Developer / Publisher – Cherry Pop Games
Price – US $9.99 / EU €9.99 / UK £7.99 / AU $14.95
Release date – June 7th, 2018
Control Method – 2 x Move controllers
Pro Patch – No
Digital only – Yes
Reviewed on – PS4 Pro
Football Nation VR Tournament was released as VRFC a few months ago and has seen a few updates in that time besides just the name change. I enjoyed VRFC upon release and was baffled at how they could pull off Football (soccer) in VR. Surprisingly enough Cherry Pop Games did just that making for a fun and physical soccer game that lacked key features that hindered the overall experience. The issues I mentioned in my original review have been remedied and while the bulk of the game is still the same, the recent updates should be enough to win over anyone who may have been on the fence about purchasing this at launch.
So how does football work in VR? You are going to need 2 Move controllers and for those familiar with Sprint Vector, Football Nation uses a similar base mechanic; swinging your arms as if you were running to propel you forward. Looking down reveals 2 feet, which are also mapped to the controllers. From here you can choose a variety of comfort options to best suit the play and I recommend going through and fine tuning these to your liking. Turning left and right has been assigned to 2 buttons and steering your Moves at the same time. You can sprint faster by holding down both triggers, which drains your stamina, or move backwards by pressing both Move buttons as well strafing and centering options to keep you in the direction you want to go. Holding the trigger on 1 controller will give that foot kicking power to help blast it past the AI goalie or allow you to pass instead with a press of one of the face buttons. It’s a complicated system that does take time to get used to but the longer I played the more everything just started to click. For beginner players there is an option to simplify the controls, but I’d recommend trying the advanced stuff as soon as you can. I’m still terrible at the game, but I’ve noticed dramatic improvement in my ‘footwork’ the longer I play making the game feel more natural.
Football Nation is a smaller title and it shows in the visuals. The city park is still where game and the tutorials take place, but now with the tournament option you can play in a fully realized stadium, complete with a carboard cut-out audience that looks better then it sounds. Players models are fully realized, looking great and move quite naturally, albeit maybe a tad stiff. The fields both look great though I much prefer the livelier nature of the Stadium. It’s not the most amazing looking VR game, but it delivers where it needs to in the visual department and compliments the gameplay nicely. Not much to say on the audio side. Matches are played in musical silence, except when a goal is scored, and the menus are littered with some upbeat tracks to get you in the football playing mood.
The highlight in Football Nation is the up to 8 on 8 matches you can have in the Stadium with up to 8 human players in the game. Playing online with real people is a blast and like other online physical titles, though you may struggle, it’s comforting to know that everyone else around you is dealing with that same physicality. Should you want a smaller game, it’s 5 on 5 on the smaller field. I can’t stress enough to practice a fair bit before you take to the competitive field, but if you are struggling, thanks to full mic support, your teammates will more than likely supply you with some helpful advice. The rest of the positions on the field are handled by bots which is a great addition allowing you to not only play full football games with friends but allows you to play offline anytime you want in a full game, a feature previously missing from the title.
For those looking for an exact football sim, there are a few features handled by the game that may disappoint you. Throw-ins are handled by the computer and no, you can’t control the goalie which if you think about would be a dull way to play. I’ll say it again… the control scheme is a little complex and will take a few hours to feel out and get used to but sticking with it is well worth the payoff. Also, as you play you gain experience and level up unlocking new customization options for your avatar, which can be either male or female. You can change your face, skin color and uniform design, making your player/team feel a little more like your own.
Other new additions to the game include a shootout at the end of the game should the score be tied and the aforementioned throw-ins and corner kicks that do add to realism of the game. Now you can play as your favorite country on the field complete with that nations logo and the controls have apparently been streamlined a bit but in all honesty, I didn’t notice to much of change in that department.
Football Nation is a sweet little game. I think fans of football will be pleasantly surprised by this and for those who may be a little more unfamiliar the sport, it’s a still a lot of fun. I didn’t think a sport sim of this type would work in VR but this shines as a decent representation of the sport while offering loads of replayability thanks to the online multiplayer and the offline bots. If you are looking to get a little sweaty and make some friends, pick this up!
What would I pay? I said back when this was VRFC that this was worth the $20 asking price. Well now it’s a $10 asking price with more options so if you are at all curious about this…pick it up already!
Cherry Pop Games provided The VR Grid with a review code for this title and, regardless of this review, we thank them for that!