By Jordan Hall (ApocaRUFF)
Robocraft is an up-and-coming vehicular-combat shooter. The game is being developed using the Unity Engine, and is brought to us by the indie Freejam Games based out of the United Kingdom. "Build. Drive. Fight" is the game’s catchphrase and it has often been described as Minecraft meets World of Tanks. As that suggests, the game offers unparalleled vehicle customization along with intense and tactical combat similar to what you find in games like World of Tanks. Since it became available for play back in 2013, it has grown a massive following and often has over sixteen-thousand players online at any one time.
Building Your Robot
The biggest attention grabber Robocraft has is the ability to craft your own vehicle, called Robots. You start out with three already-built robots which cover the basic design concepts. They teach you some good design tips, but also allow you to jump straight into the game’s combat. Of course they also offer the opportunity to begin customizing the pre-existing designs rather than starting from scratch. Needless to say, that's a great way to learn the ins-and-outs of Robocraft design!
One thing you will notice right away is the massive tech tree. I was quite impressed when I first pressed T and saw all the progression options available to me. As you play, you will gain tech points that can be spent on this tree. However, there are ten different levels or types of experience you can get, and what experience you get is dependent on the current tech level of your robot. The method to raising your robot’s tech level is to simply add equipment and blocks of a higher tech level to it.
This tree is large, and has plenty of branches.
When I say that there's a ton of freedom in building your robot, I mean it. Of course, you’re limited to a few rudimentary shapes, but you can do a lot with them. I've seen everything from giant flying swastika that would make the space nazis living on the dark side of the moon proud, to some incredible looking tanks with enough fire power to obliterate almost anything. Personally, I've used my incredible design abilities to write messages to my would-be killers.
Combat in Robocraft is both simple and complex. Like just about every game ever made, you can go hardcore and min-max yourself into perfection, or just casually play it for some good ole' fun. The game is played in the third-person, and there are currently three types of weapon – SMGs (close-to-medium ranged), Launchers (Artillery), and lasers (snipers). Right now, you can only have one type of weapon on your bot – so if you put an SMG on it, all your other weapons must be SMGs – but I have hopes that'll change in the future and the developers will include weapon-groups.
I know it's hard to translate this into screenshot, but the combat is quite intense.
Right now there seems to be one game type with a few maps. The game type is “capture the base” where your goal is to either capture the enemy base before they capture yours, or destroy all the players on the opposing team. The maps available are pretty nice. They're compact enough to have action happen frequently, but big enough for tactics and strategy to come into play. And allow scum-bag snipers to hit you from across the map...
I have to say the different weapons were pleasant to use. I found the SMGs to be my favorite, and I ended up using them on most of my robots. The fairly quick fire-rate and decent damage was a great mix with my “run-and-gun” style of play. Because of this, I often found myself building robots with wide, flat tops so I could fit a ton of guns on it and get a nice 360-degree fire range. Launchers and lasers, while they do a lot more damage per shot, do take a decent amount of time to recharge or reload, meaning your shots have to count so you won’t be moving around as much.
My current ship, loaded with SMGs and armor.
As I mentioned, there is a massive Tech Tree in the game. I can only imagine that it'll continue to grow. Early on the progression feels quite fast, as you'll have enough tech points and Robot Points to upgrade quickly. However, as you might expect, things slow down the further along you get. That brings us to the game’s currency, Robot Points (RP). They're what you use to repair your bot after a battle and purchase new blocks and equipment.
As you can see, there is an RP cost to repair your robot after a fight.
The blocks themselves are sort of cheap, but for things like guns, you may need to play several games just to afford one. After a match, all your damage has to be repaired using the RP which can sometimes end up cutting your reward in half. Truthfully, I got frustrated a few times at how the RP was holding me back from getting the equipment I wanted. But it's not too much of a deal, as usually two or three games will give you enough to purchase at least one of anything. And, like I said, most of the blocks are quite cheap – it's just the equipment like wheels and guns that can be costly.
Robocraft is somewhere between minimalist and “freaking awesome” when it comes to graphics. The robots are kind of simple – like I said they're made up of simple shapes. But the textures in the game are superb. So far, the maps have a beautiful design to them. You get the impression that someone spent a decent amount of time on them. My favorite map has to be the one with the ice lake/river, as I love ice drifting.
Generally, as you progress through the tech levels the equipment you gain access to looks grander. A lot of it also gets bigger. This to help promote bigger robots in the later tech levels. A tech level one bot is like an ant compared to some tech level tens. Also, the color of the armor is dependent on its tech level. This is a bit unfortunate, as I'm sure I'm not the only one who would enjoy the ability to paint my robot how I like.
I wonder how, or if, they will moderate ship designs?
Current State of the Game: Great
Robocraft has a lot going for it. It's got some great customization, fun combat, and superb graphics. The fact that it's become quite popular since its inclusion in Steam is a testament to how great the game is shaping up to be. It's the perfect blend of creativity and destruction, something few games achieve. It's always refreshing when a game like this pops up amongst the storm of sub-par games that come out each year. I definitely suggest you head over to Steam and pick up Robocraft – it's free and fun!
Want to see the game in action? Catch our First Look video at MMOHuts!