While mobile gaming, in the 10 years since the App Store launched, has matured to console-level quality, premium augmented reality games built with ARKit (or ARCore) have been scarce.
Immersive VR is looking to do its part reduce that deficit with the launch of The Ancients AR, available now for $6.99 on the App Store.
The Ancients AR is a real-time strategy game that unfurls a virtual ocean onto your tabletop where you command a fleet of ships to engage in naval warfare. The game draws inspiration from the work of Jakub Rózalski, maker of the Scythe board game. The artist's work is realized throughout the game, with mythical creatures and giant deities wreaking havoc throughout the battle zone.
"Jakub Rózalski's stunning artwork inspired us to bring his vision of these huge, majestic creatures to life," said Piotr Baczynski, the CEO of Immersion, in a statement.
We first caught wind of the game last summer. It was in the midst of the hype wave created by the ARKit beta release, when developers were eager to show off what they could do. (In fact, Immersion itself is responsible for some of those demos, including a pair of AR experiences in tribute to Rick and Morty characters.
"The Ancients AR was originally only going to be released as a VR game when development began in 2016 – but once we realized that cutting-edge augmented reality was finally coming to iOS, we decided to initially focus on harnessing the power of ARKit and delivering the most visually arresting augmented reality game iOS users have ever seen," said Baczynski.
In concept, the game is similar to The Machines, which also takes place in a real-time strategy format and a 3D landscape projected onto a tabletop. In that game, the immersive presentation is part of the challenge, allowing players to peek around mountains and see helicopters fly into view.
In The Ancients AR, the landscape is more two dimensional, but Immersion makes up for that with massive monsters that emerge from the ocean's depths. Substituting for helicopters are dragons, who immolate the fleets of ships in grand Targaryen fashion. There's a magical element to the gameplay as well that takes advantage of the AR presentation; for example, summoned storm clouds float high above the virtual enemies.
While it has taken The Ancients AR much longer to launch than The Machines (which arrived as soon as ARKit did), it appears that Immersion has made good use of its time in realizing a fantastically rendered AR game.
Of course, now that ARKit 2.0 is arriving, Immersion can work on adding multiplayer and persistence to the game.