STAFF REVIEW of Robocraft Infinity (Xbox One)

Monday, May 21, 2018.
by Royce Dean

Robocraft Infinity Box art One of two things seems to be true, and I’m not sure which it is. Either people have a deep seeded need to build stuff, or it's learned behavior from everything we’ve seen and that has been done before us. Either way, the art of building has lead us to the grand society that we live in today. Without the hammer we would have never put together the first house. Without the wheel we’d have never devised the chariot and then eventually the modern vehicle. Without the toilet...well, we’d have really gross streets. Humanity is constantly evolving, changing and building to improve upon our lives using the building blocks that previous generations have given us.

Of course, sometimes improvement is unnecessary. Look at the shark for example; a being of such awesome perfection it remains unchanged since the age of the Dinosaur. Then of course there is the Slap-Chop, a device that’s only purpose is to cut small things into even smaller things. If only we had some kind of long sharp metallic stick that could do the same thing with less effort at half the cost.

Products aimed at children to encourage their inner architect have been a staple for some time, with the most prolific among them being Lego. Even games have started in on this 'build-your-own-world' ideology with with Minecraft, and since then others have reared their head some years ago inspiring many other studios to follow suit. Terraria, Portal Knights, the Lego games, and Robocraft Infinity have all given us their own spins on the creative game genre. Let’s talk about that last one for a while shall we?

Personally, I prefer a structured and ordered story to play through in my games for the same reason I like my burgers to come pre-built on the plate. If I’m paying you, I want you to do the 'thing' that I am paying you for. Giving you my money so that you can make me do stuff sounds like the very definition of a racket when you put it down on paper, doesn’t it? That said, there is a load of fun to be had with creative mediums if you think about it in a way where you are spending your money on the tools rather than the final result, much in the way an artist would. You’re buying a canvas. As it so happens, Robocraft Infinity wins the award for most robotic, combative, online-competitive canvas that has ever been. It might actually be the only one, but who’s counting?

While Robocraft Infinity has been around on the Steam market for a few years now, it’s just now gracing us with its presence on home consoles. Take that PC 'master-racers', we’ve got your robot building game now! While it is a simple game in practice, there is a lot to play around with if you fancy spending your time that way. Robocraft Infinity, as the name suggests, is all about crafting robots in an infinite number of ways. The type of robot you make is up to you, and the building materials to choose from are numerous, with the end result being a robotic being of pure destructive force. Translation; you battle with it after.

The crafting process is the core element of the game, and yet, it doesn’t feel great. The space you get to build your machine is ample, and the way in which you get to do it is sound in theory, but overall the experience feels lacking. Unfortunately the whole process is without any kind of smoothness. Robocraft Infinity as a whole is rife with laggy load screens and choppy menus which migrate their way into the robot creator.

The control layout for building your bot is the second problem. It feels unintuitive and it lead me to make frequent and frustrating mistakes, which lengthened the already lengthy building process. A fully functioning bot is made up of various parts including Cubes (which are mostly filler), Weapons, Movement pieces (such as legs and propellers), Special items (like wings and fins) and Cosmetics (like flags). Individual pieces can be bought from your inventory menu using the in-game currency called Robits, or you can earn parts at random by opening crates which are earned by leveling up. Crates can also be purchased in the online store using your hard earned real life dollars.

Pre-made robot builds are available for you to download and play, but they cost you an exorbitant amount of Robits, which isn’t overly easy to get as a currency. Robits come from pulling duplicate parts out of item crates or recycling parts you don’t plan on using anymore. Still, what you earn in these ways get you very little compared to hundreds of thousands it costs for just one download. It’s almost as if they are encouraging you to spend all of your money on parts. Almost. There is a secondary currency that is even harder to get called Galaxy Cash, and the only way to get your hands on any of that stuff is to pull a duplicate Cosmetic item from one of your part crates.

Once you’ve cobbled together a robot to call your own (or acquire one of the pre-made ones), the game can begin. Play modes are broken down into offline and online categories, with offline modes being almost exclusively methods for you to test out prototype robots before you jump into the online world. While offline you can “Practice”, which drops you into a blank arena to rumble around and fire weapons in, or “VS AI” which plunks you down into a 5 versus 5 match that’s consists of you and 9 computer controlled dumb-dumbs. Don’t worry, the 4 worst ones are on your team. I promise. Playing against AI players will earn you experience in the smallest amounts possible, but not enough to really send you towards your next level and part crate.

Playing online, while slightly less limiting, is made up of just two game modes. Deathmatch is the same type of 5 versus 5 gameplay you get in the offline “VS AI” mode, only this time with 9 human players. The second online game mode is Battle Arena. This time you and your team must fight to control 3 separate points on the map. When you hold points you fill up the charge meter at the top of your screen and when the meter fills up, your ultimate weapon is fully charged and the other team explodes. Neither of these modes feel particularly compelling beyond a few matches, and combat certainly isn’t deep enough to warrant play over a long period of time. Playing online will earn you the lion’s share of your experience.

That’s it. That’s the game. Visually, Robocraft Infinity doesn’t look half bad. Everything is blocky, as you are building things out of literal blocks (with the exception of fancier parts like wheels). The environments are largely jagged, but with some decent detail, and the lighting is damn good especially on the glowing effects littered throughout everything. The sound is fairly good too. Nothing too memorable, but nothing off-putting either. The sound effects never get grating, and the announcer is one of the best I’ve heard in some time because it they don't get in the way or talk too much.

It’s very easy to see what the creators of Robocraft Infinity were going for, and I think the concept is great, but overall what we have in its current state doesn’t do that idea justice. Perhaps the PC version runs better than its console brother, but bland combat, limited game modes and very obvious money driven customization don’t make for a great experience. Robocraft Infinity is at its best when you are work shopping new ideas of robots to play as, and building them.

As a creative outlet this game has potential, but unless they give gamers more to do with their robots during the end game, then there is little reason for players to play long term, let alone justify the costs involved with getting more parts for their robots. It’s a shame that with all of the customization options that they gave us, Robocraft Infinity couldn’t build itself up into something more.

Overall: 6.0 / 10
Gameplay: 5.5 / 10
Visuals: 6.5 / 10
Sound: 6.5 / 10


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