There’s a bizarre story that props up the football-heading simulation game, Headmaster VR. Cast out of your professional football club into The Football Improvement Center, a place where players who simply didn’t have the skills to make it big time have to prove themselves once more, you’re actually trapped in a place that feels much more like a prisoner’s exercise yard than a football training ground.
With barbed wire fences all around, the robotic voice of your instructor barking out orders through your headset, and a flood light that shines down on your like you’re constantly being interrogated and judged, Headmaster has a dark side to it which turns out to be part of the game’s charm in what’s otherwise a fairly simple concept.
As your instructor guides you through a series of lessons and exams, all involving heading the ball at various targets, the game gets more surreal by the minute with notes passed to you by an employee at the center named Carl, revealing there’s more to the back story than meets the eye. This series of interactions provides a fun diversion from the back-to-back lessons, and builds on the character’s story in a way we weren’t expecting.
Meanwhile, the action also gets a little bizarre, and at one point you’re heading the ball at a piñata dangling from the goalposts while a Mexican band of cardboard cut-outs strike up a cheerful tune. As such, Headmaster is totally different to anything we’ve ever played before, and so far, one of our favourite experiences on PlayStation VR.
Gameplay involves completing various lessons that test your heading skills and accuracy to the max. Each lesson involves standing (though they advise you to sit while playing) in front of a goalpost. Various targets with different values pop up in front of you, and the ones that are harder to hit are worth more.
Headmaster VR multiplayer
The idea is to hit these targets using your bonce and upper body movement, earning points to either gain a bronze, silver or gold star to pass the lesson and move onto the next one. Gather enough stars and you’re able to take exams which test you on everything you’ve learned so far. There’s also a local multiplayer mode, in which players can take turns wearing the headset, which adds some extra replay value.
When that first ball gets fired out of the automatic dispenser and comes flying towards your head, you just find yourself intuitively launching yourself at it. The tracking of PlayStation VR is phenomenal. Though you can’t obviously feel that ball hitting your head, it does feel like you’ve got pinpoint control over where you direct itl, both in terms of the force that you put into your header and the angle that you hit the ball at. Subsequently, there’s a great feeling of satisfaction when you strike that perfect header and knock down your intended target.
You can deftly flick the ball left and right, lean right back and wallop it with force, or subtly get your head right under it and lob it over obstacles to hit targets. The execution of the control scheme is fantastic, and when you throw in a variety of entertaining lessons, Headmaster turns out to be a really fun game to play. Whether you’re heading beach balls, balls that explode on impact, or balls that split into five smaller ones, you never really know what to expect with each lesson, which certainly left us eager to progress.
Headmaster VR review summary
During the section when balls fire at you in quick succession and you need to head colored balls through their respective-coloured hoops, we were in hysterics. There’s just something instantly fun about heading a virtual ball, and the developer has done has done a great at taking a simple concept and applying creativity to it, while getting the fundamental controls spot-on. From its entertaining back story to the range of bizarre ball-heading rituals, Headmaster nails it on the head in terms of bringing the fun to VR.