Knockout League surprised me in being such a workout but also by becoming one of the best Playstation VR games I have played.
I wasn’t sure what I was going to experience on PSVR when I booted up Knockout League. I had heard it was a PSVR version of Punch-Out. That description alone was enough to intrigue me. After about 20 minutes, I was hooked on Knockout League and also had a heart rate near 160. Once I finished, I found myself in better shape and could safely say Knockout League is one of PSVR’s best games.
If you want that most basic description of Knockout League than the explanation of Punch-Out in VR is quite accurate. You play as an upcoming boxer, complete with a trainer that looks a lot like Doc, and your goal is to climb the ranks of the boxing world. But in this world, the best boxers are people who have over the top personalities with devastating maneuvers that you would never see in a real boxing match.
Knockout League has a superb design that was built for VR first. Which creates an experience like no other in the PlayStation VR space but in the gaming space altogether.
VR is truly what escalates the experience in Knockout League for many reasons. Obviously being able to actually swing and make contact is a lot more satisfying than simply hitting a button. Swinging in different manners like a hook or uppercut is even recognized as a different punch and opponents will react differently to each punch. Dodging is also quite a bit more involved as there are a few different zones you can lean on vs just moving left and right.
So yes, Knockout League is Punch-Out in VR. But where Knockout League hooked me was the progression. To complete a circuit you need to beat every boxer in that circuit to breakthrough to the next circuit. Each Circuit features a set of opponents that is more difficult than the previous boxers. Normally this would mean you need to increase your skills with timing and you’re good to go. In Knockout League you need to physically get stronger and faster.
Getting better at Knockout League requires the player to not just get better mentally, but physically as well.
That statement might seem a hyperbolizing but I promise gamers it is not. The later boxers have a lot of different attacks that will test your agility physically and mentally. But unless you’re in tip-top shape. After about 5-6 fights, winning or losing, there’s a good chance sweat will cover your body. I legitimately didn’t realize how much of a sweat I was working up. Once I realized this I grabbed my fitness tracker just to see what my heart rate was, and I was shocked with it spit out the number 160. After a few more fights and losing I called it a night and went to bed. Clearly, I was slowing down and needed to recover.
When I woke up I was a sore mess. I had used muscles apparently I never use at the gym. This lasted for a few days and struggled to get up off my couch at times. I put the PSVR back on after I recovered. Once I hopped back in, I immediately was hooked once again. I progressed a bit farther but I had to work even harder. I had to get faster and improve my blocking before I could get any further.
My point of explaining this is simple. To get better at Knockout League you honestly have to be physically stronger and faster. Along with learning the opponents’ quirks. This progression is something I had never experienced in a video game. Granted the market for PlayStation VR Fighting games quite small, but Knockout League shows exactly how when you make a game from the ground up specifically for VR, developers can accomplish experiences that truly have never been done. It gave me an adventure that was brand new and elevated what it means to get better at a game.
PS4 Pro Support isn’t confirmed, but Knockout League looks quite nice on PlayStation 4 Pro and I didn’t notice a difference on regular PS4 hardware.
The presentation is top notch and adds to the experience as well. It’s unclear if Knockout League has PlayStation 4 Pro support. I am running this title on PS4 Pro so I can’t comment on the regular PS4, but the screen door effect seemed to be at a minimum vs other PSVR titles I have played. The boxers are clearly where the artists spent there time and each boxer is profoundly different. Being super close to opponents wasn’t jarring at all. The ring and details like the ropes and timer look relatively crisp.
The one area I had frustrations with Knockout League is a big one, hit detection. After a maneuver or a successful block, opponents leave themselves open for a strike. The PlayStation Move controllers dub as your fists and most of the time my fists made contact with zero issues. But when the issues did arise they can be extremely frustrating and can really throw off the sense of momentum. Problem is I can’t tell if the Move controllers are the issue or Knockout League’s code. I can see my fist hitting the opponent but it just doesn’t make contact. This leads me to believe it’s on Knockout Leagues’ side but I can not say for certain that is the case.
When it was time to put the gloves down in Knockout League I was still kind of in shock about just how much I enjoyed it. The Punch-Out like experience is by no means original. But the sense of progression being mental and physical was something I never experienced in gaming. I wish the tracking was 100 percent accurate so I could perfect my times and scores but the issues with punches not registering wasn’t frequent enough to damper my enjoyment. This is a VR game I will show off to friends and reccomend to other VR owners.