There really haven’t been a whole lot of good VR strategy games. It’s a bit surprising because when they’re done well (Brass Tactics, AirMech Command) they seem to fit the platform like a glove. Pointing to where you want units to go, grabbing troops to issue commands with your hands, and getting a bird’s eye view of the battlefield from inside the headset all feels great — but it’s just been rare. Final Assault, the next game from Phaser Lock Interactive, the same team behind Final Approach (air traffic control arcade game) and Twisted Arrow (a bow and arrow action adventure shooter) is here to try and help make it a more common occurrence.
Some strategy games have tried to toe the line between complexity and accessibility, such as Skyworld, or suffered from crippling balance issues, such as MoonStrike, so those are certainly major areas of concern the devs at Phaser Lock will need to look out for.
During our original demo with the game back at GDC, we got a good taste of the PvP offerings by going head-to-head on the urban map you see featured in a lot of the screenshots. For this latest demo it was a solo match against AI on the snowy level.
In both of my demos the objective has been the same: destroy the enemy base. During a match, each side has infantry constantly spawning and automatically marching down the two lanes around the center courtyard, a bit like a MOBA. Along each path are guard towers with turrets that shoot at enemies automatically, a bit like a tower defense game. And as you play you’ll earn currency that can be spent to spawn more powerful units that you can send out to attack enemy units or to go down specified lanes, a bit like an RTS.
Clearly, Final Assault is the VR melting pot of strategy genres.
As of right now my biggest concern is with depth. There are supposedly a large number of different factions, but I get the feeling so far that they’re all going to feel about the same with slight variations. Both of the maps are basically the same with two bases at opposite ends, a center courtyard, and two lanes around the courtyard. Hopefully the final product has more to it, but it’s certainly lacking the depth and complexity that RTS titles are known for.
There’s good unit variety between jeeps, fighter planes, tanks, bomber planes, artillery units, anti-air units, and more. The main crux of Final Assault’s strategy boils down to pushing down the lane as fast as you can, countering enemy spawns, and trying to hit the enemy’s base before they take out yours.
One thing I noticed is that it was very easy to get tunnel vision and only focus on one lane at a time, but that’s only a good strategy if you don’t like winning. Doing so can easily result in getting overran on the other lane or simply flanked through the central courtyard. Having to pay attention to so many conflict zones, in addition to air vs. ground battle, really does offer a lot of tension, but hopefully every match doesn’t just boil down to the same sticking points.
Final Assault is currently slated for a late 2018 release without a firm date for both Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. You can read our original hands-on preview from earlier this year for more details. Let us know what you think of the game so far down in the comments below!