If you’ve played Half-Life: Alyx, or Pistol Whip, or Beat Saber, then you know what VR does best. Namely, intense (and usually scary as hell) first-person action, visceral rhythm/fitness games, and mind-bending puzzle games. But developer Phaser Lock Interactive would like to remind us all that RTS Tabletop games work amazingly well in the virtual space with the PSVR release of Final Assault.
Final Assualt takes us back to the video game world’s favorite war, WW2, in a less than realistic look at that deadly campaign. I don’t know if you’re old enough to remember those bags of toy army men they used to sell, but if you do, then Final Assault may press a few of your nostalgia buttons. It did for me. Instead of using your imagination and placing those little green men, jeeps, and tanks all over the living room floor for your mom to step on, you’ll be bringing them to life on a virtual battlefield. And I have to say, it’s pretty great. I knew I was going to like it as soon as the tutorial had me reroute an airplane to lay down strafing fire on a group of marching soldiers with my finger. I lost my first two battles mainly because I couldn’t stop flying the airplanes over small groups of enemy troops. As the general, you’re in charge of the entire battlefield and not just raining down death from above.
After a quick tutorial, you can play in a single-player story mode, or skip the BS and go straight into a skirmish mode. There is also a multiplayer mode, which I’ll get into later. I started in single-player story mode, which allows me to pick a general. Each one features slightly different tactics and a different aesthetic. This mode then places you at a tabletop, where you can slowly advance your game pieces towards your enemy like a game of chess. If you land on enemy ground, the real battle ensues. There, the action swings to a battlefield where the idea is to send your troops into battle to defeat your enemy and destroy their base. You can scan the entire battlefield by holding down the Move button while moving the wand. You’ll need to do this a lot as micromanaging your troops will be a necessity at certain times. The planes specifically need much babysitting, but you never know when you may need to put a tank into patrol to avoid the artillery or to frantically move troop transport trucks when you hear the air-raid siren indication incoming missiles. The Moves perform admirably, but when the action heats up and you need to move quickly, the Moves can get a bit wonky, especially if you dare turn your head from the camera.
If you’re new to the genre, it goes like this. You can pull up a chart with a press of the button that shows all of your available troops. On the bottom is your lesser effective (and less expensive) units like the jeep, troop transport, and the basic tank. The second tier features a plane, a heavier troop transport, and an artillery unit. These all vary slightly per general and whether you are playing as allied or axis troops. Eventually, you can unlock a third and fourth tier of more powerful units. You’ll see a green bar rising slowly on the left of your clipboard. This indicates the money that you’ll need to purchase each unit you send into battle or to unlock the upper tiers. This happens on its own, so you don’t need to worry about resource management.
On the easy difficulty, you can usually win by just spamming the battlefield with tanks and troops, while keeping a well-placed artillery unit at your base. Move up to normal or hard and it’s going to take some real strategy. On the easy level, the enemy doesn’t even try to race you to the supply drops. I’ll be honest, I don’t play a lot of RTS games. In fact, I’ve only played them in VR, nor was I a real military general in a previous life, so the strategies are new to me. I actually had to watch a couple of YouTube tutorials to win even a single skirmish against the normal difficulty. Despite my struggles, it’s obviously a good thing that you can’t win every battle with the same technique. Nobody would continue to play it otherwise. Each battlefield requires new tactics based on the size, terrain, and the various routes available.
Speaking of the maps, each battlefield looks amazing and is packed with detail. That goes for the troops too. Watching ground troops getting hit with a flamethrowing tank is intense and the explosions look surprisingly impressive. Each map was a joy to take in and really added to the immersion. It would have been cool if the terrain and the buildings showed any signs of war, but only the military units are vulnerable.
I tested out the multiplayer mode with Chris, my Pure PSVR cohort. I threatened to rate the game a two after he murdered me in three straight matches. In my defense, I had only played the tutorial and half a match before our multiplayer test. Plus, Chris is an RTS veteran and I think his parents shipped him off to military school or something. It’s notable that Final Assault multiplayer is cross-play with PC VR so finding a match should be fairly easy.
It may not be as deep as some of its flat game counterparts, but Final Assualt has plenty to offer fans of the genre and is a wonder to experience in virtual reality. I may never be good enough to beat the campaign on the hardest difficulty, but if I can win at least one skirmish on that difficulty, maybe I can stop playing this game. Until then, you can find me on the battlefield trying to lead my little guys to the ultimate victory.
Final Assault PSVR Review
Overall - Fantastic - 8/10
Final Assault may not be as deep as Command and Conquer, but it does offer the most fun and deepest RTS experience you can find in virtual reality. Each battlefield is unique and filled with detail, and when the bombs are going off, multiple dogfights are happening overhead and gunfire is going off everywhere, the immersion is through the roof.
- The deepest RTS game VR has to offer
- The maps, troops, and military units look great and are full of detail
- Cross-play multiplayer is a great feature that should keep it alive
- The story mode really isn’t much of a story
- The battlefields are static and don’t suffer any damage from war
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using PS4 Slim.
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