Review by Tim turner
This week I have had the honour of playing Steamcraft from developers SOFF Games and Last Level Publishing. I have been keeping an eye on the development of this game for some time so when the opportunity to review it came along, I jumped in feet first. I have been an avid player of Robocraft until it recently became pay to win so I have been looking for a replacement. Steamcraft may well be just what I was looking for. Steamcraft is basically a game where you design and build your own steampunk vehicle to take into combat with other players. Choosing from a selection of blocks you build the frame of your vehicle around the vehicle core. You need to protect the core because this is the power source of your vehicle and if it gets destroyed your whole vehicle goes with it. Then you add movement parts such as wheels, tracks or propellers, then add more blocks to make the body shape you want and slap some guns on it and go wreck some face! The only limit to what you can build is your imagination.
You start with a few prebuilt vehicles to get straight into the action with, but I decided to dismantle one and build a well armoured 6-wheeler tank design that seems to work really well. You can buy more parts with silver coins which you earn from playing matches. I was a bit disappointed to find that the range of parts available to begin with is very small so it’s difficult to make anything that looks steampunk in style. You need to reach level 14 before most of the good-looking blocks are available and even then they are too expensive to buy. I was regularly winning matches with top score getting over 15 kills most matches (the AI is easy to kill as you shoot their guns off and they run towards you! hehe!) and the most silver coins I got was 350 which is enough for 1 pipe! I feel this needs to be changed quickly or people will soon lose interest. I don’t mind games that have a certain amount of grind to them, but I feel that the cosmetic parts in this game are what gives it its core style and should be readily available. At the moment you have to pay coins to unlock the part and then more coins to buy it.
I unlocked some spikes for 300 coins only to find out they are 875 coins to buy. This seems to be the case with most of the blocks which is rather misleading and annoying. It feels like the system was designed to be microtransaction based but the funding model changed, and the building system didn’t get the memo. Small annoyances aside the building system works really well and anyone that has played Robocraft or Scrap Mechanic will take to it instantly. It’s just like Lego so even without experience it’s a doddle to use. The best feature is the mirror mode meaning everything you do is mirrored over the centre line allowing you to concentrate on one side knowing the other side will match exactly. There are options to allow odd or even numbers of blocks when using mirror mode which was lacking from Robocraft and is a great addition here!
Vehicles are assigned a class from 1 to 5 based on the types of blocks used in the construction with the game assigning the level of the highest class part used. This means that you can’t stick high class guns on low class vehicles and go seal clubbing in the lower ranks. Well done developers for this one as this was always a problem in Robocraft! The main issue again is the grind to level up and having put 11 hours into playing matches I am only level 10 and have no currency left after upgrading the blocks in my vehicle. Oh yes, I forgot to mention this little button in the build bay! There is a button marked modification and when you click it you can upgrade any of the blocks in your vehicle so rather than having to rebuild to increase armour rating the game will swap all the blocks for the type you choose such as pine to oak. This is a great feature meaning you can change the class of a vehicle at the click of a button without rebuilding. I can’t wait to get into the higher level of blocks suck as alloy steel because they look amazing and would really bring the steampunk setting to life!
The steampunk setting is my second little disappointment and it comes from the fact that there isn’t much of a steampunk feel to the game so far. The build bay has big steam pumps in it but looks more like an old factory than the grand industrial plant filled with tesla coils and weird Jules Verne type contraptions I was hoping for. The maps are where I feel the developer have missed the mark and although they are very well designed and varied, they feel more like a map from PUBG than anything steampunk. There are buildings on some of the maps but none of them look steampunk in style which is such a shame. There could have been tesla coils that have area effects round them or big pumps that shake the ground round them adding so much more to the feel of the game. Sadly, it ended up feeling like any other vehicle combat game. Don’t get me wrong it’s a great game and probably the best of its type at the moment but with a few tweaks here and there it could have been mind-blowingly great!
The combat itself works well with 5 weapon types, machine gun, rail gun, tesla, rocket launcher and mortar. The machine gun works well at all ranges, although accuracy isn’t great at long distance it is still effective but will overheat if you’re not careful leaving you vulnerable. The rail gun is basically a sniper rifle with very long range and high damage output but slow fire rate. The tesla is a short-range weapon which sends arcs of lightning towards anything in range meaning precise aim isn’t an issue. I feel a lot of player that use this will be called Noob by other players as is the case with most auto aim weapons in other games! The rocket launcher and mortar are still a mystery to me as I have not unlocked them yet. You can only have one weapon type on a vehicle and they only fire one at a time so multiple weapons are redundant and doesn’t seem to affect damage output or fire rate. I would have preferred to be able to have 2 weapon types per vehicle, but I guess the dev’s want to keep things more simple. I think the rail gun will become over used in this game with everybody camping on hilltops due to the huge damage output. Personally, I like the machine gun combined with a fast, well armoured vehicle as I find racing round the map picking off strays to be the most enjoyable way to play!
The main question is whether or not you should buy this game. Well the answer is simple! Yes! It’s £12.99 on steam and there are no pay to win elements so for me it’s a must buy! If you like games of this type, you will love this game as it takes the best parts of each and blends them together. Once you put the time in to unlock the higher-class blocks, I think the steampunk element will shine through more and provide increased enjoyment down the line. Multiple game modes will keep you happy in battle and only your imagination (and silver coins) will limit your building experience. It’s a great game that will surely pull in a tonne of players from Robocraft and Crossout and possibly develop into a big success. At the moment I would score the game at 8.5 out of 10.
If the maps were more “steampunk” and the cosmetic blocks were cheaper then it would be 10/10. Either way it’s my replacement for Robocraft and I will probably do a follow up in a few months when I’ve got more hours into the game and more chance to see how the community grows with it.