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Warborn is bringing the hex appeal back to anime mech-war

If they're all red, how can you spot Char?

I feel compelled to root for Warborn, if only because it's helping reclaim hex-based strategy from the po-faced grognard brigade. Announced earlier this week by tiny studio Raredrop Games, it's about giant humanoid robots with laser swords and pilots that probably shout their own attack names. Not quite Super Robot Wars (now there's a series I'd love to see on PC), but I'll take it. Raredrop aren't willing to guess at a release date outside of a vague "2019" yet, but there's a nice announcement trailer with a suitably over-the-top vocal theme below. No karaoke subtitles though.

From the looks of the trailer and the screenshots on its official page, Warborn leans more towards the Battle Isle end of the genre. Relatively small forces fighting Advance Wars-style over chokepoints. The developers claim there's ten basic mech unit types, although each of the four heroes has their own unique suit with higher specs, and weapons with names like 'Dread Saber' and 'Judgement Cannon'. I'm a little sad that they've not leaned a bit harder into the anime excess in the design of the mechs - the hero units don't especially stand out from the mass-produced crowd.

Cover image for YouTube video

While its designs are a bit closer to One Must Fall than Mobile Suit Gundam, I can't deny that it moves nicely in the trailer. The seamless transitions from battle map to combat animations are especially slick, and even takes into account when there's multiple units involved in an attack, something many higher budget games don't. Raredrop say there'll be a full story-driven campaign, and one-on-one online multiplayer. The game will also include a level editor, although whether that's just for multiplayer maps or scenarios is unclear. Still, always good to have.

Warborn is due sometime next year. You can see a little more of it on its Steam store page here, and its official site here.

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Dominic Tarason