Note: This game is available for Oculus Rift only.
In a serious case of climate change, the oceans on Earth rose a lot and caused people to split into two factions that have been at war ever since. Enormous dams hold the water at bay, letting humans carve out an existence, but this is also the place where soldiers and mechanized killing machines wage battle for the most precious resources left on the planet. Can you hold back the invaders or will you be another name in the Landfall history books?
Real-time strategy re-imagined in VR
One of my most memorable gaming experiences (aside from Pickle Wars and Wolfenstein 3D on DOS) is playing Age of Empires II for hours on end back in elementary school. A love of real-time strategy (RTS) games has stuck around since, so I had high hopes for Landfall when it finally hit full release. While it doesn't have any base-building or resource-collecting, it still has a nostalgic vibe to it that I love.
Landfall is not quite an RTS and it's not quite a top-down shooter, but it has enough elements of both to make it translate well to VR. With a gamepad — you can use Touch controllers but they act just like two halves of a gamepad — you control a single soldier on the battlefield. The left stick controls movement, the right stick controls 360-degree aim, and the rest of your buttons are mapped as you'd expect from a first-person shooter.
The first missions start you off slow, explaining the controls, and before you know it you're waging full war without thinking about where your hands are. The lack of real Touch support seemed like a bit of a minus before playing, but after playing I really don't mind; I can't think of another game I'd rather play if all I have is a gamepad.
Takes a little getting used to
Playing the first few missions, I desperately wanted to pan and zoom the camera but couldn't figure out how — blame it on never playing this type of game in VR before, but I didn't immediately clue in that I could move around in real life to survey the battlefield as close or far and at any angle I wanted.
Once this became a reality, I cleared some space, reset my view in the game, and walked around surveying everything from a bird's-eye view. You don't have to play like this — sitting in a chair is fine as you can still see everything in the wide view — but having your head as the camera is pretty neat and adds a lot to the game.
A beautiful presentation
From the opening cinematics to the closing explosions, Landfall is absolutely beautiful. Although the Earth has been mostly covered in water, the parts that remain hospitable range from arid deserts to lush forests, making for a welcome change of scenery between chapters. You'll fight across bridges, through caves, and across industrial zones carefully set up to promote strategy and replayability.
The assortment of weapons and Striders also brings quite a bit of variety, so you won't be watching the same gun shoot the same bullets over the course of your soldier's career. The game is bright, colorful, and crisp, and you won't have any trouble seeing who's who even if you're on the other side of the map. There can be quite a bit going on at once, but your focus is easily kept where you want it.
The story of the flood
Landfall's campaign consists of ten separate chapters that each contain a bunch of missions within — finishing the campaign in its entirety should take you about of four or five hours. You'll likely find the opening chapters pretty easy, but if you play the same way in the latter four as you do in the opening four, you'll get slaughtered.
Missions center mostly around taking or defending land (what else in war?) but there is enough variety in these modes to keep things from getting stale. Some levels make you escort a package whose transport drones can be damaged, some levels get you to plant charges on artillery, while others make you defend flags until attacker reinforcements are expended. Still, this is scratching the surface.
Depending on the level, your enemies might have unlimited reinforcements while you have a limit, so it's important to tackle the objectives in a way that will let you complete them before your team is wiped out. Things can get really intense when it comes down to you as the last friendly soldier alive on the battlefield.
Weapons and mechanized warriors
To help you defend the homeland, you have twelve loadouts to choose from — there are usually three or four available at once depending on the mission. Each loadout gives your regular soldier a different primary weapon, a different special ability, and a different Strider with its own weapon and ability.
What are Striders? Mechanized killing machines! If you've played the Titanfall series, you'll know immediately what I'm talking about. As you play as a regular soldier, a bar fills up that, when full, lets you call down a Strider. You hop in and pilot it, stomping any enemies underfoot and blasting away with way bigger weapons. Some even let you set up a turret that switches you to a first-person view for precision shots. These mechs, if used properly, can change the tide of battle, but they are still highly susceptible to damage.
You'll no doubt find a loadout you like most and will want to stick with, but unfortunately, you might have to give it up in the next mission. It's not a big deal and it makes you learn different strategies, but once I tried the Tesla I didn't want to go back to anything else.
When you are actually able to find a match, multiplayer in Landfall plays a little different than single player. In versus mode, you go head-to-head against one player or join a couple other players for team play — maps from the campaign make a reappearance, and one side defends and one attacks. If you found the campaign too easy, you'll no doubt want to check out this game mode.
As you play versus mode, you'll level up. Upon leveling up, you can choose a loadout to unlock and it will remain available no matter which maps you play.
There is also a co-op mode that lets you and a friend team up to play missions from the campaign. It's easy to launch and you'll be playing in a matter of seconds. The only gripe here is that the difficulty doesn't scale up when you have more players, so you'll basically fly through the earlier missions and won't find much of a challenge until the later offerings.
Too Long; Didn't Read
Landfall is a blend of RTS and top-down shooter that creates a tasty mix. Being able to physically move about the battlefield is a treat, and the variety of maps and weapons keeps things fresh through the four- or five-hour campaign. When you're finished with the story, you can jump into multiplayer and test your skills against another human — as long as there's someone else also trying to find a match.
Even if you aren't a dedicated fan of real-time strategy, we definitely recommend adding Landfall to your Oculus library.
- Beautiful graphics
- Tons of replayability
- RTS and VR are a wonderful mix
- Multiplayer matchmaking is desolate
- Co-op difficulty doesn't scale
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