The Robot Arena franchise has been delivering BattleBots-like robotic combat for decades. I can still remember playing the first Robot Arena game after installing my friend’s copy; that was back in the old days when you just needed one disc and all the neighborhood kids could install from that one copy. Now with Robot Arena III released in Early Access on Steam, the sparks will fly, steel will bend, metal will be crushed, and parts will break… hopefully those parts refer to the actual bot parts, and not buggy aspects of a newly-released game.
Robot Arena III will place you back in the arena for robot combat, and allow you to create, design and build your own battling robots. The game currently features one on one competitive multiplayer, with four-player multiplayer coming in June. Robot Arena III features updated physics and graphics to make a realistic robot combat simulation game, or that is the hope for indie Publisher “Octopus Tree.”
Robot Arena III Key Features:
- Design, Build and Customize: Create your own unique robotic creation in the Bot Lab. Every aspect of your robot can be customized, Including chassis shape, armor type, power sources, locomotion, a huge variety of weapons and much more!
- Get Into the Arena: Test your creations and head into the arena for one-on-one or group robot battles.
- Multiplayer Gameplay: Go up against other robots in the Arena! Play cooperatively or competitively with other machines with online multiplayer.
- Steam Workshop Support: Upload and share your robotic creations to the Robot Arena III community via Steam Workshop!
- New Physics and Graphics: New physics and graphics make Robot Arena III the most realistic and advanced robot combat simulation title.
I had the chance to first go hands-on with Robot Arena III at PAX East 2016 in a test build version of the game. It certainly had its flaws and bugs, but I chalked it up to it being an early-development PAX East build. But after using my current preview version of the early access game, I can confirm that several bugs still remain, unfortunately. The game certainly could show some promise if it wasn’t for all of the problems it has. For starters, the A.I. bots only seem to do what they’re supposed to about 60 or 70% of the time (should be 100% of the time). I played the soccer map, as an example, and after I quickly put the ball in the goal, everything in the game just kind of stopped right then and there as the match timer counted down.
Occasionally I would also do nothing and win because a deadly-looking A.I. bot somehow managed to flip itself over and proceed to then commit robot-seppuku until the match’s end. The game also lists partial controller support, but really the only part of the controller that successfully worked for me was the joystick movement, and that was questionable. With a classic franchise like Robot Arena now in its third installment, you never want to see/hear that it is a jumbled mess, but I’m afraid to say that it is a jumbled mess in its current state.
On a positive note, there have been a few game updates pushed to Steam by the developers, and it is still early in the game’s life. I personally wish a developer would take the time to fix bugs and really polish a game to be much more usable than this before launching it into Early Access, but it is nice to know that they are listening to player feedback with Robot Arena III. The bot creator shows promise and it will be wonderful to see other users’ creations on the Steam Workshop, but right now there are a lot of issues with the interface and mechanics in the bot creation process. There are also some pretty interesting arenas and hazards in the game, and a decent-sized level selection. Most of the time, the camera is functioning very well and can give us some neat viewing angles that we might not have had in previous Robot Arena games.
You can see the potential is there, but the game’s glitches and usability issues render it currently not playable. If the developers are able to fix the bugs and really polish this game to completion, I think it would certainly be worth it for franchise fans and new players alike to check it out. I would personally suggest staying away until then, as you do not want to taint your experience with this game by playing it un-finished.