MetalCore is an upcoming free-to-play online open-world mech game that takes inspiration from PlanetSide 2 and Battlefield. It offers a slew of customization options, from different classes to loadouts and of course, giant mechs. MetalCore, much like battle royale games, takes place on a large open-world map, but instead of implementing elimination-style mechanics, it features live events all around the world, encouraging players to move to specific locations at any given time. MetalCore will also utilize NFTs in the final version, but at this point, it’s unclear if they’ll be fully integrated by the time game is released. At PAX West 2022, Inverse went hands-on with MetalCore, and although the NFTs still seem a bit dubious and unspecific, the gameplay itself shows promise.
Ambition and promise
MetalCore’s general gameplay loop is ambitious, dumping players into a massive open world to partake in various events that change periodically. As part of the PAX West demo, players had access to a domination-style event, which tasked them with capturing different points around the map. Throughout the event, players were able to utilize a large variety of mechs, from fast ground vessels to massive tanks and even flying ships.
You start off on foot and have to manually enter one of the mechs, which spawn close to your base. In the demo, there were limited mechs available to all players from a shared pool, but in the full version, you’ll have access to your own set with whichever loadouts you create. It pays to have many different loadout types at your base to handle all the different enemy mechs that might attack you.
While the demo only gave players access to the domination objective, developer Studio 369 told Inverse that other events will appear frequently in the full version, including ones that are similar to raids from MMOs. These different events will come and go, encouraging players to jump in at specific times. But because everything is constantly in flux, it feels like a living, breathing world.
Room for fine-tuning
While engaging in battles against AI bots and other players is certainly fun, there was a lot of downtime in our experience, particularly when it came to waiting for respawn timers to count down. Even the trek from your base to the action felt egregious. For a major portion of the demo, there was a disproportionate amount of waiting compared to combat.
Sure, these are the kinds of things that might be cured by increased player counts and launch server stability, but still.
The weapons available in the demo didn’t utilize ammo, but rather, energy that recharges over time. You can fire your weapon as long as you have energy, but once it hits zero, you have to wait for it to recharge. I encountered many situations in which I ran out of energy in the middle of a firefight, which was frustrating. The base premise of constantly recharging ammo is interesting, but there needs to be some serious tweaks made or some other mechanic to help balance things out.
Considering MetalCore is still in a pre-alpha state, many of these minor gripes can certainly be fixed, as the developer is still fine-tuning various mechanics before launch.
A glaring flaw
The minor gameplay issues are ones that can be adjusted, but the game’s NFTs, which are fundamentally baked into MetalCore’s DNA, could become problematic in the full version.
The PAX West demo didn’t showcase the NFTs, so it’s unclear how they will work in practice, but based on what Studio 369 explained to Inverse, it seems the developer is still figuring out how the monetization will come together.
Design Director Jon Cooper tells Inverse the NFTs are “not just cosmetic” and will impact gameplay. NFTs include various infantry classes, tanks, aircraft, and mechs.
But the team says it plans to keep things as fair as possible. The NFTs “will be balanced so that MetalCore will definitely avoid being ‘pay to win,’” Cooper says.
Studio 369 also says users will be able to earn NFTs by simply playing, without spending money. These in-game items can be transferred to other players and sold within the game — or at least, that’s the plan currently. Since Inverse didn’t get to actually see these NFTs or specific examples of them during the demo, it’s tough to say if they will indeed be as balanced as Studio 369 says they will be.
MetalCore is aiming for a full release on PC in 2023.