I purchased an Oculus Quest 2 so I could check out some virtual reality baseball training programs, but as I was doing some research on what was available for virtual reality I discovered the game MLB Home Run Derby VR. I couldn’t resist the temptation to hit 500-foot bombs in every MLB stadium, so I downloaded the game. Not only did I want to hit home runs in VR, but I was also curious – is MLB Home Run Derby VR worth it?
MLB Home Run Derby VR is worth it for people who are fans of baseball. MLB Home Run Derby VR allows players to hit home runs in all 30 MLB stadiums and compete against other players in a home run derby.
While it’s obvious the game does not depict what you can do in real life (like hitting a 562-foot home run out of an MLB stadium), it is a lot of fun to stand in a virtual batter’s box in any stadium you want and see how many home runs you can hit.
If you’re wondering what it’s like to actually train for baseball in VR, I recommend reading my review on WIN Reality.
Products Used in This Review
For this review, I needed two items:
- Oculus Quest 2
- Here is the exact headset I bought on Amazon
- MLB Home Run Derby VR game
- You can view the price and download the game in the Oculus Quest store
Video Review of MLB Home Run Derby VR
For those who would like to see a video overview of MLB Home Run Derby VR, I created the video below. In this video, I go over my thoughts about the game and show plenty of examples of what it’s like to hit home runs.
Overall Impression of MLB Home Run Derby VR
Overall, I give MLB Home Run Derby VR a rating of 4.25 out of 5.
Simply put, it’s fun to be able to hit home runs in every MLB stadium and it’s even more fun to challenge someone to a home run derby.
There’s an option in the game to challenge a random player to a home run derby competition, but in my opinion, it’s much more fun to be in the same room as someone and take turns to see who can get the best score.
Either way, I think it’s the multiplayer option that makes this game enjoyable. Playing solo is great for seeing pitches, seeing different ballparks, and experimenting with the best way to hit a ball, but competing with someone else for the best score is what makes this game fun.
I was also hoping to top the leaderboards, but it looks like I would need to get around 18,000 points to make the top of the leaderboards. My average score is probably somewhere around 6,000 or 7,000 points so it makes me wonder how it’s even possible to get that many points.
Pros & Cons of MLB Home Run Derby VR
Just like with all games, there are pros and cons to playing MLB Home Run Derby VR. Let’s quickly go through the pros and then the cons.
Pro #1 – You Can Hit Home Runs in All 30 MLB Ballparks
Being able to hit in any MLB park is easily one of the best features of the game.
Sure, it’s all virtual and you’re not fooled into thinking you’re actually standing in a real stadium, but the developers did a good job at making sure the details of each stadium are accurate.
Just being able to stand at a virtual home plate, look around, and easily recognize the stadium you’re about to hit home runs in is a really awesome feature.
Pro #2 – It’s Easy to Hit Home Runs, but Not Too Easy
About 90% of the time you make contact with the ball, the ball is flying at least 300 feet. Whether it’s fair or foul, the ball travels far in this game.
Even though you have a lot of power as a hitter, it’s difficult to hit a home run every single time. And in my opinion, this is a good thing.
If I could easily hit a home run every time then I’m sure I would get sick of this game very quickly.
A lot of the time I’m crushing the ball foul because I’m too late or too early on my swing. Other times, I hit a long fly ball and the ball falls just short of the fence.
I think my overall home run rate is about 65% to 75%, which means it’s easy to hit home runs, but home runs are never guaranteed.
Pro Tip: use the WIN Reality bat attachment with a real bat to make the experience a little more realistic. I recommend reading this Step-By-Step Guide to Attach the WIN Reality Bat Attachment.
Pro #3 – Multiplayer is Fun
In multiplayer mode, you face off against one opponent. Both of you are hitting at the exact same time in the exact same ballpark. While you’re hitting, you can see the score of your opponents as well as where your opponent is hitting the ball.
At the time of me writing this article, there aren’t very many players playing MLB Home Run Derby VR (probably because the game is still in the App Lab on Oculus). This means I’m mainly facing bots when I select the multiplayer option.
However, I’m very much looking forward to the day where I can regularly compete against real users because the multiplayer option is fun, even if I am playing against bots.
Pro #4 – No Internet Connection is Needed
I only have a limited amount of data I can use each month so it’s a good thing that I can play MLB Home Run Derby VR with the internet turned off.
In fact, since I’ve gotten my Oculus 2 I usually come close to hitting 100% of my internet’s usage in one month because it takes a lot of data to play online games in VR.
With MLB Home Run Derby VR, I can turn off my wi-fi and still play.
Pro #5 – Price is Reasonable
One of the first questions people have about this game is how much does MLB Home Run Derby VR cost?
MLB Home Run Derby VR ranges in cost from $9.99 to $24.99. Visit the game on the Oculus Quest store to see its current price.
When I purchased the game it was only $9.99, but as I was doing research I saw others had paid as much as $24.99 for it.
Con #1 – The Bat Switches Hands When the Trigger Button is Pressed
This is easily the most annoying feature in MLB Home Run Derby VR.
There have been multiple times where I’ve accidentally pressed the trigger button on my other Oculus controller and then missed a pitch because I didn’t know the bat switched hands.
You would think an easy solution would be to set down the other controller, but I don’t have a large area for VR so when I try to place my left controller down, I’m placing it somewhere outside of the Oculus boundary area. This causes the Oculus boundary lines to continuously show, which interrupts my vision of the pitcher.
So I opt to hold the left controller in my left hand and hope I don’t accidentally press that trigger button.
It’s terribly annoying to swing your controller, but then realize you didn’t actually swing a bat because the bat changed hands.
