Quar: Battle for Gate 18 is a HTC Vive launch title that seemingly appeared out of nowhere. Having never been shown at any of the many virtual reality (VR) preview events VRFocus has attended, nor has developer Steel Wool Games engaged in any promotional activity for the title, it appears strange that such a videogame would be ready in time for launch. But ready it is, and for that VRFocus is thankful.
A turn-based strategy videogame, Quar: Battle for Gate 18 takes a tabletop view similar to that of A Legend of Luca. Playable standing or seated, the videogame casts you in the role of an army commander as you attempt to overthrow the Royalist Coftyan Crymuster as the Crusader Army. This war has been waging for 700 years, and it’s up to you to finally bring it to an end.
The storyline and interpretable political motives is an aside however, as Quar: Battle for Gate 18 doesn’t stress on it as much as might expect from such a grandiose premise. Instead, it’s all about getting into the action. A short tutorial teaches the player about movement, with each map divided into a number of circles and individual unit types having a limited number of movement spaces, and combat. This is all simple enough – literally point and pull the trigger to select, same again to command – but Quar: Battle for Gate 18 doesn’t stop there.
Opposed to commanding your entire army then letting the enemy retaliate, Quar: Battle for Gate 18 takes turn-based gameplay to it’s extreme. Each player is able to select one unit to command, before the enemy does so with theirs. Once each player has commanded each of their units one-at-a-time the entire army become selectable again, and so on goes the battle.
Each unit can move and perform one special action per turn, be it fire upon an enemy unit, hunker down ready for a counter-strike, or use an ability such as healing other units. The variety of units – 18 in total – creates some interesting tactical opportunities, and the design of the maps perfectly compliments the strategic exploration afforded by such wealth.
Sadly, Quar: Battle for Gate 18 is limited in scope by its relatively short campaign and lack of multiplayer options. It genuinely feels as though the campaign is preparing the player for something bigger – similar in fashion to EVE: Valkyrie‘s single-player package – and while most will race to the finish, the realisation that there’s nothing additional to follow is disappointing. Quar: Battle for Gate 18‘s tactical gameplay – from unit selection to battlefield improvisation – seems perfect for going head-to-head against competitive human opponents.
The VR design of Quar: Battle for Gate 18 allows the player to maintain their god-like view of the battlefield or zoom right down to the ground with their troops. Playing with scale is one of the most enjoyable elements of VR in these early stages, and Steel Wool Games have capitalised upon this. The additional Quarpedia mode – a simple virtual book offering information on the unlocked unit types – offers the player a roomscale experience that pushes the HTC Vive further than any other aspect of the videogame, but will be limited in its appeal.
Turn-based strategy is one of those genres that many would assume might not necessarily be a good fit for VR, however those suggesting this simply haven’t played Quar: Battle for Gate 18. It’s a genuinely fun and often tense videogame, and though a non-VR version is also in the works it’s impossible to see how removing VR from its genetic model would deliver the same experience. Quar: Battle for Gate 18 is an easy recommendation for the HTC Vive, with the hope that Steel Wool Games will expand upon the formula in the months to come.