RIGS: Mechanised Combat League does as much right as it does completely wrong.
At its core, RIGS is simple: climb into one of four mech types and shoot at the other team in a variety of 3v3 matches. Slick, Fox Sports-style presentations and charismatic announcers put a polished gleam on the proceedings, making you instantly feel like a professional sports star. It’s hard to deny the excitement in the air when you start things up.
RIGS has three main modes. In Team Takedown, you’re tasked to blow up the other team. Endzone is like Capture the Flag meets American Football, asking you to score touchdowns. Finally, Power Slam relies on the game’s Overdrive feature to score points, turning your RIG into a basketball of sorts. Matches are fast-paced, and finish quite quickly, providing a strong little gameplay loop that’ll keep you coming back for more.
You’ll be introduced to concepts like Overdrive — whereby you power up your mech after three enemy kills – in the overly long tutorial mode. You have three power settings for your RIG, with each focusing on either healing, speed or damage, and Overdrive turns them all on at once. The tutorial also goes out of its way to show you different control options, either using head-tracking to move your RIG from left to right or opting instead to use the right stick on a DualShock 4. With the PlayStation VR’s “image shift” frequently occurring for this reviewer, I opted to use the right stick.
Gameplay takes place in either online or offline leagues, pitting your team of three against those of another team across the three core modes. Offline, you’ll have to hire two additional players, each taking a cut of your winnings as skill levels increase. You’ll use fans and cash to buy additional mechs and sign up for sponsorships that’ll provide pilot customisation options. Sadly, doing well in sponsorships – getting into Overdrive mode twice in a match, as an example – never provide the option to change the appearance of any mech. While you can buy a mech in a variety of themes – one with a shield on its back to protect against attacks, and another that comes with a special that makes grabbing the ball in Endzone a lot easier – they all come as-is.
Offline mode is hit-and-miss, with matches consistently feeling lopsided. I frequently went from a 5-0 win in Endzone straight to an embarrassing 23-3 loss in Power Slam. In the latter match, my mech would unload two full clips into an enemy with zero effect, and my AI teammates were nowhere to be seen. I couldn’t explain how terribly I’d performed. Frustratingly, I beat the opposing team 17-4 in another Endzone immediately afterward. I no idea what had actually changed between matches, and that truly concerned me. In a team-based sports game, I would like to be able to analyse my performance and actually figure out why I was or wasn’t effective, and this is simply impossible offline.
Online mode is a lot better, as you’d expect, with humans piloting every RIG and events playing out far more predictably. You’re also able to do things like change out your RIG between matches, something that you’ll need to go back to the main menu to do in offline.
Either way, ridiculously long, unskippable introductions will hamper your enjoyment, playing out every ahead of every single match. There is only so many times you can watch your teammates fist pump before getting in their mechs to head to the playing field. The same is true post-match, with a tedious MVP dance wasting far too much time. Are the sequences to hide loading screens? Most likely – but regardless, I’d rather a blank loading screen than having to watch those same animations over again.
RIGS: Mechanised Combat League is a good start for PS VR, but it’s clear there’s a long way to go. Offline balancing, virtual reality image shift fixes and a rejig of pre- and post-match presentations should be high on Guerrilla Cambridge’s post-launch support list. Even then, it’s a fun little sports game that provides something other than horror or walking simulators for PlayStation VR. It’s worth checking out if you’re into sports or competitive shooters.
RIGS: Mechanised Combat League was reviewed using a promotional code on PS4 and PlayStation VR, as provided by the publisher.
Review: RIGS: Mechanised Combat League