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Review: Archangel: Hellfire Really Makes You Feel Like You’re Controlling a Mech

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There are lots of games that let you take control of giant mechs, but there aren’t many games that truly convey the feel of being in one.

That’s the thing that Archangel: Hellfire does well. And that’s why it has quickly become one of my favourite VR experiences.

The full package

Available now for both Oculus Rift and HTC Vive on PC, Archangel: Hellfire is the complete package. It has an on-rails single-player mode with a story and plenty of hair-raising set pieces. It has a four-player horde mode so you can team up with your friends online and cause some mischief. And it also has 1v1 and 2v2 competitive modes for those who like more organic opposition. However you like to play, it has you covered.

Anyone new to the game is probably best getting started with the single-player mode. While it’s on-rails whereas multiplayer isn’t, it lets you get to grips with many of the game’s basics in a more laid back environment. Requiring motion controllers, you can move both of your mech’s arms independently. To attack, you can either clench your fists and punch, or make use of the weapons attached to each arm.

Initially, you have a machine gun on one arm and rockets on the other. Thankfully you can’t run out of ammo for either; it simply replenishes while you’re not firing. As you progress through the story, however, you unlock new weapons with which to take the fight to the enemy. You can also upgrade your mech, boosting your survivabilty.

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Hard to pick up, even harder to master

Make no mistake about it though, Archangel: Hellfire‘s single-player mode is hard. You can defend yourself from enemy attack with each arm by putting up shields, but not for too long. To succeed then, you need to learn when to attack and when to defend effectively. It sounds easy, but when you’ve also got to be ever aware of enemies moving around you, changing weapons, and keeping tabs on your health and ammo, it can become overwhelming. Over time, piloting your mech becomes more like second nature though.

Once the story is over, which will take somewhere between three to five hours for most players, you’ll be in a much better position to jump into the game’s multiplayer modes. Aside from getting used to moving the six giant mechs available in multiplayer around the environments while doing everything else, however, you’ll also need to adjust to the fact that the controller mapping is totally different. You’ll find that you can no longer clench your fist to punch, for example. Instead, the button usually used to clench your fist will put up your shield. But at least you’ll be familiar with the basic mechanics of shooting and covering your metal ass.

Team Assault mode is a good place to start your Archangel: Hellfire multiplayer endeavours, allowing you to work with team mates to eliminate the enemy threat rather than being shot down by them. It works like any good horde mode should, offering waves of enemies that increase in difficulty. And only by working with your team mates will you put up some long-lasting resistance. Horde mode is also a good place to familiarise yourself with the special abilities that are on offer, each giving the mech they’re associated with a certain edge. It’s just a shame there’s currently only one map available.

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Play with me

When you’re finally comfortable with moving, shooting and defending yourself, competitive multiplayer awaits. Three maps are currently available, and with battles being only one-on-one or two-on-two, they’re tense and very much skill-based; there’s not much chance to catch players off-guard and score an easy win. Also, considering the mechs you’re piloting are great big hulking pieces of metal, combat is surprisingly fast-paced, especially between experienced players. You’ll need to boost around the environment, effectively using your shields and employing the weapons appropriate to the situation to emerge victorious. It’s undoubtedly challenging, but there’s nothing else quite like it available right now.

When everything works as it should, you get the feeling that this is what VR was made for, but any instance of lag can be a disorienting problem. Finding matches is also a bit troublesome at the moment, but hopefully it’ll improve as more players pick up the game. And there’s no reason why Archangel: Hellfire‘s multiplayer component shouldn’t become more active – its PvP modes are free. You only need to buy the full game to access single player and Team Assault mode, which you can also play by yourself if you wish. It makes it rather difficult though.

Overall then, while Archangel: Hellfire‘s single player mode is undoubtedly entertaining, its multiplayer modes are where the game really comes into its own. By allowing free movement, it really feels like it’s giving you control of your very own mech; a walking mass of destruction. It’s just a shame that its multiplayer modes aren’t all that active at the moment. Needless to say, if you’ve got a VR headset and a machine capable of running it, download the game’s free demo and give it a go. You’ve got nothing to lose, and you never know, you might just discover your new favourite mech game.

Archangel: Hellfire is available on PC. It requires an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive headset and motion controllers.
Editor in Chief // An avid gamer since discovering the wonders of the Acorn Electron in the '80s, Rich has nearly played more games than he's had hot dinners. Not one to put all his eggs in one basket, Rich is happy to play games of all genres, but he particularly enjoys racing games and anything that's full of non-stop action, especially if it includes a good dose of humour, horror or crudeness!