RIGS Mechanized Combat League Review – Rigged For Her Pleasure

The team behind Killzone trades masks for mecha with an impressive VR debut.

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Developer: Sony
Publisher: Guerrilla Games
Format: PlayStation VR
Released: October 13, 2016
Copy provided by publisher

It would be silly for Sony not to commission itself a mech combat game in time for the PlayStation VR’s launch. Plonking players into a giant walking tank is perfect for virtual reality – topped only by space flight simulators – giving players an independent body for their head-turning needs while providing a stable exterior shell for manual control.

Guerrilla was awarded the task of delivering a roboticized multiplayer VR title, and the Killzone studio has met the challenge with RIGS Mechanized Combat League – a three-on-three online shooter with sporting elements and a whole host of stomping machinery to choose from.

RIGS doesn’t make the best first impression, though.

The first thirty minutes are given over to a painstaking tutorial, laboriously explaining mechanics and offering several methods of movement to acclimate first-time players. It’s a slog to get through, but it at least does a decent job of explaining how the game works even if it takes its sweet time doing so.

The eponymous Rigs are broken into four distinct chassis types. Hunter Rigs are small and fast, able to hit hard but not take too much of a beating. Sentinels are the largest Rigs, slow moving and highly defensive. Tempests are similar to Hunters but can fly above the arena and harry opponents from above. Mirage units are tall, slender machines with balanced abilities and a double-jump feature.

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Rigs are further diversified by unique classes that grant additional abilities. Vampires regain health after each kill, Engineers can heal allies and disrupt enemy radar, while Carapaces carry a shield on their back to prevent unseen melee attacks. There are quite a few classes to experiment with, each boasting distinct and contextually useful skills.

Weapon loadouts are determined by both chassis and class. A Tempest of the Vampire class is a Parasite and comes with twin energy beams. Should a Tempest be married to the Nuke class, however, it’ll be known as the Blast Radius and have different weapons entirely. It can take some time to find the exact Rig for you, but there’s something for everyone.

Unlocking all this gear requires cash earned by competing in matches both offline and online. While it will take some time to unlock everything, cash is distributed generously enough to where more Rigs are acquired regularly and new play styles can be experimented with.

Personally, I’m yet to top the Pain Killer, a Mirage Engineer, but that’s just the one that works for me.

Once players have their Rig of choice, they’ll be able to face off in mid-sized arenas with three match types to choose from.

Team Takedown is the most basic game, a simple deathmatch in which the only thing that matters is shooting down the opposition. Endzone is football with robots – teams race to pick up a ball and run it to the opposing side’s goal, making sure to pass when necessary and trying not to get slaughtered in the process.

Power Slam is a little more complex, and easily the most fun.

Every time players score a takedown or collect pickups dotted around the arena, they come one step closer to entering Overdrive mode. Overdrive significantly boosts a Rig’s abilities and can be triggered in any match type, but Power Slam adds an extra twist – Rigs in Overdrive must make their way to the center of the arena and jump into a huge circular goal in order to score a point for the team.

While each mode is fun, Power Slam blends Team Takedown and Endzone to create a frantic combo of shooting and sporting that I find quite entertaining.

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Combat itself is straightforward but enjoyable. Rigs use the DualShock 4 to move, while players can opt to turn via head movement or the right stick. I found stick-controlled turning to be more efficient and intuitive, but again this is a matter of personal comfort.

Each Rig is armed with two weapons, fired independently with the left and right triggers. To aim, players merely have to look at their opponents and keep track of them with head movements. Devastating melee takedowns are initiated by clicking the right stick to surge forward and smash into an enemy.

Melee is powerful but risky – it’ll annihilate sufficiently damaged Rigs, but if the target remains standing the initial attacker is left wide open to a physical counterstrike.

Any given Rig can be set to three distinct modes on the fly – speed, power, and repair. These modes should be self-explanatory, but only one can be active at any given time. In order to move quicker, a Rig cannot repair damage or gain an attack bonus. Similarly, a Rig trying to heal itself will be slower and less offensively powerful.

