When it comes to energetic virtual reality (VR) titles you’ve got a fair amount to choose from, even on Oculus Quest. But if you’re looking for an immersive workout, something tailored towards helping you stay healthy whilst not feeling like a chore that list does rapidly decrease. In this space VR fitness specialist, FitXR’s BoxVR videogame has made a name for itself, officially launching last year across a range of headsets. So why is VRFocus reviewing it now? Well, BoxVR has now been rebranded as the company name, FitXR, adding reworked visuals and new ways to keep you motivated. Plus we didn’t previously review the experience so now seemed like a good time.
The core mechanics in FitXR haven’t changed from its former self. At its heart, this is a boxing workout providing a variety of sessions to suit most players, whether you want something long and gruelling or a quick blast to wake you up in the morning. What has changed is the fact that FitXR is more grown up, its developed a maturity over the last year, moving away from a boxing rhythm-action experience and into the realm of a professional virtual workout; sounding and looking the part in the process.
Gameplay is all about jabs, hooks and uppercuts with obstacles to make you squat or lean side to side so there is that element of a full body workout. To ensure these are actual workouts and not some casual videogame warmup where you’re waving your arms trying to burn calories FitXR has actually teamed up with fitness instructors. Not only to maximise the effectiveness of each session but to also pep you up if you’re flagging.
From FitXR’s virtual gym foyer you’re presented with three big screens with various ways of selecting a workout. The left hand screen promotes the ‘Class of the Day’ which tends to be the lighter, shorter workouts at around 10 minutes long. In the middle are the ‘Recommendations’ if you quickly want to dive into one of the classes and then the ‘Class List’ is the full selection, broken down so you can select the instructor, time, genre of music and intensity. The selection is decently varied but you will find certain combinations won’t work, for example a particular instructor might not be available under Electronic music for example.
This precise approach means that customisation options are few and far between. There are additional music packs – payable DLC – if you want to expand the roster with more intense or rock tracks. However, there’s no way (that VRFocus could find) of adding your own music if you really prefer a particular style to keep you motived whilst training which seems like a glaring omission when compared to rivals in this field.
So with the selection available – there are over 100 tracks to be fair – what are the actual workouts like? As expected they’re quite the upper body session even on the moderate setting and 10 minutes in the sweat has easily kicked in and the arms are already beginning to tire; there was no chance of completing the really long 30+ minute workouts! What’s great is there’s no barrier to entry, most people know how to throw a punch or duck out the way so you don’t need to really learn anything, just simply keep up.
Like any rhythm-action title FitXR features a scoring and streak system to encourage you to hit the various targets in time and in succession, thus adding a replay factor to go back and improve. Miss or poorly time a punch and the streak will reset, so you have to build it back up. After numerous sessions there definitely seemed to be a discrepancy in the hit window as punches that were in time and correct should’ve landed but didn’t. It doesn’t remove the effectiveness of the training just infuriating when it happens.
There are solo and multiplayer modes, the latter adding in ghost characters to train with. Most noticeable is the instructor. Trying to bring a little of the real world into the training session, they’ll offer words of encouragement which can help if you’re properly flagging although for the most part it came across a little hammy. A digital avatar might improve that factor, pushing you on rather than a voice in your ear.
What does come in handy are the metrics showcasing stats like calories burnt and time played across the day, week and month. Great for those trying to keep track of their fitness and how much their VR regimen is working.
As an addition to your workout routine FitXR has plenty to offer. It’s like a drill instructor where everything is done by the book because the system is tried and tested. While the title doesn’t have the flair of Synth Riders or the sheer insanity that is Beat Saber’s Expert+ it can still hold its own in the VR fitness world, just make sure you have some sort of cover for Oculus Quest’s foam facial interface.