When people talk about getting “in the zone,” we’re fairly confident that the best representation yet of that sensation in a video game is Tetris Effect. Today, Enhance is excited to launch a brand-new multiplayer update to their iconic take on the classic Tetris® formula with Tetris Effect: Connected, out now as a free update to all versions of the game. Tetris® Effect: Connected is available on the Oculus Quest platform for $29.99 USD and for the Rift Platform via Steam or the Epic Games Store.
“Playing Tetris® Effect is like going to a live fireworks show; you hear the sounds and watch the effects live,” said developers from Enhance in our Q and A last year. “In 2D, you were playing Tetris® on the other side of the screen, but in VR, you’re experiencing everything from the inside. With the 2D screen removed, you feel like you’re there, with the game unfolding right in front of you. We designed Tetris® Effect so that the music, backgrounds, sounds, effects, and vibrations all sync with the gameplay. We believe this synesthesia experience is enhanced in VR.”
With the free Connected update available on all platforms, players can enjoy the zen-like ambiance of Tetris® Effect online with friends for the first time. Featuring full cross-platform multiplayer, you can crank things up higher than ever before by either inviting a friend on the same platform directly or sharing a unique alphanumeric lobby code for cross-platform play. Today’s Connected update also includes a new Spectator mode, “slow” mode, and even Quest 2-specific optimizations for players to choose between higher fidelity or smoother performance in VR.
To learn more about what’s new in Tetris® Effect: Connected we caught up with the game’s Multiplayer Lead Game Designer from Enhance, Tomohiro Tatejima, and the Project Manager from Monstars, Yasuyuki Togo.
Tell us a little about Tetris® Effect: Connected. What can players expect from the update?
Togo and Tatejima:
Any player who owns Tetris® Effect will be able to play these newly added multiplayer modes, online or locally.
In addition to the traditional experience of immersing yourself in Tetris® in your own space, the "Connected" mode allows you to share a space and mind with others through Tetris®.
What motivated you to bring multiplayer to Tetris® Effect?
Togo and Tatejima: We’re proud to say that Tetris® Effect is a game that can be enjoyed in single-player mode alone. However, multiplayer is one of the most fun ways to play Tetris®.
The many fans who wanted multiplayer and the enthusiasm I felt when I watched the CTWC (the Classic Tetris® World Championship) encouraged us to create Tetris® Effect: Connected with the addition of multiplayer.
What’s your favorite part of the Connected update and why?
Tatejima: The best part is that multiplayer is cross-platform. It wasn't an easy road to make it happen, but I'm confident that this will make playing online against others many times more enjoyable.
Of all the multiplayer modes, Connected is my favorite. It takes more brains than usual to outlast the interference from the bosses, but the "connection" that comes from successfully surviving is a liberating and exhilarating experience. It's even more satisfying to work together with your teammates to build up Tetrominoes at a good pace.
Togo: I recommend Zone Battle. With the addition of the Zone mechanic to traditional Tetris® rules, you can use Zone to survive a board that you might otherwise lose, and you can even use it to turn the tables on your opponent.
The exhilaration you feel when you enter the Zone at the same time as your opponent and use it to beat them is unbelievable.
Did you encounter any technical challenges while developing the Connected update? How did you overcome those obstacles?
Togo and Tatejima: The addition of online multiplayer for up to four players (up to eight if you include spectators) was a challenge of balancing the processing speed with the gorgeous presentation that surpasses the single-player game.
We wanted to maintain a high frame rate, while simultaneously preserving a beautiful presentation, and we did a lot of optimization and testing until we were satisfied with both points.
Oculus Quest is optimized for a good balance between frame rate and graphics. On Oculus Quest 2 there’s an option to switch between prioritizing frame-rate or graphics, allowing players to customize the visuals to their preference.
What’s the best reaction you’ve seen while demoing / playtesting the update?
Togo and Tatejima: Some people have said that the experience of playing Tetris® together in a VR space is novel and enjoyable. When we were developing the game, we felt that it would be refreshing to play Tetris with other people while wearing a headset and working together with them.
How do you think VR and AR will continue to change the face of gaming moving forward?
Togo: Although the physical distance between you and your friends or opponents will not change, I believe that VR/AR will make it possible to realize the feeling of being close to them, as if you were playing together next to or across from them.
I believe that there will be an increase in demand for audience-participation games in virtual spaces that involve not only the people playing the game, but also those watching it. I would like to continue to further develop VR/AR through video games.
Tatejima: I think the great thing about VR/AR is that it can go far beyond the conventional limits in terms of the persuasive power of expression. Through video games, it will be possible to step into areas of expression that were previously impossible, and provide new levels of fun to players.
Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
Togo: Tetris® Effect is a game that naturally engages you the more you play it. The more you play Tetris® Effect, the more you will become absorbed in the game, especially the combination of Oculus Quest and Tetris® Effect. Whether you've already played it or not, this is a great opportunity for you to try it out.
Tatejima: I feel that playing Tetris® is a great fit for the Quest platform—the headset is very comfortable and you can jump into the game right away! I hope you will enjoy playing Tetris® Effect: Connected for a long time.