Growing up, I dreamed of a day and I mean literally dreamed where a game would exist that would put me in the persona of a medieval warrior, able to raise my own castles, control the villages, the economy as well as engaging in fights. Mount and Blade came out in 2009 to realize these dreams and while the gameplay was kind of rough around the edges, it encapsulated a specific niche I and many others were looking for. Then, Tales of Glory arrived on VR and that fantasy was amplified by one single-man development team at BlackTale Games who created everything that made Mount and Blade such a unique success and translated it directly to VR. This resulted in one of the very best games available on VR in both length and content. No, it wasn’t made by a triple-A studio, but it still had solid graphics and some great physics systems in place to get you fully immersed in its own world and most of all, it had passion.
This brings us to Tales of Glory 2: Retaliation. It’s hard to follow up a successful first title, especially when you’re a one-man development team and you completely switch the theme of your game. Whereas Tales of Glory was all about swords, shields, and diplomacy, Tales of Glory 2 is all about espionage, war, and tactical, squad-based combat in the modern world. It’s quite the change and while I initially had some doubts on whether it would work, my worries were quelled quickly by a game that has ambition leaking out of every pore and some incredibly sharp combat, physics, and AI systems to support it. Let’s jump in.
Right off the bat, you’re placed in some sort of military base. Here, you can get a grip on how the combat works. Reaching into your hip holster and pressing the grip button draws your sidearm while doing the same on your chest takes out your AR weapon or grenade depending on where your reach is. You have to cock every weapon before firing it, and each one has its own placement and animation to do just this. It seems only a few VR shooters cared to have this feature, and it’s an awesome touch here that works perfectly and keeps you immersed. You grab ammo from your hip and have to manually load it whenever you run out of clips. You can also attack laser sights, flashlights, suppressors, sights, and more to each gun to customize your playstyle however you’d like. From this main area, you can wander over to the main menu to customize the difficulty, amount of enemies on screen, graphics, etc. It’s here you also select which mission you want to embark on. All missions are available from the start of the game, so while that lessens the feeling of actual progression, it gives you a solid variety of maps and objectives to choose from. This is still an Early Access game, so if Tales of Glory is anything to go by, tons of content will be on the way shortly.
What it Feels Like
Have you ever played Metal Gear Solid or Splinter Cell? For the uninitiated, these were the premiere espionage titles in videogames for the better part of the past 2 decades. This genre has taken a few chances in VR to see if it can translate. Several titles come pretty close to capturing what made these titles so fun to play on the flat screen. Espire 1: VR Operative was a decent try and Phantom VR: Covert Ops looked to be the definitive title until you were confined to a canoe for the entirety of it. So, with Tales of Glory 2, I was hesitant to believe that these infiltration missions would actually hit the mark. My fears have dissipated. What does it feel like to play? It feels like you’re an assassin, equipped with everything you could need to pull off the hit. You feel like Solid Snake, Sam Fisher and James Bond rolled up into one. The enemy AI is the first noticeable thing. These guys don’t mess around, if you’re standing in the light too long, make too much noise or forget to hide bodies, you’re getting caught and will likely be dead within minutes because of the overwhelming force that comes via an alarm.
The physicality of the game is what stands out to me the most. You’re able to grab guards from behind, punch them out, snap necks, or whip out a knife to take enemies out quietly. On top of this, you can climb just about any wall or building in the game and despite that not being too realistic, it’s a hell of a lot of fun to do. In the missions where the objective is to eliminate the enemy with an army at your side, things get a bit more bombastic and you’re able to direct your team to attack certain places, heal if you need to, and also set up choke points. It’s not the most intuitive, but it works. This is still early access, but there are several levels to choose from and one of which recreates D-Day in a way that certain other VR shooters at the moment failed to do effectively. Not naming any names here, but a one-man development team did something better than a Triple-A studio. Nothing to see here. Moving on.
What will keep you playing?
If you’ve played Tales of Glory 1, you know that it evolved from just a medieval military battle simulator with a bunch of maps to a full-fledged campaign mode that has 20+ hours of content, plots, quests, jousts, and more. The passion in this developer is for real and Tales of Glory 2 should follow the same roadmap. There are multiple difficulties to play on, the ability to alter the number of enemies you face is also there. You’re also able to unlock different guns as you progress and despite the relatively small offering in terms of levels, these each take a while to complete and are incredibly challenging. You’re not going to find your typical “miss you every other shot” kind of enemies here, their aim is true and you’re going to see game over if you don’t plan your attacks carefully.
Tales of Glory 2 utilizes whatever space you have and reacts accordingly, so depending on your playstyle, you could play standing in place or have a 5×5 space to maneuver around as well. The choice is yours.
I recorded my workout using a Fitbit and Samsung Odyssey Plus Windows Mixed Reality Headset
Calories burned: 308
Calories burned per minute: 9
Average Heart Rate: 127
Max Heart Rate: 130
Active Minutes: 22
While Tales of Glory 2 isn’t going to leave you out of breath and exhausted after your playthrough, the moment-to-moment gameplay can be incredibly intense. Whether you’re storming an enemy stronghold or you’re going in quiet, the precision you have to have is pretty stressful and it’s made all the more intense by the incredible sound effects happening all around you. You can choose to get a bit more physical at times too using close-range combat, though this is only usually doable via the infiltration missions where you can safely take out individual enemies.
