Expansion VR could become a sci-fi strategy gem in VR and Mixed Reality

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Meta Quest 3: Expansion VR could become a sci-fi strategy gem in VR and Mixed Reality

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Expansion VR, an interesting mix of deck-building, strategy, and sci-fi setting, recently hit the VR stores. I took a closer look at the Early Access version on Quest 3.

The sci-fi strategy game Expansion VR is currently still in Early Access and has been available in the Meta App Lab for Meta Quest 3, Quest 2 and Quest Pro since March 14th, with alpha version 0.15.181 at the time of my hands-on. A PC VR version is available on Steam.

Developer Plazma Studio creates a future in which humanity has solved problems such as hunger and war, but has caused devastating natural disasters. The Earth, having lost its ecological balance, is no longer worth living on, and humans set out for new regions of space. But even there, the fight for resources continues in small, tactical VR duels.

Fancy sci-fi environment in VR or Mixed Reality

You won’t notice much of this premise in the Early Access version, as there is no story mode yet. Currently, you can only play quick battles and multiplayer games. There are several maps available that recreate desert or ice planets.

The battlegrounds are compact and embedded in a corresponding VR environment. Depending on the map, you may find yourself in the middle of space, surrounded by asteroids and alien planets, or in the endless expanse of a desert landscape. The environments are attractively designed and look very lively, with asteroids passing close to the map all the time.

Alternatively, you can switch to Mixed Reality mode, which brings the battlefield right into your living room. By holding down both triggers at the same time and moving the controllers apart or together, you can zoom in and out of the battlefield and position it perfectly on your living room table.

Adjusting the size also makes sense in VR mode, so you always have the perfect view depending on the game situation. The characters and the game world also look very good up close, with only a slight edge flicker from time to time.

Getting down to business on the VR battlefield

The fun begins inside a spaceship. From this hub, I can make settings, take a closer look at the units available, or see a thumbnail view of the map. Once all the settings are made, it’s off onto the battlefield. My AI opponent and I each have two turrets and a main tower as our base. The goal is to destroy these three structures.

Auf einem Wüstenplaneten kämpfen im VR-Spiel Expansion VR verschiedenen Roboter-Einheiten gegeneinander.

Once the enemy units have been eliminated, it’s on to the base – but be careful: it doesn’t take long for reinforcements to arrive. | Image: Plazma Games / MIXED

I have a deck of different units, including a large battleship, armed ground troops, mobile grenade launchers, and powerful tanks. Four of the eight different units are available at any one time, and the deck is automatically shuffled on the fly.

When I select a unit, I can place it in specific regions of the map. This also triggers a cool down period, during which I am not allowed to select any new units. These cool down times vary from unit to unit. For example, the heavy battleship takes much longer than the simple miner.

Auf einem Eisplaneten kämpfen im VR-Spiel Expansion VR verschiedenen Roboter-Einheiten gegeneinander.

Units outlined in green on my deck are ready for action. The heavy star cruiser still takes a while before it can engage in battle. | Image: Plazma Games / MIXED

I can’t give the figures any direct instructions. Once placed, they make their way to the enemy base and shoot at enemy troops on their own. Instead, my job is to read the battle and anticipate what unit will be needed next and where. For example, I can’t call in airstrikes with the heavy tank, but I can clear ground troops out of the way.

Conversely, there is little point in sending a melee mining robot halfway across the board if it is swarmed by spaceships. Since there are always different routes to each base, I have to be vigilant at all times. If I focus too much on attacking, I may lose sight of my base and get caught by an enemy squad stealing away — especially if my deck doesn’t have the right units.

Verdict: There’s potential here

The cool-down phases and constantly changing deck create exciting battles that require strategic thinking. The controls are precise and perfectly tailored to the gaming experience, and the game worlds and characters are beautifully animated. If Plazma Games implements even more game modes, more challenging difficulty levels and an extensive story mode, Expansion VR could become a real VR and Mixed Reality gem. Especially in multiplayer mode, the charming mix of strategy and deck building could provide many entertaining hours. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how Expansion VR develops.

Buy Quest 3, Accessories & Prescription Lenses

Sources: Expansion VR (Meta Quest Store)


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