Community Download: Which Game Genre Is Missing Most From VR?

Community Download is a weekly discussion-focused articles series published (usually) every Monday in which we pose a single, core question to you all, our readers, in the spirit of fostering discussion and debate. For today’s Community Download,  we want to know which game genre you think is missing most in the VR market?


Did you miss the latest episode of our VR Download podcast show? We ranked every single PSVR exclusive. Check it out in the video above or on your preferred podcast platform.


Over the last 5+ years VR has slowly grown into its own format for computing. More and more we’re seeing big made-for-VR games or seeing big publishers fund VR ports of existing games that deliver deep, immersive experiences for players. Now more than ever it’s a good time to be a fan of VR if you’re also into gaming.

But it also seems like most developers cater to very specific types of gamers with their VR experiences. Horror games release in droves, zombie-related content is well-represented, and if you like shooting things with guns then you’re absolutely covered. The action-based FPS, competitive online shooter, and wave shooter are all three of the most popular genres in VR.

Don’t get me wrong, it totally makes sense, but there are lots of underrepresented genres in VR I’d love to see more of. For starters, more strategy games would be great. Brass Tactics is really one of the only solid VR strategy games and there haven’t been many sense. I’d also love more action-adventure fantasy-themed games like Asgard’s Wrath, but I fully accept those take years of development to make properly.

brass tactics screenshot review 7

Missing VR Genres?

What kind of VR games do you want to see more of? Which genres do you think are missing most or are most underrepresented in the VR space?

Let us know down in the comments below!

Final Assault PSVR Review: Like Playing An RTS In A Toy Box

The accessible VR RTS from Phaser Lock, Final Assault, is now out on PSVR. Check out our thoughts on the port in our full review!

When virtual reality arrived years ago, there were a few genres people often expected the tech to benefit most. We heard how horror, racing, and music and rhythm games would be revolutionized once they started to implement headsets, and in many ways they have been.

One genre I didn’t anticipate getting much of a boost from a VR headset is real-time strategy, but play just a few minutes of Final Assault, and it will quickly be evident how virtual reality can innovate even the most unexpected of genres.

Final Assault is a cartoonish take on the RTS genre. With its vibrant battlefields and exaggerated character models, it’s a game that looks as serious as something on Nickelodeon. The sound design is similarly lighthearted. This isn’t a harrowing war story. It’s an animated feature, set in a fictional WWII-like arena but never so much as flying an actual Nazi flag. But what this colorful setup hides is a respectable commitment to its gameplay, amplified in ways only VR can. 

Across several game modes including two kinds of campaigns against NPCs, free play, and cross-platform PvP, Final Assault pits players in a tug-of-war for resources. With classic lane-centric map layouts skillfully organized to promote constant tactical considerations, the only thing childish about the game is its color palette. Each side manages a squad of their choosing, split among several Hero characters, and each of them provides a few variations on your available army. Resources must be managed carefully, with cooldown timers affecting strategy as much as enemy movement. Let your guard down too soon or mismanage your soldiers and you’ll be waving the white flag in no time.

final assult psvr plane

A long list of troops, tanks, dogfighters, and more round out a fun roster of war toys and it’s up to you to decide who to deploy as well as where and when to send them into battle. Each unit serves a definitive purpose and part of the fun comes in experimenting to find the right combat strategy.

Have a fighter jet hit the skies and watch as it takes on enemies high above the battlefield. Send in an infantry truck full of soldiers and watch them storm the gates. Your soldiers are reliable enough to wage war on their own should you simply drop them into battle, but the more satisfying moments come when you lead them directly to where you want to focus your attack, even drawing their precise route with the VR controls. Conversely, it’s just as exciting to feel the good anxiety of the genre when the enemy is assaulting your side of the map and your resources are depleted, suddenly seeming agonizingly slow to refill.

These are staples of the genre, and seasoned fans may expect to find these same scenes in any RTS, but virtual reality truly does bring the whole experience to another level. With the headset on, you become the ever-present overseer of the entire battlefield. Combined with the cartoonish style of it all, Final Assault revealed its best but least expected attribute: it makes one feel like a kid with a toy box full of action figures. 

final assault psvr plane shots

Zooming in on over the shoulders of your heroes, dropping cars here, tanks there, hanging an airstrike right over the enemy base, it wasn’t long into my time with Final Assault before I felt like I had time traveled to 20 years ago, like I took a Saturday as a kid, turned my toy box upside down, and let my imagination run wild. 

