CuVRball is an online multiplayer action game and the first game made by Hypergolic Games. .CuVRball players more or like like Rocket League in that sense that you have one ball, two teams and two goals on each other side of the arena. As of the time of writing, the game is still in early access and features only an online multiplayer gameplay, no option to fight against AI opponents.
Your goal is to defend your goal and put the ball behind your opponent's goal line to score, the same goes to your opponent. The game played relatively slowly. You are positioned inside a hovering pod and give you kind of a cockpit-like feeling and both are used in the game to minimize the feeling of motion sickness. The arena also has its top part open with a space background, also to give you a horizon reference to minimize motion sickness as well. So no doubt that the developer put a great deal of attention to bring a competitive game to the Vive and Rift that isn't just fun to play, but also allow people to play it for a longer period of time without feeling motion sickness.
Of course, when you slow things down, you need to come up with unique gameplay mechanics that will work well and still make the game fun. Many developers focus on very fast-paced movement, and this can certainly lead to motion sickness after a while, or for some player, even straight from the get go.
The gameplay mechanics in this game consists of simple slow acceleration movement with the ability to rotate around the Y-axis and accelerate to another direction, it works really smoothly. The movement feels more like floating in zero-gravity in space, and indeed, based on the theme, the game does take place in space, so it fits perfectly. Your boost meter will indicate how much boost is left, so use it wisely. It works the same as in Rocket League, there are yellow boost balls located in the far, back and middle on each side of the arena, and picking them up refills your boost, allowing you to accelerate and move faster across the arena.
You need to blast the ball into the goal on the other side of the arena while the other opponents try to stop you and do the same and score a goal on your side. You can pass the ball to your teammate and use your exploding grenades to slow down your opponents and give your teammates a speed boost. The game features 1vs1, 2vs2 and 3vs3 match options. A really fun a competitive multiplayer game with cool innovative gameplay mechanics.
Once you are close to the ball you can pick it up using your virtual hands (controllers) and shoot it forward using a slingshot shot while maintaining the tension and clicking the trigger to release the shot. The longer the pull, the harder the hit the faster the movement will be. You can also increase the speed of the ball by holding down the trigger, which now will use some of your available boost energy and apply it toward the ball, so it will move faster. It's really a superb gameplay mechanic, I just love it!
Of course there the game is called CuVRball for a reason. You can click the touchpad to cause the ball to spin around in any direction that you like and then once you release it, it will obey the pre-defined rotation and will shot in a curved path, rather than just straight forward. This is really a cool mechanic because it forces players to position themselves in a place where they can react to a curved shot. It's also created a more interesting experience and adds an added layer of difficulty which is required considering the relatively slow movement of the player themselves.
You can use this curved shot to not just shoot the ball in unexpected directions to score, but also to pass the ball to your teammates around your opponents, even if the opponent is positioned right in front of you.
We are not over with the gameplay mechanics yet. There is also one very important mechanic. If your hand is empty, means that you are not holding the ball, you can still contribute to the game and not feel kind of useless. You have the option to use an exploding grenade which you can use for several uses. You can shoot it at the ball and when it explodes it forces the ball to move in the direction of the explosion.
You can also just shoot the grenade like a mini-ball and let it hit the ball and push it in the direction of the impact. If you hit an opponent holding the ball with your grenade, it will drop the ball and force him to respawn and the ball will be available for your teammate to pick up. You can also use your grenades to redirect other grenades and even to slow down your opponents.
The great thing about this game is that it's very simple to pick up and learn but requires skill and team play to win. You need to learn and adapt to the physics so you can use the grenades and the curved shots to gain advantages over the opponent's team. You can really see that the developer put a great deal of thought into designing the game. Of course, as of the time of writing, the game is still in Early Access. In the full release, we might get to see even more gameplay mechanics, more game modes, different arenas, etc.
Speaking of graphics, this is where the game is lacking in a way. It's not that I have anything against simplistic visuals, but it just feels that there is certainly a room for improvement even when sticking to this type of Tron-like art direction, maybe the colors and the space texture, I'm not sure yet.
Don't get me wrong here, I love simplistic graphics and I think it's well suited for this type of game because it makes it easier to see where the ball and grenade moves. The high-contrast scene also makes each important asset in the arena to stand out. Again, it's still in early access, and I have no doubt that the developer will put some final touches to make it look and play even better.
To join a game, you can view the available lobbies which you can just click "join" to join it. You can also create your own lobby by choosing a designated game mode and create your own lobby.
Players can also use Discord for finding friends to play with and it also supports voice chat as well, which is essential in this type of game where communication is a key to success. So there is an in-game voice chat using the grip buttons, but the developer recommends using Discord for a higher quality in-game communication between you and other players.
The multiplayer mode works in P2P, so one player who created the lobby is the host of the game. At least that what I understand after watching some of the Dev's videos. By the way, for those of you who worry about lags and positional errors, I've read on the Dev Blog on the official website that the developer took some measures to minimize lag in the game. There is also an option to join the game as a spectator as well.
The developer also wrote about how he addressed motion sickness due to the artificial locomotion and how he used slow acceleration to counter it. So as you can see, the developer put a lot of effort in fine tuning the gameplay experience and making sure that you get a really enjoyable, comfortable and consistent experience as much as possible and I really appreciate his efforts and indeed his work, until know, indeed show that his efforts were worthwhile.
I highly recommend checking CuVRball. It might not have the best visuals and images to make it stand out on the Steam store, but it's really one of those games that really has a potential to be super popular, but these type of games rely on a dedicated community and large player pool in order to survive. This is why I recommend getting the early access and supporting the developer. If this is the beta, I am thrilled to see how the games turned out to be when the full version is released.
If you like playing Rocket League, I'm sure that you love playing this game which is optimized and fine-tuned for VR from the ground up. For more information about the game visit hypergolicgames.com website or the game's page on Steam, where you can find more updated information about the game as it is being developed.
CuVRball definitely deserves our Impressive Game Award, well done dev, looking forward for the full release.
Image credit: Hypergolic Games