Want to Drive a Mech? Upgrade Your Avatar!

Driving a tank around is all well and good, but who wouldn’t want to take it one more step and pilot a walking tank? Our new avatar upgrade available on Steam, the mech, lets you do just that. PlayStation players will also get to stomp around in their very own robot fighter in our next patch, which we expect to land in the next week or two, following Sony approval.

While some of our avatar upgrades are purely cosmetic, like kayak lights and tank flags, others offer new ways to enjoy VirZOOM Arcade games. The mech is in this latter class, and the differences are obvious from the moment you look down on your enemies from its elevated cockpit. The mech can sustain more damage and lay down more fire before being taken out, but also presents a huge target with limited range.

As any seasoned Winterstan player can tell you, the standard tank avatar is pretty slow to aim: It takes some time for the barrel to line up with your gaze if you look around quickly, and there’s a noticeable delay between shots. If you’ve got good aim, however, you can arc a shell to hit a target practically across the map. In the mech, however, your arm-mounted cannon follows your gaze practically perfectly. You aim by holding down the trigger, tightening the crosshairs for greater accuracy, or releasing early to get off a quicker but less accurate shot.

The mech can also hold 30 rounds of ammunition compared to the tank’s 20. You’re likely to burn through that ammo more quickly, but not just because the mech can shoot faster: Mech shots fly straight, but are extremely limited in range. Your crosshairs will change color held over a target in range, but it may take some practice to get a sense of how far you can shoot.

The result of these differences is that the mech is devastating up close, but far more vulnerable at a distance. Tank players facing mechs will want to take advantage of their distance advantage, and mech players facing tanks will want to think tactically and use cover to close the distance to the targets.

To view options for avatar upgrades, hit both the L and R buttons on Tank in the main menu. Lean to rotate through menu options and hit R over the mech to equip it. Note that you can equip the mech and a tank flag at the same time (because no robot war machine is complete without a daisy flying on its back).

Each time you launch Winterstan with the mech equipped, it costs some of the coins you earn from playing earlier matches. You’ll also notice a charge in “credits” for this upgrade, which is a hint of things to come. We’re still working on setting up the ability to spend real-world money for in-game credits, and those will eventually allow you to buy the tank upgrade permanently, no coins required.

As I describe above, we’re aiming for the mech to feel balanced against tanks, not just a pay-to-win war machine or a neat decoration that can’t stand up in a fight. We suspect it will take some time before players get a sense of how to take advantage of what the tank and the mech each do best, and we’re looking forward to your feedback as you get a chance to play. How do these units stack up against each other? Leave a comment to let us know what you think, and we’ll see you on the battlefield!

Want to Drive a Mech? Upgrade Your Avatar!