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I love mechs. There. I said it.
Don’t get me wrong, I have standards. You can’t just slap a Gundam into a thing and expect me to get hyped (sorry, Ready Player One). But when I see someone trying something fresh with giant robots, or even just artfully applying a mecha “theme” on top of a well known concept, you’ll always at least get my attention.
Last night, Sega did just that when they announced that Border Break, a long running, Japan-only, mecha arcade game is coming to PS4. There’s no word on an English localization yet, but Border Break is due in Japan sometime in 2018 and will have an open beta this February. And listen, I’d really love an English localization, but I’ve been hoping for a console release for so long that even knowing that I could import Border Break feels like a win.
Above: The debut trailer for Border Break on PS4, courtesy of Sega.
I first read about the original arcade release of Border Break in 2009 over on MechaDamashii. I pored over the words and images carefully, soaking up every detail and imagining how great a home release would be. The pitch was simple: Border Break took class-based FPS gameplay and translated it into a 10-on-10, third person mecha battle.
On its face, that’s really simple, but Sega found a lot of ways to make the game stand out in a competitive genre (for Japanese arcades anyway). Players not only get to choose which class of mech to use, but also get to customize their machines with parts earned after every match (and their anime-styled pilot characters, too).
Once in the battle, the game plays out like a blend between Armored Core and Virtual On, with one big twist: The controls. Players use a joystick with their left hand and a special mouse-like device with their right for quick, accurate aiming. On top of that, a touchscreen allows players to give commands to (and make requests from) teammates, tag elements of the environment, and even fire mortar shots.
All these elements—plus some truly cool mech designs—mean that Border Break is exactly the sort of game for me. Or at least, that’s my guess, since I’ve never been able to play it. Because of its unique control scheme, a lot of folks wrote off the possibility that we’d ever get Border Break on a home console. And sometime around 2013, 2014, I did too.
What a fool I was.
A lot could go wrong with this home release. Losing the touch screen interface could remove a large part of what makes Border Break special. On top of that, there’s the question of monetization: “Free to play” means a lot of different things, and in arcades, Border Break made a lot of money through enticing, gameplay-altering loot boxes. Given the gaming community’s response to those last fall, my hope is that Sega moves very carefully when it comes to monetizing the game, especially if they do end up localizing it.
Despite all that, I can’t shake the feeling of excitement. This was something I’d written off, and now I’m closer than ever to getting to play it. More surprises like this could really make 2018 something special.
Have you ever had a game you were sure you’d never get to play, only to finally get the chance? Maybe an arcade game you were never able to find in the wild, or a super expensive import that you managed to find a surprise deal for? Or is your white whale still out there? Let me know over in the forums!