Virtual Boxing League and Thrill of the Fight are two of the best boxing simulator titles I’ve had the chance to sample on the HTC Vive. Both are available for every major VR platform, except for PSVR, and both offer an experience that looks similar. At first glance, you might even think they are the same game with different extras.
Both rely on solid fighting mechanics, both opt for the gym look, and are good at getting players to stay consistent. In the ring, both are actually quite different titles. If you’re on the fence then this comparison will help you determine which is right for you.
Virtual Boxing League is double the price of Thrill of the Fight. VBL also has a lot going on under the hood. There are mini games to play that add to the experience, like VBL’s own version of Soundboxing, and many difficulty levels to scroll through. This game wants its players to feel progressive about their talents, and offers a more video game-like experience as a result.
That’s not to say TotF is light on content. The developer has 9 opponents to choose from that offer a unique challenge. The gym was also recently upgraded with a speed bag to add to the body and heavy bags already in the game. Thrill of the Fight offers an experience more closely tailored to the sweet sport. VBL wants you to explore various ways to get cardio that utilize boxing-like skills.
The Art of Boxing
The boxing in both games is fairly solid, but Thrill of the Fight takes the cake for offering a true-to-life boxing experience. It is not until VBL’s later difficulty levels that you will notice fighters truly getting reads on your fighting style and working on your muscle groups. TotF tackles this from the get-go.
Neither game offers instruction on this aspect of boxing, but the bruising systems on both offer some visual feedback on how well you’re wearing your opponent down. Both utilize room scale as well, so both want you to dance and dodge in a fight. The main difference here is that I believe TotF’s KO system more than I do for VBL. In VBL, I know that scoring criticals is my key to victory. I swing hard for red gloves, strike with a punch combo and aim for chest, head or temples. I know if I can hit two or three of those blows my opponent is going down shortly. Not so in TotF, where opponents can really tank hits.
However, scoring my punches by strength offers a little extra something that VBL just can’t match. In TotF, I get a more accurate measurement of how hard I’m hitting someone. That feedback tells me where and how to improve, and informs how I use my stance far more than VBL’s color-coded glove system. Also, punch accuracy is far better in TotF. I was receiving score penalties for illegal blows trying to throw uppercuts in VBL, so stay away from that particular punch until the developer has fixed this problem.
Toughness and Difficulty
Both games are very difficult, especially as you climb the ranks in VBL. Opponents don’t goof off. They see an opening and they take it. The thrill of the Fight scales difficulty by opponent, and I can’t progress much farther than the third one. VBL, on the other hand, offers difficulty rises with the same opponents. You can really tailor the game to your challenge level, while still fighting everyone. I like this aspect of the game a lot, as Thrill of the Fight can get a tad monotonous if you’re not an amazing boxer.
My first fight in TotF ended with me on my knees unable to stand after round two. I was working my opponent’s body so hard that my body just gave out and he was still standing. VBL definitely works my body, but never that hard.
One major selling point for VBL is that you will learn to fight. Your trainer doesn’t really offer you any instruction in either game, but I can honestly say I feel like a more accomplished boxer after a match in Thrill of the Fight. If your goal is improving your fighting form, TotF is an excellent tool.
I found Thrill of the Fight to be the most serious boxing experience available in VR, and it’s also constantly updated. while Virtual Boxing League feels somewhat like Wii boxing in practice. I think that anyone who loves the sport of boxing should collect both, but if you’re on the fence as a gamer then VBL might be what you’re looking for. While TotF offers an incredible bargain, VBL is slightly more accessible to the average gamer.
VBL offers me a lighter boxing experience that still retains heavy cardio. I can run through every opponent and feel like I got a good workout. In TotF, taking someone down feels super gratifying in a way I imagine some of our readers know quite well.
Those who can handle the challenge of TotF will find a rewarding boxing simulator that will challenge the body. After all, it’s the only title VR Health Institute has rated as equivalent to sprinting.
That said, VBL’s plans for multiplayer are ambitious and I will be interested to see how they take shape. If VBL can truly establish an eSports boxing league with virtual gambling, the metagame of getting rich might be a fun and engaging reason to keep coming back.
Now we open it up to our readers: which boxing game are you most excited for and why?