Vehicular combat in games has been a thing for a very long time now. Many of you may remember this being the likes of Twisted Metal, or Carmageddon and for others it may be Mario Kart and for us older ones it is Spy Hunter, Rally X, Roadblasters and the like.
The point is, they have been around for a while, but of late it seems as though there is a new thirst for them. You have games like Rocket League, Blur, the new Carmageddon, but also things such as World of Tanks. So it is time to introduce Badland Bandits, which kind of sits in the middle of these and shares more with a modern FPS than anything.
Imagine Borderlands, but stripping it down to just the vehicles and instead of having RPG type missions, you have traditional online Team Death Match style objectives instead. Do that and you have Badland Bandits.
I have spent a bit of time with the game ahead of the Early Access release (July 2015) and as it stands my views are a little mixed.
Visually it is nothing special, but it is by a small studio and it does feel like it. Now that isn’t to say it looks ugly, but it won’t sell you on looks alone. In fact I’d go as far as saying on that side it looks like Borderlands but without the pop.
What I want from a game like this though is fun in the gameplay and something that feels very competitive from the moment you get down to it and here, on the whole, Badland Bandits succeeds. Objectives are clear and simple and the combat is fast and frantic, whilst still allowing you to feel in control.
You have both ground and air combat, which allows for mixing ground to air and air to ground and it works really well. I was able to find myself destroying a ground based opponent before aiming to the skies and helping one of my team locked in an air battle.
All vehicles are completely upgradable, which works on a similar system to the likes of Battlefield and Call of Duty, whereby levelling up grants you perks, extra garage slots and access to better parts. A worry here is that balancing could become an issue down the line, but at this early stage it doesn’t seem to affect too much.
My only real major issue comes with the vehicle control itself. Aiming using the mouse is fine, but movement just feels off. I use a Logitech G13 Advanced Keyboard due to limited movement in my left hand, so I can have WASD assigned to a thumbstick input.
The problem here was that the game has full on tank controls, which means you turn using A & D accelerate using W and reverse using S, but you cannot turn and move forward at the same time, which makes general movement feel cumbersome and using the thumbstick makes this nigh on impossible to play due to slight crossovers of it reading W&A together for example.
Now I understand I may be a very small use-case for this, but it did feel frustrating, yet I will admit that when I switched to the normal keyboard, the movement was improved, however where the rest of the game comes together really well, the digital tank movement just doesn’t fit as well as analogue movement would.
I will say though, that overall it hasn’t really dampened my enjoyment of the game and hopefully upon its full release the servers will become busier and there will be fun to be had.
It is in Early Access and whilst I couldn’t say this is a vital purchase at this stage, if you are a fan of vehicular combat, it could well be worth dipping your toes in and providing feedback to the developer.
Early Access Summary
A good example of how Early Access can be used, clearly not a game that is close to completion, but has enough going for it that we look forward to a full release.