Back in 2010, there was a game called Mount and Blade: Warband. It was an indie title of epic proportions that let you create a medieval empire, selecting what troops you’d like to take into battle, training them, engaging in politics with different lords, and engaging in incredibly huge battles. It was rough around the edges, but it really did something special and unique. Enter Tales of Glory. A full locomotion supported version of this cult classic. Tales of Glory puts you in a created character of your choice and throws you into the world and says “do what you’d like”. Want to be someone who robs random salesman? You can do that. Want to join with bandits and attack innocent villages? You can do that. Want to lead an army of fully armored knights into a battle with 200 characters on screen at the same time? You’re damn right you can do that too.
At your disposal are an absolute feast of weapons for you to choose from. Maces, Swords, Axes, Bows, Shields, Pitchforks, daggers. It’s all there and all equipped with some amazing physics on par with some of the best VR titles around. You have a few options for gameplay. You can take part in the story mode which gives you the option of following a storyline or going off and creating your own fun. Your other option is to jump into the arena mode, where you can take on the soldiers of your choice, or the custom and quick battle modes which let you customize everything from the number of enemies on-screen to how many spearmen and archers you want taking place in the battle. Once the battles start, you can direct your troops using your different commands to get your forces to follow you, remain in place, create a shield wall, and a gamut of other options as well. When your enemies approach, you will quickly find yourself in the mouth of war as your allies fight for their lives alongside you while your enemies surround you. It’s an incredibly intense experience that comes complete with a thrilling and appropriate medieval soundtrack that will channel your inner Game of Thrones fan and thrust you into the battles you may have been watching on TV for years. Enemies parry, thrust, overhead swing, and duck and dodge as you attempt to win these fights and the price of victory is exhaustion as well as exhalation. In addition to this, the level of detail put into this game is mind-blowing. For example, when going to speak to a king, you literally have to kneel in real life before he speaks to you! And if you don’t, a heavily armored knight will draw his blade and scare the hell out of you. It’s a VR experience unlike any other and it’s fully ready after two years in early access to deserve your attention.
Tales of Glory supports room-scale and can be played seated or standing. I used weight gloves and I wrapped my controllers with hand wraps and electrical tape to add a bit of weight to replicate the feeling of wearing armor and wielding a weapon (I am huge into immersion; you don’t need to do this to enjoy the game). You should make sure there is nothing breakable in your immediate area because you are going to be swinging like a maniac during gameplay
I used weighted gloves and a Fitbit during my 30-minute workout. I recorded my workout in the custom battle mode. I used a variety of weapons from swords shields and spears to the incredibly fun flail as well as a bow and arrow.
Calories burned: 227
Calories burned per minute: 7
Average Heart Rate: 106
Max Heart Rate: 126
Active Minutes: 28
I found the most intense moments of the game happened in the thick of battle and I’m not just exaggerating here, this game gets real wild real quick. The adrenaline really picked up as arrows started raining on me and my troops from afar and I had to sprint to them while dipping and weaving to avoid being turned into a pincushion. Adding to this insanity is the ability to use voice commands to direct your troops across the battlefield. Want a shield wall? Select the troops with your controller and yell out shield wall like you’re in the middle of The Battle for Helms Deep (I’m a nerd). This is the truest realization of medieval warfare in Virtual Reality to date. Drink it up.
While tons of games offer melee combat in VR, few give it to you on the level and ferocity of Tales of Glory VR. Weapons require actual force behind them to attack your enemies and if you want to activate some of the more brutal moves like decapitations or literal disarming people, you’re going to have to swing like you mean it. Add on to this the incredible amount of enemies on screen and needing to direct your troops with both arms and you have a tasty recipe for a brutal arm workout. Spearmen will require parrying and careful stabbing technique to hit their armor in the right places and each of the other myriad of soldier types have their own weaknesses as well. This is just talking about the melee combat though, there’s also long-range combat to consider. If you equip a bow, you’re in for the same tried and true bow combat that has permeated the VR landscape for years now and it’s just as responsive feeling as ever in this iteration. You can also throw spears, knives, and any weapon you have equipped which if used as the primary form of attack will cause some serious shoulder and tricep burn depending on how far you plan on throwing them. Each battle has no time limit and it only ends when you either die or reign supreme over your enemies. It’s an absolute thrill and it’s even better if you amp up the enemy numbers if your pc can handle it.
