Matchpoint: Tennis Championships aims to bring authentic tennis gameplay and licensed players to Xbox Game Pass in July. We recently saw the game in action with Torus Games, so here is what you need to know.
Torus Games will serve its sporty simulation game, Matchpoint: Tennis Championships, on July 7th for Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PS5, PS4, Nintendo Switch, PC, and Xbox Game Pass. We recently attended a preview session of the game to find out what Matchpoint offers in the way of mechanics, progression, licensed players, and more. If you’re a fan of the sport, this might just be one you want to keep your eye on. We also had a chance to ask Torus Games’ game designer, Dave McIntosh, and Kalypso Media’s head of producing, Marco Pacifico, a few questions about their upcoming title.
Matchpoint: Tennis Championships Xbox Game Pass trailer
If, like many, you enjoy sitting down to watch any of the Grand Slam majors each year, you may have wondered what it would feel like to walk out onto the grass-covered court at Wimbledon and perform in front of a large crowd. Matchpoint: Tennis Championships aims to give you that experience — well, if you can work your way through the career from new entry to racket-wielding superstar, that is.
Torus Games has designed Matchpoint to offer a realistic simulation of the real-world sport, so shot selection, on-court strategy, and out-thinking your opponent are the key elements that make up the gameplay. Upon loading into Matchpoint, you’ll be offered a chance to practice in the tutorial, which introduces you to the main mechanics that will become vital in your journey through the game. “On court moment to moment shot selection and tactics contain many aspects and complexities,” we’re told. “However, it’s this area of the game that we focused on the most in terms of capturing the most real moments of professional tennis; it is not always the best idea to use full power, you can win points by simply anticipating your opponent’s next move and countering it before they can pull it off.” Learning when to correctly perform certain actions makes the difference between winning and losing, the same way real tennis players need to learn and adapt on the fly.
Once you’re ready to start your Matchpoint career, you’ll be taken to the character customization screen. Customization is a key part of Matchpoint: Tennis Championships, and while there are sixteen licensed athletes like Tim Henman, Carlos Alcaraz, and Madison Keyes, to name a few, they can only be used outside of the career mode, which requires you to use your own custom character. From the off, you’re offered a number of prebuilt character face shapes and can select the nationality, name, and outfit style they will wear.
Progressing through the game and completing Super Tiebreakers will see you rewarded with unlockable items, such as new rackets and footwear, as well as a number of different coaches. The bonuses you earn from the items feed into the game’s skill system, which improves as you progress through your career. Hiring a coach to help train you can help give a boost to differing skills, such as improving your volleys or serving. Once you’ve hired a coach, you play through a training game that simulates the specific mechanic that you’re attempting to master.
The character animations in Matchpoint were recreated by using a hybrid motion capture system and a professional tennis player. The technology freely chooses how best to make a shot, and how to move in the correct way to position the player character in the most natural way, based on the user’s input. By using motion capture technology, the system has a large library of movements that it can draw from.
With your athlete ready to hit the court, you’re thrown into the Adelaide Open to begin learning how the main mechanics bond together. Matchpoint uses a strengths and weaknesses system that is unlocked as you play against AI characters. The idea behind it is to simulate the way you would analyze your opponent in a real game: what are they good at, what aren’t they good at, and how can you exploit it? As you play against an AI opponent, you’ll be notified by a popup when you’ve found something new about their playstyle, and the knowledge will carry through for the rest of your career. If you come up against them again later on down the line, you’ll see it highlighted as you load into the match, or when you bring up the pause menu. Alternatively, the AI will be learning from you as well; adapting its playstyle to exploit your weaknesses or counter your strengths. Each AI opponent has its own temperament system that runs alongside the strengths and weaknesses system, which causes the AI player to focus on aggressive and defensive play, but again, that can change as well during the course of a match as it adapts to your playstyle .
Your career in Matchpoint will take you from training and exhibition matches to Grand Slam tournaments across 65 countries and six continents — Antarctica has been left out for obvious reasons. As you work your way to stardom, though, you’ll need to decide where you want to spend your time; tournaments can run simultaneously, so you’ll need to decide which ones you want to take part in and which ones to miss, as well as fitting in your training sessions. It’s a careful juggle between bettering yourself in training sessions or improving your ranking in tournament rounds, and if you want to start seeing the stadiums fill with spectators, you’ll need to use your time wisely.
“The whole game changes when you’re playing against another human, and players will need to be more creative when trying to overcome different strategies.”
Alongside the career mode, you can also hop into quick matches against AI opponents and online casual and ranked matches, both of which lets you use the licensed players. Cross-play will be available at launch across each platform, and it’s where you’ll find the most challenging aspect of Matchpoint: Tennis Championships. Before stepping into the ranked portion of the game’s multiplayer, you’ll first need to play through three unranked matches so your skill level can be matched with an opponent of equal rank.
By using Photon’s Quantum multiplayer engine, Matchpoint’s online matches are simulated on a remote server, which simulates each player’s inputs in a bid to negate any latency issues that might arise. Only singles matches are available, so if you’re hoping for a bit of doubles action, you won’t be finding it here.
“Our career mode takes quite some time for players to reach world #1 so this should keep them hooked as they work to climb the ranks,” Torus tells us. “We also feel that the game’s multiplayer will bring players back over and over to play with friends, or online challengers.”
While the game isn’t out until July, we’ve already picked up the Matchpoint: Tennis Championships achievement list, which sports 23 achievements. “The decision-making behind achievements was based on making them as rewarding as possible for the players,” McIntosh tells us. “For instance, one of the achievements is called “Comeback Kid” and is rewarded when the player wins a set from being down five games.” The list itself looks to be focused in the career mode, with only a couple dipping into the realms of online play.
“We are looking forward to players unlocking all the achievements, but we are equally as eager to see them beating career mode and becoming number one in the World!”
Matchpoint: Tennis Championships launches on July 7th for Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PS5, PS4 Nintendo Switch, and PC, as well as joining the Xbox Game Pass library. “Game Pass has a lot of customers all around the world and is a great opportunity for players to try out Matchpoint: Tennis Championships,” says Kalypso’s Pacifico. “We are really excited for this opportunity to present our new franchise to as many players as possible across the globe from day one.”
After spending a little bit of time with the game ourselves, it’s clear that Matchpoint has the potential to find solid jogging amongst Game Pass subscribers and fans of the sport. We’ll look forward to seeing it launch on Xbox in just over a month’s time.