BoxVR has been a staple at VR Fitness Insider ever since it first came out in Early Access on PC several years ago. We originally reviewed it in July 2017, but the version we had our hands on at the time was a beta copy, and things have changed just a bit since then. The game finally released out of Early Access earlier in 2019 alongside the launch of the Oculus Quest, and it’s recently launched on PSVR as well. We’ve decided to go ahead and re-review the game to reflect all the new changes and platforms.
For those unfamiliar, BoxVR is essentially a pure fitness cardio boxing game where the sole gameplay is based around punching pink and blue targets, blocking, and avoiding barriers by either squatting or dodging left or right. It doesn’t try to be anything more than this, and there are no gameplay gimmicks to make you think you’re doing anything other than fitness boxing. It is, however, one of the only VR games that gets fitness boxing right. It boasts curated workout playlists designed by real fitness instructors and a boppin’ soundtrack that you’ll want to listen to well after you’ve finished your workout.
BoxVR is an intense fitness game. This is why it’s important to find a play area that’s clear of all obstacles before you begin working out. An available play area of 6.5 x 6.5 feet is recommended for most PC VR and Oculus Quest games, meanwhile you should stand in a space that’s far enough behind your television screen (when playing on PSVR) to where you won’t accidentally smash your hand into it.
Note that you’ll probably be sweating a ton in a single session of BoxVR, meaning that you should at least install a VR Cover to your headset or wear a sweatband that’ll soak up all the excess sweat. If you’re playing on an Oculus Quest or Rift S, you might want to use the built-in audio rather than inundate yourself with external earphones. As per usual, you’ll want to stay hydrated at all times.
Intensity – 10
Right off the bat, BoxVR is liable to get your heart pumping. I’ve seen my heart rate reach highs of 190+ BPM during extremely long workouts in the game, and that’s generally because every moment is packed with something else to throw your hands at or duck away from.
Arms – 10
Quite literally all of the workouts you encounter in BoxVR are arm-centric, and I’ve actually built up a solid pair of triceps by playing BoxVR for 30 minutes a day for a handful of weeks without interruption. The nature and intensity of each workout can push you to throw wave after wave of intricately-placed punch combos, which certainly do their job at using your arms up.
Legs – 9
BoxVR has always been my go-to leg day game since it’s the best game that mixes squatting with fitness boxing. Mixing squats with punch combos, is, as it turns out, exhausting (in the best way). That said, it’s possible to cheat and avoid legs altogether by focusing wholly on upper-body workouts like Clockwise.
Core and Balance – 9
There are so many times in BoxVR where you’ll need to punch, block, dodge, and then squat in repetition that core and balance tend to come into play in a big way. A good, well-rounded BoxVR workout builds up your balance by throwing many different stances and combinations at you, which in turn forces you to become more balanced so you can adapt in time to meet each new challenge.
Time Perception – 6
Workouts in BoxVR don’t lie about what they are. The gameplay of BoxVR itself stays interesting for as long as you stay motivated to work out, and it is a fitness game set in a gym. You’re faced with a large board that dictates your score, the number of calories you’ve burned, and the time remaining. Sometimes, if you’re “just working out” and you’d rather be doing anything else, it can be easy to keep your eyes glued to that clock.
Replayability – 10
BoxVR is jammed with curated workouts that last from anywhere between two minutes to one hour. The workouts are also varied; anybody could come in and pick a few out to plop into their workout rotation, and then they could do that every single day and see results. But if even the selection of preordained workouts is too limited for you, you can drop your own music into a custom playlist (on PC) and the game will automatically generate a beatmap for each song.
Fitness Scalability – 10
BoxVR is just as good for 2-minute gym visits as it is for hours-long workout sessions. Just about anybody can make it a part of their workout routine, and it’s a phenomenal conditioning game for tougher acts like The Thrill of the Fight and Beat Saber. You can also throw any kind of weighted gear on to supplement the resistance you experience in-game.
Lack of Nausea – 10
There is no artificial locomotion or changing environments in BoxVR to speak of. You generally stand in exactly one position as targets and obstacles move down a lane to greet you. As such, it’s difficult (if not impossible) for BoxVR to induce nausea.
Social Competition – 5
BoxVR isn’t a competitive game by any means, but you can compete with friends through multiplayer leaderboards. The existence of leaderboards in BoxVR is pretty silly though since the game is more about raw fitness rather than skill or mastery ala Beat Saber.
VRFI Fit Score – 9
BoxVR is still the best fitness-focused rhythm boxing game around. You can use it to prep yourself for tougher games, and it effortlessly fits into a real fitness boxing workout routine. Also, there’s not much friction to speak of with BoxVR. It’s very easy to throw on an Oculus Quest and jump right into a BoxVR workout and right back out once you’re finished.
As a game, BoxVR isn’t really all that great. There’s no adventure to go on, but coincidentally it’s one of the few games where there’s an “adventure” to be had in all the physical exertion that you do. This isn’t so much a con as it is a warning: expect an extremely straight-laced, minimalist fitness boxing game. Nothing more. But also nothing less. And luckily, with a large number of different workout routines to play with.