The Gundam franchise recently celebrated its 40th-anniversary last year in 2019, having spawned an absurdly-impressive number of anime series in the past four decades. I’ve only ever been a fan of a select few of those (like the original Mobile Suit Gundam, Gundam 00, and Gundam Iron-Blooded Orphans), so jumping into Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme Vs. Maxiboost ON was a surprise, to say the least.

Before I get ahead of myself, Bandai Namco held a Closed Network Test for Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme Vs. Maxiboost ON last weekend, from 25 to 27 April 2020. The game is slated to release for the PS4 on 30 July 2020, which is only several months away at this point.

MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM EXTREME VS. MAXIBOOST ON Network Test_20200425212919
MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM EXTREME VS. MAXIBOOST ON Network Test_20200425212919

Unlike most beta tests which usually offer a limited number of playable characters, Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme Vs. Maxiboost ON features a whopping 183 Mobile Suits from 36 anime series. What this means is that fans of any the Gundam series will be able to find at least several of their favourite Mobile Suits. I’m serious, there are playable Gundams from series and spinoffs I never even knew existed.

The playable modes included with the Closed Network Test included Player Matches, Casual Match and Free Battles against computer opponents. However, these are all online. I would love to have experienced the Maxi Boost Mission mode instead, which will only be featured in the full version of the game.

Gundam Versus Gundam

MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM EXTREME VS. MAXIBOOST ON Network Test_20200425214435

In Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme Vs. Maxiboost ON, the game’s arcade roots are still apparent, which isn’t surprising considering that it’s actually a port of an arcade game from 2016. Each team (consisting of two players each in 2v2 matches) is given a resource meter of 6000 points; when a mobile suit is shot down, the cost is deducted from the meter, and the first team to hit zero loses.

Each mobile suit costs either 3000, 2500, 2000, or 1000 points, with higher cost machines being more powerful while cheaper machines are weaker. However, the mechanic also means that choosing a more powerful Gundam will result in fewer lives (and fewer margins for error), as only one or two deaths will already decide who’s the winner and loser of the match.

MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM EXTREME VS. MAXIBOOST ON Network Test_20200425213210

The combat is pretty simplistic as well (again, it’s an arcade game), making use of four primary buttons for four primary functions: Shoot (Square), Melee (Triangle), Jump (Cross), and Locking On (Circle). The shoulder buttons (R1, R2, L1, L2) are used for special attacks that are unique to each Gundam, including unleashing massive laser beams, melee combos and more.

Players also have access to Extreme Burst, a super mode that can be activated when your EX Gauge is full by pressing the R3 button. Unfortunately, this doesn’t feel like the tide-changer in matches that it should have been, feeling underwhelming in execution.

It’s worth pointing out that the game features split-screen local co-op multiplayer, which is extremely rare nowadays. You could call your fellow Gundam fans over for a bout or two, just like the old days in the early 2000s.

Rude Awakening

MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM EXTREME VS. MAXIBOOST ON Network Test_20200425221636

Unfortunately, the game doesn’t feel as accessible as it should be. Being a primarily online multiplayer brawler arena experience, you mostly fight other players. There’s not much I could do on my own, especially during the limited Closed Network Test. I tried playing against other players and got trounced in almost every match.

Even when discounting the lagging issues I encountered in my matches, the game is skewered towards one specific playstyle. Gundams that specialized in ranged attacks have a massive advantage over melee-based Gundams. The go-to-tactic or meta is to simply keep your distance and shoot a neverending barrage of projectiles.

Playing a melee-focused Gundam doesn’t feel feasible, and I felt like the odds were against me every time, with the game favouring ranged-focused Gundams. This is disheartening, especially since some of my favourite Gundams are melee-based, like Gundam Barbatos (and Barbatos Lupus Rex) from Iron-Blooded Orphans.

Gundam Maxi Boost 2

Bandai Namco needs to find a way to balance the game better, as playing online right now just leads to me getting a beatdown and getting pummelled without the slightest chance of even getting close to my opponent.

Let’s see how the full version of Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme Vs. Maxiboost ON fares when it releases for the PS4 on 30 July 2020. In the meantime, check out the gameplay trailer below to tide you over until then.


 

8 Comments »

  1. Do you think it might be unfair to say the game is unbalanced with your limited experience with it? Balance is an important aspect for arcade games, especially with Bandai Namco. Look how long that remained in arcades before console release.

    You may want to consider a less absolute title for a beta impression as well as a more balanced perspective. There was a lot of negative talking points, was there anything you really enjoyed about it?

    Thanks for the article Alleef! 🙂

  2. The meta for this game and prior entries consists of a front and a back unit
    Your front unit is of higher cost and can very frequently specialize in quick, strong melees with a good ranged skill that stuns.
    Usually your back unit will hang back to support the front unit by interrupting the opponent, preventing 2v1 engagments, and capitalizing on openings the front helps create. After they are destroyed then it often becomes your turn to play more aggressively.
    To say that the game does not encourage melee play is incorrect. Units like Bael and Epyon are at the top of the tier list because of their overwhelming melee cancels and mobility.
    Master Gundam and God Gundam were on the top of their costs too in the past and are still very strong in this game.

