Two years ago, NCsoft dealt a harsh blow to a certain subset of gaming fans when it canned the development of Project HON. This MMO was to be a glorious exercise in mecha combat, but scandals and a decision to reallocate development resources meant that it was never to be.
So where can that kid who grew up playing with giant robots go to get a Voltron, Transformers, or Macross fix these days? While many MMOs offer the occasional mech experience, there aren’t as many games that go all-in on that Pacific Rim experience.
But in the interests of a thought experiment and because I have fond memories of slapping five metal lions together to form the ultimate defender of the universe, here are 10 online games that offered or still do offer the thrill of high-tech mech and robot warfare.
From the game savants at AdventureQuest 3D came the ultimate giant robot battling simulator MechQuest. Featuring “amazing art, wild animation and horrible puns,” MechQuest pits players against other super-sized foes in a mission to cause all sorts of property damage. Oh, and it’s available in either browser or mobile formats!
When I was growing up, I had purchased one of the tabletop guides to MechWarrior and was simultaneously intrigued and cowed by the meticulous detail behind these stomping tanks. There were also some popular video games as well, the latest of which was the arena-based MechWarrior Online. It’s about as detailed and serious of a mech simulator as you’re going to get, at least until we get a wicked awesome VR version.
It’s hard being a die-hard Transformers fan these days. First you have Michael Bay, and then you have the potential of this killer franchise frittered away on a robot brawler. Still… it is Transformers and it does let you play as Optimus Prime. A small taste is better than no taste? Or is it more cruel?
Operating from 2007 to 2010 as a free-to-play game, Exteel brought players together and made them mech pilots of some of the most lethal hardware you’ve ever seen. While the game had some PvE content, it was mostly centered around PvP battles in limited arenas. And despite hopes and dreams, there is no sign that the long-awaited Exteel 2 will ever be made…
Set in a post-apocalyptic world, AirMech is an “action-RTS” in which players form up armies of specialized mechs and go to war cooperatively or competitively. It’s been in beta short of forever with no sign of launch, however, even after it teased coming to the Oculus Rift last year.
Let’s get this out of the way: Yes, Perpetuum is in dire straights as the team has ended active development this past September. However, this giant robot sci-fi MMO isn’t completely giving up the ghost, as it’s keeping the lights on and eyeing private servers as a way to go. Even with the trouble that it’s in, it’s pretty much the first title that many MMO players think of when they’re asked for “giant robot online games.”
From another popular eastern sci-fi franchise, Gundam Online Wars hasn’t really been able to capitalize on its IP as well as it should due to a shoddy-looking game and a bad business model. Still, with 52v52 battles on giant playfields, it’s worth considering if being a mobile suit pilot is your life’s greatest ambition.
8. RF Online
On-again, off-again MMO RF Online has struggled over the years, but it’s currently operating and does offer at least one flavor of giant mech gameplay if you play the Bellato Union faction. Maybe you want to be a foot soldier hacking away at a big robot with your sword? More power to you, fella.
For our last couple of entries, we’re going to look at standard MMORPGs that also happen to feature some sort of giant mech class. First up is Aion and its Aethertech profession. Huge magical mechs seem pretty awesome, especially when you’re sporting an arsenal of gatling guns, rail guns, blades, electric whips, gigantic fists, and rocket launchers. Wait, why am I not playing this game right now?
And just because something is small and cute doesn’t disqualify it from being on this list. MapleStory’s Mechanic is a pilot who just so happens to have a blocky mech suit at the ready. Just like every auto mechanic we’ve ever met. It’s a pretty tough class with some fun attacks, but like everything else in this game, it’s hard to take too seriously without wanting to pinch its cheeks.