Custom Mech Wars Review – Built For Battle

Custom Mech Wars Review

Mechs are cool on a bone-deep, fundamental level. There’s just something super rad about building, maintaining, and fighting with a giant robot. Custom Mech Wars almost grasps this concept perfectly. While the customization and assembly phase is tons of fun, the main campaign leaves a lot to be desired. It’s almost as if the developers enjoy building these machines more than using them. Which is a perfectly legitimate perspective. You just need this context going into the game.

The story is a thin layer stretched over Custom Mech Wars. You’re in charge of protecting and maintaining the empty remains of civilization while humanity is in hiding. An endless army of autonomous mechs is routinely popping up to wreck the joint. Thus, your task is to blow apart these empty machines before they trash all our stuff. It’s truly just an excuse to get out in the field and use your latest creation to blow up some robots. I don’t mind this limp narrative, for the most part. It’s threadbare enough that I found myself impatient with the dialog and the mission conceits. We can just take on an ever-stronger horde of mindless automatons, you know. There’s nothing wrong with that.

It’s Mostly Mech-Making

My main issue is that this weak story gets in the way of the mech building. You start out with a paltry selection of parts, and you unlock more by completing the campaign. So I need to suffer through the story to do the fun stuff. This makes the story missions feel exhausting, like a set of chores that need finishing. The catch being that story missions are where you actually use these cool new creations of yours. I dread the main campaign, but I need it – both for new parts and the chance to test them out.

Custom Mech Wars Review

I can’t make this clear enough – building mechs in this game totally rules. I found myself swapping parts out after every mission, just to keep things fresh. Apparently you can just add extra guns? Whenever you want? It’s incredible. Between this and the painting/accessories system, you can make some ridiculous creations. My main fighter had two main guns, six extra guns, and two automatic turrets. Your average enemy gets utterly shredded, it’s pure delight. Anything to make those story missions more entertaining.

Festooned With Guns

The real problem with the story is one of connection. I have no idea what any of these characters look like. They’re just voices coming over my comm system. There aren’t any cutscenes to speak of, and the introduction was a slowly scrolling wall of text that never ended. After a while it became impossible to follow. By the time I started fully skipping the stage intros, I was relieved. Finally, one less obstacle between me and the combat. I understand that the story is an afterthought at this point, but then why include it at all? Why not spend that energy on trials, or more multiplayer modes? There’s some real humor in the building process, but none of that makes it into the narrative.

Custom Mech Wars Review

Although I didn’t have access to it before the game’s release, the multiplayer feels like the potential core of the whole experience. Why spend all this time building these wacky mechs, if not to show them off to strangers? Plus, catching a momentary glimpse of the enemy’s build is a great source of inspiration. I did note that there weren’t any multiplayer modes, however. Just a series of options of finding or starting rooms. Like the campaign, the online options feel a little threadbare. Beyond the garage and the testing grounds, there isn’t a whole lot of game here, in fact.

Maybe Multiplayer?

Custom Mech Wars is all about construction and experimentation. There’s a dense system for putting mechs together, and all of it feels friendly and approachable. You have a ton of options, a lot of freedom, and multiple ways to test things out. But that’s sort of where the good times dry up. The campaign is crazy boring otherwise, and the multiplayer options are equally threadbare. If you can get a good group together for playing online, you might find more fun than I did. But on your own, Custom Mech Wars has limited appeal. If you’ve got a lot of mechs in your heart begging to be built, you’re in for a  good time. Otherwise I can’t really recommend this game.

***A PS5 code was provided by the publisher***

The Good

  • Tons of customization
  • Approachable controls
  • Make ANY mech you want

The Bad

  • Campaign is pretty dull
  • Repetitive level design
  • Lots of grinding to do