Having met with substantial success on consoles, Airmech has finally seen a full release on PC. Exiting its open beta after six years of testing, it has finally been deemed finished. The wait was most definitely worth it.
The game promotes itself as an action-RTS, with a bend of traditional RTS and MOBA mechanics. While you still have the usual combination of units (brawlers, scouts, artillery etc.) you now have the option of getting involved personally via a transforming airborne mech. Capable of switching between a jet and a mecha, it’s substantially more powerful than many ground units but not invincible. As such, you can use it to personally spearhead attacks and harry foes on multiple fronts.
What makes this such an act of genius is how well it offsets a number of qualities which pushes people away from RTS games. It makes micromanagement all the easier, you’re not so heavily reliant upon rock-paper-scissors battles. As such there are moments where player skill in direct engagements can overwhelm carefully placed long-term strategies or formation. Many of the scenarios from Capture the Flag to Warzone focuses on quick experiences, and there is very little wait or downtime during these. In many respects, it’s exactly what Tiberium Twilight was planned to be before it went wrong.
Along with good gameplay, AirMech is also very stable and well optimized. Even on low-end PCs, you will be lucky to ever see it fall below 60 FPS and it still offers a basic but colourful art style which makes movements easy to track even with settings set to minimal.
However, there are two notable problems. A number of units are notably weaker than others to the point of being superfluous, either filling out the same role as another or lacking the durability needed to make a difference. Equally, tactics tend to quickly devolve into quick rushes and spamming units in the right place over more complex moves. The nature of the modes offsets this somewhat, but you will find little variety in how you opponents behave.
While AirMech certainly has its shortcomings, the game is nevertheless a solid and reliable experience. It benefits from lacking the sort of skill barrier which has long driven new players away from the likes of Starcraft II and the capacity to personally get stuck in proves to be an effective equalizer. The quick nature and lack of build-up time also means that matches can quickly start and finish, making this easy to binge on from one engagement after another. As such, while it has its flaws, Airmech nevertheless still a very engaging. If you like the idea of commanding armies but previous RTS experiences drove you away from the genre, this is definitely a game for you.
AIRMECH / DEVELOPER: / PUBLISHER: / PLATFORM: PC, XBOX ONE, XBOX 360, PLAYSTATION 4 / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW