Some of you may recall the news that sent a wave of excitement across the mech gaming fanscape this Spring. It was discovered that former Pixonic employees- including some of their original War Robots developers- had started their own studio called Red Button and were developing a new take on the genre, called Battle Titans, later retitled as Battle of Titans or BoT for short. It did not take long for excitement to build and translate into an optimistic following.
Since this Spring and the initial news of development, early closed beta testing has been ongoing as a coordinated effort between a growing community of mech fans and the development team. This weekend I was informed by Red Button’s lead developer that a major update to the beta version of BoT is targeted to land within the next week. This is certainly exciting news for those who have been following the project.
Before I dive into the new content and changes to this new build here is a quick recap for those of you who are just hearing about BoT for the first time.
BoT’s matches are currently structured as a team death match with two teams of up to eight players on each side. The game uses Unreal Engine 4 and features some pretty impressive graphics as well as a sizable play area considering it’s being developed for mobile devices. The current beta includes one large icy map featuring a mountain and a crashed space cruiser as well as five different mechs, one light, three medium, including a really unique and fun “spider ‘BoT” and one lumbering heavy support mech. Mechs have a squad value for balancing so a player can choose between fewer heavier mechs or more lighter mechs in their line up. Chassis and their interchangeable weapons are upgraded with a unique system that incorporates randomness as well as stacking effects, to allow for an extensive variety of mech builds.
First on the list of new content- and the most exciting- is a new Light mech with a single Heavy weapons slot, featured in the image at the top of this article. Named Bully, this chassis seems to be keeping with BoT’s theme for the game’s existing Light mech, Little Shon, with an emphasis on mobility, ambushes, and harassing tactics in support of team mates.
Second, more potent and rare modifications in the upgrade system will be available and will receive a uniquely identifying color coding. This is in response to the uncertainty many testers first expressed about the upgrade system and an initial move to make it both more meaningful and more approachable for users.
Third, and most significant is an innovative solution to a recurring problem for mobile multiplayer games. BoT is introducing its own bots. To be more clear, AI opponents. The purpose is two fold. In the big picture, Red Button wants to address the problem of “leavers” that sometimes affect mobile games. Their solution is to allow AI to effectively take over if a player disconnects for whatever reason, thereby minimally impacting the remaining players experience. This certainly sounds like a good move to us, as does getting testing on the system started as early as possible.
Another short term goal of Red Button is testing servers, and device capacity for larger matches. It doesn’t seem like it was long ago that even PC and console gaming was limited to about a sixteen player cap in general, so the scale of BoT’s matches underscores the project’s overall ambitiousness. At the time in-game bots, or AI are not intended to be used to generate opponents or for any sort of single player mode. The AI will be there to help keep game matches consistent for players and to help fill in any gaps and push the limits, possibly even beyond sixteen players, during testing. Of course, one can hope it is a sign that Red Button will consider other modes of play as well.
Those are just the highlights of course. As with any beta build it will also include numerous bug fixes and general optimization. Two items hinted at early in beta are still in development, and are not scheduled for the beta update but could show up not long after. Dutiful beta testers who have been slugging it out across the same frozen landscape of BoT for the last couple of months will be happy for a change of scenery. A second map is well underway although still in need of some optimization.
The new map will depict an entirely different landscape featuring a desert and urban area. It’s certainly a welcome addition and will provide new opportunities for testing game mechanics and balance. It also hints at the bigger world and underlying narrative of BoT. What’s behind that wall? I guess we will have to wait a little longer to find out…
Another mech build is still being tested and as the developer put it is currently getting its “flying lessons.” This flyer will have the ability to transform, folding most of its weaponry back and out of use in exchange for the ability to fly. It still needs a bit more time to be ready for beta testers to put their hands on it, but is well underway though and nearly ready for release into the wild.
This update promises to be a step in the right direction for a much anticipated game. Clearly the groundwork is being laid to support a broad range of experiences for players. Be sure to follow us at MECH*SPECTRUM for the most current news about BoT and current events for all things mech.