If you’re one of the many who have just recently taken up the Thrill of the Fight challenge and are finding yourself struggling to make the grade, then don’t despair, help is at hand with this comprehensive guide. I’ve organized the content into two parts. First, we’ll look at general boxing tips and then move on tips relating to the game mechanics itself.
Follow the advice in this article, and you’ll soon be hammering your opponents to the canvas on a meteoric rise to world boxing domination.
So strap on your gloves and bite down onto your gum-shield, let’s do this!
General boxing tips
Tip 1. Learn some basic boxing techniques
If you’re going to excel at a virtual boxing simulator, you going to need to have at least a basic understanding of the essential boxing punches
- Left jab
- Right jab, also known as a right cross
- Left hook
- Right hook
- Left uppercut
- Right uppercut
- Left body shot
- Right body shot
These are your bread and butter, and the more effectively and accurately you can throw these shots, the better.
I found a helpful beginner guide online, which you can read here. If you’re new to boxing and want to have an idea of what the correct form looks like.
The video below is an excellent tutorial, but note he names some punches slightly differently.
Knockout League can help with this!
Now you’ve got an idea of what punches you should be learning to throw. I’d recommend getting in some practice. You could watch YouTube videos and mimic the attacks with some shadow boxing in front of a mirror until they feel a little more natural. But what if I told you there’s a super fun and effective way to learn these punches in VR with an excellent game that most people overlook because the actual fighting isn’t perfect!? The unfairly maligned game in question is Knockout League, and it’s one of the most underrated boxing training games in VR. Yes, the fights themselves are not real boxing, but the training is superb. Specifically, there is a comprehensive mitts training section where you engage in pad-work with your trainer Doug Johnson. You can set sessions up to an hour in length and of varying difficulties. On harder levels, he will also punch back, requiring you to duck under his punches. A few 30-minute sessions of mitts training will get you primed and throwing punches like a natural. Best of all, it uses the same punch number system as above, so you’ll learn the proper number conventions.
Check the example video below, and if it looks fun to you, be sure to pick it up, it complements The Thrill of the Fight well.
I wrote a full article on Knockout League training when it released on Quest recently. Check it out if you’re interested in seeing more of what the training sections have to offer. You can read it here.
Tip 2 – Keep your hands up!
Throwing effective punches is undoubtedly crucial to winning fights, but don’t forget your opponent wants to land too, so keep your hands up! Time your shots when you see openings and get into the habit of always bringing your hands back into guard position to protect your face, so you aren’t being caught with counters.
This is easier said than done. A few rounds of Thrill of the Fight and your arms and shoulders will likely be so tired that even holding your hands up can be tiring, but it’s building good stamina, and the more you practice, the more comfortable and more automatic it gets.
Tip 3 – Pace yourself for longer sessions
When newcomers start a Thrill of the Fight match for the first time, there is often a tendency for them to panic and go full fight or flight mode. Throwing dozens of inaccurate and ineffective punches, they quickly exhaust themselves and complain that the game didn’t reward them appropriately for the shots they landed.
This is not the correct way to play! The game mechanics reward accuracy and precision, which we’ll address in the next step. Suffice to say it’s not the number of punches you land, it’s where and with what damage force that counts.
You can afford to be patient, so take your time and wait for openings. This will help you conserve your energy better, allowing you to fight for longer sessions while maintaining decent form.
OR Adopt High-Intensity Interval Training!
However, if fighting at one hundred percent effort all the time is how you like to play the game, that’s cool too. Just don’t be afraid to take the rest that the one-minute break between rounds offers. It allows for very effective HIIT training, go hard for three minutes, rest for one, then get back to it. Interval training such as this is an incredibly effective training tool, and you can achieve better results by taking that rest. Allowing your body time to briefly recover and then exerting yourself at near maximal effort again is an excellent way to increase your lactate threshold and improve your VO2 max.
Now let’s look at how specifically at Thrill of the Fight and how its fight mechanics work.
Tip 4 – Learn to target weak points with the training dummy
Listen up because this is important! The key to being effective in Thrill of the Fight is to understand the importance of weak points on both your opponent and your character. To land shots that are both damaging and point-scoring, you need to be targeting and hitting the following areas;
Left and right sides of the temple
Left, right sides of and directly under the chin
If you don’t know where on the body all of these are located, it doesn’t matter as the game has a very handy training dummy to practice on. The weak points are highlighted on the dummy, and when you hit one, a buzzer will sound to notify you. To the right of the dummy is a screen that shows you where your hit landed, the force of the punch, and any damage accuracy bonus.
