Final Assault is a VR title from Phaser Lock Interactive. This particular game pits two players against each other in a real-time strategy match that plays out as a little bit of freeform and a little bit of lane combat. The whole thing looks like a military toy box and boardgame come to life. It was interesting on paper, and after playing at PAX South 2019, Final Assault may be one of the strongest arguments for competitive VR gaming that we’ve ever seen.
Final Assault is set in a cartoonish World War II context that instantly reminds of games like Commander Chaos on the Sega Genesis or Team Fortress 2. Mostly, it serves as draping to supply your selection of sides and units. Players can pick Allies or Axis, each with three different specialized battalions – Armor, Airforce, and Infantry – and their own strengths or weaknesses. Once the choices are set, you move into action, overlooking one of 14 maps with yours and your opponent’s base and a bevy of lanes, terrain, and strategic opportunity between you and them. The point is to use your units to break through your opponent’s forces and destroy their home base.
The concerning aspect of Final Assault was definitely how a player might control real-time strategy functions in the game, but the game actually handles quite well. The VR headset acts as your head and the controllers act as your hands. You can use your hands to tug your head and vision around the map. Meanwhile, one button press will put a clip board in your hand. This is how you begin to roll out your strategy in Final Assault.
From the clipboard, you can see units and their costs. Deploying them is as easy as plucking them from the clipboard and putting them down on the map where you want them to go. You can put them in one of the lanes on the map where they will automatically travel and fight any enemy units on the way to your enemy’s base. You can also put them anywhere else on the map and they’ll travel there, set up a defensive position and await further orders. Directing them from there is as easy as poking them and then drawing a line either to a free state on the map or one of the automatic lanes where they’ll move into action their own as well.
As the game plays out, infantry will move out of your base and down your lanes on their own. It’s your job to buff them with a variety of other units. Jeeps with machine guns, tanks, airplanes, anti-air, and more unlock as the game goes on. You can also place things like bazooka troop deploys in the map where they’ll unload troops into the lanes or artillery where it will fire upon enemy areas. This is where the strategy kicks in. You have to smartly balance your resources between offense and defense in the lanes and strategic positioning and movement in the free positions of the map. Adding to the strategy are supply crates that will drop to give you more resources that can give a crucial edge to your troop deployment. Racing your opponent to these crates is just another wrinkle in the depth of the overall match execution.
Final Assault’s control and aesthetic were highly satisfying. We quickly learned the mechanics from the tutorial and started to understand what we could do on the fly in an actual match. We thought the airplane units would be hard to catch and control because they’re in constant motion, but the game makes it very easy to poke any unit wherever it is and draw where you want it to go. Every other unit is just easy, if not easier, to direct.
When our match ended, we found ourselves realizing what we could have done differently and how we might have better utilized our tools in another go at the scenario. Maybe we’d have placed a couple artillery deployments with a jeep and tank nearby to gun down opponents trying to come after the artillery. Maybe we’d have moved a bike with a jeep companion to collect the supply crate to make sure if there was a clash, we would have the numbers to win it. The possibilities were there, and the game made us giddy to try them.
Final Assault is set to enter Early Access on Oculus and HTC Vive on February 12, 2019 with a PlayStation VR launch planned for release later in the year. 14 maps will be ready in Early Access, players will be able to cross-play against one another between platforms, and competitive leaderboards will be available as well. Phaser Lock is invested in building a competitive community within Final Assault with events and such planned as they prepare the game for launch. They are highly interested in seeing what players want out of the game to make it the best competitive VR experience it can be. Furthermore, for those that want to go it solo, a campaign mode is on the way as well to help players hone their skills and strategy.
Did you ever have Army Men or Micro Machines as a kid and wish you could bring them to life and battle them against a friend (or foe)? Final Assault is a close example of what it would be like. The game is genuinely easy to understand and has layers to master. In a world where VR often puts us behind the eyes of an avatar, it’s awesome to see someone take a more “living boardgame” approach to the platform. It will be interesting to see how Final Assault continues to grow and the opportunities for a competitive scene mean it will be a game worth watching closely in 2019.
Want to get a free shot at the game? We’re doing a Final Assault Steam Key giveaway on Daily Esports. Enter for your chance to win a key to the game just ahead of Early Access on February 12!
TJ Denzer is a video game journalist and Co-Editor-in-Chief at Daily Esports with a passion for games that has dominated a lifetime. When he’s not entrenched in the latest fighting games, exploring video game history, or playing through RPGs with his wife, he’s putting time into local beer breweries and searching for new food and drinks in the constant pursuit of good times with good people.