It’s been a while since we caught up with Final Assault. This is a new VR real-time strategy (RTS) game from veteran developers Phaser Lock Interactive. In the past, we’ve been impressed by the team’s vision of the VR RTS. It’s perhaps a more accessible take than something like Brass Tactics, but that might be key to its success.
Today, Phaser Lock is announcing the game will launch in Early Access on February 12th 2019. It’ll arrive with cross-play between Rift and Vive across 14 different maps. A full single-player campaign is coming in March ahead of the full launch later on.
We recently got to try out the latest build of the game’s PvP mode ahead of PAX East this weekend. Let’s talk about why we think it’s a winner.
It Doesn’t Overwhelm You
It’s true that VR seems like the perfect fit for the RTS genre. But in practice, it’s easy to find these games overwhelming. There’s a lot of ground to cover and, if you suddenly find yourself caught out in battle, it can be a mad scramble to catch up. Final Assault helps you manage that load in a clever way.
Though the game’s maps allow for free movement, they also have dedicated paths that keep your units busy. Think of them as conveyor belts that move your units along without the need to check on them. If, for example, you ordered a tank onto one of these paths, it would automatically fight its way to the front lines. It’s a thoughtful way of making sure you’re utilizing all your resources at all times. You won’t look back to suddenly see four tanks sitting around doing nothing.
It Replaces Your Mouse Quite Nicely
For all the amazing new types of control VR provides, there’s something to be said for the mouse. A few flicks of the wrist, a couple of clicks and you’ve issued orders with pinpoint precision. VR controls take decidedly more effort. But one of Final Assault’s best touches is the ability to carve out a specific path for your units.
Just touch the vehicle in question and pull the trigger. Then drag your finger around the map and you’ll forge a path that the given unit will follow to the letter. It’s a great way of executing advanced strategies, making sure tanks use the cover of a building to reach a good vantage point or flanking enemies from all sides.
It’s A Visual Delight
Diorama VR has always had a special magic to it, but that’s doubly true of Final Assault. Somehow Phaser Lock has achieved a tiny game world that looks incredibly believable. Snowy maps are peppered with white specs, hiding intricate details on sharply textured buildings. Plains hover around you like bothersome flies and tanks invite you to play with them like action figures. It really is a joy to behold. Despite levels sometimes having more than three separate battles going on at once, performance remained incredibly solid.
Its Simplicity Is Its Sweet Spot…
You might consider Final Assault to be a stripped back RTS. Its maps are smaller than most and it does away with resource gathering seen in other games. For RTS purists, that may be a step too far. Personally, I found the game to have a welcome level of manageability.
Battles are short and sharp, so as to not turn your VR sessions into a slog. Maps can be fully surveyed at any point to give you a full idea of what’s going on. There’s very little downtime; its the key elements of the RTS distilled into something snackable. That makes it a perfect fit for VR.
…But May Also Be Its Undoing
All that said, you can’t help but wonder if Final Assault leans a little too hard on accessibility. I won each of the PvP games I played simply by waiting to unlock the biggest and best units and then sending them out as quickly as I could. The other side, which had spent far more consistently through the match, simply couldn’t keep up with their firepower.
Granted this was all fairly low-level play from two people new to the game. I’m really looking forward to digging into Final Assault and trying to uncover some deeper strategies that will give the game longevity. I’m betting I’ll find them.
Final Assault is launching on Oculus Rift and HTC Vive via Early Access on February 12th. The full launch across Rift, Vive and PSVR will come later this spring.