Wands Alliances is a brand new game for Meta Quest 2 from developer Cortopia Studios, and its excellent mix of Harry Potter, Valorant, and chess elements makes it one of the best shooters I've ever played, VR or not. .

While immersed in steampunk-themed maps of London, players are divided into two teams and cast a diverse collection of spells on each other to complete their mission and ensure victory. But you can't let the heat of battle cloud your mind: Wands Alliances players have to think many times before trying to not only defeat their enemies, but also outsmart them.

Balancing strategic and chaotic gameplay, Wands Alliances is an absolute joy to play and a game I can't wait to master.

Two players fight over the B-bomb site (Image credit: Cortopia Studios)

At its core, Wands Alliances is a fairly typical 3v3 hero shooter with a magic twist, offering Valorant-like gameplay.

Once a match loads, players are divided into two factions: the Ministry and the Observers.

During the first four games of a match, one of these factions will be the Attackers, whose goal is to plant the Omega Device (a hocus pocus bomb) at one of two sites and detonate it before the allotted time expires. Meanwhile, the Defenders must avoid this explosion, either by running out of time or by deactivating an activated Omega Device.

After four matches, the attackers will become defenders and vice versa and the battle will resume.

Alternatively, you can skip the bomb objective for all eight games and engage in all-out war. If a team is completely eliminated, they lose this match.

To help your team achieve these goals, select one of six unique spell casters to play at the start of the match (and can switch after four matches). These champions are divided into three different classes: Damage Dealer, Healer, and Support.

This is where Wands Alliances blends the formula that shines

The characters aren't as fleshed out as the heroes you'll find in Overwatch 2, they lack Blizzard's many ultimate powers and attacks, but they do come with a unique ability that makes them better at what they do, and each class has its own pool of spells you can choose between games.

My favorite character was The Spellslinger, a Damage Dealer who regains health when he defeats an opponent, encouraging you to hunt down players instead of letting them get away. Other classes offer similarly complementary skills, with perks that reward you for playing your role well.

This proven play cycle would be a great game on its own, but this is where Wands Alliances mixes up the formula that shines.

Wands Alliances Practice Room

Trying out new spells for the Anvil Battle Kit (Image credit: Cortopia Studios)

Change of duties for duels

Before trying out Wands Alliances, I was worried that it would look like a redesigned Call of Duty, whose new entry has us a little worried, with a wand that looked more like a weapon. While it doesn't require you to move the controller with well-choreographed moves and strikes, or to pronounce spell names correctly, the combat in Wands Alliances isn't quite the same as your normal shooter.

Each battle feels like a real duel between magical enemies. Using an arsenal of four spells spread across your two dual-wield weapons, you'll get away with shooting, deflecting, and dodging incoming magic in a fight for your life.

Fast Charge and Fast Travel spells are generally pretty weak, but are great at blocking scarier, more explosive attacks that travel slowly but deal massive damage if they connect. Alternatively, you can opt for a defensive shield, deploy a wall of ice, or a reflective spell that reflects attacks back at your opponent. Then there are more tactical options, like a cloud of lightning and an arcane turret that damage your opponents and impede their movement.

There are many different options to choose from when selecting your character's loadout, but luckily Wands Alliances won't leave you overwhelmed. When you start out, you'll only have access to a few well-chosen magical abilities. While they're a bit simpler than the powers you'll unlock at higher levels, these early spells are still pretty powerful and reliable options, whether you're a beginner or a veteran player.

It's always fun to try new spells. As you level up, you regularly build a custom loadout for each character to suit their abilities and playstyle, allowing you to go fully aggressive, fully supportive, or something in between. .

However, as you'll learn, Wands Alliances aren't just about casting the right spells, but where you cast them from.

me in D5

The most unique and important aspect of Wands Alliances is its movement, which is almost like chess in its restrictions and rules. Mastery of this strategic element will make the difference between victory and humiliating defeat.


This balcony gives you a great vantage point, but there aren't many exits (Image credit: Cortopia Studios)

Unlike normal console shooters, Wands Alliances does not allow you to move freely with the control stick. Instead, you are forced to teleport between different lanterns placed around each map.

The developers explained during our gameplay session that this decision was made for three reasons. First of all, teleport movement causes much less motion sickness than free movement in VR. Second, the team found that by forcing players not to use control stick movement, they were more likely to move their bodies. You can't just walk away from incoming fire - you need to take cover, improve your immersion, and take full advantage of VR gaming offerings.

Teams can trap opposing players or force them to move to certain locations.

Ultimately, it allowed the team to create this chess-like tactical element. You can only teleport to a lantern if you are close enough and it is unoccupied (or has a teammate stationed there). Using these two simple rules, teams can trap opposing players or force them to move to certain locations by blocking the correct lanterns with spells or their own bodies.

During the demo, several of my kills were caused by forcing the remaining enemy into a single point and attacking them with massive AOE spells they couldn't escape from, or by holding specific points so our adversaries couldn't enter and disable our plant. explosive. on time.

Beyond their placement, Lanterns also come with their own tactical advantages and disadvantages. The ones placed higher up give you an unobstructed view of the battlefield below, allowing you to spot and fire at players, though without much cover you're just as easy to hit. Lower positions won't give you a good view, but you'll have plenty of barriers to hide from incoming fire.

mischief managed

It is true that the many different facets of Wands Alliances can sometimes be difficult to understand. You have to remember to equip the right spells, map layout, control enemy movement and abilities, dodge magic that can come from almost any angle, and stay in constant communication with your team via microphone.

Wands Alliances Victory Screen, the player's team won 5-3!

You'll have to give it your all to win a match in Wands Alliances (Image credit: Cortopia Studios)

But the game does a wonderful job of gently ushering you into its controlled chaos, giving you more limited spell and class options when you start out, and forcing you to play through a detailed tutorial before you can jump into its multiplayer mode. .

And while it has the potential to become a much more complex and tactical shooter, you can still jump in and spend some more relaxed time casting spells if you don't want a competitive environment. This basic yet exciting side of the game provides more than enough fun, especially if you play with friends online.

Wands Alliances is now available in Meta Quest 2 and it is definitely a game to check out if you are looking for the best VR games.

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