Custom Mech Wars is an upcoming mecha action game developed and published by D3 Publisher, best known for the Earth Defense Force series. Those familiar with the EDF series may well be salivating at the prospect of EDF meets mecha, and I’m happy to say that is exactly what Custom Mech Wars is. A demo for the game released on 27th October, 2023 for the PS5, titled Custom Mech Wars Prototype Ver.
Custom Mech Wars’ key selling point is the ‘Omega Customization System’, which allows you to put together the mech of your dreams, or delusions. Whilst the demo version doesn’t offer the full set of customization options, it does provide a huge selection that gave me a pretty good idea of what to expect from the full release. Custom Mech Wars is on the weird and wonderful side of the mecha genre, boasting an admirable commitment to ludicrous excess.
I came across a variety of customization parts in my time with the Custom Mech Wars demo. There is a suite of more standard parts, with gundam-esque chassis, legs, and heads. But the real fun starts when you unlock more out-there parts like a commuter train that can be used as your primary means of locomotion. You can get an idea of the weirdness factor by taking a look at Custom Mech Wars’ marketing materials. We’ve got uncanny human legs and heads that you can attach to your mecha monstrosities, and all manner of appendages that you can orient in the most immature way possible.
I think focusing on the customization elements was a great call. After playing the demo this is definitely the feature I’m most excited about exploring further. It will be interesting to see what kind of bizarre creations the community comes up with, and how well you can produce a mech that is practical and barmy in equal measure.
In addition to a wide variety of parts, the customization tools are also very open-ended. Parts are separated into three sizes, small, medium, and large, but you can combine all of these into one mech. Parts can be attached and oriented with near total freedom. How well those parts will work is the only real obstacle to your creativity here, but Custom Mech Wars won’t stop you from disregarding practicality to add a burrowing c*ck rocket to your hulking 50ft titan, and that’s great.
The customization interface is definitely going to take some time to get to grips with. The tradeoff between ease of use and player freedom is a difficult one to manage, but I think Custom Mech Wars makes the right choice in leaning into freedom. It matches with the game’s off-the-wall tone, and in the long run it will increase the longevity of the game. It’s also possible that some of the jank present in the demo is smoothed out in the full release.
I enjoyed setting some personal goals in my time with Custom Mech Wars’ demo. Can I find a way to incorporate the commuter train in a mech, and then have it survive a mission on the highest difficulty? I couldn’t, but I can tell it’s possible and that’s enticing. The degree of freedom present in the mech customization will offer a lot of ways to enjoy the game, but I think I’ll get the most fun out of trying to clear the game with the weirdest setups possible.
Custom Mech Wars’ demo doesn’t give us too much of an insight into the battlefields you’ll be deploying your mechs to. There are three levels available, and they’re all quite open with standard waves of enemies appearing as you progress. You’ll be fighting other mechs and an array of armored vehicles, and I was impressed by the enemy’s ability to actually fight back. Parts of your mech can be destroyed or detached by enemy fire, which encourages you to inject your build with some flexibility.
Combat in Custom Mech Wars is a simple but flashy affair, as you’d expect from the publishers of EDF. Swarms of rockets will burst from your launchers, swirling through the air and crashing into enemies with a satisfying bang. Your mech will move with appropriate heft and impact, without actually hurting the pace of combat. Fights can also feel radically different based on your build. The Omega Customization System injects variety into every facet of gameplay, which is promising. I hope that sense of variety is sustained for the full release.
The narrative backing for conflict is present, but it’s hard to know how significant it will be. What we know from the demo is that you’re part of the Four-Seven Security Service, who are deploying their forces to fight against autonomous mechs that have gone rogue. If it’s anything like EDF, we can expect the story to be more of a fun framework than anything serious. I’m certainly looking forward to seeing how strange the narrative gets, with any luck it will take a page from EDF 5’s book and we’ll end up fighting Mecha-God.
The Earth Defense Force DNA is definitely noticeable in Custom Mech Wars, and I’m glad for that. EDF is a ton of fun, and expanding that fun-first approach to a mecha game is an idea with inherent appeal. The setup of missions with five difficulty levels, with better loot becoming available as you attempt tougher challenges, works well in EDF and I think may work even better here where there is a heavy focus on customization. The incentive to attempt higher difficulty missions is enhanced when you know the reward could be some new, utterly bizarre item you can work into your build.
EDF’s multiplayer mayhem is also present in Custom Mech Wars, and the appeal there is obvious. You have the dual joy of engaging in off-the-wall action with your friends, and showing off your unique (perhaps unsettling) creations. I’m anticipating some truly monstrous escalation between me and my friends, I’m looking forward to seeing who can create the dumbest weapon of mass destruction.
I was already pretty sold on Custom Mech Wars by the concept alone, but the demo has cemented my interest. The full game releases December 14th for PS5 and PC, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the full set of customization options. I’m hoping this will serve as a nice holdover title as we eagerly await the English release of EDF 6, but it may well end up being even more than that. The Omega Customization System has a ton of potential, and if Custom Mech Wars can stick the landing this could be an exciting new IP for D3 Publisher going forward.
Custom Mech Wars is available to pre-order for PS5 on the PlayStation Store, and for PC on Steam. There are a few editions on offer, with the EDF Collab Edition offering DLC packs containing parts from iconic Earth Defense Force mechs like the Balam and Barga, and the Ultimate Edition offering collaboration DLC with series like Samurai Maiden and Bullet Girls, which I’m particularly interested in.
CUSTOM MECH WARS IS PROMISING
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A man described by critics as “pretty normal” and “memorable in the abstract”. He has committed his life to the consumption of anime and games, against the advice and wishes of his family and friends. Now writing about his passions, hopefully for your enjoyment.