Heavy Gear Assault is a free to play sequel to Activision’s PC mech series, which were in turn based on the tabletop wargame and RPG setting. It’s being developed a group of individuals named MekTek Studios, some of whom have variously worked on Mechwarrior 2, Heavy Gear 2, Far Cry, Crysis, Mortal Kombat, Stranglehold and Splinter Cell. So that’s something.
It’ll be digitally published by new Canadian company Stompy Bot Productions, but not before they’ve asked you to pledge somewhere between $15 and $10,000 to their cause - though I’m a bit fuzzy on exactly how much they’re asking for.
“We feel Heavy Gear is long overdue for a new title and the time is now right for it,” write Stompy Bot on the Heavy Gear site. “We want to push the envelope of what is possible and produce a creatively pure game for gamers. This is why we are throwing ourselves to the mercy of the PC gamer community and offering you a chance to be part of something huge.”
Large publishers think that mech games are long dead, say Stompy Bot, who very obviously don’t agree.
“We aim to prove them wrong and to show them that the community has a demand for them,” they write. “We want to push the technological envelope and show everyone what a Mech game ought to be. We aim to change the game industry around and give it a new perspective.”
Heavy Gear Assault’s pledge system asks backers to pick from 17 titled ‘reward’ tiers, beginning at $15 and ranging up into many zeros. Each comes with a copy of the game upon its release, and the upper tiers feature Kickstarter-like promises including one-on-one meetings with key developers or in-game characters designed in your likeness. It’s not made precisely clear what you might be funding or where the end goal is - though a series of stretch goals are already listed. I’d advise due caution until there’s more information available.
Stompy Bot have adopted a free to play model, but clearly want nothing to do with some of that term’s less salubrious connotations and so have coined the phrase “free to choose”. The idea is that players can enjoy all of Heavy Gear Assault without paying a thing, but can purchase upgrades and items if they so desire - and “nothing will be available that will break the balance of the game”.
Despite this, the publisher will be offering a Premium Subscription, which will provide a “large number of advantages” to those who do pay - namely exclusive game content, faster XP and in-game currency acquisition, discounts on items and invitations to tournaments and events. Not all of which sounds like the free to play ideal touted elsewhere, I have to say.
So: it looks like there’s a new metal man game on the horizon, mounted with heavy duty pedigree. What lurks beneath its gleaming chassis remains to be seen. Any thoughts?