VR lends itself nicely to several genres including horror and shooters, and World of Mechs definitely falls into the latter. Fans of mechs and multiplayer combat are sure to find something to like in this latest VR game that puts you squarely in the fully rendered cockpit of one of 32 possible giant war machines. From here you will unleash all manner of primary and secondary weapons and specialized abilities to complete a variety of challenges in both single and multiplayer modes.
You’ll start the game in your mech’s garage with a menu that gives you easy access to interactive tutorials, wave-based training missions, a Campaign mode with 20 missions, a Bot mode where you can create your own local games, or head online for some 4v4 action. World of Mechs wants to have a story but it falls pretty flat despite the quality voice acting during the elevator rides to each mission. The game basically deals with you as part of a mech sports team that competes with other Mechs in this crazy sports league.
There are five unique environments you can choose for Bot matches, while the story divides these locations across its 20 chapters. You’ll go from a cityscape to a naval dock complete with aircraft carrier, and even venture out into the desert. You’ll engage in a fairly short list of mission types that range from Domination to Deathmatch, Escort missions, and even special boss fights where you need to destroy three power generators before you can defeat the boss. Missions are fairly short, dictated by the rules of the event, often lasting 4-6 minutes, so the game has a nice pace to it.
If you love to tinker, then World of Mechs is the game for you. There are eight classes of Mechs, each with four variations, and each has upgradeable gear and gadgets, which are also upgradeable. You can craft and upgrade items for extra heath, reduced cooling, better jumps jets, shields, armor, etc. You can also select and upgrade from a varied assortment of energy and ballistic weapons that need to be used wisely to drain enemy shields and shred their armor. Everything you do in the mech generates heat, which can be lowered over time or by collecting power-ups scattered about the battlefield. If you do manage to overheat you can no longer reload or jump/dash until things cool down, so there is a bit of strategy.
World of Mechs is driven by a currency system that uses both XP and credits to purchase new mech forms and their updates and upgrades. Nothing carries over from one form to another so all those upgrades you bought for one Scout model will need to be purchased again for the other three. It’s not a problem usually as the XP and the credits flow pretty freely. If you play through the solo campaign, you’ll bank more than a million credits to play with for all the other modes. You’ll earn XP and credits mostly by defeating enemies and completing objectives, but the battlefields are littered with XP and $ icons along with other icons to boost shields and repair armor or instantly cool down your mech.
The overall game is completely immersive; so much in fact that this is the first game since the Quest 2 launched that I have played until the battery died and my headset shutdown – right in the middle of an exciting match. You totally lose track of time. Most of that immersion is thanks to the realistic cockpit that changes with each mech model. It’s just like climbing into a new car and having to learn where everything is since instrument clusters and displays are moved around for each cockpit. Thankfully, the controls remain the same even if function and form keep changing. The Touch controls offer exceptional control with the left stick moving your torso while the right stick swivels your head. Your head tracks an aiming reticle that only moves within the center windshield of the cockpit, so you have to swivel the mech’s head in sync with your own for the most effect targeting.
I only have a few concerns with the game. First is the disparity of visual quality from your mech cockpit to just about everything else in the game. Some of the environments are better than others but most everything outside the cockpit looks like cel-shaded art that would predate the original Borderlands. It’s not terrible, and the game does offer smooth framerates, but this is certainly not what we expect from VR after this long. Then again, it doesn’t even matter that much because once you get caught up in the action you won’t notice all those rocks and clumps of grass, and cars, trucks, and even a satellite dish on a roof popping in and out as you stomp around. Just kidding…yes you will, as it is all very distracting. The draw distance in this is very limited. The one thing I did hate was the red target boxes that refused to appear even when I was up close, then all of the sudden they would appear and show my half-dead opponent with depleted bars.
It’s clear that World of Mechs is a game with a focus on multiplayer; even the campaign is basically a 20-part intro into the team dynamics, the mech sporting events, and learning to pick the proper mech for various missions. While I had several uninterrupted hours of fun with World of Mechs it was all about to end when I tried to sample the multiplayer portion of the game. Finding a match was surprisingly fast and easy. Currently, only a Quick Match mode is available, which randomly cycles the location and event type. Matchmaking and launching the game was fast and seamless, and everything goes great until you die, and you are left, stranded in the battlefield as a disembodied camera, unable to move, fire, or even exit the match. All controls are disabled, and I was forced to hard-exit the game and re-launch…14 TIMES IN A ROW. I swore I was done at ten, and then I tried twice more…rebooted the headset and tried twice more. Every time I died in all 14 matches no matter what the stage or event, once I died it was literally GAME OVER.
So, when your game is totally designed for multiplayer and the multiplayer doesn’t work it becomes difficult to recommend, especially when the multiplayer fails to offer even the most basic of stat tracking or leaderboards. By default, the mic is muted, and nobody seems to have turned it back on, as there was not a single word of player chatter in any of my 14 matches. Then again, I was never quite sure if I was playing real humans or perhaps bots being used to fill in empty servers.
I had a total blast with every other part of the game leading up to the multiplayer, and if $20 isn’t too much for 20 solo missions (which are basically 4-6 minute bot matches with story briefings) and some cool bot matches then go for it, but if you are looking for the next Titanfall game then move along. With only five environments and limited game modes, World of Mechs gets pretty repetitive no matter how you choose to play, and without a functioning multiplayer (at the time of this review) you might want to wait for a patch or update. I also hope they are considering releasing this for PC VR. I would love to play this on a Vive or Rift S with appropriate graphics enhancement and a functional online experience.