League of War: VR Arena PlayStation VR Review

League of War: VR Arena is an arcade action strategy game available for download from the PlayStation Store for PlayStation VR. MunkyFun’s League of War series began with the action strategy gameplay of League of War: Mercenaries on iOS and Android devices which originally launched in 2014. Can League of War: VR Arena re-imagine retro era arcade action strategy games such as Return Fire in virtual reality?

It is immediately noticeable that there is far less emphasis on strategy gameplay in comparison to League of War: Mercenaries were you could build your own bases for instance; whereas League of War: VR Arena focuses more on arcade action between military units on designated areas of battlefields. The premise of the battle is for both commanders to guide their army in pushing past enemy military units and attack the defences situated at either side of the enemy base until they are destroyed in order to win the battle.

Campaign mode includes 9 commanders that each have a series of 8 enemy commanders in which players start off with a single commander to choose from with only one enemy commander to go up against, although each commander and enemy commander is unlocked through naturally progressing along from the first commander’s list of enemy commanders onwards.

Arcade mode takes a bit of a different approach in comparison to campaign mode as you can field your very own customised squad from units that you have unlocked and further units that can be purchased with the in-game currency of medals which are earned dependant upon your team’s performance during battle.

There are numerous military units including tanks, artillery, recon, helicopters, infantry and more besides that each have a particular strength of attack, defence, speed, range and blast area which introduces a reasonable amount of strategy in the sense of covering an enemy unit with your equivalent type of unit or releasing something else onto the battlefield that may overpower the enemy unit. Further units are unlocked as you are victorious against more enemy commanders that can be assigned for deployment from your base during the menu titled my squad which can be drafted into your own custom squad within arcade mode.

Character design revolves around the commanders that you play as or battle against; comprising of 9 commanders with unique looks, approaches and personalities, their own squads of military units and rivalries with other commanders. Meanwhile, environment design has some variation to it as there are five battlefields which are mostly unlockable as the player progresses through their commander’s campaign including such themes as grass, snow, desert and more besides containing the relevant types of trees in accordance with the environmental conditions and a base at both ends of the battlefield.

League of War: VR Arena is not compatible with DualShock 4 controllers instead opting to utilise two PlayStation Move controllers that represent your left and right hands. Either hand can pick up, position and guide a military unit by moving the PlayStation Move controller so that the holographic hand is over a military unit of your preference, holding the trigger button and pointing an arrow in the direction of a highlighted enemy military unit or an area of the enemy base. You can accelerate the progression of your next military unit by holding the trigger button on your preferred unit type until it is ready for deployment, while pressing the Move button produces the pause menu. PlayStation Move controllers vibrate when you are accelerating the progression of your chosen unit.

Graphically, League of War: VR Arena is fairly simplistic, although it still looks rather good despite its basic environments; as the models for every military unit look detailed and well designed with some pretty good explosion effects which make the attacking power of every unit quite believable, while there are nice subtle touches such as infantry celebrating victory on the battlefield. The enemy commander is situated at the opposite side of the battlefield albeit in holographic form which is stylish, but it may have been better to include the enemy commander’s full body so that players could see their opposing commander’s look of anguish when they had been defeated.

League of War: VR Arena’s presentation is immersive throughout the menus as every option is layered in the sense of what you would anticipate from stereoscopic 3D. Every choice of game mode, commander, enemy commander, environment and more besides requires the player to reach out with their left or right PlayStation Move controller, holding the trigger button and swiping along the multiple options before pressing the trigger button to select your preference. Menu backgrounds focus on a high-tech facility that you control your units on the battlefield from.

A female voice-over informs the player when their military unit is available for deployment, while every commander has their own voice-over introducing their upcoming mission and providing somewhat of a brief backstory by discussing their rivalry with the enemy commander. Sound effects include military units firing at each other and at the opposing base leading to plenty of explosions, while military music is played that would be expected from an action film as soldiers go into battle.