I’ve taken a screenshot below of me hitting the chin with a left hook, which you can see conferred me a 14% damage bonus. It’s the damage bonuses that will win you fights and knock out your opponents, so be sure to practice with the dummy to sharpen up your accuracy.
Step 5 – Familiarize yourself with damage cues
One difference between this game and other more arcadey fighting games is that there are no health bars to be seen. This improves immersion but can make it difficult to know how wounded your opponent or your character is.
Thankfully there are lots of visual, audio, and behavioral cues that provide essential feedback. Let’s take a look at them.
Audio cues – When you land an accurate shot, your opponent will let you know by audibly gasping or grunting. If your opponent makes a noise, then you just got him good. Be careful, because your character reveals pain the same way. If the computer AI lands hard and you hear your character grunt, then cover up and back off as you’re vulnerable to being knocked down if hit again.
There is a subtle audio difference between the slap sounds of damaging and non-damaging punches as well, so listen out for that.
Visual Cues – One of this game’s great strengths for me is the subtle attention to detail when visually displaying damage. A hard shot on your opponent will be reflected in a grimace or pained expression on their face. You might even notice their eyes roll back as they adopt a dazed posture. Over time you’ll see damage appear by way of cuts, bruises, and eye swellings.
If you are hurt, your vision will darken, and you’ll see a tunnel vision effect. If this happens, get your hands up and back off as another hit at that moment could see you staring up from the canvas.
Behavior Cues – Opponents will cover up the area you have hurt them. If you caught them with a temple shot, they will raise their guard high. If it was a body shot that took the wind out of them, they will tuck their elbows in to protect themselves from liver or kidney shots.
Most tellingly, they will actively back off, stop throwing, and look for a chance to recover. This kind of damage does not last very long, a few seconds, and they will have regrouped, so if you’re going for a knockout, you’ll want to hit them hard and with precision during these vulnerable moments.
Step 6 – Play the long game and trust in the trauma system
In addition to each punch having an immediate damage amount, both the computer and human players are subject to an inbuilt trauma system. Long term damage, known in the game as pain/trauma, accumulates over time, but at a very slow rate. It confers an additional damage bonus to punches landed that increases as the fight goes on.
In practice, this means that early on in a fight, both you and your opponent are relatively resilient to punches and recover quickly. Still, as the rounds go on and this slight damage bonus accumulates, you will both start to break down physically. This works well for longer fights set over 12 rounds. On a higher difficulty level, you both may fight several rounds with no knockdowns and your opponent seemingly coping well with your pressure. But keep working him because eventually the trauma threshold is reached and your early work will pay dividends. It’s not uncommon to see an opponent completely collapse in the later rounds, punch resistance gone, and they retreat into a corner, a helpless, exhausted mess. It’s incredibly satisfying to break someone down in this way, but again note that this will happen to you also so beware!
You can get a clue of how much trauma you’ve accumulated by observing your field of view. A darkened vignette will form around the periphery of your vision, giving you a kind of tunnel effect. If this is persistent even when you’re not being hit, then you are suffering from long term trauma, and you need to be careful. Keep your guard up and try not to get hit as if knocked down, your character might not get up!
Step 7 – Basic Opponent AI Guide
Now you understand how the game mechanics work you should have a better idea of how to fight. Your opponents are programmed to know all of this stuff, and all adopt similar fight behaviors as a result. Here’s a quick summary;
All computer opponents throw far fewer punches than a human player.
However, when a computer AI lands, it is nearly always a hard, accurate punch to a weak spot
All opponents will protect themselves when you hurt them to the head or the body by raising or lowering their guard.
If you have them hurt, a good strategy is to hit them hard to the body to lower their guard and then follow up with accurate strikes to the weak points on the chin and temple to put them down.
If you have limited space and the computer opponent is backing up into you, you can force a clinch by wrapping your arms around them. The referee will command you both to step back.
The clinch tactic is handy if you’re hurt, grab and hold and you will bide yourself time to recover. Don’t hold for too long, however, as you can be disqualified!
Knowing and implementing these fundamentals will help turn your losses into victories. Once you’ve won the title at the normal level, it doesn’t end. You can delve into the customization options and alter your opponents to make them stronger, faster, and more resistant to your punches. You can even increase the number of rounds up to 12 for an old fashioned ring war!
If you want to go deeper into the game’s mechanics, the developer Ian wrote an official game guide, which you can view here.
Don’t forget to stay hydrated. The Thrill of the Fight will test your stamina and deliver a fantastic workout.