So what kind of game do you think Spuds Unearthed is? A farming sim? A mix of Animal Crossing and Stardew Valley? Nope, not even close. It's a virtual reality MOBA style tower defence, strategy game. It's a bit of a mouthful I know but strangely enough, it kind of works when you get into it.
You are the commander of a potato army, yes you heard that right, a potato army. You wage war against your enemy over stages in a MOBA style battle. The reason I say MOBA is that the battlegrounds are split into lanes, anyone who has played something like League of Legends knows what I mean. Your job is to vanquish your foes and destroy anything that moves.
In each lane is a generator, and all the lanes lead to the enemies base. As you kill enemies your AI warriors can progress further up the lanes, overwhelm your adversaries, blow up the generators and eventually destroy their base. What makes this title slightly different is the fact that you control two cannons atop your base with your virtual hands and can throw hero potatoes into battle to help.
Your cannons and hero potatoes are all upgradeable with tokens you get as you progress. This worked nicely and always made sure you had something to aim for and achieve. You upgrade your hero's and cannons from your hub using various machines. This hub shows how many rescued potatoes you have, how close you are to the next hero potatoes unlock and acts as a gateway to your ship and galaxy map.
When you have your armaments and spuds ready to go you can descend into your ship. From here you are presented with a galaxy map. You can grab the planets in VR and insert them into your ship's console. This gives you info about how many spuds you can save, what rewards are on offer or if it has already been claimed by someone else. Yes, you heard it right, there are other potato armies around. Spuds Unearthed uses asynchronous multiplayer.
All players are waging war around the galaxy and you can nick planets and spuds off each other and while it's a nice idea on paper. I never really felt like I was up against other players. It is an admirable idea though. It was nice just roaming the galaxy saving spuds and upgrading your tools of destruction. All this was fun, rewarding and I enjoyed myself, well, most of the time anyway. Now onto the things I did not enjoy as much.
I have played hundreds and hundreds of hours of VR and I am very comfortable using the medium. At the start of Spuds Unearthed, I had a few hours of adjusting and getting used to the controls that would have put most players off. The controls include extendable arms, which I love, it means you can grab things further away without moving. However, you need to press a button to toggle it off and on every time and it takes a bit of getting used to.
As do the controls for the cannons. They are operated by different means depending on what you have unlocked and it took me a while to get the aiming and movement to somewhere I felt battle competent. At the start of the game I could not hit a barn door for love nor money, the move controllers aiming the cannons were too unreliable. Most people would give up but I got there in the end, I persevered and after a while the game became enjoyable. I just feel a lot of players will be put off before this point by these small hurdles.
Graphically Spuds Unearthed is good, not spectacular by any means but sufficient. everything is modelled well and looks nice. It's just that nothing wowed me, maybe I have been playing PSVR too long but normally I am taken back by the experience but in this game, I did not get that feeling at all. It's the same with the sound design, its good, don't get me wrong but its nothing that pushes boundaries or anything I will remember in a few days after playing.