This is all made better by difficulty options that let you ease into the war as slowly or quickly as you want. It can be hectic at first glance, with individual battles happening all over the bombed-out streets, but I found starting on easy allowed me to not only learn the VR controls, but also worry less about my defenses, letting me take in each scene up close, admiring the excitement in every corner of the warzone.

Comfort

Final Assault uses VR wands, and you can choose which handles troops and which navigates your resource menu, even swapping between them whenever you want to. It’s convenient in that way, but the actual movement may cause trouble. Typically I’ve only ever gotten nauseated while playing VR with first-person games where I’ve walked too closely to walls. But with Final Assault, the pinching and zooming across each map leaves me feeling sick after less than an hour each time. As always with VR, your experience may vary greatly from mine in this regard, but because these motion controls somewhat mirror my legacy issue of walking near walls, I’d caution that you may have a similarly queasy experience if that’s been your problem with VR in the past too.

final assault psvr ground battle

Final Assault PSVR Review Final Verdict

There’s a fun focus on planning and improvising in Final Assault, making it an engaging, albeit somewhat less involved, entry for the genre even if it wasn’t on a headset, but in virtual reality, the RTS shines as an imaginative chest of colorful toys. Just make sure when you’re planning your attack to call in a supply drop of dramamine.


Final Score: :star: :star: :star: :star: 4/5 Stars | Really Good

final assault psvr pro con list review

You can read more about our five-star scoring policy here.


Final Assault is out now on PSVR for $29.99, but has a launch discount promotion currently active. The game is also available on PC VR headsets, you can read our review of that version here.

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WW2 RTS Final Assault Storms Onto PSVR Next Week

Sony’s PSVR indie streak keeps on going; Phaser Lock Interactive’s Final Assault hits the headset next week.

The World War 2-era VR real-time strategy game (RTS) arrives on PSVR on March 31. This version of the game will feature cross-play with the previously-released PC VR versions too. Cross-play between consoles and PC is a great way to ensure you’ll find players to face off with online.

Not only that but the launch is accompanied by new units, maps and customization options. These features will also be implemented into the PC VR version of the game. They’ll add to the base game, in which you can challenge friends to 1 vs 1 matches in which you guide units through maps, leading an all-out assault on the enemy base.

We were quite fond of Final Assault when it arrived on other platforms. While simple, the incredible detail and fun matches make it easy to recommend.

“Final Assault is not nearly as elaborate or detailed a game as the original Warcraft: Orcs & Humans was for its time, and it probably won’t make the same waves in VR that the former made for the traditional RTS genre,” we wrote. “However, it’s safe to say that what we’ve reached is something akin to the Advance Wars of VR; Final Assault successfully establishes a powerful set of VR strategy mechanics that are instantly enjoyable, delivering equivocal depth and a permeating sense of awe.”

Whats more, we’ve tried the game on PSVR before and found it runs basically just as well as the PC VR version.

Will you be picking up Final Assault on PSVR? Let us know in the comments below!

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WW2 RTS ‘Final Assault’ to Leave Early Access Next Month

Phaser Lock Interactive, the studio behind VR titles Final Approach (2016) and Twisted Arrow (2017), are bringing their WWII-themed real-time strategy game Final Assault out of Early Access with their full launch next month.

Update (April 25th, 2019): Phaser Lock today announced their cross-platform RTS is heading out of its short stint in Early Access on May 16th for $30. The game is launching on Steam, Viveport, and the Oculus Store, and supports HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and Windows VR headsets. PSVR support is also on the future road map.

The full game’s features include:

  • Story and skirmish campaign modes
  • US and German Divisions including heavy armor, airforce and infantry units
  • Cross-Platform PVP multiplayer with leaderboards
  • Customization of Units, Flags and Player Avatars
  • 14 unique maps from the icy lanes of the small village of Kleinstadt to the brush-covered battlefield of Hill-512
  • Cross-platform PvP between HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and Windows Mixed Reality
  • Spectator Mode that invites players to enjoy the game outside of Virtual Reality

The studio says users should expect more maps, more units, more game modes and new campaigns coming to the game post-launch.

