Archangel: Hellfire VR Hands-On Preview: Robot Jox

In the future, wars will be fought by soldiers in giant robot suits. Until then, we'll just have to train in VR with Archangel: Hellfire and wait patiently.

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Ever since man crawled out from the primordial ooze and started using tools humankind has been burdened with one singular great purpose: to build giant robots and make them fight each other. Maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but as a connoisseur of everything big and robotic from Gundam to Zone of Enders I can’t help but feel that’s where we should be focusing our time. After getting some hands-on time with a PC VR build of Archangel: Hellfire I think the team at Skydance Interactive might agree with my sentiment as they’ve made quite the VR mech experience with their new expansion.

Archangel: Hellfire is the new 2-on-2 PvP expansion for the original single-player Archangel game. The new update puts players behind the controls of three varied classes of robots. Essentially, the mechs are long, mid, and close range classes or perhaps light to heavy is a better analogy. Each class has two arms both of which are equipped with limited shields plus a gatling gun option, with one side also containing a missile launcher and the other side containing a class specific weapon like a sniper rifle for the lighter mechs and a shotgun/flak cannon for the heavy class. When an arm's shield is active, pilots are unable to use that arm's weaponry. 

Each mech also has two special attacks that can be launched by filling up its energy meter. One attack works when the meter is only half full, then there’s another, more devastating or over-powering move when the meter is at 100%. Special abilities vary from missile bombardments and super laser cannons to temporary invincibility or unlimited ammo. Another really nice feature is the ability to tweak each mech’s functionality beyond their basic loadouts, which means players can choose to route more power to defense or give themselves a speed boost depending on an individual’s play style.

From a visual standpoint Archangel: Hellfire is looking pretty great as well. Both sides of the two warring factions that provide the setting for the PvP matches have their own unique style, so depending on which side a player ends up they’ll find themselves in a more traditional militaristic sort of motif or a streamlined somewhat minimalistic futuristic designed cockpit.

During my demo, there were only two battlefields available for play. One area was a rocky desert terrain with a structure that looked like a mining base taking up a large part of the center of the map. The next area was more of a snow-capped mountain setting with a few tunnels for hiding or hunting down health power-ups and energy boosts. Both maps really impressed me with the amount of detail and destructibility built into them and size-wise they struck a good balance between having room to retreat and regroup while still keeping the combat at a good pace.

Overall I was rather impressed with my hands-on time with Archangel: Hellfire. I’m not sure how I missed the original title when it came out because this type of game is right up my alley. Skydance, in particular, has done a great job of balancing the game so that it felt like I was actually controlling a mech that had weight to it, but still moved fast enough to be intense and engaging, which is where a lot of mech battle games fall short in my opinion. This was probably my best experience with a game like this since Virtual-On came out in arcades oh so long ago. If you’ve ever found yourself enjoying titles like Armored Core or Mechwarrior, then Archangel: Hellfire may be right up your alley.

Archangel: Hellfire is in Early Access Battle Training now for the PC build of the game. There are currently no plans to bring the expansion to the PSVR version of the title.

Reviews Editor

Blake has been writing and making videos about pop-culture and games for over 10 years now. Although he'd probably prefer you thought of him as a musician and listened to his band, www.cartoonviolencemusic.com. If you see him on the street, buy him a taco or something. Follow him on twitter @ProfRobot

From The Chatty

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    May 31, 2018 9:00 PM

    Blake Morse posted a new article, Archangel: Hellfire VR Hands-On Preview: Robot Jox

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      June 1, 2018 8:19 AM

      I think game has great potential but unfortunately right now there is a very small playerbase and those who are playing are much better than me. This means I sometimes go 0-10 which is tough for my fragile self- esteem! I do enjoy the fluid movement and that general feeling of piloting a big stompy robot with missiles, lasers and shields!

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      June 1, 2018 9:09 AM

      Is this the same Archangel I have on my PSVR? If so, you PC gamers will love it. It's pretty great.

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        June 1, 2018 2:32 PM

        Supposedly it's the arena 2v2 version of the same game instead of on-rails which sounds good... I dunno about 2v2 arena mp combat right now though.