While Virtual Reality can sometimes feel like a solo experience, several titles have offered compelling multiplayer experiences, whether it’s putting with Walkabout Mini Golf, living your tabletop fantasy in Demeo, or staring down an opponent across the table with Eleven Table Tennis. Racket Club is the newest social experience in the mix. Creating a new sport that’s sort of a combo of tennis, pickleball and squash, this addictive and satisfying creation is fun and easy to jump into with friends and strangers.
Racket Club’s core gameplay features a court that is about a quarter of a tennis court, surrounded by glass walls. With singles and doubles, you have to score points by causing a double bounce on your opponent’s side of the net, utilising the walls as best you can. You can volley, but you can’t directly hit the back wall, and you have to serve under-arm, not over. This means that straight away, the hybrid sport feels more tactical, and you can’t just smash your way to victory.
Making contact with the ball feels good. You’ll need a little bit of space in your home to make your side of the court fit comfortably, but once you do, it’s easy to get into a rhythm, with a pulse of the controller and the satisfying thwack of hitting the ball doing just the trick. The scoring system also encourages rallying; with each match being a best-of-3 sets situation, first to 11 points in each, the longer you rally, the more it’s worth on the scoreboard. After a long rally, winning a point is equivalent to five, making it feel all the most special when you nail it, and providing good options for comeback victories.
Where Racket Club adds a lot of longevity is in its social elements. When walking into a Club, there are several courts around, players having a crack, watching one another or just having a banter on the sidelines. It’s lovely to step out into this environment and find people to play with, whether it be friends or strangers. Even in the early access review period, I came across familiar faces to have a hit with. At one point, a friendly duo from Russia (who had a lot more experience than us) challenged us to a friendly game, and it didn’t take long for all four of us to be laughing, communicating through language barriers as best we could and loving every second.
That’s the real magic of VR, in my opinion; being able to “look” across a court like this, fully immersed in an environment like Racket Club, forming connections and having a laugh with strangers on the other side of the world. It’s what has made stuff like Rec Room so cool after all these years, and that feeling is very present here. It’s a bit of a workout, as well; after a few games, I was sweating and felt like I’d really been out on a tennis court, so I can see myself jumping in for a hit regularly.
If you’re more interested in playing solo, there is a career mode of sorts, which is mostly just back-to-back matches. The AI is no slouch and they serve as good practice, particularly when you’re new to the game. Training is also there in the form of drills like target practice. But while the core mechanics are well-made and fun, it’s the social elements that have me wanting to pick up my racket and play some more. It’s so intuitive and simple to get into a match; simply open the door to the court, and give a thumbs up to show that you’re ready to play, without clunky UI lobbies and text on screen.
Racket Club is a super enjoyable spin on a social sport experience in VR. The new sport is easy to pick up and learn, and incredibly satisfying once you’re rallying with the best of them. Add in some strong social elements and the endless amount of friendly opponents you’ll be able to find courtside, and it makes for a pretty awesome multiplayer title that is easy to jump in and join the Club.