In the meantime, check out our Early Access review of ‘Final Assault’ to get an idea of what’s in store. The original article announcing the game’s Early Access follows below:

Original Article (February 13th, 2019): After a slight delay, Final Assault is now set to release in Early Access on Steam (Vive, Rift, Windows VR) and the Oculus Store (Rift) starting February 19th; it was previously slated for it’s EA debut on February 12th. A PSVR version is also in the works that will allow cross-play with all supported headsets.

The game’s Early Access period is said to last a short three months before its official launch in April. At launch of Early Access, the game will include both cross-platform PvP and PvE, and will see a total of 12 maps unlocking along the way.

Built from the ground-up for VR, Final Assault blows you up to the size of Godzilla, tasking you with commanding land and air units into enemy territory for interactive, dynamic battles. Much like Final Approach, units are controlled by drawing paths for precise, direct combat.

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“We are focusing on the PVP right now and bringing Campaign, customization, and other game functions closer to launch. With the PvP, we feel that the more people playing in early access will allow us to balance the units/maps along with improving the AI for Campaign and PvE,” Phaser Lock CEO Michael Daubert said.

We’re currently testing a pre-release version of the game, and will have our full report coming before launch of Early Access next week.

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RTS ‘Astraeus’ From ‘Darknet’ Developer to Land on Vive, Rift & PC June 7th

E McNeill, an indie developer behind strategy games Darknet (2015), Tactera (2016), and Skylight (2017), announced his real-time strategy game Astraeus, an Oculus Go launch title, is coming to HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and PC on June 7th.

In Astraeus, you play as an AI who’s awakened on an asteroid mining control ship after the captain’s death. Filling in for the now deceased captain, you take command fulfilling critically important mining missions, requiring you to build a network of dozens of bases and command thousands of mining rigs as you attempt to corner the market, or eliminate the competition.

Astraeus, McNeill tells us, was originally prototyped for a VR development reality show, the VR Developer Challenge, where it won first place and a $20,000 prize.

As a launch title for Oculus Go (also available on Gear VR), the Steam version will support for Rift, Vive and include a non-VR build for traditional monitors.

Astraeus will be available at a 10% launch discount off the usual price of $15. You can follow along with the game on Steam here.

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‘Brass Tactics’ Preorders Now Open, Free-to-Play Version to Launch in February

Tabletop real-time strategy game Brass Tactics, which launches on February 22nd, is now available for preorder on the Oculus Store at a promotional price of $24.99. A free-to-play version of the game called Brass Tactics Arena is also open for Early Access registration, and is slated for a February release.

As explained in a recent post on the official Oculus blog, preordering Brass Tactics saves $15 from the regular $39.99 purchase price. Brass Tactics Arena is due to launch a week before the full game, on February 15th.

A new post on developer Hidden Path’s blog explains the free-to-play Brass Tactics Arena will feature “unlimited cooperative, competitive, and vs AI play on a single hand-detailed map,” whereas the full version of Brass Tactics will feature “20+ uniquely crafted, hand-detailed maps” and a “6+ hour story campaign.” Registration for Early Access to Brass Tactics Arena, which will go into Early Access at a still indeterminate time in February, is now open via this web page.

Brass Tactics is a highly-anticipated VR title from the creator of RTS classic Age of Empires II (1999). Hidden Path aims to bring the spirit of Age of Empires to VR by presenting it in the style of the opening credits of Game of Thrones. We took an early hands-on with the title at GDC last year.

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Hands-on: ‘Skyworld’ is a Charming Turn-Based Strategy Game With Fast-Paced Real-Time Interludes

Skyworld, a turn-based strategy game from Arizona Sunshine (2016) developers Vertigo Games, was initially introduced to the world as a demo during HTC Vive’s first public showing back in GDC 2015. At this year’s Gamescom, we got a hands-on with the ostensibly near-finished game, which should be releasing soon if the developers want to hit their Fall 2017 launch date.

Looking down at the round playing board, a wooden table already populated with various resource-gathering buildings set around a giant mountain in the middle, I was pitted against game designer Paul van der Meer in a quick skirmish that took me through the basics of the game’s 1v1 combat.

In a 20 minute demo, I was introduced to the game’s TBS ‘Overworld’, or the game board seen in pictures and the initial 2015 teaser trailer, and an RTS potion of the game that lets you battle with various units that you can summon in real-time (mana permitting).

