Friday August 5, 2022

Mecha is a genre that has come a long way in terms of its audience in the west. Anime featuring giant battling robots and the stories of the women and men that pilot them have worked their way into becoming some of the most popular and prolific shows in the entire medium. As cool as it is to watch those mechs on a TV screen, it was only a matter of time before someone asked “What would it be like to pilot one myself?”

Technology is progressing at a rapid pace, and there might soon be a time when we all can have one for ourselves. Until then, however, we can satisfy our curiosities by playing the plethora of mech-focused video games that we have available.


10. Vox Machinae

A testament to how far we’ve come since the advent of mecha, Vox Machinae is a VR video game focused on providing an authentic mech piloting experience. It puts you into the cockpit of your very own mech known as a “Grinder,” giving you a whole host of controls that come along with it.

It is a much slower-paced experience than other action-type games, but the feeling of weight and sense of scale you have as your great machine stomps its way around is something not to be ignored. Of course, the creators didn’t skimp out on the usual mech weaponry such as lasers and missiles nor did forget to give you an abundance of eccentric characters to interact with, either. It all comes together in a complete package that is a must-try if you happen to get your hands on VR technology.

9. BattleTech

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A titan franchise in the western world of mecha, BattleTech is the father of an entire universe of science fiction content. It is known mainly for its tabletop presence as a board game, wargame, and an RPG, but the franchise also includes books and video games.

In particular, the videogame Battletech (2018) is a solid turn-based mecha game set in the world of the board game that started it all. Mechwarriors pilot Battlemechs and fight in a faction-divided universe where war and poverty are rampant, leading to mechs becoming the boon and bane of a mass technological decline. Its gritty story and great tactical gameplay make it deserving of bringing the BattleTech legacy to new audiences.

8. MechWarrior

MechWarrior 5: MercenariesMechWarrior 5: Mercenaries

Many who may have been familiar with the MechWarrior series first may be surprised to know that it is actually simply a spin-off of the Battletech franchise. It exists as an extended universe alongside MechAssault and MechCommander. MechWarrior, however, is far and away the most popular spin-off that has received many video game iterations over its lifetime.

MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries is an action game where you can get a third (or first) person view of what it’s like to pilot a mech from BattleTech. They’re big, they’re loud, and they can rotate their chassis 360 degrees to walk and fire in different directions. What more could you ask for?

7. Dynasty Warriors: Gundam

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Dynasty Warriors and Gundam: a match made in, well, Japan. A lot of TV and movie tie-in games tend to get a bad rap. Backed by Omega Force, the developers of the Dynasty Warriors series, Dynasty Warriors: Gundam managed to come out just right. So much so that multiple sequels were made.

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Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 3 is regarded as a very fun game with great couch co-op. It has the Dynasty Warriors hack-and-slash gameplay that keeps it replayable as well as the type of action, characters, and mechs that you’d want from anything Gundam.

6. Super Robot Wars

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Super Robot Wars (also known as Super Robot Taisen) is a series of games that exist basically as a love letter to mecha anime in its entirety. It stands on a strong base of SRPG gameplay as one would expect from the genre. However, what truly sets this one apart from the rest is the story, characters, and the way they all interact.

Super Robot Wars showcases many different mecha characters–both original and pre-existing favorites–coming together to do battle in epic proportions. You’ll see Gundam battling with Getter Robo characters. You’ll witness Code Geass characters talking to Gurren Lagann characters. And to top it all off, both can happen in a single game.

5. Into The Breach

Into The Breach is a beloved indie title that made serious waves after its release. It was made by the creators of the also loved FTL: Faster Than Light game and doesn’t dare to disappoint anyone who gives it a try.

It combines a turn-based strategy with a similar level of frustrating replayability to FTL. Players use mechs to fight off a race of monsters known as the Vek using everything they’ve got at their disposal. Each mech has a different set of abilities, each island has a different set of hazards to beware of, and each Vek has a different type of attack, resulting in a deadly game of rock paper scissors where unforeseen accidents are plentiful. Too many accidents may result in you having to abandon that timeline altogether, leaving anyone left behind to their demise as you try again to save the human race in another timeline.

4. Titanfall

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A lovely blend of FPS and mecha, Titanfall is a fast and action-packed game that offers a unique kind of experience. You get to play as a speedy free-running pilot alongside a heavy ordinance mech known as a Titan.

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Titanfall’s fun twist on the mecha formula is that Titans exist both as a mech suit that the pilot operates as well as a robot capable of operating on its own alongside and independent of its pilot, leading to a special kind of cooperative gameplay and story where the player forms an inseparable bond with his robotic friend.

3. Daemon X Machina

Daemon X Machina KojiDaemon X Machina Koji

Daemon X Machina seeks to capture much of what fans love about Armored Core and manages to succeed while having its own identity. The gameplay consists of third-person action where you control a customizable mech and battle other mechs of all shapes and sizes. The style in which you do so is very different, however.

The graphics are much more stylized with a cel-shaded 3D look compared to Armored Core’s more realistic tone. It is complemented well by the outrageous cast of characters and bombastic anime-style storylines and concepts. Twists, turns, and epic battles are to be expected in the (unfortunately) single-player-only campaign missions, but many fun and awesome moments are there to be had when playing the co-op missions with friends or online.

2. Front Mission

Another long-standing series in a genre filled with them, Front Mission is one of the most respectable names for lovers of mech-on-mech combat. It has a realistic tone and setting similar to Armored Core, but with by far one of the most gritty and in-depth tactical RPG gameplay experiences out there.

The core concept is that the mechs you command, called Wanzers, are built with customizable parts–but in battle, those parts can be damaged individually. You might spend all of your hard-earned money from previous battles to buy a fancy new arm to hold your favorite gun, only to lose it in the next battle when it’s destroyed. Front Mission 4 exemplifies this gameplay well and is accompanied by the series’ best story, while Front Mission First is a very accessible (Though not entirely forgiving) entry point into the series for new players.

1. Armored Core

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The Armored Core Series, like many mech series including the ones on this list, has a long and storied past. It started on the original PlayStation back in 1997. While the older games have debatably not aged very well due to the era’s notorious “Tank Controls,” each iteration has only improved on the formula.

The more modern additions to the series starting with Armored Core 3 are considered quintessential mech piloting action experiences. They have tighter controls and deep customization that let you pilot the mech of your dreams. The visuals, the storylines, and the soundtracks all are as great as you would expect from a FromSoftware franchise and make the entire package a mainstay for anyone who loves mecha.


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