Let me just begin with, I absolutely love tactical first-person shooters. Especially the ones in Virtual Reality. There are currently a host of decent shooters on the market for both the Oculus Quest and PCVR users, but the one that stands out the best for me is Onward.
Normally playing Onward for a couple of hours (time flies when you are busting caps) I never considered I was burning calories. In fact, I thought I was just playing a game. Out of curiosity, I decided to track the calories burned while I was playing a session of Onward and I was more than surprised. Of course, the numbers were not as high as more intense experiences like The Thrill of the Fight, or Beat Saber, but still, calories were being burned.
This prompted me to find out if it was possible to get a little more bang for my buck in terms of using Onward as a platform to exercise. So here are a few ways that you can increase the burn while playing a VR shooter.
Full Battle Rattle
In the Army, the term “Battle Rattle” relates to your combat equipment. So to kick things off in my quest to find the best use of Onward for fitness I started gearing up. I put on a weighted vest, and eventually added a rucksack (pack). All total I was wearing between 35 and 65 pounds on my body depending on my “loadout” for the exercise.
Not only does this greatly add to the immersion it increases the number of calories you burn. Just standing there with the extra weight is work for your body. This seems to be the standard-issue way to increase fitness with most VR games and it works well with Onward. Over time you become so into the task at hand within the game that you notice the weight a lot less.
I highly recommend when adding weight into the equation that you start low, and build yourself up. The last thing you want to do is blow out a knee playing a video game and destroy any chances you have at becoming a virtual operator.
Move with a Purpose
I have noticed that a lot of people that play these types of VR shooters, tend to mostly just stand there. Which makes them a lot easier to take down. They do not move with a purpose. Granted when playing you generally use the Thumbsticks to move your in-game avatar, but Onward does a very good job with tracking movements within the playspace.
A great example of this is found moving from cover, to cover and using the cover. Each map has good places to hunker down and avoid being hit by an enemy. Cars, Jersy Barriers, low standing walls, sandbags, and many more obstacles. Time and again I see players standing behind them and they present me with a much bigger and easier target.
Drop to a knee! Use that cover to your advantage. In doing so you are squatting, kneeling, and trying to get as low as possible. This requires rapid movement and going from standing to kneeling and back up again to move faster. Not only are you making yourself a much smaller target, but you are also getting that heart rate up and those leg muscles feeling some resistance.
HIT THE DECK!
Something that I cannot stress enough, is the fact people never use the “prone” feature given to them in Onward. Most shooters do not allow you to go prone, and if you do your body just looks like you are sitting with your head literally between your legs in an awkward position. Not only does this look funny, but this position also does not let you get as low as a real prone position.
When someone takes a shot at you while you are moving from cover-to-cover FLOP! Do a Burpee! Hit the dirt and go from being a big standing target to a much lower profile. There is even a chance that the other player will think at that moment that he got you. So you can either return fire or find closer cover from a safer position.
Take advantage of this and get back up QUICKLY! Shooting your body up quickly while the other player is most likely moving on to find other targets. That ensures you get out of the danger zone faster, but also is a great way to complete the “burpee” in real life.
Now if you are going to flop to the prone, take the precautions of knowing where the ground in real life is in relation to you. If you played tethered to the PC make sure you have decent cable management. I have stood up quickly and stepped on my cable, causing my head to be pulled down in a jerking motion. You want to avoid that!
Become the Operator
Get into the game. Focus on the task at hand and let yourself get lost in the moment. Think of the opposing team as people really trying to take you out. You will move faster, more deliberate, and you will use all of the above tips.
If you pretend that you are in immediate risk of life and limb you will move. Drop to the ground faster, get back up quicker. Transition from kneeling, to standing, to prone in a hurry. Reload faster and keep your arms up longer while you engage targets.
Onward may seem like a game where you are not putting out much effort. It can be, but if you want to do better in-game and better with fitness then apply everything I have stated above. You will get more targets down, and be taken out a lot less. You will become an asset to your team instead of a liability. There are professional teams that play Onward in competitions, and they all move with a purpose, Hit the Deck, and become the operator. (Most probably don’t put on full Battle Rattle). So play like the pros and you will see more results from your time spent in Onward.
Remember, unlike Pistol Whip, Thrill of the Fight, and Beatsaber you will most likely play Onward a lot longer. The calories will come off and time will fly. That is the essence of all Virtual Reality Fitness.