Virtual reality has the potential to make some game types better: storytelling can be more immersive, the jump scares of horror can be more frightening. However, fast-paced first-person games in VR have generally only succeeded at making me feel nauseated. But the PlayStation VR-exclusive RIGS Mechanized Combat League proves even that genre can work in the confines of a headset. RIGS has serious flaws in execution, but it nails the fundamentals of movement in VR in a way no other game I’ve experienced has.
At its core, RIGS is a first-person shooter where you pilot a robotic mech through sprawling, multi-tiered arenas across three primary modes: Team Takedown (team deathmatch), Endzone (a capture-the-flag-meets-American-football variant), and Power Slam (the game’s unique and most interesting mode). In Power Slam, you destroy opponents or collect orbs scattered around each arena to enter a powered-up Overdrive mode, after which you can jump through a large ring in the center of the map to score points for your team. The concept sounds complicated and weird, though the deathmatch-meets-basketball mashup is genuinely fun.
But the number of camera and comfort options are what truly make racing across the game’s maps and leaping through the air to score aerial takedowns feel so natural. When you turn and look around, the field of view around you, but without diminishing your peripheral view too drastically. When you get ejected from your rig, you can enjoy the flight up in the air where you’ll choose your next respawn point, or just let the game momentarily black out the background while you soar upwards. And the ability to use your head to move around and aim, while disconcerting at first, is what makes the entire VR experience come together. You can always opt for a more traditional twin-stick controller setup, but the responsiveness of the game’s head-tracking allows for almost mouse and keyboard-like precision (and the fairly generous aim-assist helps too).
There’s both a single-player and multiplayer campaign, and both are built around completing a set number of matches to complete a “season.” The overall rank you earn–designated by the number of new fans you acquire after each match–carries across both online and off. And through increasing your rank, you can hire stronger AI teammates (though they also demand more of the reward pot for each match). But the matches too frequently felt lopsided. I faced computer opponents who sometimes offered an exciting challenge, while others either completely crushed my team or fell to double-digit losses. But the pace of the matches are perfect–an endless, unpausing march of the game’s clock that gets you in and out of the action in 10 minutes.