effectively. You’re not doing complicated motions. You’re catching, tossing and dodging.

Did you really think I was going to write this article and not put this gif in it?

Gameplay and Testing

In this preview, I want to focus on fun and fitness factors. This Early Access title has room to improve on its art, and the screenshots give a good glimpse into what the game actually looks like. Just not how it plays. I didn’t experience any crashes and the game ran smoothly on my PC.

The aesthetic is, thankfully, just as goofy as the trailer implies. But it didn’t have any music yet.

Although, for some reason half the models look like Lieutenant Jim Dangle (shout out to my Reno 911 fans out there).The Good

This game really feels like dodgeball, and you can play with its physics to get fun ricochet shots. You can also block balls and dodge pretty effectively in your space.

Overall, it’s got a great fitness factor. You’ll need to pivot, move and dodge at just the right moment, all while working your arms. You can feel tension build before the whistle blows. You can also throw stuff around the gym when you’re “out”, including:

  • Benches
  • Water jugs
  • Other balls
  • Helmets

The challenge in Dodgeball Simulator comes from the variable throw speeds and the option to face up to 5 opponents alone. Enemies are smart enough, and they know how to space their throws or alternate speed to keep you guessing. They also fake you out with arm pumps.

The after match clap is also hilarious. What good sports everyone is!

The Bad

I think movement is not intuitive yet, but I’m not sure free locomotion is a good idea for this game. Maybe the teleportation locations need better detection? I don’t feel like I’m full in control of my motions, but I think people would just strafe incoming balls with free locomotion. Maybe the solution is somewhere in between.

A training mode would be fun, but is it necessary? I have differing ideas here. I would appreciate the chance to improve throws, which don’t feel as intuitive as I want (more in a second).

I also think this only makes sense if multiplayer is the eventual goal. I don’t mind learning as I play if the game will always be me versus the AI. That said, this game does scream for multiplayer.

Throwing also doesn’t seem accurate. The physics are sometimes too fast or too slow from where I want them to be, and I seem to get my throw to go where I want when I “push” my wand, if that makes sense. Hand orientation settings might help (so I can hold my wand to the side and use it like a baseball).

Try Dodgeball Simulator

Don’t let its graphics fool you. Like Drunkn Boxing, there’s a fun and exciting title to be found under that veneer. It’s clean fun too, perfect for all ages you might host in your home. I enjoy the feel of Dodgeball Simulator so far, and with improvements to the throwing physics, an extra stage or two, and some locomotion options, this game could be great fun.

My wish list item for this game is multiplayer. I want to see eSports dodgeball in VR on the main stage of gaming’s biggest events. Alongside multiplayer are bigger dream and less priority items like avatar customization, and more stages.

I was pleasantly surprised by Dodgeball Simulator. The trailers and the screenshots don’t do the gameplay justice in this case. I think the physics have room for improvement, and the controls need some adjustment options so I can personalize them to my liking, but what’s here is a great start.

Have you tried Dodgeball Simulator VR?