Have you ever dreamed of crafting the ultimate battle mech and taking it into fast-paced, action-packed combat? Well, the new game Custom Mech Wars lets you do just that, allowing unprecedented customization and control in designing devastating walking weapons.
I recently got my hands on Custom Mech Wars to take these mech-building promises for a test drive. While the customization tools are as good as advertised, I found issues with repetitive gameplay, game polish and variety that make this mech builder more of just a weekend tinkering project than a long-term hobby.
Crafting Your Dream Machine
Without a doubt, the mech building tools are the highlight of Custom Mech Wars. You have total control over crafting a bot that matches your playstyle. With different chassis, arms, legs, weapons and special abilities available, the number of possible combinations is staggeringly high.
For new players, the game does a commendable job walking you through all the options and giving recommendations on good builds to start with. I had fun right from the beginning mixing and matching parts to create designs centered around missiles, energy weapons, stealth or speed.
Even when you think you’ve explored all the options, you can take a peek at some of the community creations online to find new build ideas and tricks you never considered. I saw everything from nitrous-boosted glass cannons to heavily-armored plasma spewers dominating in online matches.
While hardcore mech fans will find tons of customization tools, the game isn’t overly complex for casual fans and beginners. It hits a nice sweet spot between options and approachability.
Fast and Furious Combat
Once you’ve built your mech, it’s time to take it into combat across a variety of multiplayer and single-player modes. The action is fast, frantic and satisfying as these lumbering mechs unleash salvos of missiles, lasers, railguns and more. Controls are responsive and easy to master.
Matches are quick, rarely lasting more than five minutes. Even when you lose, you quickly get back to hop back into the garage to tweak your mech based on how it performed. It’s a very smooth loop between building, battling and upgrading.
I primarily played team deathmatch, which pits teams of four against each other. The maps also have some light objectives to pursue, like control points to capture and defense targets to destroy, but generally matches devolved into chaotic skirmishes.
That’s part of the appeal, though – no match plays out the same when so many custom mechs with different weapons and abilities are thrown together. A weapon that dominates in one match may be useless in the next when opponents bring different defenses. You have to think on your feet.
Fun…For A Little While
As fun as the core gameplay loop is, the lack of gameplay variety really limits its long-term appeal. After a dozen or so matches of team deathmatch, I found myself quickly losing interest regardless of how much I tweaked my mech.
The game only ships with five maps and two modes, which simply isn’t enough to keep things feeling fresh. Plus, while the battles start out feeling dynamic, you soon realize players generally fall into a few categories – snipers, brawlers, etc. There are some novel builds, but rarely anything to catch you off-guard after a few hours.
Even with my friends, interest in the game quickly waned as we realized we were essentially just playing what amounted to an extended tutorial with no compelling end game driving us onward.
Needed Polish and Presentation
On top of repetitive gameplay, I encountered some annoying bugs and issues around game presentation that really detracted from the experience. Menus feel dated and cobbled together without visual polish. Mech animations often clip or spaz out.
The whole game lacks the clean, refined sheen you expect from a premium release. It feels closer to an early access game still undergoing polish. Ultimately, while the mech customization starts out novel and fun, the uninspiring presentation and gameplay make this feel like a $20 indie release rather than a $60 AAA offering.
Should You Enlist?
Custom Mech Wars nails the most important aspect – mech customization. However, issues around depth, polish and variety sap long-term enjoyment from what should have been an easy contender for my game of the year list.
If you love designing robots and just want a game to let you tinker with some neat tools, I’d still tentatively recommend Custom Mech Wars. Just know that unless you plan to exclusively play multiplayer matches with friends, you’ll likely exhaust the solo content in 6-8 hours. Wait for a sale.
As for the rest of us hoping for the definitive mech game to dump hours into building and battling, we’ll have to keep waiting. Custom Mech Wars isn’t bad, but it’s not quite the killer app the genre needs. Give it time, more polish and content, and maybe we’ll get there.
In the meantime, fellow mechanized warfare enthusiasts, I’ll see you online – look for my energy-spamming neon pink mech! What’s your go-to loadout? Let’s swap custom designs and take our Franken-bots out for a spin.