Overdrive temporarily activates all three modes at once, giving players a noticeable advantage.

What I find most interesting about RIGS is how, despite playing it for lengthy sessions at a time, it didn’t make me feel physically sick. To date, every other VR game I’ve played using traditional controls has caused a significant degree of internal unpleasantness, but RIGS is one of the most accommodating virtual reality experiences I’ve had overall.

Whatever it is Guerrilla’s doing needs to be copied by any other game that utilizes regular analog movement because the difference is phenomenal.

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Mechanized Combat League is a fairly good looking game, low on special effects but high on style. The Rigs themselves are appealingly designed, while HUD elements are clear and easy to read. One issue I’ve had is the HUD “drifting” off to the side at times during the course of play, but it’s generally easy enough to correct with some stick-pushing.

A more egregious flaw with the game is its inability to shut up. Matches feature color commentary that seems to consist of a handful of annoyingly recycled stock phrases. Meanwhile, your personal progress is constantly commented on by a Scottish bloke whose patronizing tone and needless exposition gets on my nerves.

Seriously, it’s like you’re being babysat constantly by this weird creep in a motorcycle helmet. He hangs around next to you while you’re navigating menu screens, he chimes in whenever you perform actions, and he can’t even be escaped mid-match, providing unbidden opinions during half-time.

I hate him so much, the invasive wanker.

Preamble is another of RIGS‘ flaws. Lengthy load times and matchmaking processes lead to a lot of sitting around, while matches begin and end with the same recycled, unnecessarily lengthy animations. It gets old quick and contrasts the fast-paced fun of the gameplay itself, especially since matches tend to not last very long at all.

These gripes aside, MCL is a good laugh that is surprisingly easy to get to grips with. While light on gameplay content, the unlockables and customization options provide ample encouragement, and matches themselves contain just enough clomping, smashing entertainment to warrant a good deal of replay.

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Players customize their own humanoid avatars with new uniforms, helmets, visor designs and poses. Some of these are unlocked by competing a series of extensive challenge stages, while others are received as sponsorship rewards.

A sponsor is chosen for both offline and online play, granting extra money should pre-planned objectives be completed such as performing a certain number of melee takedowns or becoming MVP of upcoming matches. The first time a sponsor reward is earned, a unique bonus is offered, usually a custom part for one’s avatar.

Sponsorships are fairly passive, but frequently switching them out is a great way to earn new loot, and adds just that little extra bit of satisfaction. Plus it’s always fun to play dress-up with the rewards.

RIGS: Mechanized Combat League joins Until Dawn: Rush of Blood as one of the very few virtual reality games I’ve truly come to enjoy. The head-track aiming system works great, the combat is engrossing, and it’s a remarkably comfortable experience even after extended periods of time with the PSVR clamped on.

Guerrilla most definitely gave Sony what it needed – a deserving mech battling game for its virtual reality foray, as well as a damn fine multiplayer frolic to boot.

8.5/10
Great

Stormbringer
Guest

Does this strike anyone else as reversed?

Developer: Sony
Publisher: Guerrilla Games

Uzair Syed
Guest
Uzair Syed

It’s also Guerrilla Cambridge

Austin_sj
Guest
Austin_sj

A good single player mech combat game now please (no getting out of the mech like titanfall 2, which I am looking forward to)

MJC
Guest
MJC

Sounds like a pretty good game that doesn’t need to be relegated to a $400 peripheral.

Seems true of all the good PS VR games: there’s actually no need for the PS VR to be present at all, and the games would be just as good with a regular 2D television screen.

Powermad80
Guest
Powermad80

Just because it’d be good without VR doesn’t mean VR doesn’t make it better.

mbrandse
Guest
mbrandse

But 400$ worth of better? I seriously doubt it.

Jallen
Guest
Jallen

For an extra $400 I would expect a peripheral to perform either a blow-job or cunnilingus.

Also remember you need a Sony camera to play this game and Move controllers to play other games too. Making it more like $540.

Powermad80
Guest
Powermad80

With some of the games Japan is making you just might get your wish on that first point.

