VR games can be tiring. Flailing your arms about in Beat Saber or dodging and weaving in Superhot almost always causes you to break a sweat, and even though they may work as a makeshift fitness program, they’re not exactly designed with that in mind. BoxVR is though, and it actually manages to make exercise fun and engaging, making me look forward to my morning routine each day, no matter how sore I might have been from the previous sessions.
Game Name: BoxVR
Platform(s): Oculus Quest (Reviewed), Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, PlayStation VR
Release Date: May 21, 2019
When Beat Saber first debuted on Steam Early Access, I played it almost daily as a makeshift exercise routine. I’d run a handful of songs on expert difficulty and have no trouble working up a sweat, but I dropped my routine after about two weeks of running the same few songs over and over again. Now, thanks to its plethora of options and content, BoxVR has become my go-to for a workout, and it comes with a ton of helpful built-in features that I couldn’t get with my early Beat Saber sessions.
BoxVR plays like Beat Saber with a dash of Creed thrown in for good measure. You stand in a stationary position while colored orbs proceed toward you on a track, and then you punch these orbs with the corresponding glove using a mixture of jabs, hooks, and uppercuts. Sometimes you’ll have to put both gloves in front of your face to block, and other times you’ll have to lean or squat to avoid walls and ceilings. It’s essentially boxing Beat Saber.
While there is a large assortment of music tracks, songs aren’t the primary focus of BoxVR. It’s technically a rhythm game, you do punch to the beat of the music, but the rhythm gameplay takes a backseat to the workouts themselves. There are multipliers and leaderboards, but you’re going to be more focused on burning calories than getting a high score. Despite being solely centered around exercise, BoxVR remained surprisingly engaging throughout my stay in its virtual gym.
The game offers a huge suite of workouts ranging from a few minutes to a full hour, each designed by professional fitness instructors. There’s also the option to create a custom playlist from the game’s many songs if you can’t find a preset routine that suits you. BoxVR even offers multiplayer, and private lobbies are available, so if you know someone personally, you can invite them to a workout session.
Each routine is wonderfully paced. I opted for longer workouts, and the more intense segments are spread out with slower sections stuffed in between. Just when things begin to get repetitive, BoxVR throws blazing fast targets at you with upbeat music, preventing longer workouts from dragging. Three environments are available to keep things fresh: a day and night version of the same gym and a futuristic neon space, which I found to be a welcome change of pace.
BoxVR doesn’t pull any punches (pun not intended) when it comes to the workouts. You’ll be jabbing, blocking, and squatting frequently, but seeing the “calories burned” counter slowly inch higher and higher never failed to be satisfying, even when I was completely out of breath. You have to give it your all too, because the game recognizes if you’re not punching hard enough. It’ll count as a hit if it lands, but if you barely tap the targets when they come at you, you won’t burn as many calories as you would if you’d do a full punch. You can’t cheat your way through BoxVR, which is a great thing considering the game’s focus on fitness.
While BoxVR is available on just about every VR headset out there, it feels like it was designed specifically for the Oculus Quest. The freedom of wireless VR lends itself perfectly to the ducking and dodging Box VR makes you do, and the pick up and play nature of the Quest makes it super easy to jump in for a workout session every morning. It supports cross-buy, so if you have a Rift too, you get access to that version, which has a bunch of fun extras like the ability to import your own music (a feature which is sadly not available on Quest).
BoxVR pleasantly surprised me with its quality. I went in expecting to be bored out of my mind in a game that wanted me to get in shape, but I found myself having a great time and getting some exercise in as a bonus. It’s hard to recommend to everyone considering it’s not exactly a traditional game, but anyone with a passing interest in VR fitness should definitely pick up BoxVR. At its core, it’s incredibly simple, but it executes its central idea flawlessly. This is the VR fitness game, and it’s able to stand toe to toe with the best VR games out there.
Review Disclosure Statement: BoxVR was provided to us by FitXR for review purposes. For more information on how we review video games and other media/technology, please go review our Review Guideline/Scoring Policy for more info.
BoxVR is incredibly unique in that it aims to help its players get in shape and burn calories first and foremost while being a game second. That’s not to say that it isn’t fun, it’s incredibly engaging and the huge assortment of excellently-paced routines offer enough variety to make it worth coming back to on a regular basis. This game sets a very high bar for VR fitness, and it has found its way into my daily routine.
- Huge amount of workout routines
- Ability to set personal goals
- Varied music
- Simple but satisfying mechanics
- Can get a little repetitive at times
- Hard to recommend to people looking for a traditional game