Supreme Commander 2

Whether you like hardcore simulation and strategy or the explosive thrill of mecha anime, games about big stompy robots have always had a home on PC. And with MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries and the turn-based BattleTech coming in 2018, it's never been a better time to be a fan of games about 100-ton death machines.

While mech games span all kinds of genres, they are bound together by the simple truth that piloting suits of mechanized armor into combat is a fantasy that never gets old. It's an aesthetic that dates back decades to the very first MechWarrior in 1989 and now lives on in newer games like Titanfall 2 and Brigador. That's why we've rounded up a diverse selection of our favorite mech games spanning multiple genres—from the traditional hardcore sim to button-mashing character action. Whatever your preference, there's a mech game for you.

Titanfall 2 

Respawn Entertainment gave mech games a much-needed adrenaline shot when it released Titanfall in 2014, but it's Titanfall 2 that fully realized the potential of a shooter that contrasts parkour running and gunning with slow, strategic mech combat. What came as a complete shock, however, is that Titanfall 2's campaign turned out to be one of the best the FPS genre has seen in years.

Titanfall 2's campaign turned out to be one of the best the FPS genre has seen in years.

Each level is an inventive execution on a single brilliant idea, like snapping back and forth between the past and present, that binds together a surprisingly affecting story about the bond between a pilot and his loyal mech companion. It's not nearly as tear-jerking as The Iron Giant, sure, but Titanfall 2 proves that even a story about giant steel robots can have a lot of heart.

Sadly, Titanfall 2 also became one of the bigger gaming tragedies of 2016. Despite packing in a much more robust multiplayer, the sequel couldn't compete against the other popular shooters of that year and its population quickly declined. Don't make the mistake of thinking Titanfall 2 is dead, however. It's multiplayer community is small, but there's still plenty of players in the more popular modes like Attrition—meaning Titanfall 2 is still one of the best mech games ever released.

MechWarrior Online 

MechWarrior Online inherited the august legacy of classic titles like MechWarrior 2 and MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries—both games we’d love to include in this list if they weren’t so damn hard to get running on modern hardware. But make no mistake, MechWarrior Online is a great mech game in its own right. The free-to-play shooter might not have a singleplayer campaign, but it captures the tense thrill of attrition-based warfare in its excellent competitive matches.

Each game is a 12v12 slugfest that ends with players earning currency and experience, and customizing their rides in between rounds. While that comes with its own share of problems like a long grind and microtransactions, MechWarrior Online excels at capturing the slow pace of combat that made the series so revered to begin with.  

Unlike most first-person shooters out there, where players can correct their mistakes with lightning quick reflexes, your life in MechWarrior often hangs with decisions made 30 seconds ago. Being behind the wheel of a lumbering robot makes it impossible to get yourself out of trouble once you get into it, making cooperation with teammates a crucial part of victory.

With an overly complex skill tree and an unintuitive menu system, MechWarrior Online isn't exactly friendly to newcomers. But it has a devoted community that is genuinely welcoming to newbies and has created abundant out-of-game resources to get new MechWarriors up to speed. And once you've gotten everything figured out you'll be able to customize hundreds of different mechs with over a hundred unique weapons systems, with all of it steeped in rich lore born from a classic game franchise.

Strike Suit Zero 

There’s an appeal to the lumbering tank-like combat of some mech games, but Strike Suit Zero captures the thrill of piloting an agile death machine packed with more missile launchers than the entire US Navy fleet. It’s space-faring Japanese mecha at its best.

You start off piloting a fairly standard space fighter, but pretty soon come across an experimental piece of military hardware called the Strike Suit. This suit is capable of switching between fighter mode, where you to fly about space Freelancer-style, and giant killer robot mode where you turn into a Macross-style mecha capable of taking down clouds of enemy fighters at the touch of a button.

The first time you line up your crosshairs on some 30-plus incoming enemy fighters and let loose that wave of missiles will give you chills. It's a mech power fantasy unlike anything else. Power, agility, and flitting from objective to objective while raining death and destruction wherever you go makes you feel like a robot god. And things get even more intense when you start taking on capital ships—the miles-long battlecruisers that will make you look like a bug, but never feeling like one. Thanks to two capital-ship-busting autocannons, you can crack open that battlecruiser faster than they can shout "nani?!" 

MechCommander 

BattleTech is the fantasy of being a warrior-engineer. You trade missiles and lasers with other bipedal tanks, you win or lose, and then you head back to the drawing board to repair damage, refit weapons, reallocate armor, and rethink your all-PPC 80-tonner.

I love the rhythm of the combat the plentiful gaps as mechs take a breath to reload, rotate, or take aim.

MechCommander was the first game in the series to add 'tactician' to that job description, and it holds up remarkably well as a real-time tactics game. Over dozens of escort, search and destroy, and scouting missions, you command as many as three lances (12 mechs) at a time, waypointing them away from explosive fuel drums and out of the range of turrets as you duel with light, medium, heavy, and assault-class enemy mechs. I love the rhythm of the combat—the plentiful gaps as mechs take a breath to reload, rotate, or take aim. In those moments, you're anticipating an arm being blown off, or whether your Raven will dodge that Gauss cannon.

