Echo Arena

Published on 16th Oct, 2017 by Nils Daumann

What can I say... after writing my previous blog post about Project Swords I started downloading the open beta of the VR game Echo Arena and couldn't stop playing since.

In Echo Arena two teams try to get hold of a disc and to score into the opponent teams goal in 0g. The players move around with small boosters attached to their wrists, a bigger booster attached to their head and by grabbing on to surfaces and pushing themselves off them. The maximum speed for each of those movements is capped to a quite low maximum but can be raised by holding on and launching off of other players.

Even though I am quite prone to motion sickness this games fast and fluid locomotion system felt good to me from the start. It's a ton of fun and I am actually really good at it. The game eventually got released while still lacking important features that have been and still are being added to the game such as playing in fixed parties and spectator mode. There are also sometimes server issues and random crashes, but most of the time it works and it's great.

Echo Arena is the second VR game (next to Unspoken) getting pushed to become a competitive esports game. To do this Oculus works together with ESL and Intel to organize competitions with a big price pool they call the VR Challenger League. Teams in North America and Europe can compete in weekly cups for 50€ price money per person each week and points to qualify for offline events. The first of those offline events was the North American regional tournament at Oculus Connect 4 and the next one will be the EU regionals held at ESL One in Hamburg. The best teams of both regions will eventually meet in the world cup held in Poland as part of IEM Katowice. The winning team during regionals wins 3.5k€ per person and it's about twice that for the world cup. Considering that it's a new game with only few teams competing and that they are paying for the trips and hotels for the qualifying teams, this is really nice.

In Europe there are only 7 actively competing teams at the moment and I am in one of those called "Jacks" based on the character from the game Lone Echo, which is the single player part of Echo Arena and the player character is essentially the same robot everyone plays in Echo Arena and he is called Jack. We keep having one of us not able to compete and have to find substitute players, but we still managed to win the first 3 cups, skipped the fourth completely, played well in two more and won the latest one again. As full team we haven't been defeated yet, qualified for the regionals and should have pretty good chances to go to Poland early next year. We are currently placed second in the EU league and will hopefully get back be the best team in points :).

Here is us playing against our biggest opponent "Ding!":

There are videos from all the previous cups on our youtube channel: www.jacksvr.com

If you own a Rift and haven't tried Echo Arena yet you should because this is the best VR has to offer right now and it is amazing.

So what happened to Project Swords? I didn't directly work on it for a while, but I didn't give up either and the engine got some massive improvements in the last months :). I'll hopefully post about that soon.