ROBOCRAFT – Free doesn’t mean cheap

Triple A is a term usually reserved for the $80 video games that kids demand for Christmas, but there is a new trend growing with the successes of multi-million dollar developers such as Riot Games and

Free-to-play is a new model of online gaming which gives players access to everything a game has to offer without the user paying a single penny. You have the option of accelerating in-game progress with the purchase of a “Premium” account, but it is not required and gives no other advantages.

As little as five years ago, a free game meant a casual game – the kind you find on Facebook that is designed to waste a few minutes of your life. Meanwhile, hard-core gamers were under the spell of huge franchises such as World of Warcraft or Call of Duty and spending countless hours struggling for global progression in the online community.

The variety and complexity of today’s free-toplay titles is astounding.

The top free-to-play games at the moment are: World of Tanks, War Thunder, DOTA 2, League of Legends, Path of Exile and Hearthstone.

If you are looking for a free game that offers something fresh and unique, however, you should try Robocraft. The game is only 250 megabytes and it took just a few minutes

to download, sign up and play. Unfortunately the game is so good I ended up doing nothing else for a week.

At first glance, Robocraft seems simple enough – you design and build your own robot and then take it into battle against other players online – but it’s actually very complex. You start as a pre-designed Tier 1 Robot/vehicle and can enter battle immediately. After a few battles, you can upgrade your ship by unlocking better armour, weapons and movement.

This is where it gets good. The Robot ship is entirely made of 3D cubes very reminiscient of Minecraft.

You can add and remove pieces of your ship block by block. For anyone who has sentimental feelings about Lego, this game would be enjoyable enough in the garage alone as you design limitless types of crafts, but taking your creation into battle is absolutely fun. I have seen robots that look like Sta Wars ships, vertical towers bristling with guns, a perfectly modelled A-10 Warthog, and even an exact replica of the Ice-cream truck – but with guns.

Players enter combat and are automatically assigned a team to fight against real opponents.

A game can have up to 15 players per side and it is over when either all enemies are destroyed or your team captures the enemy base.

As you battle other robots and take damage, chunks of your ship will get blown away. Gone is the old-fashioned idea of hit points; when there is nothing left to your ship, it is all over. At one point my fearsome craft was reduced to nothing but a pilot seat and two wheels, but I kept givin’r, doing donuts on the battlefield, laughing and trying to stay alive. After it is over your robot is repaired and you are able to enter combat once again.

Unlocking new technology with Research Points allows entrance into the higher levels and your options become even more staggering. For example, at Tier 4, high-powered rail guns with one-shot killing power become available.

There are flight options such as thrusters, wings and rudders at Tier 5.

Upon unlocking tier 7, you have access to spider-like walker legs that allow you to climb over mountainous terrain. It seems like the indie game-developer Freejam has thought of everything. Although it was just released in April 2014, Robocraft has picked up momentum and already has 400,000 registered users.

The game is still in Alpha development and has HUGE potential to become one of the best free-to-play games in the future. I’m keeping my eye on this one.

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