While MechCommander's progression system for pilots is limited by modern standards, mechwarriors can permanently die, have a set of individual voice lines (the death cry of Rooster, a clumsy yokel, is particularly haunting), and are charming enough. More fun is the battlefield work of trying to shave off just enough of that enemy Masakari or Thor so that you can salvage it, repair it, and bring it into your next battle.

MechCommander is abandonware—get MechCommander Gold, which includes a built-in level editor. Watch this six-minute Windows 10 tutorial to get it running properly. 

Iron Brigade 

Double Fine's not-quite-a-tower-defense-game spin on mechs is one of the most unique thanks largely to its campy B-movie vibe and WW1-era aesthetic. Don't make the mistake of thinking Iron Brigade is yet another tower defense game where you place rows of static defenses that usher waves of stupid enemies into killboxes, however. Yes, each level has you fighting off waves of aliens, and yes there are towers, but your primary defense is your hulking mech that you stomp around in as aliens rush your defenses—and it's simply a ton of fun.

There's a good deal of variety to play around with too. Your mech can equip a variety of different weapons that each bring a distinctive kind of destruction to the battlefield, and there's always an upgrade to work towards in between each mission. There's a balance that you'll want to maintain, however, as more powerful mechs mean weaker stationary tower defenses. New enemy types are readily introduced as well, which gives Iron Brigade a steady pace that makes it hard to pull yourself away from.

But the real star of this show is the weird B-movie quality of the characters and writing. Mech games are often gloomy and overly serious, but Double Fine brings a fun absurdity that perfectly complements the simplistic joy of blowing aliens back to hell.

Supreme Commander 2 

When it comes to sheer scale, nothing compares to Supreme Commander 2. This real-time strategy game is the exact opposite of the intimate brawling of MechCommander, instead reveling in the chaos as legions of robot units blast each other across sea, sky, and land. Battles frequently feature hundreds—if not thousands—of units that you can customize in real-time to adapt to your enemy's strategy. And if that weren't cool enough, you can even build towering experimental units—colossus-sized mechs that dwarf everything else on the battlefield.

With hundreds of units to manage, Supreme Commander 2 can be intimidating for those who already struggle to keep up with RTS games. Fortunately, an improved UI and the ability to instantly zoom out to see the entire battlefield help to keep things manageable even when fighting on multiple fronts while managing production chains. There's a lot of depth here too, as each faction has their own strategies, like the Cybran navy's ability to sprout legs and walk on land.

While the campaign serves as a good introduction to all these layers of strategy, Supreme Commander 2 really shines while skirmishing in multiplayer or against the AI. If you can find a friend to play against, few games will rival the insane scale of Supreme Commander's battles.

Brigador

Brigador is the rare kind of game that feels both nostalgic and refreshingly modern. Its '80s synthwave soundtrack, isometric angle, and gritty retro sci-fi aesthetic mask a brutally punishing indie roguelike that revels in chaos and destruction. When it originally launched in 2016, it was so difficult that it was actually hard to enthusiastically recommend, but the recent Up-Armored edition smooths that curve out while adding even more mechs, pilots, and missions to an already robust game.

No matter how you approach combat, Brigador always shines in the moment-to-moment action.

With over 56 mechs to pilot and 40 weapons, there's an intimidating amount of customization and playstyles to account for. While the temptation to go in guns blazing is always present, hit-and-run guerilla tactics are often the better strategy. No matter how you approach combat, Brigador always shines in the moment-to-moment action. It's both extremely fast-paced and precise, and you'll need to choose your shots carefully even as you frantically weave down city streets avoiding fire from dozens of enemy units.

The appeal of mech games has always been closely tied with their destructive firepower—the ability to level entire city blocks with the push of a button—and Brigador captures this sensation wonderfully. Environments are fully destructible, and it's a literal blast being able smash through a skyscraper rather than skirt around it. It's still a punishing game where one split-second mistake can spell defeat, but Brigador rewards those who can stomach its challenge.

Psychonauts

It was a year ago, almost to the day, that Double Fine showed off some Psychonauts 2 "prototype gameplay" in a recreated version of the original game's summer camp. The elements on display "looked nice but weren’t designed to be part of the full game," the studio explained in a Fig update. "They were simple spaces that didn’t incorporate any of the tricky platforming and open exploration we want to be be central to Psychonauts 2." The new video released today, however, is much closer to what the final game will deliver. 

"The 'First Playable' is an area of the game that we’ve built to test our new pipelines and workflows across all departments—art, animation, tech, design, cinematics, etc," Double Fine wrote. "We’ve tested all of this a lot during pre-production, but this is our first big attempt to create a fully arted up, fully playable chunk of gameplay with all the systems, art, gameplay, and tech working in the same place." 

The segment is basically a "vertical slice," although the studio isn't using that term because it implies "a level of polish and completeness" that isn't currently there. But it's a fully playable area with "player movement, combat, quests, experience, UI all working together with scratch dialogue and audio, some rough visual effects, textures, lighting, even a cut-scene," which enables the studio to test and iterate on the systems—and show off what it's doing. 

