It may be the blandest name for a game, but War Tech Fighters is a lot better than the title suggests. In fact, it is doing this game a disservice; it needs a better name. Some suggestions:
Big Giant Mechs
Big Giant Mechs in Space
Big F**k-Off Giant Mechs in Space
Big F**k-Off Giant Mechs in Space: That Are Actually Really Easy to Control (every great game title has a colon in it).
Playing War Tech Fighters feels like a combination of Transformers, Pacific Rim, and wildly over-the-top Japanese anime such as Neon Genesis Evangelion with all the usual Hollywood production and explosions (see again: Michael Bay’s Transformer series). You play as Captain Nathan Romanis, a pilot of one of these hulking mechs, and must fight back against the Zatronian empire to reclaim the homeland after they invaded during the war the previous year.
I’ll be honest, the story isn’t anything special, simply a means to advance the action from set-piece to set-piece (see again: Michael Bay’s Transformer series). War Tech Fighters does have an extremely comprehensive data section where interested parties can deep dive into the lore of the universe. It’s a welcome feature for those that want to know more, but for those that don’t, they won’t feel bogged down by it all either.
After a brief opening mission, you are given the option of three types of War Tech: Rhino, Hawk and Lynx. Each offers their own individual stats based on your preferred style. For example, the Rhino dishes out heavy damage at the cost of speed, the Hawk is fast and agile but not the most powerful and the Lynx is somewhere in the middle of both. The customisation only begins there with your choice of War Tech though, for there are hundreds of other ways to build your own huge death robot.
Customising your War Tech is split into different sections: Head, arms, torso, legs, sword and shield. Rather than choosing from a set build, you can pick and choose which upgrade from each section you want. These will affect your stats both positively and negatively but there is enough variation here that you can spend a lot of time finding your perfect build. Some upgrades are greyed out until you have the required research topic unlocked but thankfully, War Tech Fighters also has a robust research section.
Researching costs credits. Sometimes a lot of credits for not much gain seemingly (hi, Michael Bay’s Transformer series once more). Credits are earned through completing missions but also harvesting and collecting meteorites in the missions. But then again, some upgrades are still greyed out. This time though, you need the special project resources found in missions; collectibles if you will.
The missions themselves mainly involve shooting enemy ships of various sizes but every now and again there are some different objectives to keep things fresh. Stealth, resource collection, escorts, they’re all in there. But most importantly, they all work. Using a giant mech to complete a stealth mission by hiding behind big meteorites doesn’t sound like it would work, but it absolutely does. The main reason for this is that controlling these space terminators is so easy, even on the three planes. Simply point the crosshair in the intended direction and the mech will go there. You can even tweak your movement by using the Y and A buttons to ascend and descend. It sounds so simple in theory but many a space exploration game have failed the moment you try to navigate anywhere. In War Tech Fighters, it works perfectly.
It won’t be long before you come face-to-face with an enemy War Tech. You can choose to shoot them from afar, but the real action happens when you get up close and personal. When going into CQC, War Techs will holster their mounted arm guns and pull out their melee weapons. That’s right, sword fights in space. Here the gameplay changes into a beat ‘em up minigame where you have a set amount of time to inflict as much melee damage as possible, before the mechs disengage and you are back to shooting the hell out of each other. Again, this little feature helps keep the gameplay exciting.
You can also choose to melee enemy ships providing you have done enough damage to them. There aren’t many different animations used for this but that won’t detract from the satisfaction of getting a melee kill.
Another thing you won’t tire of is your mech taking off at the start of a mission. Thrusters aid your mech through the tunnel, and booming heavy metal music accompanies this speedy takeoff.
If you miss any collectibles during a mission, they can be replayed at any point in a virtual recreation. This virtual environment also houses the tutorial missions and additional modes such as Challenge mode and Survival mode. These feature largely the same gameplay as the main missions but can offer some special rewards for completing them.
War Tech Fighters on Xbox One has a total of 45 achievements to aim for that – despite the large number – shouldn’t take hours and hours to unlock. Many are for doing ‘firsts’: First sword and shield purchase, first execution, first close combat etc. so it may seem to bombard you with Gamerscore a little in the opening hours. There are plenty dotted throughout the campaign to see you through to the end and then even a couple to entice you into starting a New Game +. All in all, it’s a fairly attainable list.
The sky is the limit in War Tech Fighters. Despite looking a bit dated in places this game has proven to be one of the surprise hits in 2019, and it is a far bigger game than it first appears. There is plenty of variation in the mission structures to keep you entertained, and even after destroying thousands of enemies it is still incredibly satisfying blowing up the next one immediately after. The game doesn’t force plot-heavy elements down your throat either, but likewise there is an extensive section detailing that information if that’s your thing. They just really need to change the name, it’s so bland. But if that’s my biggest criticism, War Tech Fighters is a real winner.