|Developer / Publisher: E. McNeill |
Tactera was born out of the Oculus Mobile VR Jam of 2015. After porting his first game, Darknet, to the GearVR, E. McNeill developed a full version of Tactera. The game is accessible as the core gameplay is simple, but playing it is a lot more than just point and clicks. It requires strategy and it requires fast thinking. It is a game of high quality and details and telling you upfront, one of the game to own on the GearVR.
But first things first, when launching the game, that plays in a virtual war room, you are taken to an in game menu. Everything is done and transitioned from that same war room. The menu offers you to launch one of the 3 game modes and gives you access to the option. One nice feature of the option is the ability to change the camera position. If you want to be close to the board and see the detailed combats, you can zoom in all the way to the side of the board. If on the otherhand you’d rather see most of the battlefield at once, you can pan out the camera and zoom out to a maximum height. Of course, the settings let you set it wherever fits you.
Before entering battle, you must select 3 units from 12 different ones. There are 3 types : Ground units, Air Units and Artillery. Each of them has their unique stats and weapons. Those stats are Armor, Mobility (speed), Firepower and Production Speed and the attributes let you know if it can attack air or ground units. A well balanced army is the key to victory. Faster deployment means more units you can spread out on the board while better Armor can be good to defend outposts. On the unit selection screen, you get to see individual stats and description of each unit, but as you build your team, you can also see the Team Stats on the top left to help you figure out the balance of your units put together.
Outposts are what build your units. At first both team starts with up to three outposts, one for each unit you chose. The remaining outposts are neutral so the first move is to rush to get as many as possible. Both teams will battle to earn as much as possible as more outposts means more units on the field. When capturing one; you can choose one of the 3 units to be automatically built by this new outpost. Even if the outpost is taken by the enemy and taken back by you, it will return to its original production. Captured outpost also have a defense system, but don’t count on them too much, they can’t offer enough to protect against two or more units. You can also upgrade or boost an outpost. Upgrading an outpost stops production for a while, but once upgraded it offers speeded up production. Boosting an outpost will speed up its production for a while but will stop it for good after making the outpost almost useless. When building units, outposts can keep up to three units undeployed before stopping production. You click on the outpost then click on the destination to deploy a unit there.
There are 3 different types of unit : Land, Air and Artillery (or Direct targeted strike). Land units are slower and are also affected by terrain blockades; they are usually stronger than the air unit counterpart. The air units are not affected by blockades and heavier units won’t be able to attack them but they usually are easier to take down and lack greater firepower. Finally Artillery is buildings that send direct attacks of different area and strength. They can be used to turn tides in a fight against units or to reduce an outpost health to capture it faster and stop enemy production. Units move themselves around the board after the initial deployment. It will usually go to the nearest outpost and if enemy units are crossed, they engage them until someone is completely eliminated. You can also hold the touchpad on the field, creating an area of command that grows until you release the touchpad. The next click will send every unit in the selected area to go or attack the location marked.
The game offers 3 modes : Skirmish, Campaign and Multiplayer. The few times I played, I was not able to fight online, but it’s the same a Skirmish. Those are one time battle where you choose your units, the map and how many outposts each player starts with. That’s it.
Campaign adds a bit of tactics to it. Battles are just one part of the war. You have a map where you can send your units, up to 3 per sectors. Each turn, you can move units by 1 sector, leaving at least 1 per sector. Moving to the same sector as an enemy unit will trigger a battle at the end of the turn. Those units will represent the number of starting outposts for a battle. For example, if you attack a 3 unit zone with only one unit, the battle will start with you having 1 outpost against the AI having 3. It is also good to know that you will only be able to fight 1 battle as a Commander each turn. The remaining battles will be fought and the result decided automatically depending on the Unit Vs Unit ratio. There is also one little catch, when preparing for your battle, you will be prompted to choose 3 out of the 12 units, but each unit you choose cannot be taken for the next two battles. You have to choose wisely not to find yourself stuck with unbalanced units for a battle. Each turn you get extra units to deploy at your base (the far left of the board) depending on the remaining places on each area. Once the campaign is completed, it will reset it and raise the difficulty.
E. McNeill made another accessible, yet polished game. The core gameplay consist on sending units on the field and let them battle, but advanced mechanics makes it a game challenging enough to be able to develop some serious strategies. If the multiplayer was well alive, this would be a game of real competition and challenge. Unfortunately, like most titles out there, it is hard to find players. The game lets you play battles against AI while you wait so that is a major perk.
I really am a fan of both E. McNeill game. I think we need developpers that see the potential of VR like he does. Attention to small details and intuitive gameplay is really his strenght. Original graphics, good music and sound even voice actors is just a few things that make this a good VR title. If you want to find other players to play Tactera, we just launch a channel on our Discord chat: Join Here!
- Distinctive approach
- Intuitive gameplay
- Attention to small details
- A lot of blue colors.
- No players for MP