Jallen
Guest
Jallen

Lol. I can’t wait for Jim’s review then. 😉

Zaron
Guest

I think the point is more that if it’s good without VR, why is the VR mandatory? You’re just locking out more of your potential audience by slapping a huge price hurdle onto things.

Powermad80
Guest
Powermad80

Because in its first generation VR needs its selling points to keep alive in the market so it has time to improve and become a bit more widespread. Right now it needs what it can get so it doesn’t die so it has the chance to be better, later on when there’s an established VR crowd and the tech is much better you have a point, because these games would be quite fun non-VR (albeit lesser) but the whole point of these is to give VR reasons to exist.

Zaron
Guest
Right, but this *isn’t* giving VR a reason to exist. A game that gives VR a reason to exist is good because of the VR, not in spite of it. With the limited install base, even if this helps push a few VR units somehow, at the end of the day the dev is just severely limiting their audience by restricting the experience to VR for the sake of doing so. tbh, VR doesn’t really offer anything besides a more immersive presentation for most games. The only things really showcasing the tech are Vive entries that require you to flop… Read more »
Powermad80
Guest
Powermad80

“A game that gives VR a reason to exist is good because of the VR, not in spite of it”

This game *isn’t* good “in spite of” VR, it’s improved by it even if it wouldn’t be outright bad without it. A limited audience isn’t a fault of the game itself, it’s the nature of being a product for enthusiast-tier first generation hardware.

Jack McBastard
Guest

Obviously you’ve never experienced the difference the VR can make, particularly in a fast action game.

mrpete987
Guest
mrpete987

Seriously, why do some people want to prevent new tech from gaining any sort of traction?

I own this game and it would NOT be just as good on a regular 2D television.

The immersiveness is most certainly improved by being a VR game. And if $400 is too much for you, then fine. But it IS worth something, and the fact that it is VR does enhance the experience. It’s wrong to pretend it doesn’t.

RifleAvenger Sashiro
Guest
RifleAvenger Sashiro

Once again, the only good VR games are those that would be solid without the technology. It’s almost like if you make a game just about promoting a gimmick, the result winds up being gimmicky and shallow!

M.
Guest
M.

VR Overwatch with mechs? Sold.

Deedee Pilgrim
Guest
Deedee Pilgrim

I hope this can turn into the rocket league of VR

Deedee Pilgrim
Guest
Deedee Pilgrim

“I hate him so much, the invasive wanker.” haha I love Jim

TristanPR77
Guest
TristanPR77

RIGS is getting a lot of positive reviews. This is a must have for us PSVR owners. 1 more day.

Lysere
Guest
Lysere

I’m curious how they managed to make a game like that and have it not make you feel sick. Maybe it has something to do with the set up just working better.

I mean if you’re in a mech the idea of using controls of some kind while your body doesn’t really move makes more sense mentally than physically moving a character with a controller while you stand still. Racing games and flight sims would fit that idea as well.

Chris
Guest
Chris

Jim didn’t specify which games, but on twitter he mentioned that different reviewers have gotten sick from different games. Since no specifics I couldn’t tell you if others got sick but there you go.

CaitSeith
Guest
CaitSeith

Developer: Sony
Publisher: Guerrilla Games

Are you sure it isn’t backwards?

Mike Brown
Guest
Mike Brown

They’re mixed up and it’s actually developed by Gurilla Cambridge, rather than Guerrilla Games.

Stormbringer
Guest

I pointed this out earlier 🙂 Upvote.

Ryan
Guest
Ryan

Looking forward to Driveclub VR review,this games used to be the one that may makes me buy PS VR but from reviews seems a puke inducer

DEV00100000
Guest
DEV00100000

Hey look here, a good review. I’m actually excited about this one. 8.5 is better than I expected, I might get it day one.

Tony Clark
Guest
Tony Clark

“Seriously, it’s like you’re being babysat constantly by this weird creep in a motorcycle helmet. He hangs around next to you while you’re navigating menu screens, he chimes in whenever you perform actions, and he can’t even be escaped mid-match, providing unbidden opinions during half-time.”

