Boxing games are almost as old as the concept of the modern video game, and the short history of VR has already seen a couple of fun experiences. The folks at Survios, creators of amazingly intense VR games Raw Data and Sprint Vector, are the brains behind turning the ultimate boxing movie into a VR game. It's called Creed: Rise to Power, and after 10 minutes in the ring this game has earned itself a top spot on my must-own list this year.

Get in the (VR) ring

The demo started off with a tutorial from Rocky Balboa himself. It walks you through the basics of boxing in this world, and rates your performance before sticking you in a ring against a massive opponent. By this point in the demo, I was already working up a bit of a sweat. Throwing the full force of a punch is deeply rewarding, especially as your punch connects with its intended target. The vibrations in the Oculus Touch controllers are just enough to give you the sense of contact, but obviously not quite realistic enough to make it feel like you've actually hit something. Check out the clip below for a look at my experience.

My boxing gloves in Creed were interactive, glowing red when my character was in need of a small rest. If I didn't stop to block occasionally and rebuild that stamina, my character's gloves slowed down instead of moving at the same rate as me. At first, this seemed like an odd way to pull me out of an immersive experience and remind me that I was playing a game. But the more I played, the less I noticed the gloves changing colors. When I followed the natural flow of the fight, blocking when I was supposed to and moving when I was supposed to, it all felt very natural. On the other hand, when I tried to sneak in a bunch of cheap shots that would never have worked in real life (like you do in other VR boxing games), I ran afoul of the stamina system. In a way, this potentially immersion-wrecking game mechanic was keeping me honest, and it made me appreciate the actual fight in front of me.

This is the best VR experience at GDC 2018, and I am eager to spend more time punching thin air.

I felt like I was pretty good at landing coordinated blows on my opponent, but eventually, I managed to get my bell rung pretty good. The screen went grey, and it looked as though I'd been knocked out of my body a little. I could come back from this if I hit the right pose to match my character, but the next time I got hit like that it wasn't so easy.I found myself far away from my body, and I needed to "run" back to the real world before I hit the ground so I could keep fighting. The run mechanic, if you've ever played Sprint Vector, is very familiar.

As I jumped back into my body, I landed the winning blow and knocked my opponent out cold. The fight itself only lasted 53 seconds, but my body was cold with sweat and I felt like I had just been through a workout at the gym. This little taste of Creed was intense, lifelike, and had me desperately hoping the game would launch next week. Unfortunately for me, Survios is targeting the end of 2018 as the launch window for this game. Knowing this company, that means plenty of time to add features and have some additional fun with the gameplay, so it will undoubtedly be worth the wait.

In the meantime, I can say with certainty Creed: Rise of Power was the best VR experience at GDC 2018, and I am eager to spend more time punching thin air.