Initially, I was intending to do a “first look” feature on Battle Titans, giving some early thoughts and impressions. But that requires at least playing a few games to get an idea of what things are all about, and right now with a very small closed beta pool, you’re not always guaranteed a game when you want one. While I understand the developers have lowered the player quota from 16 (for massive 8v8 battles) to 4 (essentially duels) for the beta to enable more queue firing, I still don’t feel like I’ve gotten the full measure of the game.
That said, longtime readers know I’m a sucker for game design, and I couldn’t resist the opportunity to poke around under the hood of the mechs that make up the initial launch of Battle Titans. There aren’t many, but it’s important to note that War Robots itself launched with only a much smaller robot pool. Even the ubiquitous, early-game Cossack (itself highly relevant to today’s feature) was an expansion bot.
So today I’m going to focus in on one of the more fun and intriguing bots I’ve been able to play, the Little Shon. But first, a brief overview.
Battle Titans features five mechs in beta. One Light (Little Shon), three Medium (Ravager, M.A.O., and Nelly), and one Heavy (the Tirpitz). The classification system of bots and weapons will be very familiar to War Robots players, but in addition to hardpoints many bots have an extra slot for what’s being called a “backpack.”
While bots in War Robots have a single health pool, Battle Titans takes a more specific approach much like you’d see in Battletech. Each mech has separate HP values for tower, core, and leg. Many also have a resistance to certain kinds of attacks, “HEAT” (explosives) or “APFS” (projectiles).
Finally, while War Robots offers you an (unlockable) five-slot hangar, Battle Titans takes a sort of “hangar points” approach. You have a certain allotment of space in your hangar, and some robots take up more than others. You can fit a trio of Little Shons in the space taken up by a Tirpitz, for instance. This is a clever way of ensuring some balance in what players bring to the battlefield.
Now, let’s look at Little Shon!
The immediate comparison you’ll likely make when looking at Little Schon is that it’s the equivalent of the aforementioned Cossack. In War Robots, the Cossack is your objective-focus option, not great at combat but highly mobile to go after beacons. There don’t seem to be any beacons in Battle Titans– it’s a straight battle of attrition. But as we’ll see, Little Shon’s role in its game is the stuff Cossack pilots dream of at night.
With a speed of 65 kmh, Little Shon is easily the fastest mech in the game. It’s not even close- all four of the others have speeds in the 20’s- though the Ravager and M.A.O. have a cooldown ability (“sprint“) that temporarily makes them a touch faster. Like a Cossack, it also benefits from a small target profile, making it harder to hit, and the jump ability can help get it out of trouble.
It’s worth noting that the Little Shon’s jump feels much different, it’s more of a leap forward (think the Dash bots currently on the test server) rather than the flea-like arc of the Cossack. Finally, just like the Cossack the Little Shon has a whisper of health, about one-quarter of what the Medium bots offer.
So in short, a nimble speedster that can get in and out of tighter places, with virtually unmatched battlefield maneuverability, but with a very short expected lifespan. But the best is yet to come.
While there are other options besides what comes stock with the Little Shon, we’re going to stick to those weapons for now and look over the bot as he appears on the store shelf. The Little Shon comes equipped with a pair of machine guns (Manglers), as well as a Fulgur backpack weapon.
Unfortunately, actual damage data for each weapon is withheld on the tooltips, so we don’t really know the exact damages each is capable of inflicting. The tooltip does note, however, that the Manglers are high DPS, close-range weapons, with an ideal range of 50m and maximum range of 250m.
Waitwut? 250m max?
Yup, the paper-armor Little Shon is designed to be in close proximity with the enemy. You might expect more of a sniper’s role, where it stays relatively safe from harm at the periphery of the battle, using its high maneuverability to get the right shots, but instead what we get here is a needling saboteur. And the thing that ties it all together is what Little Shon carries on its back: the Fulgur.
It’s worth unpacking the Fulgur a little bit, because it’s a weapon quite unlike anything you’ll find in War Robots. But if you’ve played World of Warcraft, League of Legends, or another of any number of PVP-component MMO games, you’ll be quite familiar with the concept of roots and snares.
That’s right, Battle Titans has EMP (electromagnetic pulse).
The Fulgur is a disabling weapon that shuts down all enemy mechs it hits. There may be a chance at resisting, as the weapon tooltip lists a maximum range of 25m but an ideal range of 15m, which may have an effect on resistance. The cooldown is twenty seconds, long enough to not be spammable but frequent enough to be repeatedly useful in a melee. It’s also worth noting that it doesn’t induce a full shutdown so much as immobility- the afflicted bot’s weapons can still operate.
So instead of a long-range, mobile sniper (and possible objective-taker if those game modes open up), we get a pint-sized gremlin running through combat with a very sharp dagger, inflicting close-range damage and monkeying with the machines while its bigger allies pounce upon the immobilized.
Although a coordinated team of four Little Shon pilots could keep a tight cluster of enemies permanently immobile by coordinating and cycling cooldowns, the more practical use will be as a disruption agent. Enemies will need to be mindful not only of where Little Shon is on the battlefield, but also where their allies are in relation to themselves, lest the opportunistic pest come in and scoop up a two-for- or three-for-one.
In a way, it’s almost like the developers scanned my brain to find the perfect bot. Little Shon much resembles my beloved Cossack with maneuverability, incorporates my love of speed, and adds in my penchant for nettlesome, “trolling” builds like the Hydra Doc and Geppo.
And as an avowed lover of Light bots, the small health pool is something I’m well accustomed to. I don’t think I’ll be running a fleet of these, but I’ll certainly be running one- and maybe more if they become squad-viable.
Finally, the existence of the Fulgur shows that the developers are thinking outside the confines of “damage vectors” and coming up with creative PVP play. While the beta has a ways to go- it’s a beta- early signs are very promising.
Thanks for reading!