AirMech – Free To Play done right

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I’ve seen many reviews of Free To Play games that makes the game look bad. Most often the game itself isn’t bad, it’s just that the developers are so insecure about their products quality that they don’t dare to give more for free in them. Complains I often see is the ability to buy better things for real money than you can for ingame money, meaning you will never be able to beat the other players unless you spend some of your cash, or that a popup reminds you every 20 minutes that you have a free account, trying to shame you into buying a premium account.

Bad restrictions is also a big problem in FTP games, such as limiting trading between players, ability to send messages or restricting chat channels to premium accounts. These are basically game breaking if you are playing any multiplayer games, which is why I want to lift a game that did not do any of these things.

AirMech is a Free To Play game from Carbon Games. It combines the Massive Multiplayer Online Battle Arena genre with the ever so popular Mech genre.

MMOBA is the kind of game where you have one hero that you can outfit, customize and level up during the game and you are fighting with a team of other heroes against a team of heroes on the other side. During the battle, both side spawns “creeps”, automated units that attacks the opponents key waypoints and you can often do things to help the creeps. The match is over when one team have taken down the other teams starting base. Other games in the genre is DotA, Heroes of Newearth and League of Legends.

Mech is the type of game where you play as the pilot of a gigantic combat robot, often with transforming abilities, having one air mode and one ground mode. You can often customize the loadout on your mech and some games even give you the choice of pilot, where each pilot has his or her own abilities to give you an edge in combat. Popular games in the Mech genre are Gundam and Front Mission Evolved.

AirMech combines these two flawlessly, giving you control of a mech with the ability to transform between Air and Ground Mode. You get a lot of customization with this game, as they opted for letting you chose your own loadout instead of having talent trees. Things you can customize is the eight types units you want to be able to build in battle, your pilot and the mech itself. At the moment of writing, there are 7 types of mechs to chose from, each have up to 7 skins. The types are on a rotation, where three gets selected for that weeks Free To Play mechs and the skins are purely cosmetical but costs real money.

You have one item you can bring with you that helps you get a slight edge, there are many items to chose from and one of them is the Free To Play item of the week, just like the mechs. The item won’t win you the game, but a skilled player can use it as the final edge they need to win.

You also have many pilots to chose from, each with their own abilities and specialties. Some are better at repairs, making your mech last longer, but are worse with handling money, making it take longer for you to build units. Others are better at offense, giving you an incredible damage bonus, but are worse at defense, making your mech a glass cannon.

What makes this game different from most Free To Play games is the fact that there is very little that requires you to spend real money and most of that is purely cosmetic. You can change color of your yets or have your mech look steampunk, but it doesn’t affect the game any, just looks cooler. All the game-changing items, skills and customizations are all available for ingame money, called Kudos. You get Kudos for every match you play against other players, even if you loose and you can even get Kudos from playing with bots/AI for 80 minutes of game time each day. That is 80 minutes in the matches, as soon as the match end, the counter stops until the next match starts.

You also have quests you can complete in the matches that gives you more Kudos and a fairly unique referral system, rewarding you for letting others know about the game. If someone names you as their referrer, you will get a small Kudos boost and the other player will get the same boost. As that player progresses in the game, you get more bonuses without taking anything at all from the other player. If you refer enough players, you will also get rewarded with Diamonds, which is the real life currency in this game, meaning it is perfectly possible to get any item in the game without spending a penny, if you have enough friends and patience.

You can also make a small donation to Carbon Games to get VIP status, which rewards you with Diamonds and also increases the Kudos and adds Diamonds to the quest rewards.

You have many game styles to chose from, from one on one to three on three and any combination in between, coop with other players, only AI or against other players. There is also the Survival Mode, that pits you and up to 3 other players against incoming waves of enemies, where you have to defend your base from a very vulnerable position. There’s also Challenge Mode coming soon.

AirMech is still in Beta and as they are progressing, they will need more donations, which is why they have a really good donation system. Aside from the ability to buy Diamonds, you can also get Starter Packs that includes the VIP Status (lifetime Silver and a 30 day Gold VIP status, where Gold doubles the daily reward timer for AI matches), Experience Boosters, Kudos Boosters and a whooping 7 500 Diamonds, the Beta Bundle that includes new mech skins, unlocks all seven mech types forever, unlocks ALL units forever (both the current and coming), unlocks ALL cosmetic enhancements for your mechs, all colors, gives you lifetime Silver VIP status and 20 days of both Kudos and Experience boosts.

The Beta Bundle is only available as long as the game is in Beta, to reward those who helps getting the game started in its released form, so if you like the game, want to see it in its full release and want a bit of bonus on the way, Beta Bundle is for you. If, however, you don’t have the money, but still want to contribute, there is nothing wrong with having the basic account and play the game for free. Every player is also a Beta Tester, meaning you’ll get the chance to talk to the developers if you run into problems or want to make suggestions, and as a developer, that is often worth more than money.

AirMech is available for free download on Steam.

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