Grapple Tournament (Early Access) REVIEW
There's a lot going on in Grapple Tournament VR. Enough, in fact, to suffocate any over-zealous VR FPS. But Grapple Tournament doesn't flounder on the ground. It soars in three dimensions.
Reviewed by Liam Noble Shearer
(Almost) Too Much Going On.
There's almost too much going on in Tomorrow Games' Grapple Tournament VR. The overt Overwatch inspiration, the fact it's a VR shooter, the uber-fast pacing and the vertical movement via grappling mechanics are all key components of the game's design and mechanics. In sum, Grapple Tournament is a fast-paced, neon-coloured, Overwatch-inspired, VR PVP Arena FPS which has (as its core mechanic) grappling around.
All of the features, in combination, had been a great cause for concern going into this review. Was I going to get a sore neck? Or, even worse, motion sickness? It is all too easy for over-zealous developers to overload a game with too many complex dynamics. There was a big risk that Grapple Tournament would suffocate under the weight of its own cleverness.
But it doesn't flounder on the ground at all. In fact, it soars: in three dimensions.
Getting Around with Grapple Hook Locomotion.
Grapple Tournament was built from the ground-up for VR. That'll be quickly apparent when you start playing. I have already made clear my suspicion that the game was risking having way too much going on, but it certain pays off.
Grapple Tournament's movement is like no other VR FPS I've ever played. For a game which depends on such an experimental mechanic, you'd expect it to have some growing pains, especially since the project is still in early access. But the grappling movement is fluid and intuitive, with very little in the way of glitches or jank.
And even though it is on the faster side of arena FPS shooters I've played, the game's complex movement mechanics never seem to get in the way. Even after a lengthy period of play, I didn't seem to feel any discomfort. Some people might struggle more with the quick pace and grappling dynamics, though, so it's worth trying out the free trial first to see if you can handle it.
A bit like Quake, but for VR.
If you've spent any time in classic arena FPS shooters like Quake or Team Fortress 2, Grapple Tournament will feel like a trip down memory lane.
Every weapon is unique, but they are all balanced fairly well and are clearly designed cancel each other out. Map designs and game modes are unique too, taking advantage of both the game's rapid-fast pace and the vertical movement mechanics with enough versatility that the main grappling gimmick doesn't ever start to feel old. However, it could certainly do with a few more. Luckily, since it's still in Early Access, the arrival of more maps a little later down the line is all but guaranteed.
The customisation options are cool, too. Even better: they won't cost you a penny extra. It's outstanding that a game so perfectly suited to industry-standard microtransactions had the self control to not include them. That'll pay dividends with community affection later down the line.
However, if you're going to pay $25 for a Early Access VR multiplayer FPS, you're going to want a lively (or, at least, existent) community of players to go up against. In this regard, Grapple Tournament might let you down: it's often quite hard to even find a game. However, there are practice modes with AI bots, so even if no one is around to play online it's not the end of the world.
Grapple Tournament has a lot going on. But for all its ambition, it surely sticks the landing. With a myriad of maps, weapons and game modes to stop its gimmick ever getting old. It just so happens that the gimmick in question is also one of the most impressive movement mechanics I've seen in a VR FPS yet.
It's a lot of fun, but you might want to wait until Tomorrow Games put out a full release or the player base grows a little bit. However, in the words of Steam user HauntedToaster, "It's worth the price, in my opinion. Especially when it's only going to be getting a crapload more content." And there's always the bots to take your frustration out on if you're dying for a game but no one is online!
An ambitious and enjoyable VR Multiplayer FPS which aims high and hits its target. But when you're paying over $20 for an Early Access FPS, you're going to want to have a lively community to play against. If you keep in mind it's a work in progress and can handle not finding matches very often, though, you're bound to have a blast.
Grapple Tournament is available now on Early Access from the Steam Store. Early access is coming to the Oculus Store and Viveport next month, with Native Oculus Quest support stated to arrive some time in 2021. For more information, visit the official site.