Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds has a lot to answer for. The explosive rise of the competitive sandbox shooter has changed the face of competitive multiplayer gaming on an unparalleld scale, with countless studios moving to capitalize on the new big thing, and capture a fresh audience of millions.
Sadly, many of these retrofits and hastily assembled games just look bland, doing little to differentiate themselves from that pack. Hear me out on this one, though. After reading Freejam’s plans to adapt vehicular builder/shooter Robocraft to the Battle Royale template, I think they might just be onto something interesting.
The basic rules will be Battle Royale standard. 100 players enter, 1 player leaves, although this time the map is scaled with vehicular combat in mind, 64 square kilometers across, with a variety of structures providing cover from fire.
Starting each match in a fragile little buggy with only a single light laser gun for defense, your initial goal is to find an abandoned machine at one of the map’s many spawn points. Each vehicle is hand-crafted by players of vanilla Robocraft and curated by the developers, and not all vehicles are equal, with them being split not only between six different tiers of component value, but also across a wide variety of types.
Tanks, helicopters, bipedal mechs, spider-bots, jets and more will be available and able to traverse wildly different terrain types, depending on their construction, which should make for some interesting tactics, and the fact that you’re forced to pick from pre-built vehicles in the field should help sidestep the issues the original game had with a handful of designs becoming overwhelmingly popular, especially at higher levels.
As with vanilla Robocraft, damage will be locational and granular, with every block and weapon having its own individual health pool. There are no instant-kill headshots, with vehicles persisting until they lose a critical percentage of their overall mass to battle-damage. Unlike the vanilla game, there is no repairing damage taken, so if you’ve lost a leg and are barely dragging yourself around the battlefield, your only real option is to spend a precious few seconds bailing out to your starter buggy and trying to find a new ride. It sounds perhaps a little chaotic for solo play, but team encounters could interesting in a particularly Mechwarrior-ish way, with tactics adapting around each squad’s composition.
Development on Robocraft Royale is still early on, and the developers are officially calling it an experimental project, with no promises that it’ll ever become a finished product or stay around for long. Still, it’s nice to see a fresh spin on the concept, and one based on a familiar and capable engine. Robocraft Royale is accepting alpha-tester signups now, and the original Robocraft is free to play and available here.