The trailers for League of War: VR Arena looked great, a real time strategy game with two opponents facing off across a table top battlefield. RTS games are hard to pull of using a controller, so having the use of two Move controls, which are required for the game, and PlayStation VR to add some tactical depth and immersion seems ideal. The reality is rather more disappointing and your enthusiasm for the game should be tempered by the description on the PlayStation Store:
Swiftly deploy your tanks, infantry, and choppers on to the battlefield to destroy your enemy’s base before they destroy yours!
That’s an accurate description. There is no resource management and no way to control the units, so all you do is wait for them to spawn, pick them up, put them on the table, and set them off towards the enemy.
The single player campaign has you facing off against nine commanders, battling each one eight times. That may sound like a lot, but most battles are over in minutes so the whole campaign lasts around four hours. Each battle follows the same set of rules as the enemy commander faces off against you from the other end of the table, each with up to four different unit types to deploy on to the field. Each unit has a cool down timer which can be sped up using the Move controller, but at the expense of freezing production of the other units.
There’s a good range of units, but you don’t get to decide which types you are using in each match. That is pre-selected, so your job is to launch the units at the correct time to make the most of their strengths and weaknesses. For example, soldiers are great against helicopters, but weak against tanks. This means the only strategy in the game is watching the units your enemy has spawned and then selecting one of your units that is best equipped to deal with the threat.
You can target an enemy vehicle or just send you tank off in the general direction of the enemy and hope for the best, but once launched you have no control over what happens next. When you have managed to defeat the enemy vehicles your units will move on to attack the four missile turrets surrounding the enemy commander’s base. Destroy them and it’s game over, you win.
There’s no variation in the gameplay and the difficulty level seem to simply increase by the AI commander having a shorter cool down period or stronger units than you. Once you have completed some of the campaign you can switch to Arcade mode which lets you play against someone else on the same PS4 with your opponent using a Dualshock and your main TV to view the battlefield. There is no online option whatsoever.
And that’s it, that’s the entire game. Pick up tanks, point them at the enemy, job done. It is exactly what the name implies, a VR version of the iOS and Android game with any additional features or benefits. There’s no tutorial either so it’s up to you to learn which unit is best suited to destroy the enemy, adding a tedious element of trial and error. There are hints in the game as to which unit you should use, but they are very vague. “Tanks are strong” is about the only information you are going to get.
I could go on for hours suggesting how the game could be bettered. Letting you pick the units you use, giving you finite resources and deciding when to spawn a unit rather then auto-generating would have instantly pushed the strategy levels up, and the lack of online is ridiculous, but alas that’s not the game sat in front of me.
League of War: VR Arena isn’t a badly made game – it’s well presented and looks pleasing enough in VR – but it’s very, very, limited. Play the game for twenty minutes and you will have seen almost everything. There is almost no strategy and half the time you can win by picking units up as fast as they are produced and throwing them onto the battlefield. Porting the simple mechanics of a mobile game to consoles rarely works, even if you add a nice shiny VR element. A missed opportunity.