After PC players have been allowed to battle it out with robot creations since almost a year the time has now come for Xbox One players to tackle Robocraft Infinity. The basic premise is fairly straightforward. You create a robot that you then set loose on your enemies. If you watched one or two episodes of Robot Wars you'll know the drill, it's intense and surprisingly entertaining. But there are some major differences too. Don't expect diesel fumes, sharp blades, yellow paint to signal danger and small, compact killing machines.
This game does offer violence and explosions, but not on the scale you may expect. Instead of a Mad Max apocalypse and coats of mad scientists, we're treated to a rather playful presentation that reminds us more of Overwatch. What is Robocraft Infinity then?
Naturally, the look, the way your creation works, and what sort of weapon it comes is left entirely up to you. To get you started you're given a completed beginner's robot (as well as one on wheels, one that looks like an enormous chicken and a mech-like creation), some start-up capital, and a quick walkthrough of the build system, then it's time to head out. We decked out our creation with added laser cannons, and this was a good fit. We then circled around the robot from a first-person perspective and through a grid system we were able to place the new part. Apart from some components getting lost and the camera sometimes being a bit too swift, there's nothing negative to say about the creation part of the game. Easy to grasp and highly accessible.
The combat itself works much like any other game out there. Team Deathmatch where we play five on five, and unlike Robot Wars, where you face off one on one in a small arena, we're given a rather expansive area to run around in. At times these maps feel a bit too expansive, which does lead to times of inactivity between the more intensive and violent bits. Another choice we don't fully understand is the matchmaking. Already during our first match (played with our starting robot enhanced with one or two laser cannons), we faced a terrifying tank with what looked like anti-air cannons on top. We were not even close to unlocking something like that and naturally got our metal bits handed to us.
This makes us think that the matchmaking doesn't take things like experience into account (at least not enough), and that is, of course, a problem as if there's one thing that will kill off any motivation to play an online game it is repeated punishment at the hand of a technologically more advanced players. If you don't enjoy constantly being an underdog you'll be glad to know there are shortcuts to unlocking the most coveted parts. There are loot boxes here, but they're not as intrusive as they were in say Star Wars Battlefront II. In fact, it's more of a positive here, and given the slow progression, you'll be tempted to try and gain an edge here. Not surprising given the business model.
Then there's that always heavily debated online requirement. This is, after all, an online game and so it stands to figure that you need to be connected in order to play. But there's also the option to play games against the computer to hone your skills, so if you don't want to play against other players you don't have to. You still need to be online though, just to get the game started. A bit of a shame as there is an offline component, and it would have been a nice touch to make it available even if the player isn't connected. But these days this is a minor complaint and one that doesn't affect most players. Our experience online has been a smooth ride for the most part. No issues connecting to matches or getting kicked out, there were some waiting times involved with connecting to a game, but once that's over it's fairly good. The one issue we encountered was framerate drops, which in a competitive and intense game like this can spell the difference between a win and a defeat.
There are highs and lows in other words. Do you enjoy putting together robots where your own imagination is the only real limitation? Do you enjoy pitting these creations against the creations of like-minded players? Do you have a bit of patience? Or are you okay with paying a bit for swifter progression? Then Robocraft Infinity might be something to look closer at. It's accessible when it comes to the building. And as far as the "always online" requirement goes, it comes with the territory and hopefully, you've got a decent provider...