Virtual Fighting Championship Review: Early Access Mayhem

Credit: L&L Studio

A slobber knocker of a game that’s rough around the edges and early in development.

I squared off against my opponent, the gypsy woman, Fala, her floating discs posing an ever existent threat around her body. We stand atop a floating platform, and when either of us falls, we vanish into a never-ending space. A voice tells us to fight, we touch gloves, and I proceed to get the everloving snot kicked out of me as this dancer moves under my strikes and finds opening after opening.

That’s VFC in a nutshell. A competitive, early access release of a new kind of virtual fighting. I spent some time reviewing the game, picking up some useful tactics along the way. It’s in-progress, but what’s here is a fun and intense full-body workout that had me dripping with sweat by the end of my session.

Here’s my review of VFC: Virtual Fighting Championship from L&L Studio.

Preparation

I use a Fitbit Charge 2 to track my progress. It’s non-obtrusive, affordable, and offers all of the trackings I need. Its web interface leaves a lot to be desired, though.

In its current iteration, VFC is multiplayer only, so we suggest that you buy this game with a friend or make buddies on the forums. Most of us have the game as well, so you can also challenge someone on Facebook if you can’t find a player.

It’s important to note that you’re required to open an account through VFC to play this game. You cannot use just your Steam handle. Once signed up, and logged in, you’re good to go. The menu is very straightforward, and 1v1 is currently the only option for gameplay.

Matches are three rounds deep, and knockdowns don’t seem to matter outside of keeping track of who has the most knockdowns at the end of a match. There is a damage calculator, which looks like a good opportunity to optimize your strikes. You can also see red, orange, yellow, and blue numbers that signify whether your attacks were on point or hit your opponent’s guard.

The game’s calorie counter is a nice gesture, but it’s a little overly ambitious about its calculations (my FitBit stats were about half of what the game said they were).

For this review, I played multiple matches with multiple opponents and got a great feel for each character’s advantages and disadvantages.

Credit: L&L Studio

Even though I said it before, it’s worth mentioning again, the game is still in early access. The developers have a clear roadmap and have already made some tweaks to the gameplay experience.

Intensity 7/10

On screen, the game can look less intense than real life. Right now, you’re more or less dodging incoming fists. Once the animation is improved, we’ll see more powerful hooks, uppercuts, jabs and more.

Don’t let its animation fool you; this game is really intense. Here are my stats, and you’ll notice I was in fat burning range the entire time:

No fitness hacks needed. At first, you’re wondering how everything works. By your second or third round, you’ve settled on a strategy, by the end you’re too sore and sweaty to move.

That said, I want to know more about how these characters work. Poison is completely overpowered given his size. I can hold my arms in front of me and block everything if my opponent can’t get around me. When they decide to back off and let me move in, I poison them and make them take lots of damage while I wait. Karl is your “Ken Masters” character, basic and maneuverable. His flames add extra damage to his strikes too.

Fala is interesting. She has excellent zoning capabilities with her orbs, and she’s very fast. Her power has a learning curve since you must be farther to do max damage with it it seems.  

VFC Current Roster

Overall, the character diversity is there, but the powers need to be fleshed out a bit.

UPDATE: VFC recently added a singleplayer colliseum, and the beginning of what looks like a massive character upgrade system. Players can engage in singleplayer melee combat to the, er… malfunction-inside of a stadium full of cheering fans. Enemies come in two varieties that I’ve encountered so far, a robot skeleton (sometimes with dapper top hat), and a sword-slinging samurai bot who sometimes telegraphs his attacks by telling you he’s going to do them.

I made it twice to wave 4 before I was obliterated, but the hitbox system still needs a bit of work. There were times I felt I had completely sidestepped an attack only to be told I had died, and other times where I received block damage without raising my arms to block.

The singleplayer wave system is meant to teach you the basics of the game. I hope in the future you will be able to use one of the three characters in this mode, as it would be helpful in figuring out more of their strengths and weaknesses.

It’s unclear what the progression system will lead to (or how points will be accumulated), but players no have something to do in VFC other than wait for opponents in multiplayer.

Arms 8/10

I feel this in my arms and shoulders a lot. I find big hooks do lots of damage and can creep around your opponent’s guard, especially if you direct your punches over the top of them, or come from below.

This is no holds barred fighting. There’s no honor here. Go for the win!

Legs 7/10

I wasn’t expecting to get the leg workout I got with this game. You’re fighting a real human who is zoning and boxing you. You’ll need to anticipate their attacks with a sidestep to dodge or find an opening.

By the end, I was feeling it in my thighs and calves.

Core and Balance 7/10

Although you should not expect the core workout you would get with Thrill of the Fight; you can do some things in VFC that TotF would not allow. For instance, one opponent tried squatting under my attacks, and it was surprisingly effective. He was able to low profile most of my blows, even if I tried to attack his head from above. He could just raise his hand, block my strikes and come under me with an uppercut. Rising gave him even more power.

Time Perception 6/10

30 minutes whizzed by for me, and I enjoyed my opponents. We seemed to establish a rapport, even though at least one of them was someone I’d never met before. That’s a good sign to me. Fighting games are only as good as the community that plays them, so go out and make friends for maximum enjoyment.

Selfie Time

Each round has a natural break in the action. A funky song plays and the two of you stage an impromptu dance-off while you review your stats. I would really love to see some kind of rhythm game or scoring system built into that, but it’s perhaps wishful thinking.

If you break during this time, your heart rate will go down, but the emojis (peace sign or thumbs up with your hands) are fun to mess with, so I just couldn’t stop dancing. As you can see, my heart rate stayed pretty high as a result.  

Replayability 6/10

With a dedicated friend, VFC has great replayability, but matches can be tough to come by without a dedicated opponent.

There are only three characters, but already you can feel a surprising amount of diversity in each fighter. I think some skilled players are going to find ways to exploit these systems, and I can’t wait for combo videos showing off max damage, and things like that.

Fitness Scalability 7/10

VFC is unique because it relies on a combination of physical fitness and smart gameplay. One of my opponents was THE VRFI Shane, who I know is more fit than I am. Yet I was able to claim some rounds thanks to solid reads on his attacks, and exploiting some of the game’s systems.

Poison’s massive fists

I feel that as the game is developed, and the ranking system is more established, there will be a reason to come back and prove you’re the best. Right now, it’s a decent multiplayer fitness title.

Social Competition 7/10

This game is only multiplayer for now, but singleplayer and training modes are coming. When you can find a match, speeds are playable and it’s easy to rematch or move on to your next game.

VRFI Final Score 6.5 (This almost deserves a 7)

The Good

A fun multiplayer fighting game that doesn’t require players to be technically savvy. Its three characters add an impressive amount of diversity, and the room scale makes moving and dodging feel intuitive.

The netcode does need work, but its current iteration offers solid connection speeds for those in the same region.

The Bad

The art assets are impressive, but the animation needs work. Right now, you feel like you’re dodging a series of incoming jabs.

As a result, hitboxes (the part of your character model that tells the game you’re damaged, and where) feel a little wonky. As I mentioned earlier, Poison’s guard is very overpowered for this reason. This also makes it hard to tell if someone has reach on you. My fear is that the technical shortcomings might make players who want a polished fighting experience move on to other games.

My thinking is that VFC will grow into a competitive fighting game with diverse game modes, and unique abilities. Perhaps this experience won’t appeal to technical boxers and martial arts masters, who might appreciate other fighters in VR.


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