Ping pong seems like the perfect fit for a virtual reality game. Simple to pick up, difficult to master, and all you need are eyes to see, a hand to hold a paddle, and another hand to help balance when you almost fall over. Despite this obvious fit, there aren’t too many options available, at least on PlayStation VR, and one of those options is actually the predecessor to this game. VR Ping Pong was a little bare to say the least, with plenty of scope for VR Ping Pong Pro to improve.
The most noticeable jump is that it now features remarkably high quality real world environments to play in, instead of the stylised voxel arenas of before. Featuring places like a garage, a park in the Japan, and what appears to be a favela, they’re all very colourful, attractive places that you can take a minute away from your table for a look around, and there are even people strolling around in the outside areas.
You can play single player against five difficulties and multiplayer in each of these locations, as well as a selection of arcade modes, but unfortunately the multiplayer already seems to be pretty barren. If that’s what you’re interested in, you’re likely out of luck unless you already have a VR friend to play with. As shame, because you’ll have few opportunities to show off with your customised bat and balls, as it were.
The arcade modes are a little hit and miss, but some stand out as the most fun and challenging sides to the game. The best by far was a mode where you play ping pong on a table that breaks away in squares once it gets hit, so the longer you rally the more accurate you need to be. Another highlight is bowling, which involves hitting your ping pong ball through stacked cans, but also over walls and at multiple stacks.
Not all the arcade modes deliver, though, such as one that had me returning serves made by a cannon and aiming for certain parts of the table, with the target getting smaller or bigger everytime you hit or miss. This sounds great, but the game seems to have trouble telling if you’ve hit or missed a target, often not registering a hit or even registering a hit on a part of the target that was hanging off the edge of the table. Occasionally, the cannon would just drop a ball instead of serving it, as well.
So unfortunately that last mode turns out to be a little annoying, though it’s still helpful for practicing the accuracy you’ll need in the rest of the game. It takes a little while to really adjust to VR Ping Pong Pro’s physics. The game plays well enough for some casual fun and you’ll feel competitive against the AI once you’ve adjusted to it. The issue is that it can be a little inconsistent, and every once in a while things happen that simply shouldn’t, such as the ball passing through the edge of the table when it seemed like it should have hit, losing you a point. There seems to be a little instability in tracking the move controllers, where a shot can unexpectedly send the ball careening off into the distance when it didn’t seem like you’d hit it anywhere near that hard.
There are a couple of other issues, namely if you return a ball and it doesn’t hit their side of the table but does hit the AI’s paddle, they gain a point, which… well, that isn’t how ping pong works. I also once had a mini-game stop working as it just didn’t let me serve the ball, causing me to have to quit to the menu. No doubt these will be fixed in a future patch – an update with physics tweaks is now out on PC, but not yet available for PSVR – along with the rest of the arcade modes that are just “coming soon” signs at the moment.