Virtual Reality brings certain interesting twists onto normal gameplay formulas. Instead of relying upon menus or inventory screens you can instead simply look at your virtual body and pick up the thing you want to use. Many different genres of gaming can have unique experiences but none so much as strategy games. I love RTS experiences and for my first ever VR game I reviewed I was happy to enjoy this foray into the world of Virtual Reality Strategy Games with Tabletop gods.
The story for this game is barebones and only really serves to provide us with a backdrop as to why we are engaging in these wars. The gods of the heavens are having a massive disagreement but instead of fighting it out in their own plane they have decided to send armies of their minions to fight it out on tables to decide who is the winner. It’s a silly concept and the game’s tone overall is rather ridiculous however it pulls it off with a cartoony artstyle, funny flavour text and many other small touches that help to establish the fact that this isn’t a game to take too seriously at all. There is a single player however which focuses upon completing specific scenarios such as beating an enemy with only certain types of units or other similar twists on gameplay that help to freshen things up. It’s a shame that there wasn’t an equally silly narrative to go along with this single player experience however the game is still in Early Access so things could very well change.
The presentation as I mentioned before goes for a cartoony aesthetic that also imitates a blocky, voxel look that I really enjoy. It certainly looks simplistic however I feel as though it almost adds to the charm. It also means that it isn’t very taxing on your system which allows the game to fill up the battles with hundreds of small soldiers ready to do your bidding. I also enjoyed the high-octane music that played over battles however I did find it blended into the background so it’s nothing to be amazed about. I did feel as though the UI was problematic, especially when it came to the VR experience. While playing normally on a PC you have bars and icons to help you manage resources and troop types in VR you instead rely upon all your controls being on the right controller. While this does allow for faster gameplay, especially for when you want to place troops around the map as you can simply just point around the physical table and place, I didn’t have some important information available to me such as troop count or quick access to certain spells. These could be tweaked to provide more of a level playing field between flat and VR players, especially considering that this game has cross-play enabled between these two versions.
The gameplay is a mix between a traditional RTS and a Tower Defence game. You and your opponent control several towers and it’s up to you to build defences, summon minions and cast spells to defeat your opponent’s armies and destroy their towers. It sounds like a simple enough concept and it certainly feels that way initially. However when looking through the two factions and the wide variety of units they have to offer you realise that there is quite a bit of strategy you can implement. Would you rather choose the undead and focus on swarming your opponent with hundreds of minions or do you go for a more defensive playstyle focusing on human archers and attack towers. The free movement in VR certainly adds to the fun of strategies, especially by placing flanking units near your opponent when they least suspect it. Alongside this core gameplay there is of course the single player trials which also run on a star rating system like old mobile games did. This helps to bring some replayability to them as you replay to try and get the highest rating possible. There is also multiplayer that allows you to quickly search for matches or host rooms where you can play against others. A really nice touch is the ability to spectate in VR and physically look around the battlefield while others are playing. It really helps to create a sort of ‘diorama’ feel that these battles invoke as if you are playing in your room with toy soldiers. There’s also the general variety of unlockables including new items for your hub world and new character models.
However the game does have some faults. The main thing I found was that for the price the game was unfortunately lacking in content. With only two factions to play as and two maps to fight on the game started to feel a bit repetitive as I played. This will obviously change over time as the Early Access model brings new content to the game however as it stands for the price that the game is at I feel there is a lack of stuff to do. The other main problem isn’t so much to do with the game itself but with the low player count. Obviously a big component of this game is multiplayer however with the lack of people currently playing it this could spell death for the game in the long run. Maybe it will gather enough publicity to up those player counts and really get a community going but until then I hope it survives long enough to gain a following.
In conclusion then Tabletop Gods brings a traditionally static format to VR and helps to make it unique enough to be worth a look. There’s a lack of good VR games currently, especially in the strategy department, but I would say that if you wanted to check out a strategy game for your Vive then this would be your best bet. Just be aware of the lack of things to do currently, let’s hope the future brings a lot more content.