Consider me surprised when I learned that Skyworld, the next VR game from Vertigo Games, creators of the bloody, gory, violent Arizona Sunshine, was actually aiming to be a bright, colorful, and whimsical turn-based/real-time strategy game hybrid. For all intents and purposes that’s about as different as you can get from their previous release.
At VRDC 2017 last week I got the chance to meet up with the team at Vertigo Games and go hands-on with their upcoming strategy title. It was only a small slice of the experience but it gave me a good preview of things to come.
Skyworld is really like two different games jammed together. The team at Vertigo Games explained to me that the overworld section of the game that has you managing your kingdom and armies plays out like a turn-based strategy game. You can see your opponents and their forces moving around on their turns but you’re not actively fighting each other in this phase of what they’re calling the “metagame” aspect.
But then once you enter combat that’s when things in Skyworld switch over to real-time strategy. In many ways it resembles a MOBA, as you can see in the gameplay video above. I have the opportunity to select from a variety of different troops on my left hand that are displayed via a sleek card deck-like interface. Each unit has a different mana cost and each player slowly regenerates mana over time.
There is an inherent strategic element built into the game this way already because everyone gains mana at the same rate so you have to decide between saving up for expensive units or throwing out several cheaper units.
In the demo I played each of us (m yselfand the AI enemy) had three structures to defend: two guard tower turrets and a castle. The winner was whoever could destroy the enemy’s castle first.
When I grabbed a card with my right hand and placed it onto the playing field a line showed up on the map that telegraphs my unit’s route to the enemy. Once I summon a unit this way I no longer have any influence over their actions as they progress automatically, attack enemy units along the way, and generally funnel down towards their goal.
This is how the game resembled a hero-less MOBA to me since you’re sending troops down lanes, attacking towers, and generally managing the flow of battle as an overlord. It made me feel more like a general than most other strategy games because they appear to have removed almost all of the micro-management elements that tend to overwhelm other strategy titles, especially when put into VR. As is the case in actual military battles, you don’t get to control the immediate actions and movement of any forces
Using the Touch controllers I could also reach down and adjust the height of the tabletop our fight took place on as well as rotate it to get the best angle on summoning one of my units. In multiplayer they said I’ll be able to see my opponent’s floating avatar, similar to the upcoming Brass Tactics and even Landfall.
I didn’t get to try the metagame elements in the demo but they sound like they could introduce a nice change of speed with more slow-paced tactical elements than full-on real-time battles.
Vertigo Games is planning to launch Skyworld later this Fall for the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Windows VR headsets. Let us know what you think of the game so far down in the comments below!