Suit Up for Zero Gravity Battles in ‘Echo VR,’ Now Available on Oculus Quest

Oculus Blog
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September 1, 2020
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The wait is finally over! Experience the thrill of zero gravity competition in Echo VR today on Oculus Quest. From the team at Ready at Dawn, Echo VR is a futuristic team-based sport and the first entry in the popular Echo franchise to launch on Quest. Released in open beta earlier this year, Echo VR is now available to all as a free download — so grab your gear and jump into the future of sports on Quest today.

Since 2017, fans of Echo Arena on the Rift Platform have come together in zero gravity to hang out, score goals, and dominate the leaderboards. Today, these virtual athletes make up one of the strongest gaming communities around, and things are just getting started. Echo VR on Quest welcomes a whole new group of players into the arena of the future, complete with a 4v4 game mode, and social lobbies, and full cross-play compatibility with Echo VR on the Rift Platform.

Echo VR on Quest keeps everything that makes the Echo VR series such a memorable experience, like full-body gameplay and immersive visuals, while introducing a freer way to play thanks to Quest’s all-in-one form factor. Echo VR on Quest also introduces three limited edition items to players who participate in a match during the first week of release.

We spoke with Ready at Dawn producer Johnny Wing, and Community Manager Samantha Hyatt to hear the latest on bringing Echo VR to Quest.

To start, how would you describe Echo VR to someone new to the franchise?

Johnny Wing: Echo VR is an immersive zero-gravity game. There are two major parts to Echo VR on Quest: Social Lobby and Echo Arena. Echo Arena is our game mode that can be best described as zero gravity Ultimate Frisbee. Each team consists of four players that must utilize teamwork to throw a disc into the opposing team’s goal. The Social Lobby is where players can hone their Echo Arena skills, change their character customization, find hidden props to play with, make new friends, or even hang out and chat with others.

What has player feedback been like from the Quest beta? Can you share some highlights?

JW: We took feedback very seriously during our Quest beta and looked at many different sources: Store Reviews, Discord, Reddit, and in-game talking to players - to name a few.

We’ve had overwhelmingly positive reviews from players and found general trends where players did not know how to use certain features or even suggested better ways to make the feature accessible.

Samantha Hyatt: As Johnny mentioned above, we took all the feedback the community gave us from various spaces to find trends. The community feedback helped us see where we could improve different aspects of the game to make features more accessible, explain how to use them, etc. The team worked really hard to make Echo VR on Quest feel like Echo VR on Rift, so it was exciting to see some of the early reviews coming in with players expressing it felt the same or similar to playing Echo VR on Rift.

Can you share a few takeaways from the Quest beta, and how they shaped the final product?

JW: Before Quest, our players have been a dedicated core group that started on the Rift three years ago and have evolved with the game as we released updates. The new players on Quest found it difficult to use our social controls, so in our final product, we made it easier for individuals to use our social controls like muting and ghosting. We also introduced new default social settings that help players determine how interactive they want to be with others in the lobby.

SH: We’ve seen a lot of growth in our community after the Quest beta, so in addition to helping us improve in-game features and tools, it helped us scale to support the continued growth of the community.

What were some key challenges in bringing Echo VR to Quest? How were they solved?

JW: Early in the development phase, we noticed that gameplay did not feel 1:1 with the Rift. We reached out to the Oculus tracking team and worked very closely with them. We had many back and forth iterations to narrow down the perfect feel for throwing and movement.

How did 6DoF change the approach to player movement and locomotion in Echo VR?

JW: When it comes to 6Dof, Quest greatly increases mobility compared to their tethered partners. Players are freer to jump, duck, and juke one another. We feel our locomotion is the perfect way to introduce players to VR.

What key learnings from Lone Echo and Echo Combat helped most with Echo VR?

SH: Lone Echo and Echo Arena taught us about locomotion, how to intuitively move in VR, and how different people have different levels of comfort. Movement and comfort were key learnings we used when designing the new comfort features for Echo VR. Similarly, the full-body presence and community feedback we received during Quest beta were vital when improving the social tools and social experience in Echo VR.

Can you talk about the social side of Echo VR, like lobby activities, matchmaking, etc?

JW: For the Quest Launch, we added new Social Lobby Groups. Players can pick a group and match into Social Lobby with those players. The current Groups we are launching with are Casual Mature Gamers, Competitive Gamers, Playground, and Echo Combat Players. As for matchmaking, players can queue up for Echo Arena and match against similarly skilled players. This can be done individually or in a party of up to 8 players for a non-private match.

SH: The opt-in Social Lobby Groups are great because it’ll let you find like-minded players to party up with for matches or hang out in the lobby. VS AI and AI Teammates are available for players looking to practice their skills or queue up with a couple of friends for casual matches. We see players flying around in the lobby too, either waiting for a friend to get online or taking a break after a match, so improving social tools was key so that players could customize their own experience to make them as comfortable as possible.

How would you say the Echo VR community differs from other gaming communities?

JW: I think our Social Lobby and the utilization of Zero-G makes us unique. It is very easy for our veteran players to spot new players “floating” in the lobby. We have a dedicated core group of veterans who help new players learn the ins and outs of Echo VR.

SH: We have a passionate, dedicated community. They’re often hosting different events in-game, so players can learn new skills/improve their skills in-game; several groups have made community tournaments for casual or competitive VR esports.

What’s something even longtime Echo fans would find surprising about Echo VR on Quest?

JW: It took less than two weeks for the first batch of players to reach Level 50 on Quest during the Open Beta.

Anything to add to the community of Echo VR fans out there?

JW: I want to give a huge shout out to everyone that played during the Beta! We appreciate the time and effort that you all put in and always want to hear your feedback.

SH: Yes, thank you to our community! You are amazing, and we appreciate you all sharing your honest feedback with us to make the game fun for everyone. See you in the Arena!

If you’re ready to get into the zero-g action, try Echo VR on Quest today!