Another week, another rhythm game, right? I mean that’s all this looks like on the surface. But have you ever heard the phrase don’t judge a book by its cover? Because in VRWorkout, the book is filled with the most physically intense experience in all of VR. This is not hyperbole; this is the equivalent of having a trainer come to your house and scream at you in your living room as you’re dripping pools of sweat on the floor except this is all in Virtual Reality.
The setup is simple. There’s a main menu where you can choose several workouts of different difficulties and then you choose different songs to start the sequence. Once you get inside the level though, you quickly see this isn’t an ordinary rhythm game. While most rhythm games will have you cutting things, punching things, and occasionally ducking, VRWorkout says to hell with what you’re used to, this isn’t going to go like that. Immediately you’re usually given prompts to touch your head to certain icons, then it’s down into a squat where you’ll be punching and ducking all while in the squat position. If you think you’re home free, you’re not because then you’ll be hitting the literal floor for some crunches and occasionally punching too. In addition to this, you’ll be called upon for pushups, jumping, as well as the evil creation known as burpees. To my knowledge, VRWorkout is also the first game in VR to properly utilize sprinting as a mechanic without the help of Natural Locomotion, and honestly? It works really well. This is all customizable too, so if one exercise is truly ruining you (burpees) you can make it so it comes nowhere near your desired workout.
What it Feels Like to Play
So you may be asking “How on earth am I supposed to do push-ups and burpees with a controller in my hand?” No controllers are needed with VRWorkout and everything you’re doing is tracked via the headset so there’s nothing to worry about here. It feels you’re doing a real-life workout in VR that happens to be in your living room. It’s a revolutionary experience that feels a lot like you’re in a class at a local gym rather than just playing another rhythm game. While there won’t be any real weight lifting going on here, that’s not needed as the full-body workout that’s in store for you will be burning calories and making you sweat while building muscle in all of the important areas.
What will keep you playing?
The Rhythm game aspect is not forgotten as all of these prompts come on beat with whatever song is playing. These can vary in tempo, but the great thing about the system is you can customize drum beats and play your own music inside the game. You do this by beating the drum in the main menu to the beat of your favorite songs, simply play your song in the background on whatever platform you like, and just bang the drum to the beat of the song. The game records it and creates a beat map for it and boom, your music is in the game. You can also directly put your own songs into the games folder so you have pretty much infinite ways to play. In many ways, VRWorkout feels revolutionary and while no part of it is actually a real game experience, it is the first full-on workout in VR. There is also the multiplayer phase which is experimental right now, but definitely shows a lot of potential and that is done through the battle mode. Basically, how it works is you’re using the efficiency of your workout vs. someone else’s, so that means if you mess up and they succeed, you will see your avatar get damaged and this might be in turn push people to do better if only to win the fight against your opponent. It’s not a fully realized component just yet, but you can definitely see the potential in making VR Workout a more gamified experience in the VR gaming world.
VRWorkout can be played on the Oculus Quest/Quest 2 as well as all other VR Headsets on the PC. This is one of those unique games that requires a good amount of space, not necessarily because you’re going to need it, but in case you get up too fast during a workout and lose track of where you are, it’s imperative that you’re not in danger of hurting yourself or others.
I recorded my 30-minute workout with a Fitbit on an Oculus Quest 2 Headset.
Calories burned: 302
Calories burned per minute: 10
Average Heart Rate: 123
Max Heart Rate: 131
Active Minutes: 27
This was one of the most intense experiences I’ve had in Virtual Reality. This game isn’t about having fun but making real fitness progress which can be fun in its’ own right. Even on easy mode, the workout you get is significant and can be a bit overwhelming if you’re not ready for what to expect. Regardless of what mode you play on or what song you choose, be ready to sweat and sweat a lot. I found it to be a good idea to place a workout mat down that won’t move too much because you’re going to be hitting the floor and jumping up a ton and that can be rough on the body after a while if you’re doing it on wooded flooring like me. This can be used on its own as your workout for the day though because the quality of it is simply outstanding.
Your arms are going to be heavily involved in VR Workout as long as you leave the arm-based options on. Boxing nonstop, as well as push-ups and burpees, will keep those arms moving the entire time and they even get put into double time when the workout you choose has you doing squats and boxing at the same time. Be sure to stretch before this one because it’s an exhaustive trip. To go along with this, sprinting is actually in the mix in this game (in place). How this works is you swing your arms and start running in place and this is often combined with having to punch different icons so get ready to feel this one big time in the coming days.
