Two Hooks Ahead, One Jab Again
BoxVR has just been updated on Oculus Quest on FitXR. But are all changes for the better? Find out in our FitXR review!
BoxVR was once the go-to place for my VR fitness routine. In all honesty, I’ve rarely found this workout app, which mixes Beat Saber with boxing, extremely exhausting, but it’s always a welcome addition to more intense workouts, especially with the option to select marathon playlists longer than 40 minutes. And like other good VR workout apps, just playing the game is so fun that the health benefits are almost random.
However, the game also had some problems that have led me to more professional alternatives such as the subscription-based Supernatural or the more dynamic OhShape in the last few months. This week, however, BoxVR is transforming into FitXR and bringing with it some important changes. Some of these improvements could put the game back on my schedule, although not all of here is an upgrade.
The core of FitXR remains the same. You will still hit bullets in the same tracks as they arrive in time and earn extra points based on the speed at which you stretch your arms. It’s a proven mechanic that, while not as deep or complex as other VR rhythm games, makes VR practice instantly fun and accessible. Over time, developer FitXR will introduce new types of activities to make the app a more rounded fitness platform. I’m curious to see what these options are, although it’s a bit of a shame that none of them are ready to start proving their intent, as FitXR doesn’t feel as diverse as, for example, OhShape as a VR workout app without them. Plus, new exercises might have helped distract from some of the things the app loses in the update.
FitXR rating – Comfort
FitXR is a stationary game, but like any other VR workout app, be careful that if something sticks to your face, you will get hot and sweaty. You may not feel sick, but don’t overdo it, especially if you are playing in a hot room.
But the biggest upgrade here, in my eyes at least, seems like a slight change to one of the tougher elements of BoxVR. In addition to your standard jab and cross hits, you also perform side jabs and uppercuts. In the previous version of the game, these may have been incredibly difficult to perform accurately, and while they mastered some depth, the lack of these notes, if you were certain you were performing the correct technique, could be extremely demoralizing – not that, what you need in the middle of training. It could be the new visual style or the tweaked mechanics, but this seems a lot less of an issue in FitXR. You still need to plan ahead to make sure you hit the notes on time, but you shouldn’t miss out on any stray hooks and overcuts.
These changes, combined with a clearer indication of when and how to squat, can make FitXR a less frustrating workout than its predecessor in some ways. The new combo system, which only counts for a series if you hit a note fast enough, can spoil your excitement. It is meant to encourage you to give your all on every stroke, but it takes a moment to get it going again in the shorter workouts and punishing you for it is not right. There are also some new guides from a voice-over that add a little more personality to the app, if not certain training benefits. More helpful is the redesigned user interface, which makes it easier to filter through playlists to quickly find sessions of the length and intensity you want.
However, the calorie count seems overly generous to say the least. After a nine-minute playlist, the game counter told me I had burned 350 calories. I would expect so much to get burned off in a 5k run over 30 minutes, so I’m pretty sure FitXR is a little overwhelmed here. I appreciate trying to encourage progress, but this counter strikes me as misleading and you would be better off with your own estimates.
However, the most disturbing aspect of this update is what has been removed in it. While I personally like the new studio, its dark aesthetic isn’t for everyone, and the original version of the game had three environments to choose from. That only has one.
Also gone is the option to create custom playlists. BoxVR never had the most compelling track listing, but the ability to create a workout to suit your pace was one of the game’s most welcome features, and removing it is really confusing.
However, multiplayer could be the worst affected aspect. Technically, it’s not a multiplayer anymore. You can now jump into studios with other players’ “ghost data” to see virtual avatars box next to you. It’s great to have a visual representation of others in the room that was missing from the previous multiplayer integration. In this regard, there is no longer a “live” element for multiplayer, which means that it is no longer possible to meet with friends and train together in the game. It’s a huge shame that I can’t team up with anyone else for training anymore. It may have been a rare use case, but the ability to challenge a friend in the same room as me at the same time – asking what each other’s combos were and trying to beat that – was a huge motivator.
FitXR Review Final Impressions
FitXR brings seemingly more forgiving gameplay and – for some – nicer visual aesthetics to the BoxVR foundation, but has made some puzzling sacrifices in the transition. The loss of live multiplayer and custom playlists will leave us scratching our heads and other players will miss previous environments. Even so, this boxing game remains a fun, albeit relatively easy, training experience, but the bigger question concerns where FitXR will take the platform in the future. A robust platform with a variety of exercises could quickly turn FitXR into the definitive VR workout app. At the moment it is sitting comfortably next to its contemporaries.
FitXR will be released today on Oculus Quest as a free update for BoxVR owners (or $ 29.99). PSVR and SteamVR releases are planned for later this year. For more information on how we got this score, please see our review guidelines. What did you mask from our FitXR test? Let us know in the comments below!