One Must Fall: Battlegrounds Updated Preview

We take a new look at Diversions' giant robot fighting game.


Fighting games--specifically, games in which you control a single character and go head-to-head with another player who also controls a single character--used to be the most popular kind of video game around back in the great arcade days of the 1990s. Unfortunately, public video game arcades are mostly in decline in the United States and elsewhere in the world, and new fighting games aren't as common as they used to be and generally tend to end up on video game consoles, rather than on PCs. One of the few exceptions to this unfortunate rule was One Must Fall 2097, a futuristic shareware fighting game for the PC that pitted giant robots against each other in single combat. The original game became a cult hit a few years back, and developer Diversions Entertainment is now hard at work on the sequel, One Must Fall: Battlegrounds. We recently had an opportunity to try an early version of the sequel.

Ever been punched by a giant robot?
Ever been punched by a giant robot?

One Must Fall: Battlegrounds isn't really a fighting game in the most traditional sense; it's more of a brawler in which up to 16 players can duke it out in a 3D arena. It's possible that the developer drew at least some inspiration from Sega's arcade game Virtual On, which was later ported to the PC. In that game, you also played as a giant robot armed with lasers and rocket launchers and dueled your opponents in a 3D arena. But unlike in that game, in One Must Fall Battlegrounds, you'll find yourself using close-range punches and kicks just as often as you use various weapon-based attacks.

Just like the previous game, Battlegrounds is a futuristic game in which giant robot combat is considered to be a popular sport, so in the game, you don't play as an experienced martial artist, but rather, as one of more than 40 different pilots. These hotshot robot jockeys have four attributes (power, agility, endurance, and focus), which contribute to the way their robots handle in battle. Once you've chosen a pilot, you'll be able to play as one of eight different giant robots, each of which will feature multiple colors and skins. Diversions Entertainment will also attempt to make the game as accessible as possible for serious hobbyists who wish to import their own skins and even their own robots into the game.

Battles are fought from a third-person, behind-the-back perspective. You use your keyboard's arrow keys to move about in the arenas, and you use your keyboard to execute evasive dodges and crouches, as well as two kinds of punches and kicks. However, like in any good fighting game, you'll be able to string together various attacks in different combinations; different robots have different strings of moves that can be linked together. In addition, each robot will have numerous special attacks that can be performed with simple, easy-to-input commands such as tapping the up (move forward) or down (move backward) arrow key twice, then tapping an attack button. For instance, the gargoyle robot has a damaging, short-range fiery breath attack, while the pyros robot has a powerful spinning attack that causes it to rush forward and flatten anything in its way. Some weapons will even let you briefly lock onto an opponent if you can keep the opponent in front of you long enough.

The powerful gargoyle robot, shown exclusively for the first time.
The powerful gargoyle robot, shown exclusively for the first time.

However, you might have trouble drawing a bead on a single opponent in the game's multiplayer modes, which the developer hopes will be the most popular aspect of the game. In multiplayer, up to 16 different players can jump into a single arena at once, pummeling each other and vying for various items, including energy boosts and miscellaneous weapons, like bombs and additional support fire from turrets. Speed seems like an especially important concern in the game at this point. Some of the slower robots, such as the lumbering warlord, seem to have a bit of trouble turning quickly to target a faster enemy, though when they do get the enemy in their sights, they can unload some seriously damaging attacks, like the warlord's charge ability, which causes the robot to charge forward while swinging its spiked fists wildly at anything in its path.

If nothing else, One Must Fall: Battlegrounds seems like a very distinctive game. There really isn't anything else like it available for the PC right now, and developer Diversions Entertainment hopes that Battlegrounds' large multiplayer brawls will draw in new players to try out this unique game. One Must Fall: Battlegrounds is currently in beta testing and will be released later this year.

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