Rec Room Beta Preview

Rec Room is a community-driven game where you meet with other players from all around the world as you hang out and participate in a host of different "mini-games".  Many of these games are ones that you would have played in high school or college, but are extremely relatable and group friendly.  Rec Room isn't about winning or having the highest score, rather about enjoying each other's company and having some light-hearted fun.  

Objective

Rec Room is all about having fun and hanging out with friends.  If you do not have any friends in Rec Room yet, don't worry, you are sure to meet dozens of people in no time.  The idea of the game is to pal around, play some friendly games and get to know gamers from all around the world.  This game doesn't rely on you to be proactive in meeting others, however, because there is a multitude of games such as dodgeball, paintball, basketball, soccer, disc golf, etc. to play that provide common ground to get to know people.  You have something to talk about, so it isn't awkward meeting people and the emphasis isn't on you to be proactive.  

Gameplay

Rec Room uses two motion controllers and almost all games have the same controls.  You hold down the motion button to teleport to your desired location, the trigger button picks objects up, shoots, or does the main action of an activity and the X or O buttons are used to rotate your character.  

To get the most out of Rec Room it is important to participate in all the activities and play all the games.  From here I want to highlight each of the provided games to help you decide which ones will be your favorites:

Disc Golf

 

Disc golf is a ton of fun and definitely one of the favorites of those who played the beta.  It is so surreal to virtually pick up a disc and throw it.  It truly does feel perfect and like you are actually playing disc golf.  You simply hover over your disc, hold the trigger button to hold the frisbee and then let if fly! This game is relatively difficult, especially if you are not good at frisbee to begin with (see the review video above).  Whether you are good or bad, it is great fun.  At most I've seen 4 people play at one time, but with more players joining once the beta becomes public I think that number will increase.  Disc golf is challenging, but not so much so to make it annoying.  The courses are creative and well thought out. It fits perfectly with the overall theme of the game and is an amazing addition, one that should be on the top of your list once you join Rec Room.   

Dodgeball

Dodgeball is a fun addition to Rec Room and a relatively simple and quick game for those playing.  Three people at a time can be on a team facing the opponents.  Like most other Rec Room games, hover over the ball and press the trigger to hold the ball, then throw it at your enemies.  Long distance throwing is very difficult but can be mastered with a lot of practice.  Honestly, most of the action happens right off the bat as everyone races to the middle of the court to try to grab one of the balls.  The person who grabs it first obviously is in a great position because the opponent is right there in front of you so you can chuck that dodgeball and take no mercy.  There is also a way to catch the ball, but this is a little more challenging and I am not ever exactly sure how to do it.  

Paintball

Paintball gives disc golf a major run for its money in terms of the top Rec Room game.  You join a team of up to 5 and inhabit a host of different courses with all types of blockades, tunnels and obstacles to help you creep up on your enemies and pelt them.  The gun shoots fast and is very accurate.  One shot and you are out, but the respawn time is very quick, so you won't be out of the action very long.  It is fast paced, somewhat nerve wracking and one of the more exciting games certainly.  There are various weapons other than your initial gun including a shotgun, grenades and a paintball sniper.  This game includes everything you want in paintball, just without the pain and scars of actual paintball.  This too should be on the top of your list.

Shield Soccer

Soccer is a unique game and one that took me a while to fully understand.  You are thrown onto the field with your team and this gigantic ball (that doesn't look like a soccer ball).  You are to move around (using the teleport technique of course) and hit the ball into your opponents goal.  The part that took me the longest was understanding how you hit the ball.  There is no instruction before the game so you don't know if you are to run into the ball, hit it with your head, bash it with the shield that you are given, etc.  After like 8 rounds, I found out that you push the move button like you are going to teleport and actually aim for the ball itself, as if you are moving directly onto the ball.  This sends it flying whatever way you are moving toward.  This is one of the harder games because it is very player directional dependent, which is challenging because of the teleport localization technique and in general is hard to judge where the ball is going to go and positioning yourself in such a way to actually get a good crack at it.  This is still a fun game, one you should definitely check on, but expect a pretty big learning curve and challenging gameplay. 

Charades

I think Charades is the most under-appreciated game in Rec Room.  It is an absolute blast because one person goes to the front of the group and uses a gun that 3D prints anything you want.  You pick a card and draw it so people can guess.  Drawing makes you nervous because you don't want to let your team down, but when you are guessing you can just ham it up with all the other players.  It seems very simple, but for some reason it is as much fun that you can have in Rec Room.  Some of the guesses are just hilarious, you can laugh with each other and it is overall just a great time.  Charades is a must in Rec Room. 

Paddleball

Paddleball is still well done, but I think is the least fun of the bunch.  You play 1 vs. 1 against another player in a small court and use a paddleball raquet (like a tennis raquet) and serve back and forth trying to get the ball past your opponent. Like I said, there is nothing wrong with the game and it is still well programmed and executed, but paddleball just isn't as much fun as drilling your friend in the face with a dodgeball or hiding behind a wall from the array of paintballs headed your way. 

