A few days ago I’ve downloaded an AR game called AR Baseball. Based on the screenshots, I thought it’s going to be quite a fun game to play.
What is AR Baseball?
In AR Baseball you play only as a batter that takes turns to hit the ball. You compete against an AI opponent who makes the most home runs.
I’ve already tried it at home, so I knew I’ll need a large area to play it in large scale, where the gameplay really shines in AR. I took the metro to Jongmyo Shrine area in Seoul, South Korea, around where I stay right now.
I also thought that it would be a nice setup for the gameplay scene that I was about to capture.
At first, I’ve set up the gameplay area in small size and it was just a terrible experience. The problem with large-scale games is that the character is obviously relative to the game’s dimensions. When I resized the stadium, the characters were so small that I almost wasn’t able to see them. Although the developer mentioned that you can play the game on a table, in practice, it almost renders it unplayable. It’s definitely not the way I want to play that game.
I restart the game and this time I pinched to adjust the stadium so it appears much larger. The character was still quite small, like a 50cm height, but it was enough for a good visual experience in augmented reality.
A second later I was already in the game. The gameplay controls are very simple. You hit when ready, and then the pitcher will throw the ball towards the batter. You need to time that hit right so you can run towards the next based or hopefully, make a home run. All the other movements other than striking the ball with the bat happens automatically.
I have to admit that the character 3D model design and animation looked really solid. This is why it felt like an actual baseball game was taking place in the front yard in front of the entrance to the temple.
The game has nice shadows and the scene looked nice when laid on top of the white path in front of the entrance to the temple.
Let’s check out some gameplay action!
Both you and the AR player play in parallel. After you finish your turn, you can see how much home runs you made and how much your opponent made. After 10 rounds a winner is declared.
The game is very simple. There are no rewards or anything but there are several global leaderboards for Batting Average, At Bats, Hits, Runs Scored and Hall of Frame.
Because of the great animation and character design, as well as good sound effects and physics, hitting the ball with the baseball bat felt very satisfying. The game really shines when you play it in life-size scale and I do recommend that if you intend to play it outdoors. You just need to find a large place and enlarge it so the batter appears large. Then just stand behind it or even close to its position and you get a good feeling how it is like being a batter in a baseball game. Keep in mind that the game plays in third-person perspective, not in first-person.
So overall I can say that the gameplay is fun but it feels more like a good demo of a large-scale augmented reality game than a finished title. It doesn’t feel rewarding in any way, you play only against AI and you only get to play a single role.
The developer of AR Baseball wanted to give players an option to get into the shoes of a batter in a full baseball game experience. In some ways, he did succeed. Playing the game in large-scale felt good but it’s scaled badly when you want to play it indoors in a small environment in smaller dimensions.
I would personally prefer a more limited version of the game, with a large hitter and pitcher characters and just enjoy hitting those balls. It would also accommodate better for smaller environments and you can even play it comfortably on the table in the living room with a good AR experience.
I like the fact that I can take a phone out of my pocket and spawn a baseball court out in nowhere and play some ball. This game definitely gave me that “magical” feeling of AR when I played it in large-scale.
Having said that, overall, the entire gameplay experience felt mediocre and not rewarding, but I definitely recommend try playing it out in a large park and see if you like it or not, I’m sure some many of you will.
Download AR Baseball from the App Store here.