I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t been giving my PlayStation VR the love it deserves. After an enthusiastic launch, I fell out of touch and started giving attention to newer products on the market — every once in a while, donning the headset for one of the many notable launches. And with a slew of PlayStation 4 games with VR compatibility on the horizon, I’ve taken the headset out of storage, Windex-ed the OLED screen, and started checking out the recent releases — starting with board-game come to life title, League of War: VR Arena.
And while League of War: VR Arena’s central concept and core functionality is sound, the game leave’s a lot to be desired. League of War: VR Arena (in its current form) takes a bit too long to understand, and the limited gameplay options made me feel like I’d seen everything after the first 20 minutes.
But before going more into the criticism, what is League of War: VR Arena? Developed by San Francisco-based MonkeyFun, the game is a 1v1 tactical action game that takes place on a virtual tabletop. Sporting both a campaign mode and a local PvP mode, players deploy squads comprised of five different unit types: Infantry, Tank, Recon, Choppers, and Artillery.
On each person’s side of the game board, players will note a bunch of defensive machinery and portals that spawn the different types of units. The units quickly recharge over time, or — through selecting the units with the PlayStation Move controller — you can speed up one unit while the others are delayed. Doing so is a useful tool because each unit has a strength and weakness against another corresponding one. For instance, Tanks are strong against Infantry, Recon, and Artillery, but can get blown up by Choppers at a moment’s notice.
Using that rock-paper-scissor mechanic, you are tasked with taking on your opponent’s squad and attack them directly. Once you have destroyed all of their defensive machines, you win the match. And with the basic rules of the game explained, that is literally everything League of War: VR Arena seems to offer.
While the gameplay and strategy behind the game works out terrifically in VR, the whole experience tends to feel underbaked. First and foremost, the rules of League of War: VR Arena are never clearly explained by a much-needed tutorial. While there are a healthy amount of context clues, I went my first few hours not knowing that there were any advantages to picking specific units.
While the game comes packed-in with a campaign mode, the 3-4 hour experience seems forgettable at best. Players take on one of a handful of commanders as they explain their upcoming battles. I’m fiercely of the mind that developers should refrain from stories rather than just shoe-horn it in there. By halfway through League of War: VR Arena, I was skipping any monologue I had the option to because it was only serving as a roadblock to the incrementally better gameplay.
In fact, the gameplay could have been spiced up with a bit of variety — whether it was in different multiplayer modes, objectives in-match, or perhaps terrain options that actually affected battles. Not that it’s my job to offer suggestions, but I haFrom the first game to the new-game plus difficulty, you always feel like you are doing the same thing — only with a more severe difficulty curve and (hopefully) a better understanding of in-game dynamics.
That’s not to say there is nothing outside of the campaign. Players will have the ability to play 1v1 with people outside the VR helmet, with the on-screen competitor using the DualShock 4 to call their shots. And though I will never gripe about local multiplayer, it seems weird that games with matches so short chose not to support online multiplayer. Because not only would this open the game up to more regular or competitive gameplay, but you wouldn’t have to worry about explaining the vague rules to someone entirely new to the experience.
League of War: VR Arena isn’t a bad game, so much as it is underbaked. With a lack of diversity in modes or gameplay, the VR game takes interesting core gameplay and seemingly squanders it on a throwaway campaign. With plenty of exciting and fully-fleshed out VR experiences, I’d only recommend League of War: VR Arena to people looking to round out their PlayStation VR library with a tabletop component. And at the $20 price tag, I don’t think I could reasonably recommend it to anyone.
Editor’s Note: The original publication incorrectly noted the price as $29.99 instead of the correct $19.99. The name of the developer (MunkyFun) has been fixed in the header.