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Brass Tactics Impressions: Tabletop Strategy In Virtual Reality

Virtual reality and its various HMDs have the potential to enhance many genres throughout gaming and the real-time strategy genre is one that could easily benefit from the degree of freedom VR affords you. Brass Tactics is the VRTS experience from Hidden Path Entertainment that launches tomorrow and I wanted to share my experience with it thus far.

Let's address comfort first off. I'm fairly susceptible to motion sickness, but didn't expect to experience much in this game. Thankfully, I did not. The official Oculus page lists the game's comfort level as "moderate" and I'm sure some may be disoriented if they move the playing area around quickly, but it's largely pleasant to play and the frame-rate was consistent.

Brass Tactics features a single-player campaign with eight maps, 20 multiplayer maps, and three different AI personalities in the final version of the game. I'm playing a review copy of it and immediate dove into the first mission after taking a look at the types of units available. The miniature squads have a steampunk style to them and cover the typical units you'd expect across range, flight, melee archetypes and more rare ones like the massive Titan and an artillery unit that can move around or transform into a powerful, stationary weapon.

If you've imagined that maneuvering units around a battlefield would translate really well to virtual reality, you're correct. From your third-person perspective, you view the battlefield like one of the massive tabletop sets you'd see at events or in specialty stores. To move your units, you hold a button and sweep over the units you want to move, point them where you want them to go, and release so they start the journey. The grab-and-release method for moving your units lets you effortlessly point them in the right direction while still being able to look around and remain aware of other things taken place around you.

Based on this first level, the combat across battlefields isn't too complex to manage. There are obstacles in the environment like destructible walls and bridges that serve to move the fight along in this tutorial, but will certainly serve as strategic resources in a regular match.

At the end of the match, I was introduced to the AI I was facing during the tutorial and the voice that I heard was a surprising treat. Aidan Gillen, who plays Petyr Baelish in the Game of Thrones series on HBO, voices the main villain Zavolto and it will be interesting to see how the story unfolds over the eight maps.

In this brief snapshot of the game, it's already apparent Hidden Path Entertainment could set the bar for RTS in virtual reality. We'll have the full review soon as I dig deeper into the game. Brass Tactics launches tomorrow, February 22, 2018, on the Oculus Rift. If you preorder Brass Tactics now, you'll get the game at a reduced price ($15 off).

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