Finally, the VR gods have listened to me and brought a real-time strategy game into view. Try as you may, you cannot convince me that physically reaching out and grabbing a squad unit and plopping them on the field doesn’t bring the greatest dopamine rush. With League of War: VR Arena, the game offers that simple, satisfying feeling while offering a novel experience that wears out its welcome fairly quickly despite its quick combat scenarios.
That basic concept of being able to deploy your own army against an opponent is as satisfying as you’d think it is. The downside with League of War is that it never really elevates itself beyond its central conceit, despite offering plenty of single-player content. Players go through different campaigns, each with its own central character that has his or her own ideologies about war. These primarily come from introductory monologues from the character as you progress through their respective campaigns. You’ll unlock new units to control as you progress, which will slightly change your tactics.
Unfortunately, the game’s gameplay never really changes between campaigns or as they progress. There are new units, but they behave the same with the exception of whether they are air-based or land-based. A helicopter will still shoot towards the ground, but they spawn in the air. Most of the game just consists of pushing the enemy’s forces back, which I found most effective when timing the deployment of units. You’re not using resources to unleash units on the battlefield, but instead just waiting for a cooldown meter to finish. There doesn’t seem to be a difference between the cooldown of a ground troop versus a tank, which makes no sense to me and proves itself more infuriating than helpful. There’s also no real control of units after you’ve assigned them a target. Just let them on their way and if they don’t die before killing their target they’ll move onto the next one.
But League of War: VR Arena isn’t about having complex systems or being revolutionary. It just applies something simple – in this case, physically reaching out and dropping units on a battlefield – to showcase another novel way to utilize virtual reality. One of the other small flourishes the game employs is its spectator screen for those watching their friends play. In the VR headset everything is shown from the perspective of one side of the fight. On the TV however, the game has an isometric top down camera, which makes things look more like an RTS than it does inside virtual reality.
The game only features two modes – Campaign and Arcade – and the Arcade mode allows for two players to play against each other. One uses the VR headset and another uses a controller and the TV, but it’s not fun. I mean, there’s the obvious camaraderie between players, but like the gameplay itself, its appeal is surface-level. I liked it at first, but the more you play, the more you see there isn’t much more to it and the gameplay itself can’t sustain any experience.
League of War isn’t groundbreaking but it feels so good. Had their been a bit more of a gameplay hook or just more substance to it than maybe I’d have found a reason to love League of War: VR Arena. Unfortunately, that doesn’t really end up happening. Instead, you get some different viewpoints on war – none of which are that interesting – and an arsenal of units to deploy that don’t really differentiate in how they operate. It’s a good game, but it’s one that needed a bit more depth to it in order to stand above every other novel VR experience.
League of War: VR Arena
- It feels great dropping units on the battlefield
- Interesting to have different viewpoints for each campaign
- Isometric top down camera for spectators
- No substance to the gameplay
- Unfortunately the different viewpoints aren't interesting
- Units all act similar
- Cooldown times all being relatively the same is a weird choice