First off, I’m not a big RTS player, you won’t see me grinding ranked matches in StarCraft II, but I have played them and enjoyed them a lot. From Command and Conquer Red Alert, to Tom Clancy’s End War, and even Halo Wars. Yes, halo wars, crap but I liked playing it. I’ve found my share of RTS addictions so I went into this experience expecting a similar setup. To my surprise, this was not the case.
If a twin stick shooter based on Transformers had sex with an RTS, then that RTS wanted child support by a F2P element – the result would be AirMech Arena. From the start of the tutorial I felt very overwhelmed and at some parts confused. I found myself getting angry partly from the game and from the controller setup. It was not like a normal RTS. I did not have to build gathering units; I was already getting them. I did not have to build unit specific buildings; they just popped out of what ever base you had around the map. Saving the BIG thing for last, Free To Play. Nowadays this phrase instills dread instead of joy.
Some companies do F2P the right way, i.e. Team Fortress 2, Path of Exile, and Dirty Bomb. These games provide a shop that only hosts cosmetics or alternative ways to play. Others, ehhh, don’t do so well. For some reason the whole gaming scene is going to F2P, spending real money to either get stuff done faster or unlock something better. Airmech Arena has a store area where you can either purchase their items or player auctioned items ranging from cosmetics,new commanders that have different abilities and special stats, better and different mechs with better stats, and other random stuff.
Yes, Airmech Arena is different from normal RTS games with all of its little changes that they did. Even their twin stick shooter element with your mech/hero strives to distance itself from the classic strategy game. The automated base building is a little confusing for someone used to the normal RTS formula but then again, this game is trying to break that mold. It’s also a F2P so there is no harm checking it out and seeing for yourself if its something you will enjoy.
It seems like they did not want it to be too hardcore, wanting everyone to be able to pick it up the game quickly. If you are a hardcore RTS fan I would probably pass on this, the depth just isn’t there. If you have never played an RTS before I would give this a go, the automated systems in place help you not to get overwhelmed during a fight. If you like twin stick shooters but also want to play a casual RTS there might be something here for you as well, as the combat breaths a little life into the normal RTS combat.