League of War: VR Arena is a tabletop war simulator from MunkyFun Inc. If that sounds like it would make a good mobile game, then surprise, it is a mobile game. In fact, League of War: Mercenaries is available from your favorite app store as you read this. But fear not, there is a enough polish on League of War: VR Arena to separate it from its mobile brethren. But is it worth your hard-earned cash? Keep reading to find out.
First of all, you’ll need a pair of PlayStation Move controllers to go along with PSVR headset. A second player can play with the DualShock 4, but we’ll get into that later. For single player, the Moves are necessary. Once you boot the game up, you can choose arcade or campaign. Calling it a campaign is a bit of a misnomer as there is no real story here. You simply choose a character and proceed to challenge all of the other Commanders to war. There are a couple of minutes of exposition before each round, but to call it a cohesive story would be a stretch.
Once the battle begins, you’ll find yourself standing on one end of the table while your opponent stands on the other. Directly in front of you you’ll find your base and five spawn points. From these spawn points you’ll be able to deploy infantry, jeeps, tanks and helicopters, including variations of each. With the Moves in hand, you simply reach down and grab the machine-of-war and set it on the table to wreak tabletop havoc. Before you release it, you can direct its focus on something on the battlefield or simply choose to let it go. However, once it destroys what you pointed it at, you can no longer control it and it simply does battle with whatever it chooses. In fact, once the pieces are placed on the board, they are all out of your control. As the commander, once you make the initial decision, you have little to do but watch and hope you made the right choice, which, I suppose is the point of a good strategy war simulator.
The matches are fast paced and extremely short. In the beginning, the battles are easy and can be won by simply placing your troops on the board as soon as they spawn, effectively overwhelming your opponent’s base. But as soon as the second battle, you’ll have to utilize more strategy. Some units are useless against certain enemies, while others can dominate. For instance, your infantry trooper isn’t much good against a tank, but he can be your best bet against the helicopters. There is no real mention in-game of each unit’s vulnerabilities or strengths. Instead, you’re left to fumble around, learning on the fly. This is a theme throughout. The developers chose to do very little handholding. Too much hand holding is a personal bugaboo of mine, but too little is almost as bad. Maybe I’m just never happy.
As you win in the campaign, you earn medals that you can use to buy additional troops for the arcade version. Aside from the arcade version, there is also multiplayer, but it is local play only. This is done with player one using the moves and the VR headset, while player two uses the TV screen and Dual Shock 4. It works well and is a lot of fun, but the omission of online multiplayer is a big misstep in my opinion.
The tabletop maps look good in VR, as the tech does a wonderful job of bringing the tiny world to life. The maps also offer some variety, including snowy terrain, wooded and desert areas, etc. Not the most original, but as I said, they look pretty cool. Sadly, the environments don’t affect play and serve aesthetic purposes only. The game is fun, but this brings me to my biggest complaint: the core gameplay is simple and it never changes. The difficulty ratchets up, forcing you to change your strategy, but the game never changes. You plop down your units and simply watch them do their thing. Playing against a friend on the couch is fun and everything looks pretty good in the virtual world, but little gameplay variety and the odd omission of online multiplayer drags League of War: VR Arena down.
At $19.99, League of War: VR arena isn’t overpriced for fans of RTS games or tabletop aficionados, but I believe it will fail at keeping the casual fan entertained. But on the other hand, are you tired of being the tip of the spear and getting sniped the second you peak your head around the corner? Is your K/D ratio circling the drain faster than your life’s goals? If the answer to either of those questions is yes, than maybe your true calling is sending other poor souls into the heat from the safety of your end of the table.
League of War: VR Arena PS4 Review
If you like RTS games or tabletop war simulators, you'll probably find something to like in League of War: VR Arena. It's a cool use of the VR tech and fans of the League of War mobile games will love it. However, the never expanding gameplay and the lack of online multiplayer will undoubtedly leave casual fans, or those looking for an in-depth strategy game, wanting more.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a digital copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more unformation, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using base PS4.