It’s been a good, long while since we heard anything about Airmech, Carbon Games’ ambitious spiritual successor to 1989’s ancient proto-RTS Herzog Zwei. Even in its early days of development, part of Carbon’s plans has been to bless the PvP-focused Action RTS with a full single-player campaign inspired by Advance Wars. That was over five years ago, though, and you can be easily excused for thinking it’ll never happen
Better late than never, says I. This Friday, the story-driven action-RPG spinoff AirMech: Wastelands is available via Steam Early Access as a standalone, commercial game, albeit carrying an Alpha tag. True to their promises of years past, it’s free for anyone who has previously bought the Prime version of the now PvP-focused and rebranded AirMech Strike at some point in the past.
So, what we’ve got here is basically more AirMech as you remember it – a solid, refined game of fast shooting and quickfire strategy, built on a classic foundation – but with a single-player focus that kinda reminds me of Starcraft 2’s campaigns. In among the usual basic shooter missions and RTS-focused stages are some missile-heavy setpiece boss battles, and there’s an increased focus on stat-based progression. You’ll level up, find loot and buy upgrades to help your plucky band of resistance fighters take back post-apocalyptic Earth from The Iron Hand, an army of sentient robots.
I’ve only played a couple missions of AirMech Wastelands so far, but hope to sink a little more time into it over the weekend. While I didn’t get far enough to see it myself, I saw mention that some events such as the aerial battleship boss fight shown in the trailer above are a little borked in the current iteration of the game, although there does seem to be a generous slab of content outside of that battle. We’ll hopefully be able to get a better idea of just how far AirMech Wastelands goes once the dust has settled, and the game gets locked down into beta.
As Wastelands is a commercial title, the role of the Diamonds premium currency has moved to focus almost exclusively on cosmetic unlocks. Alternate AirMech skins, variant models and additional particle effects for the most part, although there are a few borderline cheat’y Ultimate units and upgrades circulating the player trading hub. The standard currency, Kudos, is earned through normal play and is used to buy upgrades for your fleet as you explore the overworld map and find new NPC stores.
AirMech Wastelands is out now on Steam for £15/$20, minus a 10% launch discount. For those who previously bought the AirMech Prime bundle, you can get the game for free by logging into the F2P AirMech Strike and clicking on the ‘Wastelands’ prompt in the bottom-right of the screen.