The trophy list includes 13 trophies with 11 bronze trophies, 1 silver trophy and 1 gold trophy. Easier trophies include the First Blood bronze trophy for defeating one enemy in arcade or campaign mode and the Baker’s Dozen bronze trophy for defeating 13 enemies in arcade or campaign mode, while there are 9 bronze trophies involving completing a particular character’s campaign albeit at varying difficulty curves. Harder trophies include the Campaign Commander silver trophy for completing every campaign and the Gross Victory gold trophy for defeating 144 enemies in arcade or campaign mode. It is estimated that depending upon skill and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take between 10 to 20 hours to 100% the trophy list.

There are no difficulty levels, although there is a natural difficulty curve as each enemy commander that you battle against will have a stronger or more diverse range of military units at their disposal. Therefore, you have to readjust your strategy to specifically cope with particular incoming onslaughts of enemy units that are simultaneously more capable in attack and defence; resulting in campaign mode not being easy to progress through, especially from around halfway into your commander’s battles with their enemies.

Social screen multiplayer allows the VR player to have some local competitive gameplay versus a second player using a DualShock 4 controller with a third-person viewpoint output to the TV, although make sure to have both players logged into the same PSN ID, otherwise it will not progress onto the commander selection screen for the second player. Social screen multiplayer changes up the gameplay by allowing only the VR player to direct their units with pinpoint accuracy, while the social screen player has an equalising capability in which units are generated faster than that of the VR player. On paper this is quite intriguing, but no matter what strategy was attempted such as covering the social screen TV player’s units like for like or sending all of my units to attack the left or right side of the enemy base; the outcome was always the same as the social screen player’s units would swarm forwards, destroying my base and winning the match quite easily within 45 to 60 seconds even when selecting the same commanders with the same units.

To make sure that it was not just me playing the game poorly; I swapped around with the person that was previously playing through the social screen in which I then proceeded to win every match as the social screen player using the same tactics that I tried as the VR player. This proves that League of War: VR Arena’s social screen multiplayer seriously needs to be re-balanced as the unbalanced gameplay makes it impossible for the PlayStation VR player to ever defeat the social screen TV player which grows tiresome after 30 minutes of the same undoubted result in favour of the social screen player. The unbalanced social screen multiplayer gameplay could be easily corrected by providing equal parity between reducing the speed of the social screen player’s emerging units to be the same as the VR player and allowing the social screen player to set the path for each of their units by pressing X to choose your unit, then adjusting the directional arrow with the left analogue stick before pressing X to confirm.

There is no online multiplayer which could have had two VR players battling against each other as any of their 9 unlocked commanders. There are also no online leaderboards that could have displayed the fastest time for defeating every commander within each commander’s respective campaign and the fastest time for completing each commander’s entire campaign.

League of War: VR Arena’s replayability stems from the campaign mode spanning 72 battles and an arcade mode that allows you to customise your squad through unlockable military units and those purchased through in-game currency earned during battles. Social screen multiplayer could also be factored into replayability if that specific area of gameplay was rebalanced to be fairer between the VR player and social screen TV player.

 

Analysis

  • Title: League of War: VR Arena
  • Developer: MunkyFun
  • Publisher: MunkyFun
  • System: PlayStation VR
  • Format: PSN Download
  • Cross-Buy: No
  • Cross-Play: No
  • Players: 1-2 (Social Screen Multiplayer)
  • Hard Drive Space Required: 924.7MB (Version 1.02)
Jason

Jason

Jason plays all genres of games and enjoys all different kinds of experiences that the games industry has to offer. Jason’s favourite PlayStation exclusive franchises throughout various eras include: Crash Bandicoot, God of War, Gran Turismo, inFamous, Killzone, Little Big Planet, MotorStorm, Resistance, Spyro the Dragon, Uncharted, Wipeout and various games that never became big name franchises. A special mention goes to Black Rock’s superb Split Second: Velocity as it is rather unbelievable that it will never receive a sequel.Jason now mainly plays modern PlayStation games on home console and portably, but occasionally returns to the old retro classics on the 3DO, PS1 and PS2 such as discovering Cool Spot Goes to Hollywood 20 years after its original release on PS1. Jason is happy to see gaming coming full circle with updates for retro classics such as Alien Breed, Superfrog and Crash Bandicoot.

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