Tennis League VR serves up a colorful arcade game but it's not quite a Grand Slam. Available now on Quest 2, read on for our full review:
Sports are gaining an increased foothold in virtual reality and tennis is no exception. Between First Person Tennis and Eleven Table Tennis to upcoming games like Racket Club, some of the best VR sports games take certain liberties in portraying their respective activities to improve the experience. More arcade-like than a direct simulator, Tennis League VR is no different.
Tennis League accurately reflects the real sport's rules, though you can customize how many games and sets are carried out in each match before determining a winner. Career Mode is the main draw for offline players, where you compete between four different tournaments against AI opponents. Each features different attributes for power, velocity, precision reaction, and technique, so while they play similarly, they don't feel like copy-and-paste characters with a different avatar.
From street venues to full-blown stadiums, your goal involves rising through the ranks and that's reflected by a traditional leveling system. Whether you win or lose, finishing matches awards EXP based on your performance. Leveling up improves different character aspects like backhand and forehand shots, topspin and backspin, volleys and more.
I'm reminded of Wii Sports' own take on tennis, though Tennis League uses more precise controls and forgoes automatic movement for a teleportation system. Using the Touch controller face buttons, you can instantly move between two locations where the ball is projected to bounce. Anyone on the offensive should teleport toward the net with A/X, while B/Y offers more defensive play at the back.
It's an interesting system that requires quick responses, especially if you're going on the offensive as the ball can quickly slip past. Given the space needed in real-life tennis courts, I'd consider this a suitable workaround for VR. Artificial locomotion can be selected but teleportation feels more natural, though this didn't always work as intended. On several occasions, I was placed into a worse position that lost me the round or had less than a second to react.
However, my biggest issue relates to actually hitting the tennis balls. Judging how much power to apply isn't initially obvious in Tennis League, even with the tutorial. When a gentle wrist flick sends your shot halfway across the court, or a full serve can send tennis balls into next week, working out how much I should swing took considerable trial and error. Switching from arcade mode controls to simulation didn't feel like it changed much, either.
Winning matches is certainly fun, but immersion is dampened when shots require considerable restraint. I also wish Tennis League did more with the soundtrack. All you hear during matches is the crowd mumbling, cheers and occasional jeering. That's fine from an immersion perspective, though some energetic songs would go a long way to keep me motivated.
Beyond career mode, Tennis League VR provides several choices and there's plenty of content. Online multiplayer is 1v1 only - there's no doubles matches, which would be tricky to implement given the movement system, However, you can create private matches and setup a spectator mode for 8 additional people. Offline AI quick-play matches are another option, while customization adds limited appearance settings for your avatar and additional rackets.
Tennis League VR - Comfort
Tennis League VR doesn't feature many traditional comfort options, beyond selecting your dominant hand. Movement is restricted to teleportation only in the lobby, though matches can use artificial locomotion. Height calibration aside, that's pretty much it.
My personal highlight is Droid Rush, a tower defense style mode that involves destroying endless waves of robots by hitting them with tennis balls. You aim for turrets, shielded foes and your standard ground troops, and after taking five hits, that's game over. It's a natural fit for these controls that's surprisingly enjoyable, and I only wish there were more to it. AnotheReality confirms post-launch updates will add extra modes, but the specifics remain unknown.
Tennis League VR Review - Final Verdict
Tennis League VR is a decent attempt at bringing the popular sport into virtual reality, with its varied content, colorful presentation and Droid Rush. Unfortunately, that's let down by the racket mechanics, which require flicking your wrists instead of swinging properly to keep tennis balls on the court. Anyone seeking a new VR tennis experience might find something worthwhile here, but the end result is slightly disappointing.
UploadVR focuses on a label system for reviews, rather than a numeric score. Our reviews fall into one of four categories: Essential, Recommended, Avoid and reviews that we leave unlabeled. You can read more about our review guidelines here.