Preview: Brass Tactics – Can the Dev Behind Defense Grid Pull off Another Winner?
There's no genre reinvention, just polishing the craft.
Real-time strategy (RTS) titles have found a home on virtual reality (VR) head-mounted displays (HMDs), with the likes of Force Field VR’s Landfall and Siegecraft Commander showcasing some of the different avenues available. Now Hidden Path Entertainment, the studio behind the highly rated Defence Grid 2: Enhanced VR Edition, has taken its experience in tower defense and created medieval RTS Brass Tactics for Oculus Touch.
Set in a steampunk style world, players are presented with keeping their castle safe whilst destroying the opposing enemy’s with a range of clockwork troops. These vary from classic medieval knights and archers, to cavalry, artillery weapons and massive four-legged tanks.
Anyone even vaguely familiar with RTS style gameplay should be able to pick up Brass Tactics fairly quickly. In a tabletop format, this can be manipulated by using both touch controllers to adjust the height of the table, effectively giving you a zoom function should you wish to get into the heart of battle or watch proceedings from a bird’s-eye view. Should you wish to quickly move around the map only one controller is required to perform the process.
Hidden Path had one map on demonstration (seen above), a sprawling multi-tiered level featuring several outposts to occupy. This enables you to push your advancement across the battlefield, holding key areas to bottleneck opponents, whilst providing extra resources to build more units and upgrade them. Upgrading isn’t done in a menu, rather at your castle. Upgrade options appear as new buildings which can be placed in various slots around the castle. But you can’t just go upgrading without some strategy, there’s only a finite amount of spots available, so maxing out your archers, or improving build times will reduce the possibilities to improve other troops.
Your troops are built at these outposts, with match progression unlocking more powerful options. Buildings are selected by tilting either controller as if looking at a watch. This brings up a panel with the current available selection and you simply pick the appropriate option with the other controller. It’s been done before, but it’s neat and works effectively, especially when in a rush.
A nice feature that’s fundamental to the core gameplay is the selection of on field allies. You can select a single squad with a point a click of the trigger, if you wish to select more squads just wave the controller near to the other units. A single squad brings up one arching white arrow, while multiple units will increase the number of arches. It’s a great visual aid that lets you position troops precisely on the battlefield.
At present this is still an early build with the basic game mechanics working solidly. Brass Tactics is set to feature a single-player campaign and co-op, alongside the shown one-on-one multiplayer which should add enough scope for a good replay factor. As long as Hidden Path can added enough maps and in-depth upgrade options, the title should satisfy the demands of even the most die hard of RTS players when it arrives this year.