Battle Royal, but with Robots
In this battle royale game, Meka Hunters, developed by Illogical, you pilot a weaponized mech, but you aren’t the only one. Dropped onto the map are 11 other player-driven mechs that, when confronted, will stop at nothing to wipe you out. As far as battle royales go, that’s pretty standard fare among other titles like Fortnite.
What I noticed first was Meka Hunters’ graphics. They remind me so much of a late ‘90s video game. Whether this was intentional, or a limitation, it’s rather endearing. Still, the low graphical fidelity can be a positive considering anyone with a $20 smartphone can enjoy Meka Hunters, even if only for a few minutes.
Just Keep Shooting
Unlike other battle royale games, Meka Hunters doesn’t have you scour the map for items beforehand. The upgrades you want are earned by killing other players, leaving you no choice but to hunt the other mechs immediately. That’s as simple as it gets.
Destroying other player-driven mechs will shower the ground with experience orbs. With enough experience orbs, you level up. Every time you level up, you have the opportunity to choose between two upgrades. The upgrades are the meat of the game, a gameplay mechanic Meka Hunters leans on heavily.
Upgrades range between defensive like Barrier, producing a protective shield, to offensive abilities like Napalm, a bomb that explodes and sprinkles the ground with fire. And if you’re looking for speed, the Dash ability will give you a few charges to zip around the map. Other abilities are passive in nature such as Frenzy, which alters the rate of fire, or adding plasma to your bullets after firing a few rounds. But that’s if you can manage to destroy other players.
Mechs are frustratingly hard to beat simply because of how healthy everyone is. The term “bullet sponge” comes to mind. And with health packs always within reach, you’ll be shooting for days. It wouldn’t be so bad if health packs were rare.
All of that is moot since you’ll be fighting the controls just to do anything. Moving is horrendously clunky, and not because you’re driving a mech. Even worse, once you start aiming, the screen wants to vibrate, almost like the game isn’t sure which input to respond to—so it jitters back and forth.
You Can’t Buy Power
Customization is available in Meka Hunters, but it too—like the rest of the game—is lacking in options. However, that can easily be overlooked not because it’s early access, but because the customization isn’t linked to power. This is a breath of fresh air considering most developers and publishers have jumped at the opportunity to monetize core elements of gameplay.
There are six different areas you can customize: legs, shoulders, the cockpit, guns, and backpack. None of these alter the way your mech moves, shoots, or behaves. Unfortunately, if you don’t buy any of the customization, you’ll be staring at the same mech, match after match. You can’t even give it a new paint job.
Fun for Five Minutes
Aside from aesthetics, Meka Hunters is lacking replayability. There isn’t any variety to the mechs and the way they behave. Everyone is essentially playing the same class of mechs with slight variations to their power-ups.
This lack of variety extends into every aspect of Meka Hunters. For example, when you level up, you’re awarded a new upgrade. That is, quite frankly, a pitiful incentive to play—especially if you’re staring at the same mech every single match. Meka Hunters only has one game mode: Deathmatch. And that game mode exists on one map. A map that feels a bit too large considering I was constantly wandering to find the other 11 players.
Since you’ll be staring at the back of the same mech, on the same map, every single match you play, Meka Hunters stales very quickly. It desperately needs that carrot-on-a-stick mechanic to keep players engaged. Sadly, it just doesn’t have that, nor are upgrades enough. It’s fun for five minutes, after that you’re going to want to play something else.
Is it Hardcore?
Meka Hunters isn’t breaking new ground in the battle royale scene. While initially it’s fun to fiddle with, there’s a lack of content that nixes its replay value.