That’ll be The Stig.

dhaos
Guest
dhaos

But the Stig doesn’t talk…

Johnny Burnes
Guest
Johnny Burnes

If you’re going to have color commentary in your game, at least have it be done by Greg Proops and John Dimagio.

TheBloke
Guest
TheBloke

When did Greg Proops do game/sport commentary?

Johnny Burnes
Guest
Johnny Burnes

MadWorld on Wii. With the guy who voices Bender of Futurama too.

MyBodyIsReady
Guest
MyBodyIsReady

“Players customize their own humanoid avatars with new uniforms, helmets, visor designs and poses. Some of these are unlocked by competing a series of extensive challenge stages, while others are received as sponsorship rewards.”

Wait what the fuck? You mean I can actually unlock cosmetics without paying for micro transactions? That’s a first for 2016.

MyBodyIsReady
Guest
MyBodyIsReady

These guys only did Killzone Mercenary by the way, it’s Guerrilla Cambridge not the same guys who are working on Horizon

Stefano Musilli
Guest
Stefano Musilli

Yeah, they also made Medievil when they were called just Cambridge Studio. Great studio, looking forward to their next projects (hopefully a ps4 Wipeout… but probably another Killzone).

JackgarPrime
Guest
JackgarPrime

This is the sort of game that actually makes a lot of sense for VR. Problem is, I don’t know how many people you’ll actually be able to get multiplayer matches with, as it requires very particular setups.

Is a Rez review coming, by the way?

Powermad80
Guest
Powermad80

This is what VR needs, games like this that obviously benefit from the tech.
Racing games, space sims, mech combat. Those are the big winners for VR and I really hope they keep coming and help the tech survive its first generation.

Jack Trevor
Guest
Jack Trevor

Now, if only it wasn’t multiplayer VR game…

Sharadufobash
Guest
Sharadufobash

Made me chuckle, this bit.

“Seriously, it’s like you’re being babysat constantly by this weird creep
in a motorcycle helmet. He hangs around next to you while you’re
navigating menu screens, he chimes in whenever you perform actions, and
he can’t even be escaped mid-match, providing unbidden opinions during
half-time.”

Fascinating stuff, this, Jim, hearing about the new VR tech and games.

BAH!
Guest
BAH!

Something something Uncharted

The outlaw Jesse McCree
Guest
The outlaw Jesse McCree

lol

Polishfury5000
Guest
Polishfury5000

Now this is something I can get behind. It may not be the genre-defining killer app needed to get me to pull the trigger on VR, but this is the first game I’ve seen that raises my interest.

I’ve gone from luke-warm to intrigued on VR. Now just give me something akin to a Star Fox or Rogue Squadron and I’ll be fully considering buying into this whole thing.

PowerSerg
Guest

It’s a shame this game is just really expensive to access. 300 for a ps4, 60 for online, 500 for VR, then 50 for the game. Like this sounds awesome, I eventually want a ps4 but I doubt I would ever spend more then I spent on a console for an accessory. I love me some good mech battles so it’s a shame i’ll be missing out. Great to hear people can look forward to this who can afford the privilege googles.

Powermad80
Guest
Powermad80

It’s the inherent problem with the first generation of any tech, if VR survives than future headsets will be cheaper *and* better.

PowerSerg
Guest

True but this is Sony where they are still charging 100 dollars for Move controllers.

Stormbringer
Guest

I don’t understand. This looks like something that’s not dependent on the VR gimmick to be accessible. Is it not a good game in its own right? (Anyway, surely it doesn’t require VR peripherals. Or?)

PowerSerg
Guest

I agree I think it could explore this fun mech game without needing VR just fine. Watching Jim’s gameplay it seemed like a perfectly good mech battle game on it’s own.

Bassem B.
Guest
Bassem B.

PS VR is looking to have a great lineup. For the first time I am seriously considering buying into Playstation.

ThatGuyMurix
Guest
ThatGuyMurix

Good to hear it came out so well. This was one of the only actually games I had high hopes for with VR.