Developer MunkyFun present a perfectly competent though cut-down RTS let down by lack of online multiplayer.
Developer MunkyFun have had previous success in the smartphone videogame market with League of War: Mercenaries and have chosen to expand upon that premise by bringing the concept into virtual reality (VR) with a with a real-time strategy title for the PlayStation VR.
League of War: VR Arena starts up its Campaign mode by giving players a choice of what general they wish to play as. As first only one is available, with others being unlocked through gameplay. The developers have chosen to forego any kind of tutorial in favour of getting right into the action. While this approach has advantages, players can find themselves missing out on some critical game mechanics due to the lack of tutorial or hint system. The campaign mode has less a story than some loose exposition that chains together the various one-on-one matches against the AI generals. While the voice acting is competent, the frequently repeated phrases, many of which drip with insult and arrogance, can get wearying after a while.
Gameplay is simple, players look down upon a terrain table where they can see the spawn points for their units. Once a unit is ready, you can use the PlayStation Move controller to pick them up and put them down on the battlefield. You can choose to set them to focus on a specific target, but for the most part they simply do as they want once you have placed them in the field. Which could be considered realistic to warfare, but can prove a source of frustration at times, and does eliminate much of the strategic element of traditional RTS.
Each unit has a rock/paper/scissors type weakness to another, such as infantry being weak against tanks but strong against helicopters. Early on, simple swarming tactics will easily win the day, though later on more careful consideration of build order is needed. You can accelerate the production of a unit by focussing resources on it, essential for the later parts of the campaign. Winning battles in Campaign mode nets the player medals which can be spent on customisation and upgrade options in Arcade mode.
Arcade Mode is the only multiplayer option in the title. It is local multiplayer, in which one player dons the PlayStation VR headset and uses the PlayStation Move controllers, while the other player uses the TV screen as a ‘social screen’ and the Dual Shock controller. This mode works well and is quite fun, but the lack of online multiplayer is both baffling and a major lack in the videogame of this type.
League of War: VR Arena looks great. It is crisp, smoothly animated and boasts a variety of different types of terrain for players to do war upon, such as hot deserts or lush woodland. Sadly, terrain is purely cosmetic and has no effect on any of the units. Music and sound were decent, though not especially notable.
Over all, League of War: VR Arena is a decent, if somewhat flat, experience. there are no twists in game mechanics. Difficulty slowly ratchets up, but little actually changes. Aside from the possibility of challenging a visiting friend to an Arcade match, there is little to draw you back in once you have completed the Campaign. Which will not take long, since battles are over in a remarkable short period of time, This is not a bad videogame by any means, but it is a shallow one, a fun time-waster that is sadly let down by its lack of online multiplayer, which might have gone so way towards extending its lifespan.