There is, around the midpoint of the video, an unexpectedly up-close look at a goat butthole, and it's not entirely just a cheap joke: The Fig update also digs into "how a goat gets made," from simple sketches to more detailed drawings, a 3D model, texturing, and animation, which actually involved a real visit to a goat farm so the subtleties and nuances of goat movement could be properly captured.   

"It takes nine goats to the say the F-word," Double Fine boss Tim Schafer explained helpfully. "I've done a lot of goat porn. Graffiti. Goat porn graffiti." 

Double Fine is also "pretty close" to sharing details on backer rewards, which it expects will be shipped out in three batches: "One batch of stuff that doesn’t take too long to make (shirts for example), another batch of stuff for the more complex or custom things (like action figures) and a final batch for stuff that requires the game to be complete." Backer surveys should start arriving "really soon," it added. 

Psychonauts 2 is still far from a proper release date, but the last time we looked it had an "estimated delivery" window of summer 2018. More information about what's cooking is up at psychonauts.com

Psychonauts

The Humble Store is giving away another old-time classic as part of its End of Summer Sale: Psychonauts, the Double Fine adventure-platformer about a kid with a cool hat who goes off to summer camp.   

I have mixed feelings about Psychonauts. I loved the writing, the voice acting, and the bizarre, beautiful game world that was filled with things to discover. But the platforming could be repetitive, and often outright infuriating. I never did finish it—I ran out of patience midway through the godawful Meat Circus, and decided I was close enough to the end to call it a day. 

I've never gone back, in part because I don't want to spoil the magic of the memories, but "free" is awfully tempting, and according to the Wiki the level has been made considerably easier in the Steam release. Which is what you'll get with this Humble freebie: Go here, add it to your cart, and after you check out you'll be emailed a Steam code.   

Since we're here, a few other Humble Store deals of note:

The Humble Store End of Summer Sale runs until 10 am PT on September 21, while Psychonauts will be free until the same time on September 16. 

Some online stores give us a small cut if you buy something through one of our links. Read our affiliate policy for more info.

Psychonauts - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Jamie Wallace)

psycho

As one of the last hoorah’s of Humble’s End of Summer Sale, the store is currently offering Tim Schafer’s classic mind-entering platform game Psychonauts absolutely free. (more…)

Psychonauts - Spaff
With Psychonauts 2 now in full development, it's about time you finally played the game that everyone's been talking about non stop for more than 10 years now!
Community Announcements - Spaff
6 years ago today Stacking was released into the world! To celebrate we've put the game on sale for 90% off! Happy Birthday Stacking!
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

An odd feeling – this thing we prayed for for years, and which seemed such an impossibility, is now happening. And not just happening: it felt like a foregone conclusion from the second it was announced. With $3.35 million pledged by crowdfunders and investors, it looks like Psychonauts 2, Double Fine’s sequel to their acclaimed 2005 adventure-platformer, will become a reality at last.

… [visit site to read more]

PC Gamer

Following the recent announcement of a crowdfunding campaign for Psychonauts 2, Double Fine and 2 Player Productions put out a three-part documentary about the origins of the original game. It s a lovely, candid look at how Tim Schafer and co. scraped together their first platformer without much of a clue how to pull it off. I ve yet to watch part three which just came out, but based on the previous installments it will be a fascinating combination of old footage from the game's development, other stuff from Double Fine s early years, and some hokey Tim-Schaferisms.

Rarely does the public get quite this sort of inside look at game development, particularly these days. A particular note of interest: Psychonauts was actually cancelled after leadership roles shifted at Microsoft, and some of their feedback said that the game might be too funny for a wide audience. Luckily, Double Fine finally secured a deal with Majesco to publish.

Watch the Psychonauts Retrospective: The Color of the Sky in Your World, parts 2 and 3 below.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (John Walker)

Remember back in 2012 when Notch was like, “I could fund a Psychonauts 2!” and Double Fine were all, “Cool! $18m please!” and Notch was all, “Shiiiit, I was thinking more 25p, and – wow, look, an octopus on a tricycle!”? Well, that’s all history now.

Double Fine are looking to make Psychonauts 2. They’re after $3.3m from backers, alongside their own investment, plus external funding from a mysterious, possibly legal party. More Psychonauts! There’s a trailer too, of sorts.

… [visit site to read more]

PC Gamer

Psychonauts 2 was announced at The Game Awards today, albeit in a roundabout way. It's not officially guaranteed to happen yet, with a $3,300,000 crowdfunding campaign underway on Fig. But Fig will only provide one portion of the development funds. Double Fine will be providing a big portion of the funds themselves and an unnamed outside partner will be providing the remainder. 

The campaign page is live now, and is ticking up at a pretty quick rate. Rewards are doled out in tiers, similar to Kickstarter, and you can pick up the game, once/if it's completed, for $33 bucks. Donate enough to be an official investor, and you can pick up a piece of the profits.

Be sure to watch The PC Gamer Show next Tuesday, as we'll be talking to Tim Schafer himself. Join us as we try to take a peek into the industry veteran's mind about Double Fine's surprising endeavor. 

Watch the pitch video below.

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