Image courtesy Vertigo Games

While in the Overworld, where much of the game takes place, you can pop up a variety of menus, including a satisfying lever that lets you flip the board over mid-game to reveal a space for upgrading structures and increasing the power of your units.

Represented by your standard playing cards featuring offensive and health points, these unit cards can be used in an RTS mini-game, or what the developers called a ‘General Battle’, where each side’s solitary generals clash on a separate game board from the Overworld. Destroying the enemies castle in this mode results in continued free rein for your general, a 6-inch model that you can move around the game board to take over new land so you can set up new resource gathering structures, make more units etc and eventually conquer the Overworld. The opposing side’s general then must wait until the re-activation timer runs out.

The majority of my time was dedicated to playing the RTS-driven General Battle instead of fiddling with game’s resource management-focused TBS Overworld, but my hunch is having the two combined, even with only two lanes open for attack around the round board—left or right, as it were—creates an interesting twist on the classic turn-based strategy game that is bound to strike a chord with fans on the genre. Motion controls add a bit more physicality however, like the wooden mallet that lets you demolish your own buildings to make way for new and better ones. You can also count on plenty of satisfying levers and steampunk-ish machines abound.

Image courtesy Vertigo Games

The game will feature two teams to choose from, good and bad, although I was told that currently there are no differences outside of the visual aspect between the two, which includes identical abilities for your General Battle cards and Overworld structures and units. The developers maintain this can change however in the coming months before launch. I was also assured that while there are many game boards to play on, that they will all follow the same basic design of containing a centerpiece structure that essentially creates two lanes of attack.

An interesting bit in all of this was the social aspect. Standing (or sitting, you decide) across from your opponent’s avatar is a natural way to play a game like this, but because the game board is round, and you have the ability to rotate it to get a better look at the action, you inevitably end up standing next to each other to get a good view of what’s going on, creating and interesting social dynamic when you don’t know who you’re playing against. The developers insisted some anti-griefing measures would need to be brought into place so you couldn’t, say, wave one of your many menus in front a person’s face or get too close to someone for their own comfort. While your menus appear as ghostly outlines so your opponent doesn’t know exactly what you’re up to, it could still be annoying in the wrong hands.

Finally, I was told that online crossplay between HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and Windows Mixed Reality headsets will be possible, and that all three versions of the game will launch simultaneously on their respective stores. It’s uncertain if Skyworld will suffer the same fate as so many other games boasting crossplay, i.e. the lack of communal friends lists that makes it hard for friends to easily get together and play. We’ll be keeping our eye on Skyworld as it heads closer to launch.


We’re here at Gamescom all week, so check back for more coverage and hands-on articles with all of your favorite upcoming VR titles. 

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Strategy Game ‘League of War: VR Arena’ Comes to PSVR This Fall

Independent developer MunkyFun is bringing League of War: VR Arena exclusively to Sony’s PSVR platform this Fall. Detailed in an entry on the official PlayStation Blog, the studio’s first VR game is described as being similar to ‘holographic chess’ but with plenty of tanks and explosions, based on the developer’s League of War franchise for mobile.

While no gameplay footage seems to be available yet, the press release suggests that it follows a similar approach to the studio’s existing mobile game League of War: Mercenaries—a ‘tug-of-war’-style strategy game—with an increased emphasis on action and more direct influence over units thanks to the VR perspective and use of motion controls. No trailer for PSVR has surfaced, but MunkyFun did create a teaser for the game in March, showing two players using Oculus Rift headsets; this was clearly an early concept before it became a Sony exclusive. Based on the limited screenshots available, the final version seems to have stepped up its presentation quality considerably, as we’ve come to expect from PSVR titles.

‘Image courtesy MunkyFun

Described as “simple to play, difficult to master,” players will use Move controllers to “directly place and aim their units at the opponent,” overseeing the virtual battlefield from a tabletop perspective. The game will feature a single player campaign, and an ‘arcade’ mode that supports local multiplayer via the PSVR’s Social Screen.

League of War: VR Arena is designed to be a powerful experience that puts players in charge of a high tech, aggressive army on a living, tabletop-style battlefield,” said Nick Pavis, CEO and Co-Founder of MunkyFun, Inc. “As you throw your units into battle, strategically choosing between quick strikes and slower but more powerful units, your opponent does the same, creating a pulse-pounding mix of strategy and action that is highly engaging on PlayStation VR.”

