Space Pirate Arena is an upcoming pseudo-sequel to VR classic Space Pirate Trainer (2017). All your training, it seems, was leading up to going head to head against other players in a huge virtual arena… and you’ll need an equally huge playspace in real life to play.
Space Pirate Trainer from developer I-Illusions was one of VR’s first killer apps, and after all these years it’ll soon be getting a follow-up in the form of Space Pirate Arena.
I-Illusions developer Dirk Van Welden said recently that the game will launch “soon” on Quest, and he confirmed the game will require a whopping 32 × 32ft (10 × 10m) playspace.
— Dirk Van Welden (@quarkcannon) June 3, 2021
The reason for the huge playspace requirement is because the game will put players inside of a virtual arena that they must navigate entirely with real movement. While the virtual arena has lots of corridors and cover to hide behind, players will of course just be running around an empty space trying to spot each other (which can look pretty hilarious from the outside).
Given the playspace requirement, the game is almost certain to not launch on any tethered headsets since their cords wouldn’t reach far enough to cover the arena.
Van Welden acknowledges that the huge playspace requirement isn’t going to be something everyone will have access to, but says it’s necessary if you want to play Space Pirate Arena “the way it should be.”
In a lot of ways, this feels similar to releasing Space Pirate Trainer [early access] back in 2016. Back then we didn’t know if people would go out and buy a VR headset. There are a lot of Quests out there now, but we’re asking those people to find a safe 10 × 10m spot to play Arena. Similar to SPT, once you have played Arena the way it should be, you’ll be introduced to a whole new kind of experience, and it’ll just sell itself.
To make sure Arena is played the right way, it won’t boot unless you found a 10 × 10m space. That’s actually the only threshold, since we’ve added a single player mode to give you a taste of the gameplay. (If you don’t have friends with a Quest). In the process of creating Arena, we had to come up with a whole bunch of original solutions for problems that arise with 1-to-1 movement based gameplay. Let’s hope these set the bar for future similar experiences.
He goes on to say that the studio is in its “final push” of development, and that a release date announcement and more details are due “very soon,” so it seems that we can expect a launch before year’s end.
Space Pirate Arena isn’t the first game to use a large playspace with purely physical movement. This kind of arrangement is regularly seen in out-of-home VR arcades, but hasn’t come to Quest because of the clear space limitation for average users. It’s an intriguing gamble for I-Illusions and reminds us a bit of Everslaught which is trying to be the best it can be for a subset of hardcore VR users rather than everyone.