The recently released Pool Nation VR for the HTC Vive has been one of the most pleasant surprises of the emerging virtual reality gaming industry. Upon its release, Pool Nation rocketed to almost instant popularity, even cracking the most popular titles list on Steam.
The game’s success revealed the market’s desire for realistic tabletop simulators (such as the also-successful and aptly named Tabletop Simulator) that provide all the fun of a game like billiards, without requiring the massive financial and real estate commitment of obtaining an actual pool table. Now, Cherry Pop Games is expanding on that philosophy by releasing a free Air Hockey update for the game.
The air hockey update is being pushed out this week and was co-developed by Cherry Pop games and fellow VR game designer Perilous Orbit. Judging from the trailer above, it seems that these two studios are aiming to apply the same believable physics and engaging gameplay of the pool experience to air hockey.
This update is also bringing new gameplay modes to Pool Nation‘s popular side game: darts. The dart board became a surprisingly popular distraction from the main event for many players and now the developers are offering you the chance to play the mini-game with the popular 101, 301, 501, Cricket, and freeplay rule-sets.
This update is a significant step for Cherry Pop and Perilous Orbit as it represents an expansion of Pool Nation from single experience to expansive platform. If this new Air Hockey mode is as well received as its predecessor, it could mean that Pool Nation is on its way to becoming a full on game room or dive bar simulator. After air hockey could be ping pong, foosball, or any number of other popular basement entertainment staples.
It’s starting to look like VR could be to the physical tabletop space what the Internet was to the physical retail market: a threat, an aggressor, and – eventually – a replacement.