Punching your way to the top — Creed hands-on at E3 2018

It’s probably no secret that we here at Gaming Trend are big fans of Survios, so we were super excited to take a literal swing at their E3 demo of Creed. Creed: Rise to Glory is a VR boxing game where you step into the ring as Adonis Creed, an underdog boxer trying to punch his way to the top. After a brief training round with Rocky Balboa himself, Ron Burke and I each hopped into the ring to exchange blows with our first opponent.

Now, the first thing you should know about Creed is that you’re supposed to stay still. The two golden rules are: don’t chase your enemy, and don’t run away. When played this way, this is a perfectly safe way to build up a decent sweat. As you can see from the video above… I failed to follow those basic rules. The good news is that, even in the confined space of the E3 demo booth, the only thing which suffered damage was our camera’s alignment. I managed to lash out, nick the desk on front of me — the PSVR’s Motion Controller admirably absorbed the worst of the damage — and knocked our camera askew. No damage done, and a much better track record than Wii Sports had where Wiimotes and flat screen TVs were concerned!

Inside the visor, Creed felt great. While it’s not hyper realistic by any stretch of the imagination, it has far more muted colors and realistic proportions than Knockout League. Also, unlike Knockout League, which places opponents uncomfortably close to your face, Creed lets you box other fighters from a comfortable distance, something Ron and I both very much appreciated. Fighters move in realistic ways, and I found myself watching my opponent’s shoulders, rather than their fists, just as I would in the sparring ring.

Creed gives you room to be aggressive, but also rewards you for picking your moment and biding your time. After successfully dodging a punch, a short window will open where time itself seems to slow down, giving you the opportunity to punish your opponent and land a wombo-combo. You’ll also have to overcome not just your own physical stamina, but a virtual version of it as well. In order to compensate for that fact that an actual fight will tire you out far more than simply punching the empty air of your living room, Creed has his own stamina meter which drains a little each time you throw a punch. Your boxing gloves change colors as Creed wears himself out; fortunately, you can quickly recover by playing defensively and blocking until things return to normal.

The mechanics of the game itself start to change if you try to simply power through your exhaustion. Creed doesn’t prevent you from throwing a punch when you’re low on stamina, but your fatigue will actually slow your swing down. The game will register your actual punch, but you’ll see your boxing glove move more slowly inside the visor. This means you can still land a punishing blow if an opportunity presents itself, but it does add an important and more realistic risk factor to doing so when you’re already worn out.

Of course, taking and recovering from a hit is just as important a part of boxing as is giving one, and Creed has developed not one, but two unique mechanics for this. If you get hit hard enough to become disoriented, Creed will freeze with his arms in a certain pose. You’ll have to think fast and reorient yourself inside his body by putting your hands in the same position as his boxing gloves, as indicated by colored rings. This is easier said than done, since you’ll be switching gears from fight mode to copycat mode, and you’ll have to correctly orient yourself within all three dimensions. Having a glove in the same longitude isn’t enough, you’ll also have to match the latitude in order to recover.

Then there’s the knockout punch. You can’t survive too many of these, but if you do have the chance to recover, you’ll find yourself flung completely out of Creed’s body, hovering in a dark void beyond. You’ll have to press the Move buttons on the Motion Controllers and pump your arms, Sprint Vector style, and literally sprint back into Creed’s body before he hits the mat. Doing so allows you to shake it off and get right back into the thick of things, hopefully without taking another skull-rattling hit like that any time soon.

Creed: Rise to Glory was a whole lot of fun to play. It got our adrenaline going, our pulses racing, and provoked a whole lot of cheers from onlookers. The controls were pretty responsive, though I can’t wait to see what it plays like in a room scale setup, where I imagine it will be even easier to dodge and sidestep opponents. Creed will be bursting into virtual living room boxing rings later this year (just in time for the movie sequel!) on Vive, Oculus, and PSVR.

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