Back at E3 2019 earlier this year we learned that Ready at Dawn was working on an Oculus Quest port of its zero-gravity VR disc sport, Echo Arena, and would be bringing it over to the standalone VR headset in “all its glory.”
Yesterday, at Oculus Connect 6 (OC6), I got the chance to try it out for myself on Quest for the first time and I can confirm that it’s certainly a capable port of the popular game, but certainly not a perfect translation.
Generally speaking, the game runs great on Quest. The developers describe it as still being in “alpha” but for all intents and purposes it seems far more feature complete than most alphas I’ve tried. Everything works already. All the controls are the same allowing me to reach out with my hands and use wrist thrusters to glide around the arena, I can push off of objects, boost with the left stick, brake with the right, use the grip buttons to grab the disc or environment, and use the triggers to punch and block.
Like I said, this is definitely Echo Arena. It’s all here. But it’s just not quite as good, which shouldn’t be a big surprise.
For starters, you can tell it’s downgraded visually pretty clearly. I haven’t played Echo Arena in months but I could still spot some differences. The lightning system seemed less remarkable specifically and I am pretty sure I could spot a tad of fixed foveated rendering around the edges of my display. Character models were lower quality as well, even in terms of the differences between my avatar and the avatars of other players. For example, my hands were articulated with individually animated fingers, but other players appeared to have a smudged glove for hands, basically.
Those are pretty minor differences when you’re in the heat of a match though and don’t actually matter. But since the Quest only has four front-facing inside-out cameras in the corners of the headset face plate, the tracking volume is much smaller than the original Rift and smaller than the Rift S. Specifically, when reaching above my head, down around the back of my waist, or behind my back.
In most VR games you usually keep your hands out in front of you, but in Echo Arena that isn’t really the case. You’ll often grab a piece of the environment without looking at it directly or hold onto the wall, then turn to look towards the disc before pushing off and launching yourself. That action was sort of hit or miss on Quest. The same goes for reaching behind my hand to wind up a throw/pass or flicking it backwards to toss. The action usually worked okay, but it often forced my arms and hands to get all distorted, which was a bit jarring.
To be clear though: Echo Arena on Quest, from what I’ve seen so far, is absolutely capable, playable, and quite good. I would definitely play this version and would personally recommend it to Quest owners from what I’ve played. Not having to worry about wires is reason enough to make Echo Arena on Quest one worth keeping on your radar because it feels great to spin around without issues. That being said, it just isn’t as good as on PC VR, but that should have been expected anyway.
There is still no release date for Echo Arena on Quest, so stay tuned for more once we know!