By Remko Molenaar (Proxzor)
When you think about Virtual Reality games, most games that come to mind are shooters (or variations on a shooter). Racing games are also very popular with VR, but a ton of other genres are left in the dark. One of these genres is real time strategy, which is very unfortunate because it might actually be the best possible genre for the current technology of VR. Tactera is a VR real time strategy game where you will look down on a virtual tabletop where you will lead and watch your units succeed on the battlefield.
Virtual Reality has been a ground breaking piece of technology that has changed the gaming industry, hopefully for the better. Ever since VR took off, we have seen a lot of games spicing things up and showing an alternative look at how fun a specific game can be when played physically. Shooters and racing games both come to mind, and instead of just slowly wasting away our life in a chair, we are now physically moving in the world. We’re close to doing an actual workout. But despite VR currently still being a bit of a gimmick, we have seen a lot of interesting games having their go at making a successful VR game. While a virtual chat box with anime characters is probably still the most active and popular VR game, there are a ton of others by independent developers left in the dark, hoping to see a spark of life from this small group of gamers.
Tactera does well at implementing Real Time Strategy mechanics into VR, yet keeping it simple so everyone can enjoy this super fun genre. Imagine standing over these old Roman war boards that generals used to have in their tents so they could strategically think of the best possible way to advance into a battle. Instead of playing with plastic soldiers, Tactera takes the science fiction route with helicopters, planes, tanks, and buggies. While the game has a simplistic form so everyone gets the basics right away, in practice Tactera proves to be very difficult but enjoyable.
Since the game is still very new, and the RTS genre itself is never super popular, the chances of actually playing against someone online is very slim. Because of this I mainly had my go with the Campaign and Skirmish modes, but the game is pretty straight forward no matter what game mode you pick. The Campaign is a fun yet simple game mode that could keep you playing for hours. The game is divided in a number of grids, split between you and the AI controlled player. On each grid you can have a number of units present, and each round you will have to move forward one grid slot to slowly advance forward with your new units. To attack a grid, you will have to move over units from the grid slots next to it, and through this you can slowly advance forward into your enemy’s territory. Since your opponent is doing the exact same, the board isn’t simply just cleared in a few turns.
It is a constant cat and mouse game trying to slowly advance forward and out-think your opponent. While this is a very fun and straight forward campaign, it doesn’t have a whole lot of depth. When you attack an enemy grid and decide to actually lead the battle, the amount of units moved over to the grid determines the amount of bases available at the start of the game. You can select up to three specific units to take into battle with you, each unit with its own specialty in ground or air attacks, so you will really have to play around with the options you have. And when using an unit in battle, it will also lock this unit in for a few rounds, and cannot be used in other fights for the duration of it.
The game starts with multiple bases on the tabletop, ranging from just a handful of bases to up to about ten. Depending on the units moved into the grid, you will get a base per unit send into battle, and depending on the actual units you also take into battle, you will get bases for these to slowly advance forward. Since you can also take turrets with you into battle, these bases can also be just cannons shooting from afar, or providing you air support. The goal is simply to defeat the enemy’s bases and you’ll win the fight over the grid slot. Each base has a set amount of health, and a cool down timer that goes active every time the building is used. Be it either for spawning in new units, or firing air support somewhere on the map, the building will be put on cool down and cannot be used again until its over.
Once the game gets going you will simply start with a small wave of units, and depending on the type of units you are sending you also have to think about your approach. Since it first starts as a race to get as many ‘neutral’ bases won over to your side, you also have to keep in mind what the enemy is doing and how the fights give you an advantage. When the game picks up in pace, the fights will become bigger, and depending on the number of units it usually is decided in one final battle.The game will quickly snowball into the favor of the one who won the bigger fight, making this a very strong and viable tactic on a smaller board when you start out with more units than your opponent.
Conclusion: Good (3/5)
Tactera is a very simple game which is a lot of fun but makes you lust for more. The Real Time Strategy genre proves to be an extremely fun combo combined with Virtual Reality, but unfortunately there have been few games so far that have done it well. While Tactera is a fun game, the game itself does miss a lot of depth and after only a few hours of playing you start to see why the game isn’t as popular as it could be. The foundation is definitely there and enjoyable, and everyone can just hop right in, it does make you wonder if the game is actually worth the price tag. For some people $15 can be a lot of money, and while it is definitely fun for a few hours, once you’ve cleared one campaign game, you’ll be asking for more. Tactera in its current form cannot offer you that.
Note: A game key was provided for review purposes.