Los Angeles game developer Grab Games is coming out of stealth mode.
Grab’s new VR game, Knockout League, is coming to Steam, Oculus, and Viveport in January. Here’s a first look at the trailer, filmed at the VRScout Mixed Reality Studio in LA.
Knockout League: First Look
Knockout League is a single player, arcade-style boxing game built from the ground up for virtual reality by Grab Games. Think Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! on performance-enhancing VR. Instead of dodging and blocking with buttons, you do it with your feet and hands, waiting for your opportunity to counterpunch based on the tells of your opponents.
No more Little Mac to hide behind and take the beatings. You’re the protagonist in this tale of blood, sweat, and tears. Alright, you’re unlikely to bleed or cry, but if you’re anything like me, you will sweat. A lot. Pro tip: Don’t play Knockout League in your work clothes right before a meeting.
Don’t expect to face ordinary boxing opponents either. The first guy you square off with is fairly predictable. A jacked gentleman named Tri Tip with moves reminiscent of Piston Honda or Don Flamenco. The hardest part is learning out how to evade, counter, and keep your composure while standing in the ring with your giant of an attacker.
After that, things get weird. January’s early release of Knockout League will feature four characters. In addition to Tri Tip, you’ll face an octopus wearing eight boxing gloves named Sir Octopunch, a lightning quick cat woman who bites and claws named Crimson Fang, and a pirate with a mean, and literal, left hook called Scurvy Jones. Keep your eye on his parrot.
You’ll have to wait until after the holidays to play Knockout League, but if you want to learn more about Grab Games, we did a lot of talking with the team during the making of the trailer about the state of the company.
Grab Games Q&A
Anthony Borquez, Grab’s CEO and Chairman, provides some insight into how Knockout League came to be and what we can expect from Grab Games in 2017.
What is the Grab Games origin story?
Grab’s core team has been together since 2002. We were one of the first mobile game developers and our early success led to an acquisition by Konami in 2006. Our team spent 4 years at Konami working on a variety of products & platforms, and in 2010 we left to start Grab Games.
Grab’s initial focus in our first few years was mobile and tablet, but we pivoted into Virtual and Augmented Reality in 2013 to work on a VR game for a theme park. Given our team’s FPS experience in VR, the next big game we worked on was John Wick Chronicles (coming February 2017), a partnership with Lionsgate and Starbreeze.
What is the composition of your team today?
Grab Games is currently 25 people comprised of engineers, artists, designers, producers and analytic developers. We do all our creative and development work in-house, but in some instances we will work a third party to help some with art assets, etc. In 2017, we are planning on growing the team as we move into pre-production on a new title.
What else have you been working on?
The majority of the team has been on Knockout League, specifically getting the early access build ready for our upcoming launch, integrating our VR analytics platform, and planning for live ops. But we do have a smaller team that has been laying the groundwork and early prototype for our next game that will focus on Multiplayer.
What sets Grab apart?
Culture and Execution. We’re fortunate our team has been together for several years and established a culture built on trust and execution. We have always embraced new platforms and work extremely efficient in our agile methodologies.
What was the inspiration for Knockout League?
Prior to Knockout League, the majority of our VR work was with first person shooters and interactive 360 video. Given how early the VR industry is, we challenged the team to experiment with other mechanics that could provide incredible VR consumer experiences.
One of the ideas was a melee style / combat mechanic. We iterated on that mechanic for several months and once we got it to a place that felt good, that was the origin of Knockout League. If you hang out at our office during lunch, you’ll see people playing fighting games and all kinds of retro classics. Knockout League is definitely inspired by the games we like to play.
How will the game evolve in 2017?
We plan on launching the full game toward the end of Q1 with 8 characters, but we have several other characters across different DLC packs that will come out in 2017. We learned a lot with our live ops team supporting mobile games, and many of the learnings will be applied to the evolution of Knockout League. We are investing in the community features of the game and want to build a strong relationship with our players and ensure we are delivering on their expectations.
What else can we expect from you guys?
We are extremely excited about 2017. We’ll have two AAA VR titles in the market we are proud of, but you can expect some exciting news about our next game around E3.
Stay tuned for updates on Knockout League in the New Year.