Battles Bows brings archery-based, tower defense multiplayer to Quest and PC VR. However, after a few hours, you might find yourself searching for a bit more content than the game provides.
Released earlier this month, Battle Bows sees you and up to three other players tasked with defending a big magical orb inside a castle from an onslaught of balloon-like monsters. Perched at a turret on one of four corners of the castle’s walls, you need to pop every oncoming monster before they reach the source of your power and destroy it.
Platforms: Quest 2, Quest Pro, SteamVR (Review conducted on Quest 2
Release Date: Out now
Developer: WIMO Games
Unfortunately, this tower defense-inspired experience is ultimately a disappointment, bogged down by a frustrating aiming system, iffy net code, and minimal content. Even if those woes melt away in the heat of an intense match, this archery-based tower defense game just doesn’t have enough going on to warrant much more attention than what you’re able to dispense over the span of two or three play sessions.
The Heat of the Battle
Before each match starts, Battle Bows gets you to choose from one of four elemental powers to help in battle: lightning, ice, fire, and poison. Each one has its own special effect. Fire creates a big fireball on impact, while ice momentarily stops enemies dead in their tracks. With a greater array of elemental abilities, choosing your power would feel like a weightier decision. Instead, the supposedly different effects all end up feeling relatively similar to use. Each role watches over one specific path of the map, which remains the same across every match. So the lightning archer, for example, will always snipe balloons from the same spot on the map, regardless of the match.
By assigning each role to a single location, Battle Bows makes a concerted attempt to navigate the constraints of its scale by quadrupling the experiences players can have and share on its one and only map. Unfortunately, that clever curtailment only goes so far. Once you’ve played a round of Battle Bows on any difficulty, you’ve already seen most of what the game has to offer.
While there isn’t much to see, what’s here is pretty fun! There’s a lot of great enemy variety which is paced out really well throughout any given wave, with slower, low-level goons flanking some of the quicker classes of enemies. Some rounds even culminate in really fun boss fights.
Nock Your Arrow
The success of Battle Bows hinges entirely on the satisfying, tactile feel of nocking an arrow, pulling back, letting it fly, and popping a faraway enemy that’s hiding behind some trees or underneath a bridge. It’s the main draw of playing a game like Battle Bows in VR specifically, and feels spectacular when everything sings.
That hinge needs some grease. You have the option to enable or hide a line indicating a nocked arrow’s trajectory, but with or without the indicator, aiming and shooting doesn’t feel overly satisfying. Games like In Death: Unchained have shown the gold standard of arrow combat in VR, but what’s present in Battle Bows feels much more imprecise and casual. That’s no doubt partly a choice made with a younger audience in mind, but it also means there’s not a huge amount of depth to be found. I also ran into some problems with the profile of the Quest 2 headset during play; a three-inch headset protruding from my face meant that certain motions (like pulling back a bow) felt difficult to do while still aiming as the game wants me to, especially with the Touch controller tracking rings creating extra points for my hands to collide with my headset.
Issues in the physical world weren’t the only barriers to achieving true aim in Battle Bows. I tested the game’s multiplayer in several different points on multiple internet connections and consistently ran into lag issues in online play. Players (myself included) would disconnect in the middle of a game and enemies would teleport or freeze in place before rubber-banding forward.
However, when online play worked without lag, it proved to be lots of fun. Matchmaking is snappy, and the game seems to have a fairly active multiplayer community. With room-hosting options and a very simple voice chat system, Battle Bows has the opportunity to do very well with an audience looking for a place to play with their friends without much hassle.
Battle Bows Review – Final Verdict
While there’s some entertainment to be found in the heat of the moment, it doesn’t seem like Battle Bows will have much longevity. Even if WIMO Games is able to successfully attract players with only the current content available in Battle Bows, the distinct lack of things to do will inevitably become a problem without further content updates. There’s only one map, only four (fairly similar) classes and no social space like what you might find in other multiplayer VR games. It might be worth consideration for someone looking to play a new VR game with friends for an evening, but in its current state, you’re unlikely to get much more out of the game than that.
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