VRWorkout is the best VR experience for your legs, plain and simple. Every waking moment of this experience will have your legs engaged. You will be squatting, jumping, running in place, doing burpees, and also having to hop up from sit-ups or pushups to hit the next icon. I was skeptical that a VR game would be able to make use of your legs in an effective way without some kind of additional equipment. I’ve been proven wrong with VR Workout.
I don’t think any game has ever been to work your core all that effectively until VRWorkout. While it’s impressive how much it works these muscles, it’s not that inventive on how it gets you to do so, but given the simple nature of VRWorkout, we can forgive that. Sit-ups and occasionally variations on the V-up are the bread and butter of the core workout here and it’s as simple as that. Adding a bit of variety to the exercises is the addition of having to punch the various icons that come at you as well as touching your head to them on occasion too. For all of you six-pack hunters out there struggling with motivation to achieve it, fire up your favorite tracks and try a core heavy workout in this with your daily workout routine and see what the results are. My bet is they’ll be good ones.
Time Perception- 7/10
Considering there is zero game world in this experience and not much other than a generic rhythm game background to keep you occupied, you’re going to be in the familiar “counting the seconds until the workout is over” feeling. Granted, this only if you’re jamming out to the provided music which I admittedly wasn’t a huge fan of. When you inject your personal music in though? It becomes far easier to go round after round. Just don’t exert yourself too much and make sure you’re taking water breaks.
What’s the replayability of sit-ups? Squats? Push-ups? If the answer to you is infinite, then the replayability of VRWorkout should be the same. It’s like having a personal trainer in your living room with you. If you dig home workouts and getting a little healthier while you play your videogames, then VRWorkout is the gold standard as far as I’m concerned. There are tons of workouts available and no matter what area of the body you’re looking to improve upon, there is likely a workout available for it. Add to this the ability to sync any music you want into the game using the custom drum creator and you have yourself a recipe for one of the standards in the VR fitness world.
Fitness Scalability- 9/10
With multiple difficulty modes, the ability to design your very own workout with specific exercises added or removed based on your preference, there is literally no more customizable experience in VR. While I found the easy mode to be tough as is, the medium, hard, and ultra-modes provide some of the most insane workouts I’ve ever seen, VR or otherwise. A mat is absolutely recommended for these higher difficulties as you will be dripping sweat after trying these insane tests of endurance. As far as adding to the workout, you can try weighted gloves or ankle weights to make it a bit tougher, but in all honesty, as someone who works out quite regularly, this was a massive challenge all on its own.
If there is one major issue with VRWorkout it’s in its design. VR headsets just aren’t really built to have you being so active while wearing them. Arm movement and head movement sure, but jumping, squatting, laying down for sit-ups, doing burpees, etc., this is a ton of movement and it was extremely disorienting no matter how many times I tried to it. The jumping was especially tough to get the hang of as you have no real way of knowing if you’re drifting towards a wall or if you’re going to knock something over. It’s the equivalent of jumping with a blindfold on. The violently fast demands from the voice that barks commands at you during the rounds also means you’re going to be in push-up mode to doing squats, to doing burpees and back and forth so fast and your headset while naturally be moving a lot in this process, making it extremely difficult to not get a little dizzy. The Quest/Quest 2 though are pretty great alleviating some of this because of their rather light headsets compared to bulkier PCVR ones, so it’s not the biggest issue there. It might be something that can be remedied by tightening the headset, but this comes with the problems of headaches after a lengthy play session. If you have a Quest 2, we recommend getting the Elite strap for it.
Social Competition- 7/10
There is no true multiplayer component to VRWorkout, but there is the ability to send friends workouts for them to compete and compare scores with, so the ability for future online components definitely exists.
VR Fit Score- 8.6/10
Game Score- 7/10
-Great workout and will make you push yourself
-Not much fun to play without the workout aspect
VRWorkout is an incredibly versatile and fun way to work out in your living room. It uses real exercises and incorporates them into VR in an extremely clever way that makes you sweat in ways that other games cannot compare to. You can track your progress throughout your time with the game too so you can tell when you’re making real-life gains as the trackers are fairly accurate. It’s great at motivating you with a virtual coach that makes sure you’re keeping with the pace that’s being set. The customization for the different workouts is great too and if you feel like you can’t complete a particular exercise you can just skip it.
The presentation is a bit lacking compared to most VR rhythm games and the process of actually getting into a workout is far more obscure than it should be. The multiplayer features are also not too realized as of now, though it seems these modes will be fleshed out in the future. Graphically, you’re not going to be looking at much either and the scenery doesn’t change throughout your time with the game. This didn’t matter all that much to me since you’ll be sweating too much to care, but for some, that may be a put-off.