Note: This product was reviewed on a PlayStation 4 with PlayStation VR and 2 PS Move Controllers.
Dark Eclipse holds the honor of being the world’s first MOBA in VR. Developed by SUNSOFT, Dark Eclipse combines elements from the MOBA and RTS genres with Virtual Reality to bring us a free-to-play, quick, strategic multiplayer experience. The game’s fast-paced battles take place in the realm of Oldus, a once peaceful and prosperous world suddenly dragged into chaos by fierce natural disasters and seemingly everlasting darkness known as the “Dark Eclipse.” Now, players battle to either save or destroy Oldus.
Dark Eclipse is a multiplayer only game. The game is playable with either 2 PS Move controllers, or a DualShock 4. While it’s nice to see developers still adding DualShock 4 support for those who haven’t bought PS Move controllers yet, the game feels meant for them. I didn’t try the DualShock 4 controls for this review. While there is a “VS AI” mode with 3 difficulties, it feels more like a “practice mode” than anything else. The multiplayer offerings are Ranked, Casual, and VS Friend matches. Once a match has begun, each player will take turns picking 3 Leaders. Leaders are fighters with various skills, both active and passive, that escort your troops around the realm of Oldus. There are 15 Leaders available.
For some reason, this is one of the only VR games that switches between 2D and 3D modes when alternating between menus and gameplay. This means that anyone wishing to capture their gameplay footage with the Share button must start recording after the match has started and the game has swapped over to 3D mode. I’m not sure why SUNSOFT did this, as every other VR game I’ve played has a 3D menu. If you never record your gameplay, it will never affect you, and it takes nothing away from the game, but it is a minor annoyance, once that seems like it could have been avoided.
When a match starts, you and your opponent will be on opposite sides of a large 3D map, similar to a board game. This is my favorite aspect of Dark Eclipse. It makes me think of that weird chess game that Luke and Chewie were playing on the Falcon during A New Hope. You can rotate the “board” as well as grab it and move across to reach further. This especially makes VS Friend matches fun, as you and your buddy can duke it out on a virtual board game, and watch the battle happen before you. Your opponent is positioned directly across from you, with most of the play area shrouded in a “Fog of War”, preventing you from seeing their position, and vice versa.
Your Leaders begin stationed in your Base. The goal of the game is to destroy the enemy Base. Each Leader begins with 1 foot soldier. Leaders are moved by dragging and dropping a cursor where you want that Leader to go. Once moved, a Leader, and any accompanying foot soldiers move to the designated location. The controls are a bit sensitive and it sometimes makes navigating a pain. At times, when you try to move the board for a better position, it just goes nuts and sends you to the other side of the board, and beyond. I struggle with it less now that I’m more used to the controls, but it is disorienting, and frustrating.
While navigating the map, you’ll notice these strange looking purple mounds of dirt in certain spots. These are territories where you can build Towers. There are 5 different types of tower you can build, depending on your Leader’s level. Each one provides a different buff, such as extended sight through the Fog of War or Instant Revive. A Leader must be nearby a Tower to receive the buff. They can also be used to instantly teleport nearby leaders back to Base. Your Towers will even attack the enemy if they get in close enough proximity. To build a tower, you must gather resources by commanding your foot soldiers to cut down trees. Once they do, they’ll take the resources to the nearest tower, if the accompanying Leader is close to one. Each Tower takes a different amount of resources to build, with the highest level Tower needing 12 resources. If at least one of each Tower type is built, your Base will automatically attack the enemy base.
Other players aren’t the only threat in Oldus though. The wild life of Dark Eclipse, known as “Eaters”, are passive unless attacked, and come in various sizes and strengths. There are even Epic and Legendary varieties of them. This means you must be careful of the fights you pick. Eaters(as well as the trees) respawn after a set amount of time. Each one killed grants different amounts of experience for your Leader, as well as Quarks. Quarks are a currency you can use to upgrade your foot soldiers at Base. Foot soldiers can be upgraded as either ranged or close quarters. Each Leader can have 3 foot soldiers, so once you fully upgrade one, you are given the option to add another. This is crucial to your success in Dark Eclipse. You won’t be able to take on larger Eaters(or your opponent’s Leaders) if your soldiers are too weak in the fight.
Being a free-to-play game, microtransactions are bound to be lurking somewhere. Leaders, as well as a few different types of skins and player icons are available for purchase with the game’s premium currency. Dark Eclipse has free rotation Leaders, but if you ever want to play one when they aren’t on rotation, the only way is to purchase them. Thankfully, there is also a currency you can earn in game to purchase Leaders as well. You earn this currency for completing matches, as well as Missions, which serve as ongoing challenges. The gain rate of the currency is pretty fair, meaning it won’t take too long to grind enough for a Leader you want.
Dark Eclipse has little to offer in the eye candy area, though some of the Leaders’ designs are well done. I do wish their skills had better animations. The gameplay map utilizes 3D view well and I appreciate the ability to rotate the map for a better angle. Dark Eclipse is visually simplistic, but there’s nothing wrong with that. On the other hand, the sound, you could do without and never miss. The menu music gets old quickly and had me going to the settings to adjust my audio. In game, there’s nothing to hear but grunts and groans. Mute the game audio and play yourself some music.
Dark Eclipse is a fairly barebones title. There’s no story, and it’s not much to look at. However, the gameplay, view and control style give it a board game feel that I’m a bit hooked on. Even if you’re not competitive enough for ranked mode, or, like me, just generally don’t like MOBAs, this is a game that you can hop on with a friend and have a good time. The microtransactions are fairly standard, especially in this type or game, but they don’t seem overpriced. If you enjoy the game enough, buying characters could be beneficial to you. If not, the free rotation Leaders are always there, and the game is free, so anyone with PlayStation VR can play. If you’re a fan of MOBAs, RTS, or just want to scratch that board game itch with a friend, Dark Eclipse is a fun, addictive, just one more go kind of game.Follow Us On Social Media