Legs – 8/10
Legs are needed in Tales of Glory if you really want to stay alive, but they aren’t required per se. See, when enemies swing at you in Tales of Glory, they tend to swing awfully high, so if you want to act like the savvy battle-hardened vet you are, you can easily duck these swipes and counter with a blow of your own. You can also duck during the stealth missions and sneak up on enemies delivering devasting stealth attacks as well. Ducking the various arrows that are coming at you, dodging out of the way from the catapults being fired at you and jumping out of the way of cavalry charges will also get your legs involved plenty as well.
Core and Balance- 8/10
Your core comes into play in Tales of Glory when you using your shield to block either melee attacks with arrows or when you become an archer yourself. In this version of bow combat in VR, you are required to reach back over your shoulder to equip the next arrow and this nice little touch of realism helps immerse you in the gameplay as well as giving your core muscles a solid burn. Surprisingly, even doling out orders has a lot of core muscle involved as you’re very much becoming a conductor of battle out there directing your archers to rain arrows or ordering a cavalry charge to a specific spot on the map.
Time Perception- 9/10
What does time matter when you’re fighting for your country? I’m exaggerating a bit, but when you’re in the thick of things in Tales of Glory, there’s a lot of in-game things at stake that truly make you forget what time it is. Your soldiers’ lives are on the line, your in-game money can be won and lost. Kings can die, you can be promoted or betrayed, it’s all on the table while you’re in playing through Tales of Glory and hours can fly by as you immerse yourself in a medieval fantasy world with depth unseen so far in the world of VR. The only way you’re going to want to take the headset off is if you feel too tired to continue.
With a story mode, an arena, a bar fight mode, and a custom battle mode, the amount of content in this game is ripe for replaying. Each battle can play out a little bit differently depending on what troops you take with you and the workout aspect alone will keep bringing you back if the thrills of medieval warfare don’t. There is also a kill counter leaderboard to compare with the other players and the story mode can play out in a myriad of ways depending on which rulers you fight for, what lands you decide to attack, and ultimately how you choose to run your kingdom.
Fitness Scalability- 10/10
There are several difficulty levels for you to try, and several ways to customize each fight. Depending on who you set up to fight, your battles can be more fitness-focused than others. If you have an enemy force packed with archers, you’re going to be hopping, ducking, and hopefully raising your shield to avoid being turned into a human porcupine. If you decide to fight a large cavalry force, you’re going to be stabbing upward a lot trying to knock enemies off their horses. If you’re fighting infantry, it’s going to be a lot of ducking, parrying, and stabbing. Mixing these all together gives you a wildly tiring workout that you can scale the intensity of by choosing different difficulties.
Lack of Nausea- 10/10
I found no issues during my time playing Tales of Glory. The movement is smooth and customizable with several comfortability features you can use if you need them as well. The one part that may cause some dizziness is when you ride a horse as the horse-riding motion is a bit jarring at first but pretty easy to get used to after a minute or so.
Social Competition- 7/10
Although not a multiplayer game, there is a kill count leaderboard that the developer plans on using it to send out several free copies of the game as well to players who reach the 100,000 kill number. That’s a lot of battles to play folks, but the direct involvement of the developer at BlackTaleGames with the fans on Discord is incredibly encouraging going forward and it has directly helped to improve several aspects of the game.
VR FiT Score 9/10
Tales of Glory is an incredible medieval military simulator that has a ton of variety to its’ combat and gameplay and does its’ utmost to involve you in the ever-changing world presented to you. It has several modes to keep you busy and offers a great workout whether you’re an archer or an up close and personal sword fighter. It also shows up to a staggering 200 characters on screen at once which to this point has been unseen in VR. The developer will be sending out several free steam keys on May 30th to celebrate the release on Discord.
It feels a little janky with animations sometimes and the small development team shows at times. If you aren’t into sword fighting and armies clashing then you might want to look elsewhere. The graphics while fantastic on high-end PC’s, definitely can look a bit rough on mid-range to low setups.
Tales of Glory is available on Steam and playable on Oculus Rift, Oculus Quest with Link, HTC Vive, Valve Index and Windows Mixed Reality.