You may not have heard the name Sports Bar VR Hangout before and that’s understandable. Sports Bar VR is a game I only noticed after receiving a PSN gift voucher and buying Doom and Headmaster, leaving me with an awkward amount of money left over that I wanted to get rid of. That’s when Sports Bar VR came to my attention.
Sports Bar, available on all 3 major VR headsets, places you…in a sports bar; here you take on the form of a floating PSVR headset that accurately mimics your real-life head movement and a pair of floating Move controllers which accurately mimic your hand movements (as long as they are in view of the PS Camera, easier said than done). You can play pool, darts, ski ball and mess around with a bunch of other physics objects, none of which are particularly impressive and can be frustrating when the Move controllers are in a mood.
No, the impressive thing about this game is when you go online with up to five other players, then something interesting happens, something that no other game I’ve played has had. It’s the social interactions, there is something about the accurate head and hand movements that takes things to the next level in terms of online social interaction, especially when coupled with an environment and tools that are designed to nurture these interactions. If I were a psychologist I might say it’s a fascinating thing to witness.
Each time I play I seem to make at least one new friend, we chat, we toss a pig skin around and laugh as we fail to catch it before loudly cheering when we actually manage to do it, we throw a beer bottle in the air and try to hit it with pool cues, we pull out our toy guns and shoot at each other while trying to find cover as if we were kids again (Oh and speaking of kids, I find it’s best to mute them if you come across them, an adult-only lobby works best.), we mess with the lifeless NPCs and laugh when we see another player rubbing his Move controller on a hipster’s butt. It’s socialising online but it feels like real world socialising and that’s the best way I can describe it because it really does feel different, it feels like a ‘wow’ moment.
Below are some highlights of some fun I had with the game that might give you an idea of what I mean. Note: my PS4 refused to capture the voices of the other players for some reason so try to imagine I’m not talking to myself.
Sports Bar VR won’t win any GOTY awards and I’m not even sure I’d call it a ‘good game’ but I can’t ignore that it feels like a beginning, it feels like a glimpse into a future that is getting very close.