Con #2 – There are Some Minor Bugs
To be fair, this game is still in the App Lab as I’m writing this article so it makes sense there are still a handful of glitches. It’s possible these will get fixed, but here are a few issues that stood out to me right away.
1) I was unable to select anything in the Main Menu
The first issue I had was the very first time I opened up the game. As I was in the main menu, I pressed the trigger button to see my hands make a fist, but then my fist never unclenched.
And because my fist never unclenched, I was unable to make any selection or interact with anything on the main menu. My solution was to quit the game and then reload it.
2) There No Indication Your Main Menu Selection was Successful
When I was first interacting with menu items, I didn’t know I was actually selecting something.
In most VR games, I see a line from my controller that shows me where I’m pointing and then I hear some type of clicking noise that lets me know I made a selection. MLB Home Run Derby VR has neither of those features.
It took me a couple of tries to figure out that I was actually selecting an item in the main menu because I had no indication my selection was successful.
3) The Announcer Makes Wrong Calls
On occasion, the announcer will say that I hit a fly ball or mention that I didn’t have enough for my hit to be a home run, but then my ball lands for a home run.
It doesn’t happen very often, but the wrong calls happen enough for it to be noticeable. Although, it’s also oddly satisfying to prove that announcer wrong when your hit is actually a home run.
Con #3 – My Arm Was Sore From Swinging Too Many Times
Maybe it had something to do with the way I was swinging, but my arm felt like I had completed a workout and it was sore the next day. I’m not used to this when I swing a real bat so it makes me think I need to switch up my swing for MLB Home Run Derby VR.
Con #4 – The Pitcher is Less Accurate in “Pro” Mode
If I’m participating in a home run derby, I want a pitcher who will be consistent and throw me easy fastballs located in my sweet spot. This is not the case in “Pro” mode (the highest level) in MLB Home Run Derby VR.
In “Pro” mode, the pitcher still throws fastballs, but he’s all over the place. I’m pretty sure a handful of pitches are too low to be considered strikes.
There’s no way I’m picking this dude to throw me pitches in any real home run derby.
How Fast Do Pitchers Throw in MLB Home Run Derby VR?
In the “Normal” mode, pitchers throw about 55 mph to 60 mph. In “Pro” mode, pitchers throw about 65 mph to 70 mph.
There are no speedometers in MLB Home Run Derby VR so these speeds are just guesses. But I’ve been playing baseball for 30+ years and I can make fairly accurate guesses on a pitcher’s speed without using a speedometer.
And all pitches are thrown in a straight line. In the real world, you would see the ball drop a little with those speeds, but in VR it looks like these fastballs float into the strike zone.
How to Download MLB Home Run Derby VR
It’s pretty easy to download MLB Home Run Derby VR, but the game is still in the App Labs so it is not searchable in the Oculus Quest store.
To download MLB Home Run Derby VR:
- Visit the direct link to MLB Home Run Derby VR in the Oculus Quest store (note, this app is not yet searchable because it’s still in App Lab)
- Purchase the game
- Turn on your Quest headset and click on the MLB Home Run Derby VR app to install the game
Tips for Hitting Home Runs in MLB Home Run Derby VR
After playing this game a while, I learned a couple of things on how to hit the best home runs.
1) Timing is Everything
If you’re too early, you’ll pull the ball foul. If you’re too late, you’ll push the ball foul.
I’ve found it’s generally best to wait for the ball to get somewhere between the top of the batter’s box and the beginning of home plate before swinging.
While I still hit foul balls, I find I hit more fair balls when the ball is within this zone.
2) Angle of the Bat Matters
Just like in real life, the angle of the bat matters.
To get the best launch angle, try to keep your bat at about a 25-35 degree angle to the ground (so the barrel of the bat is pointing towards the ground).
3) Flick Your Wrist to Get More Bat Speed
Just like in real life, bat speed matters. But unlike real life, you can more easily flick your wrist with a virtual reality bat and increase your bat speed.
How to Cheat in MLB Home Run Derby VR
I’ve been a tester in software for many years and I naturally look for flaws in any type of software. I found a way to cheat in MLB Home Run Derby VR and I figured I would share this method in case anyone was interested in trying it out themselves.
Quick note: using this method can rack up points, but the only points that will show up on the leaderboard is what you can acquire in the 90 seconds the game is active. So you can’t use this method to get the top score on the leaderboard.
To cheat in MLB Home Run Derby VR:
- Turn off the Guardian for your Oculus
- Begin a game in any stadium
- Before the first pitch, walk up to the pitcher so you’re standing directly to the side of him
- Swing at the ball while the pitcher is holding it in his hand
To cheat in MLB Home Run Derby VR, being a game by standing directly next to the pitcher. The ball always starts in the pitcher’s hand, but I’ve found it’s easier to hit a home run if you swing for his glove. So before the pitcher delivers the next pitch, swing at the pitcher’s glove.
You’ll make contact with the ball and the ball will most likely go over the fence for a home run. This is basically like taking batting practice off a tee, except the tee is the pitcher’s glove.
After the round is officially over, you can still swing at the pitcher’s glove and continue hitting home runs. If you hit a home run with the gold pitch, every swing will count as a home run regardless of how far the ball travels or where it travels. If you didn’t hit a home run with the gold pitch, then your hits will never count as a home run.
Also, any points you score after the timer reaches 00:00 will not count towards the leaderboard, but they will count towards your personal best score.
The only downside to this cheat is that you need to enable developer options for your Oculus headset so you can turn off the Guardian. The method to turn off the Guardian on your headset seems to change over time so I won’t go over those steps in this article, but you should be able to find some videos and articles online that cover how to turn off the Guardian for your Oculus headset.