Aside from the recent PC release of Mech Warrior 5 in 2021, there’s been a distinct shortage of games about giant robots duking it out in space. Don’t get me wrong: Titanfall and its sequel were delightful in how they spliced tight first-person shooting with pilotable mechs that one could summon from the sky. Meanwhile, multiplayer-focused mech games like Vox Machinae and Hawken have come and gone, existing in their own corners of the industry. The former was predominantly designed around virtual reality, and the latter was a free-to-play albeit defunct shooter that’s been out of the picture since early 2018. In light of that, there’s plenty of space for a new game to come along and reinvigorate the giant robot niche.
That’s what upcoming arena shooter Galahad 3093 seeks to do. It mixes elements of Mech Warrior, Hawken, Overwatch, and Starsiege: Tribes into one experience. That mix should be, at the very least, intriguing to those who’ve been waiting for their next mech shooter fix.
I got my first taste of Galahad 3093 during PAX West last month. But once I got home, I found myself playing its Early Access build a little more. During that time, I dove even deeper into its systems and got a genuine feel for it all. From what I’ve seen, I can comfortably say it’s a work in progress, but there’s a silver lining in that it’s actually pretty fun once you understand its systems. Especially if you can get into a lobby with other humans playing alongside or against you.
The first thing you’ll notice when logging into a Galahad 3093 skirmish is the bewildering number of customization options. Not only do you get eight pilots to choose from, but you are also given full reign to build and upgrade your mech’s loadout as you see fit. I’ve barely poked around with the vast array of primary weapons, secondary weapons, and deployables on offer, but you’re given quite a long leash to pick and choose as you wish.
Mechs are divided into four classes: Light, Medium, Heavy, and Super Heavy. The lightest mechs are the least armored but move the fastest and can only carry a small handful of weapons, whereas the Super Heavy mechs can carry far more and take quite a beating, but struggle to keep up in mobility.
From my brief understanding of Galahad 3093’s story, there’s a focus on Arthurian legend here which influences the names and themes of each character and mech. Pilots are called Knights, mechs are called Lances, and that’s all I know at this point. Each selectable Knight has its own unique passive buff in addition to an active ability that can be activated with the Q key. For instance, Mordred has the ability to teleport brief distances while Gwen can unleash a dome shield that blocks all incoming projectiles.
It’s fun to sit in the customization screen and theory-craft a build from scratch or start with one of five templates. This process can be meticulous if you’re interested in making granular edits to your loadout. For instance, you can level up and customize your mods, weapons, and the base components of your Lance with points you earn while playing.
Galahad 3093 is all about its 16-vs-16-player Base Assault mode, wherein you capture control points and kill enemy mechs in order to drain their limited ticket pool faster. If that sounds familiar, it’s extremely similar to Battlefield, or at least in concept. In the current Early Access build, it seems like Base Assault and a far more standard Team Deathmatch mode are the only modes available. The Base Assault mode is the one I’ve spent the most time in. The deathmatch mode rarely if ever popped up in matchmaking.
Base Assault also happened to be the mode I tried during PAX, where I ended up playing against real players at their respective homes –- who the developers at Simutronics Corp informed me were part of one of the game’s most competitive clans. Naturally, I got my butt kicked, but I still had decent fun learning the flow of Galahad’s systems. Since then, I’ve gotten a better grip over how it all works, thanks in part to the fun tutorials and a post-mortem stats tracker which shows you exactly how your last deadly encounter flowed from start to finish.
Capturing points on the map requires you to clean up (as in, destroy) all nearby generators, but that can be tricky since Galahad’s maps are built so vertically, with platforms rising high above one another and often stacking on top of one another in layers. You do get a number of ways to navigate the verticality of each map, including a jump jet that launches you far into the air with a press of the E key. That said, it feels like the maps are all pretty multidimensional, giving you several different approaches to get to the same point.
The combat itself is extremely brutal in Galahad 3093, and you’re going to need strong communication with your teammates to be effective — especially when you need to position yourself to coordinate an attack or rally together to defend a generator, a control point, or any other part of the map. Again, the basic idea isn’t all that different from Battlefield in this regard, but the main difference is that you’re a giant mech with jetpacks on a map with lots of vertical layers.
You’ll need to contend with your enemy’s shields before you can bring down their health bar, and this works both ways. Some weapons — like the Wraith energy cannon — deplete shields much faster than they damage a mech’s hull, meaning that you’ll want to carry an extra weapon (or some backup). A group of enemy mechs can quickly steamroll you, but a coordinated advance or a strong flanking strategy easily turns the tide of battle.
Even after playing a reasonable amount of Galahad this past weekend, I’ve still barely scratched the surface. But now it’s on my radar, and if you’re into giant mechs blasting each other with big guns like I am, then it should be on yours, too.
Galahad 3093 is currently in Early Access on Steam for $25.