RIGS: Mechanized Combat League Review
RIGS: Mechanized Combat League is part of the launch lineup for the much-hyped PlayStation VR. After hammering the opposition 6-1 in the third match of RIGS’ career mode, I was worried the game’s single-player mode would be like Rocket League‘s overly easy offering. Three games later, I was furiously yelling at my non-sentient AI teammates to carry their load as we were down by the same 5-point margin in a game of Powerslam – at half time. In its multiplayer portion, RIGS succeeds as an all-out action mech game fighting human players in order to rank up and get higher skill ratings. But in its career mode, RIGS transforms into something else. An almost entirely different experience that adds the challenge of managing a squad to play off your strengths.
The game opens with a lengthy introduction taking you through the mechanics, modes, and customization features – from your uniform to your visor, I’ve seen some pretty unique looks while matchmaking. Players can choose between different VR comfort settings having to do with the way you aim, like choosing to solely use head-tracking to move the camera or combining it with the right stick, and with how respawns work. Almost immediately, I was acclimatized to the feel of my RIG although aiming with the VR headset took a while to get used it, and I still haven’t perfected it. Players have the ability to jump, dodge, and fire two primary weapons for use in the game’s three modes. Team Takedown is your everyday deathmatch variant where teams of three go up against each other, Endzone plays like football where you have to run the objective through the enemy team’s spawn, and Powerslam requires you to build up your Overdrive meter to then jump into the arena’s central goal. The Overdrive feature enables all three of your RIGS’ power modes (normally you can only use one) that are mapped to the square, triangle, and circle face buttons. The square ability gives you improved movement speed, hitting triangle auto-repairs your RIG, and the circle function increases the damage of your shots.
“Guerilla Cambridge’s inaugural PlayStation VR effort sports an astounding single-player career mode.”
As I progressed through the simplistic but incredibly well-designed career mode and the PvP variants, I started to appreciate the depth of the face button system and the level of strategy it adds to the game. My strategy was to use the speed mode to get out of my spawn and into the middle of battle, then quickly swap to the power mode to begin firing at opponents, and finally dash away to enable the auto-repair mode. Its ability to increase the skill gap between new players and experienced vets who took the time to learn made me uber-focused in every match to master them and try out new tactics. The four different classes of RIGS also have different abilities. My personal favorite was the Mirage class that crucially allows you to double jump which is important here as the game doesn’t feature a clamber ability to climb up over walls. Additionally, the Sentinel class can take flight and slam into the ground harming nearby enemies and the Tempest class can hover in the air – which can be used to fire guided missiles from long-range after calculating a clear angle.
Where the goal in multiplayer is to earn skill points to make it into the next division, RIGS’ career mode has you choose a team and build up its squad while attempting to get promoted into higher divisions and competing for titles in league and cup matches. The best thing about career mode is how it blends together all of RIGS’ mechanics and design decisions both inside and outside of the core gameplay experience. In order to get promoted you have to beat the teams in your division but in order to do that, you have to perform well in league matches. But then comes a twist; your initial teammates aren’t that good and they certainly won’t carry you to a league title victory in your first season. So then you are forced to swap them out for higher skilled teammates but those teammates will now eat away at a specified percent of your earnings – earnings used to buy new RIGS – after each match. This then forces you to perform even better but at this stage, the player’s raw ability will have naturally increased. Throw in some cup games against higher division teams and RIGS produces an addictive loop that had me coming back for more.
“The atmosphere of cup matches and the hilarious commentary from the announcers adds a real authenticity to matches.”
Unfortunately, RIGS does not deliver on all of its potential as it’s held back by a lack of maps. Those that are there get the job done with a variety of locales spanning from beautiful Rio in Brazil to the sandy deserts of Nevada, but there simply isn’t enough there. While the maps begin to feel samey after a while, there isn’t any shortage of truly astounding moments in VR controlling your RIG. Moments that the Battlefield series has been revered for are here in abundance with every match featuring insane plays which are all only amplified in virtual reality. Going up the lift for the first time to hear the roar of the crowd or looking down in real life as you soar in the sky to take down an opponent that is firing back at you from below are moments that can only be experienced with the right tech.
Guerilla Cambridge’s inaugural PlayStation VR effort sports an astounding single-player career mode and a simplistic suite of mechanics that becomes quite deep and tactical for those who take the time out to perfect it. Playing with other human players is a highly competitive experience with close matches in RIGS being some of the best multiplayer matches I’ve ever had. The atmosphere of cup matches and the hilarious commentary from the announcers adds a real authenticity to matches. However, the lack of maps to experience it all in is what holds RIGS back from being one of the best games I’ve played in years, but what is there can still be considered the killer app for PlayStation VR in its early days.
*** PSVR code supplied by the publisher ***
- Superb career mode
- Solid mech controls
- Crazy VR moments
- Not enough maps