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Rigs: Mechanized Combat League could be PlayStation VR's first great multiplayer game

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Giant mechs that are both the athlete and the ball

One of the best surprise games of last year was Rocket League, which can be succinctly described as "soccer with rocket cars." In a similar vein, PlayStation VR's Rigs: Mechanized Combat League juxtaposes two disparate ideas — in this case, mech shooters and something I'm generously calling basketball — to produce something that surprisingly works. It's ridiculous, it's frenetic, and it happens to be a very effective showcase for those wanting just a taste of VR gaming.

The conceit of the "sport" is fairly simple: two teams of three try to overload their mechs (by collecting power orbs or, more often than not, shooting and punching the opposing team). Once in overload mode, you have to throw yourself through a large ring hovering in the center of the arena. The match I played took less than ten minutes, which was a perfect amount of time for me to get a feel for the controls and then actually start feeling like I was able to contribute ever-so-slightly to my team.

As far as wearing large robot suits go, the controls for Rigs are fairly streamlined: run, jump, shoot, and punch. Like so many vehicle-based VR games, the hardest part was dissociating where I looked from where I was steering the mech, up to the point where it felt like I was at times moving slightly diagonally instead of straight ahead. (I'm still not sure if that was a weird calibration thing or a misconception on my part.) To help with aiming, each of your gun arms (you're a mech after all, gun arms are a given) had laser sights that converged into crosshairs.

Changing the mech's "mode" is a more complex feat. At a push of a button, you can choose to boost your power, make yourself run faster, or have a chance to repair yourself. It's not a power-up but a perpetual state that you can switch on and off at will (think of it as diverting your mech's power to serve a different function). It's an added level of strategy that becomes intuitive over time, whether you're trying to catch up to a battle in progress, take out an opponent within range, or hide for a few seconds to heal yourself.

The PlayStation VR isn't nearly as powerful as Oculus or Vive (a fact very apparent for something like EVE: Valkyrie, an Oculus launch title that was also being shown at Sony's event). But Rigs feels designed specifically around PSVR's limitations. It's bright and visually striking without being super detailed. It's fast but not so much that the framerate becomes noticeable. And the matches are just long enough for people who want to try out VR but also want the option to jump out before too long.