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Hands-on: ‘Brass Tactics’ is a True Tabletop RTS with All the Classic Trimmings

At Oculus’ off-site GDC demo booth we saw Brass Tactics, Hidden Path Entertainment’s new real-time strategy game coming exclusively to Oculus Touch after their hit tower defense game Defense Grid 2 Enhanced VR Edition (2016). Filled with a bevy of miniature structures and multiple toy soldier units, the little tabletop world promises to deliver familiar RTS gameplay in a VR setting.

Putting on the headset, Brass Tactics immediately recalled a familiar design aesthetic, something that took me a second or two to recognize. The clockwork castle gyrating. The spinning brass gears. “Aha, it’s the opening to Game of Thrones,” I remarked aloud. “That’s exactly what we were going for,” responded studio founder and CCO Mark Terrano, also known for his role as lead designer on Age of Empires II (1999).

Getting a brief taste of the game, I was introduced to the basic units; archers, warriors, steampunk-ish legged tanks, flying units called ‘wasps’–all of them covering the classic roles found in RTSs. The full game will however feature multiple technology upgrades to choose from and 18 units (3 base units with 9 total upgrades) to keep things interesting.

brass tactics
image courtesy Hidden Path Entertainment

Called ‘the keep’, your little clockwork home base starts you out with the basics, a warrior-producing building and an archer building. From there, you send your few minions out to capture the nearest node, where you can then choose from a number of structures displayed by turning your hand palm-up and looking at it like a wrist watch. These structures will not only produce the game’s all important offensive units, but also hold the node so ore-gathering miners can automatically spawn and start generating spendable coin for your next unit upgrade.

Although it at first felt a little overwhelming, my opponent wandered back to his corner of the board and started firing a manual catapult at some of my most forward units. Looking to my side, I saw one of my own. Aiming left or right, pulling back a few audible clicks and launching a flaming boulder can wipe out an entire group of lower class units like archers.

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image courtesy Hidden Path Entertainment

As a rule, you’re only as good at RTSs as you can pay attention to everything on the board and manage all of your units. The faster and more accurate, the better. Using Touch you can quickly move around the battlefield by grabbing and flinging yourself in any direction. Lowering or raising the table to your chosen level is the only other way to physically alter the board, as zooming in and out isn’t an option. I found this adequate for the size of the board, as it wasn’t too big to be unmanageable and necessitating a wider view. While it’s small enough for you to see everything on the board as it happens, the board is still big enough though to drive you crazy with all of the lanes that your opponent can exploit to capture ore-producing nodes.

brass tactics 5
image courtesy Hidden Path Entertainment

Matches are 25 minutes long, although I was unplugged from my 1v1 battle prematurely. Besides 1v1 online battles, there will also be a 1 player campaign, and a ‘co-op versus AI’ mode available at launch in October 2017.

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‘Planetary Annihilation’ Developer Reveals Lite RTS ‘Dino Frontier’ for PlayStation VR

Uber Entertainment, the studio behind Planetary Annihilation and the VR title Wayward Sky, have announced their next virtual reality game, Dino Frontier, for PlayStation VR.

As the name would imply, Dino Frontier is a mashup of classic Western elements and dinosaurs. The game is played as a giant overseer (the “Big Mayor”) of tiny, semi-autonomous denizens who will need your direction to not only excel, but also to not get eaten by wandering raptors. Uber Entertainment calls Dino Frontier a “light simulation”, rather than a full blown RTS.

Dino Frontier lets you build and manage a frontier settlement in a world where the Wild West and Jurassic eras collide. You assume the role of Big Mayor overlooking your settlement in tabletop-scale VR. You must carefully balance resources while growing your town. All the while, wild dinosaurs roam the land acting as both dangerous foe and tantalizing asset.

It’ll be your job as Big Mayor to make sure settlers are assigned to the right places to gather resources most effectively and ensure everyone stays alive. While the game’s dinosaurs will at first be a dangerous threat, with the proper amount of development you’ll be able to tame them and use their skills to further prosper.

dino-frontier-3 dino-frontier-6 dino-frontier-4

Following Uber Entertainment’s first VR game, Wayward Sky, the developers say that “Dino Frontier offers core gameplay to satisfy players eager for deeper VR gameplay.”

Dino Frontier is set to launch in 2017; currently it isn’t clear if it will come to other platforms, and there’s no word on whether or not the game will support any form of multiplayer.

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