You know what's cool? Giant robots. You know what's even cooler? Creating your own giant robots. This is the core thesis behind Robocraft, an incredibly popular free to play title developed by Freejam Games. While I'd never checked out Robocraft before E3 2017, I figured the announcement of Robocraft: Infinity—the new, one-time-purchase re-release of the title for Xbox One and PC—would be the perfect time to correct that. I was able to grab a rather lengthy session with Freejam, where I got the chance to build a robot and lead him into battle, all backed by the glorious sounds of in-depth mecha discussion (These guys really like their robots).
The first stop in Robocraft: Infinity's demo was laying the groundwork for the super fighting robot that I'd come to mentally dub the MS-017 R.A.P.T.O.R., a bipedal weapons system sporting twin machine guns (I would've gone with extendable boxing gloves, but alas, no such option yet exists) and a nice protective coat of electro-shields. Building is very much like what you'd expect from a game with "craft" in its title, with the player placing parts and blocks down in first person to build a robo from the ground-up. A particularly cool mechanic is a mirror mode of sorts, which allows you to place a block on one side of the line, and another will pop up on the exact opposite side of the line, allowing you to easily create a perfectly symmetrical robot to pilot.
Once I got my (admittedly kinda scrawny) robot built, I went to work on the most important thing: making it pretty. Thanks to a pretty damn robust selection of pieces and cosmetics, I was able to turn MS-017 R.A.P.T.O.R. from a clunky hunk of junk to a clunky hunk of junk with green paint and cool light trail thingamabobs. It was around here that I asked if Robocraft Infinity's building system had funnels, and when communications manager Andy Griffiths (no relation) said yes, I realized I could make my dreams of building the Nu Gundam come true.
I then realized that funnels would look really dumb on my blocky ED-209ish robot and jumped right into a player vs AI match, where the MS-017 R.A.P.T.O.R. was able to blast away at the AI opponents that are, of Andy's own admission, "pretty stupid" at this point in time. However, a few missing brain cells in the baddies wasn't enough to make the combat any less fun, with a modular damage system that lets players rip the pieces off of enemy robots with concentrated gunfire. Over the course of the deathmatch, I mostly talked Gundam with Andy (because of course I did) while hunting down enemy robots, then blowing them to kingdom come with MS-017 R.A.P.T.O.R.'s guns. It's a really fun, really simple combat system that I imagine is fun to play with friends, but for now, I can only wait for Robocraft: Infinite to release in Q1 2018.