Lasertag

So this game has a caveat to it in that lasertag was a promotional game, only available for a short time during the beta phase.  However, I seriously doubt that it doesn't come back full-time.  It was my favorite game in Rec Room.  There is endless action as you battle robots and opponents to rack up the highest possible score.  You have a life meter, so unlike in paintball where one hit and your out, but respawning time does take longer unless a teammate high fives you.  The atmosphere is great and there is so much to do so quickly that it really does take some skill to do.  The one thing I don't like is that unlike paintball where your gun has unlimited ammo, you have to use your other hand to pull back the end of the gun to reload.  This has caused me to miss out on a ton of points, but regardless this game is a classic and think that it should come back full time.  If so, this should be number 1 on your Rec Room hit list. 

*NOTE: As of 11/18 Against Gravity decided to keep lasertag as a mini game full-time (told you so).  It is a ton of fun, a fantastic move by them.  Lasertag is my favorite game of the bunch. 

Quests

Rec Room provides Quests that are just team-based challenges where you enter one of 3 different themed challenges to fight your way to the end.  These are very challenging, yet really fun because each time you make it a little farther and they provide the players with a host of different weapons.  This isn't sport based at all, unlike the other mini-games.  The system tracks your movements well and it is a bundle of fun.  Certainly check it out, but be prepared for the biggest challenge Rec Room has to give. 

Rec Room

Honestly, all the games provided by Rec Room are awesome, but what I enjoy most is hanging out in the actual Rec Room.  There are so many things that you can do.  Many of these things are troublesome but fun.  You can throw darts at people's eyeballs, or put buckets over their heads, squirt water all over someone, kiss everyone in sight, play basketball, throw chairs, punch a boxing bag, talk with people, etc.  There is just so much to do in the actual rec room that it makes it a perfect place to hang out before your next game or to meet up with friends. Seriously, it is a ton of fun and an aspect I don't think new players should overlook.  

Rec Room as a game is a blast and has the potential to be one of the greatest for the PSVR.  One thing I absolutely love about its future is that it lends itself to new downloadable content for the rest of history.  Is disc golf getting a little stale?  Make a new course.  Is no one playing paddleball?  Replace it with bumper cars.  The possibilities here are absolutely endless, so unlike many games, Rec Room has the capability for literal endless replay-ability.  

Everything about this game exudes fun and collaboration.  Even when you are getting aggravated during a game because you aren't playing well you may want to turn around and virtually punch your opponent in the face, but then you see their virtual smile and you just can't be mad anymore.  I've met people from Britain, New Zealand, Australia and all parts of the USA.  And that is in the limited beta stage, once the real beta, and the the actual game comes out, you will be able to meet anybody from anywhere.  That is what this game is about and it meets its goals spectacularly. 

Another thing to note is the cross play with Vive and Rift players.  I met a good deal of people with these forms of VR and it was cool playing with them and comparing our experiences.  This increases the amount of people in the Rec Room by a ton, which is a huge plus because you won't have to wait for games.  I will say that the people on the Rift were really really good.  Like insanely good.  So good that there is no way a PSVR player could be that good.  I don't know the Rift that well, but that intrigued me.  Maybe it is easier for them?  I don't know, but something interesting to note. 

Improvements

This is going to sound ridiculous giving improvements on a game that is a beta, because well....it's a beta so it will have problems.  But I am going to list them because I am reviewing the beta specifically.  Overall, the game is very fast and responsive, but it does crash more than a completed game.  Well....duh.  I know, it's a beta, this will get fixed, but expect it to crash a couple times on you (and even on my review videos above). 

Tracking can sometimes be an issue, and if yours is off, you are in big trouble because you won't be able to do anything in the game.  To re-calibrate, you have to look at your watch, go to settings, then gameplay, then uncheck re-calibrate room, then actually re-calibrate it.  This took me like 20 minutes to figure out and that could be easier, especially because I ran into several people looking for that same information. 

None of the games have any type of tutorial or explanation to them. They just throw you in.  Granted, I know that there is only one way to play dodgeball or paintball is pretty self-explanatory. However, soccer was not. And how exactly do I catch a dodgeball?  Either you go without actually knowing or you play it enough that you eventually figure it out.  I would have loved to know exactly what I was doing the first time I played soccer.  

conclusion

I believe that without a shadow of a doubt the Rec Room beta should be owned by every single PSVR owner.  I kept hearing from fans on how incredible this game could be, but I kind of ignored them.  Well, they were absolutely right. There is something for every single person and the developers created such a coherent game that it exceeded my most wild expectations for the game.  And this is a beta! Imagine what the actual game will be like.  Nonetheless, on November 21st the beta will be publicly released.  And even better reason why you should try it: IT'S FREE!! Do yourself a favor and get the Rec Room beta, I promise you that you won't regret it.