The name of the game here is gunplay and in order to effectively engage in it, your arms are going to be heavily utilized. Whether you’re reloading and cocking your weapon to fire, switching from your sidearm to your main weapon by actually holstering and drawing them and throwing grenades and throwing knives, you’re going to be very active with your arms through the duration of your playtime with Tales of Glory 2. You’re also able to do some melee combat here as well including throwing enemies, snapping neck, stabbing them as well as bashing them off of things like tables and walls. It’s brutal stuff that’s incredibly immersive and adds to the arm workout as well. You can strictly go with knives during your infiltration missions too and alternating arms while throwing them can be a solid workout since the strength you put into each throw or stab is measured. Your arms also get involved via climbing and it’s important to know that almost any building or structure in the game can be climbed. In order to do this, you’re going to press the grip button to grab on and then repeat over and over on each hand until you reach your destination. It makes stealth missions especially fun to play through using this mechanic.
There is no duck button in Tales of Glory 2 and during your time with the game, you’re going to be facing a hail of bullets a large amount of the time and trying to avoid detection for the other times. This means that you’re going to be ducking down and popping up from cover a whole lot during your gameplay. This adds so much to the game because when you’re behind cover, it’s because you’re physically getting behind it and that means popping out to get your shot off is both scary and satisfying especially when compared to other games in this genre. If you want, you can even go full prone to pull off sniper shots if you want. In stealth missions, light is your enemy and you’ll be doing a lot of ducking behind cover during these as well because the enemy AI is so sharp that even the slightest part of you in the light will get you caught and have the alarm called on you right away.
Aside from your constant bending to get behind cover or twisting to see enemies behind you, your core isn’t really engaged most of the time with Tales of Glory 2. Your balance however is a different story. There are going to be a lot of moving parts on your end while playing and sprinting away from enemies while loading your weapon before grabbing a grenade, yanking the pin out with your mouth and throwing it accurately can easily disorient you, so make sure you’re never moving too fast or you might topple over from the chaos of it all.
Time Perception- 10/10
I truly lost myself within this game at times. No, there isn’t some amazing world to explore and there really isn’t a story yet either, but the gameplay is razor-sharp and the gun physics and options are pretty amazing to experience. The fact that it works as both a tactical military shooter as well as an espionage simulator just lets you seamlessly fall into different roles and really feel the experience more than most games tend to do. The biggest reason for this is the outstanding physics system, but the graphical fidelity on everything impressive as well. I’ve found myself losing hours to this game and that says a lot for a title still in progress.
I’ve found myself going back in again and again to the various levels of Tales of Glory 2 for a few reasons. The flexibility in playstyle, the ability to change difficulty and enemy amounts, and most of all, the challenge. This game is damn hard and it’s quite refreshing. You’re not some immortal bullet sponge on a warpath here, you’re just a human and if you take two or three well-placed shots, you’re done for. The stealth is unforgiving and feels better than any game with a similar theme that I’ve tried in VR too, which means you’re going to get caught a lot, but when you finally pull off your mission successfully the high is great. I should also mention I have yet to actually beat any of these missions. I play on the harder difficulties and while they are punishing, it never feels unfair and you learn from your mistakes and become more perceptive to your surroundings. This replayability will only increase as the developer adds more and more content, so I can easily see myself playing Tales of Glory 2 for a long time.
Fitness Scalability- 8/10
Your workout in this game will depend on a few things. Are you going in loud, Or quiet? Are you utilizing a large play space or a small area? Will you be climbing structures to get good vantage points, or will you stick to the ground? This flexibility makes it so you can have a relatively relaxing physical experience while playing Tales of Glory 2, or you can have every part of your body engaged in the gameplay to create a more sweat-inducing experience. The difficulty and enemy amount options can also alter this quite a bit too, so it’s up to you on what kind of workout you want to get out of your time with the game.
Nausea/ Dizziness- 9/10
Everything here ran pretty smoothly for me. There is natural locomotion, graphic tweaks, and other options to help your experience run more smoothly, but at no point did I feel any sickness. You might get a bit disoriented during the climbing in the game considering some of the buildings you can scale are decently high above ground, but this is an optional mechanic and really should only affect people who are afraid of heights.
Social Competition- 6/10
Tales of Glory 2 is designed as a single-player game, but there are leaderboards and challenges to take part in that you can compare yourself to other players with, so there is a little bit of social interaction involved in it.
VR Fit Score- 8.75/10
Game Score- 8.8/10
-Great physics system
-Tons of customization
Tales of Glory 2 flips the script from the first game and thrusts us into a modern military warzone in a very successful way. The gameplay is incredibly sharp and responsive as well as fun and challenging to get through. The graphics are solid and the sound effects are as good as any other war-themed shooter out there as well. The levels are all different with unique locales to each and although the objectives are pretty limited, they are fun and challenging to play through with complete freedom on how you want to go about each mission. The physics system in place is one of the better ones I’ve seen in VR and adds to the immersion in so many ways.
This is an Early Access title, not a complete game just yet, so there won’t be a campaign mode to playthrough. There could be more mission variety and the hand to hand combat could be a little more refined as well.
Tales of Glory 2- Retaliation is on Steam for $19.99 and the Tales of Glory Series bundle is currently available for $35.99, which I heavily recommend if you haven’t played either title. Tales of Glory 2- Retaliation is playable on Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Valve Index, and Windows Mixed Reality Headsets.