In a distant post-apocalyptic future that couldn’t possibly have been foreseen, mankind has been saved… by Heavy Metal. Yeah, the genre of music your grandparents told you was of the devil? Turns out that it’s the one thing that keeps humanity kickin’. That and the Gods of Heavy Metal (I know we all secretly attend our Heavy Metal Cult meetings, don’t pretend you don’t). Now, in tribute to the Gods of rampant musical rage that saved us, arenas have been erected in which machines dedicated to the remembrance of our saving grace are pitted against each other in not-so-mortal battle. Welcome to Heavy Metal Machines, a unique MOBA developed by Hoplon, that incorporates tricked-out mega vehicles and takes this genre of multiplayer games a few interesting steps in a new direction. This is our Heavy Metal Machines review.
The Hoplon team’s ambition was to take the MOBA genre to a new level or “way beyond” what traditional games of the genre offer. In my opinion, they’ve done that. Converting the concept of a MOBA to a form of vehicular rugby through a lethal obstacle course is definitely not something I have encountered and it made for an interesting transition into a completely different perspective on a battle arena. A chaotic, fast-paced, cyclonic, lose-yourself-in-the-mayhem kind of perspective that is bound to test your ability to focus, let alone your expertise with a completely different aspect of payload deliver with both the bomb and each vehicle’s individual armaments.
Currently, there are three maps (Metal God, Temple of Sacrifice, Cursed Necropolis), each having their own heraldric history and descriptions and all of which are bomb delivery objective maps. At the time of release, there were only the bomb delivery maps, though a promise of more maps and different objectives remains for the future. Each is pretty diverse from the other in regards to road layout and a few obstacle designs, despite having the same objective. The player is given fourteen (originally thirteen and too many to cover individually) different characters to choose from, each with their own backstories, unique vehicles, and theme music of different types of heavy metal that represents their personalities. Each vehicle has a set of three functions to use to affect the game, from momentarily increasing speed, obstructing and blasting opponents, and just causing all around mayhem. The characters and their vehicles are split up into three different types or classes: Transporter, Support, and Interceptor; each with their specific roles and skills for assisting in moving the bomb across the arena and into your opponent’s goal. The specific role intended for each is pretty self-explanatory and hopefully, you will find their skill sets complementary to that role.
Despite the fact that the Supports all seemed to be made of paper, I found that effectiveness related more to an individual’s ability to adapt and properly use the functions of their chosen character. Each character within a class seemed to have unique ways of delivering on that class’s role and depending on your preferred play style and your familiarity with them may or may not live up to the character’s full potential.
A match starts off with two randomly chosen (unless you are grouped with friends) group of four players, with their chosen avatars for that match, with a race type beginning. As the match begins, both teams converge as quickly as they can toward the bomb’s starting location. Using some sort of tractor beam, the first player there takes possession of the bomb and begins a perilous journey towards the other team’s goal. Not only must they traverse through a literal battlefield as the opposing team attempts to acquire the bomb and the possesser’s allies work to stave off opponents, but the winding paths toward each goal are filled with traps and hazards of their own (not to mention forcefields that affect nothing but the bomb, preventing it from being driven straight to the goal). As a defender of either the goal or an ally that currently possesses the bomb, you will also find it in your best interest to avoid these obstacles as certain ones (acid pools for example) will destroy your vehicle. Finding ways to push opposing vehicles into these hazards, however, can be an effective strategy.
The bomb isn’t so much of a danger in and of itself. Despite all it weathers throughout a match, it only explodes when it has crossed a goal line. Kind of a bummer really. Having it explode if it sustains too much damage, simultaneously destroying surrounding vehicles, and having it respawn back at its starting point would add to the challenge and possibly the amusement. However, with the chaotic swirls of metallic death that invariably consume the screen and range across the arena, maybe more challenge could be somewhat daunting.
As mentioned above, you can create teams with your friends, and the game uses your Steam friends list to make it even more convenient. Just like in every other MOBA, creating a team of individuals who have each mastered their roles is the best way to remain competitive. As you play you will gain experience for both the avatar you played with and for your overall level, as well as gaining in-game currency and fame that can be used to purchase aesthetics for your vehicle, vehicle effects, your personal picture frame and so on and so forth. There is also a leveling rewards ladder that allows you to earn certain aesthetics merely by achieving levels. Being a subscriber not only gives you access to greater currency intake but also gives you greater rewards on your leveling ladder. Of course, there is a leaderboard to keep track of your progress in regards to other players, and “seasons” of competition and competition events with which to engage in ranked warfare.
The game’s ambiance is fitting with background heavy metal-like grinds permeating everything, though a lot of it I felt lacked the depth of harshness (or rather, heaviness) that I personally have associated with heavy metal music. To me, the wailing depths of rage and despair are the hallmark of heavy metal, and I felt that in most of the music it was missing, leaving us with a bit of a soothing soft-metal feel that I felt was reminiscent of Diablo 2 or the original StarCraft. This does not mean the music was bad, by any means, just not what I personally expect from Heavy Metal. I actually found it to be somewhat… soothing. Something that might have strongly attributed to my feelings about the music is the fact that the music volume was very low, not just by default, but even after I turned up the music volume I was a bit disappointed in the output.
Overall, the game is definitely fun and reaches the goal of bringing a whole new concept to MOBA type games. The UI design is fairly simplistic yet unique and fitting for the overall game ambiance. The new implementation of mechanics in a fast-paced environment are fairly intuitive and quick to pick up. While it may seem limited at the moment, Hoplon is actively working to expand every aspect of the game from match types to aesthetics and even playable characters. Honestly, I applaud what Hoplon has achieved and look forward to seeing what else they come up with.
Overall Score: 7.5/10
- A new form of MOBA
- Super fast-paced
- Unique Lore
- Low music volume
- Some imbalance to classes
A copy of Heavy Metal Machines was provided by the developers for the purpose of review.