Get more active and improve your ping pong with Eleven Table Tennis
I’ll be honest, I toyed with buying Eleven Table Tennis for months. It has universally great reviews but I felt that as a workout, it wouldn’t be intense enough to bother with. I’ve always preferred boxing games, as they seem to be the most high-intensity virtual reality fitness titles, and anything less would be a step backwards. After playing this I have to say I instantly changed my mind. This game is fun!
As a fitness offering, it’s definitely on the lower intensity scale than say, Thrill of the Fight or Sprint Vector, but it does offer one thing that no other virtual reality title yet can, and that is a really close approximation to an actual sport.
I’m no ball games expert but the weight of the Oculus Touch controller in my hand, feels to me about the weight of a table tennis paddle, and the level of haptic feedback the controllers supply when you strike the ball, feels to me, just like you are striking a very light, small plastic ball. Furthermore as the playing area for table tennis is, well a table, you can have exactly the same playspace size as you would in the real world… On top of all this, the ball physics are really, really good.
All of this means that you can truly lose yourself in this title. It almost tricks your mind into thinking you are playing the real thing. Just be careful not to lean on that table, it isn’t really there!
The gameplay itself is simple but addictive. There are AI opponents ranging from pretty easy, too damn nigh impossible. There is also a selection of mini-games designed to improve your accuracy, serve and coordination. The environments are simple but effective. Best of all, there is an active multiplayer community, something of a rarity in VR fitness titles.
To test the fitness potential of this title I played for 30 minutes, measuring my heart rate and other stats on my Fitbit Charge 2. I played as actively as possible, on my toes and bouncing around, with no downtime between games. I tried to move around as much as I could. I also stuck to playing the computer only.
The results of my session were as follows;
- Calories burned: 166
- Average heart rate: 115
- Max heart rate: 135
- Steps: 2481
- Active Minutes: 29
With relatively low intensity, but addictive gameplay this is an ideal title for someone new to fitness to start out with, or for more seasoned fitness enthusiasts to use a warm up or cool down. There are some short bursts of higher intensity action, when lunging for a shot, or engaging in a fast exchange rally, but it’s relatively modest and suitable for all. This easy accessibility means it’s a great place to start.
I work for the NHS in the UK advising clients on making healthy lifestyle changes, and the standard recommendations for activity are 150 minutes of moderate activity weekly, ideally broken down into 5 x 30-minute sessions a week. As you can see I got 29 minutes in this playtest alone, so playing this a few days a week would go a long way to seeing someone meet the recommended activity threshold. It also got me a quarter way to my 10,000 daily step count target.
You’re not bashing anything in this, in fact, a light touch is required to avoid the ball flying over the table, but you will hopefully learn some finesse and improve your hand-eye coordination.
Depending on how you play, your legs can get quite a bit of involvement. I experimented with playing further back at the baseline, coming forward to the table, and stepping to both sides. It made the game more fun and got me moving about.
Core and Balance 7/10
Playing the higher level computer opponents really increases the pace of the game. They will smash the ball across the table so fast you end up being caught out of position and have to lunge to reach the ball. This makes for some fun exchanges, and also works your core.
Time Perception 8/10
The gameplay is simple but addictive. Games are short and sweet, and it’s always tempting to have just one more go. The computer AI will taunt and goad you, celebrating when it wins a point, even making mocking gestures. In one game my computer opponent, whilst thrashing me actually sat down on the sofa whilst it was my serve. I was so offended I smashed my serve too hard and missed the table so he won another point even whilst sitting down! It greatly irritated me but ensured I wanted an immediate rematch! Safe to say I didn’t notice the time at all!
If you enjoy simple table tennis the replayability is effectively endless. It’s great to load up when you have a few minutes to spare or to warm up with prior to a heavy workout. The multiplayer really adds longevity, especially as they are working on a global ranking system.
Fitness Scalability 6/10
Playing the higher level AI’s will certainly lead to a faster, more intense game, but ultimately it’s a fairly low-level experience. Will it boost your VO2 max and help you run a PB in your next 10k? Probably not, but will it get you off the sofa, burning calories and give you a nice boost to your sense of well being, absolutely!
Lack of Nausea 10/10
This game is played from a fixed position, forward facing, with no locomotion. As a result, nausea should not be an issue at all.
Social Competition 8/10
The Eleven community is very active and friendly. I have always been able to find an opponent within a couple minutes of loading the game up. Everybody I’ve played has been really friendly. Best of all it’s cross-platform, meaning that Steam users can play Oculus home users. Check out this video for a sample match between two quality online players.
VRFI Fit Score 7/10
- It’s simply great fun
- Simple to play, but tough to master
- Excellent recreation of a real-world sport
- Lively multiplayer community, with cross-platform support
- Low to moderate intensity only
- Will get you active, but won’t improve fitness beyond a certain point