    Barbatos is considered a strong middle ground suit in the top tier of it’s cost, having both solid ranged and melee options.
    If you’re playing the game by exclusively burning all your boost and hammering the melee button, then getting upset that you can’t get in, you’re trying to bend the game to play to your expectations, rather than following it’s rules and design.

    I’m also not sure why you mentioned Free Battle versus the AI, and then a sentence later claimed all the game modes are online. You even brought up the local split screen play, which was available in Free Battle during the Network Test. Having the option to use these Vs. AI modes is already more generous than other Closed Betas and Network Tests typically offer, ArcSystemWorks games for instance typically don’t have any versus AI options available prior to release, or as recently happened in Strive, are only available on the first day.
    Criticizing the Network Test for primarily offering network play and not a single player experience borders on non sequitur.

    This game is undeniably difficult, and being an arcade PvP franchise means there’s definitely a learning curve to it. Your move list provided within the game is very condensed and lacks in detail. That is a definite flaw. However, like it’s fighting game neighbors with their roots in arcades, you have to respect learning the flow and take advantage of mistakes and openings.
    Immediately crying out that Bandai needs to rebalance their 4 year old arcade game that already has a successor because you did not immediately succeed in the two days it was available for you to play is a poor look.

    And as a side note if you are not playing on a wired connection already, and if you have the option of playing with or finding rooms of players who are using wired, it is imperative you do so.
    When playing with friend’s I knew had stable connections the game played well and was enjoyable, but I definitely encountered players who caused 6 second long hanging frames when playing Casual Match where the game effectively froze.

    There are resources that give you more information about the move lists of your suits, as well as terminology and movement/cancel tech
    http://www.ggez.space/exvsmbon-gundam-barbatos/
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qmBgpi6kfYU
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Fzn6U-Q0k6DpwYPlEuwuMd8No3GVIgtoqzMhr0CnIxI/edit
    https://exvsrank.ninja-x.jp/exvsmo_20.html

  3. Melee is viable from what it seems you were a bit reckless which led you to being pummeled. Obviously in a beta that’s less than 2 full days you can’t say its unbalanced when it basically is balanced as this is the final version from the arcades which had months of patches. My guess as to why you think this is unbalanced is due to the short time period of play and the lack of gameplay mechanics which honestly I don’t blame you for that as this is your first time playing and the tutorial was hidden in the Free Battle mode which was never stated by bandai that it existed. In addition, FREE BATTLE was offline and the perfect place to practice with a cpu or a second player. Most online matches were smooth, the only problem was when someone with 2 or 1 bar entered the match which may be what this author experienced. Ex bursts can change tides of battle. All of them have the ability to ‘flip out’ of an enemy combo and counterattack. Fighting burst is stronger melee and the ability to break opponents guards. Shooting Burst allows canceling of ranged attack into another ranged as well as faster reload. Extend allows the ability to ‘flip out’ earier (when ex burst is at half instead of requiring to be a full bar). Pressing R3 again during any burst also activates a high damage special move or a buff as these are different for every character. I’m just writing this and hoping anyone interested doesn’t get bad view of the game off the bat and reads this and realize this game isn’t just spamming projectiles, it’s a game that is very technical and not 1 playstyle wins every match. This game isn’t one you can play for 5 minutes and win every match. Take the time to learn your character. Don’t be reckless. Find methods that benefit your playstyle. If I can play Deathscythe Hell and get a 7 win streak as a melee oriented MS I’m sure Melee is not disadvantaged.

  4. The game is well balanced. You just need to be good at the game. Try looking up gameplay footage on melee oriented MS and you’ll find them able to close in no problem. The problem is that people mostly unfamiliar with the game series don’t treat it as a serious fighting game, which it is.

    With Gundam being primarily an Anime series that has fans of all age, both casual and hardcore, meant that there would be many of them coming into the game without the mindset that some serious fighting games have established in it’s reputation. Tekken is one great example as it is known for being a tough technical game that takes probably years to master.

    While this game doesn’t require you to memorize a wall of combos, like in Tekken, Street fighter or any traditional fighting games, it does have many common elements in fighting games which requires dedication to learn each unique character playstyle. This game was originally made by a team from Capcom after all.

  5. Melee oriented suits have a somewhat steeper learning curve than midranged and ranged suits, but I don’t think they warrent any balance changes.
    I played against a lot of people playing as Gundam Bael (melee suit from Iron Blooded Orphans), and I had an almost impossible time simply keeping my distance with ranged attacks.

    tl;dr, Melee is fine, the game just requires a lot of understanding and discovery, like a fighting game.

  6. Considering this is a competitive fighting game, not a Smash Bros brawler, I’d say your interpretation is rather off.
    You don’t pick up Mortal Kombat and then get mad when the players who have been into it and know all the combos and cancel routes kick your ass.
    You take the time to learn how to play the game, try your luck, and go from there.
    Melee suits take getting used to.
    It’s not an easy game.
    But the controls are tight, the flow of the game fluid, and damn if it’s not awesome to see some of the cool combos strung together correctly.

  7. The Gundam vs games is all about movement. If you don’t know how to rainbow dash (cancel attack animation for a far boost) they of course you are gonna get whooped. Melee suits are actually the strongest the been in the series with this time around, just gotta know your tools, like actual fighting games.

  8. Some misinformation here I want to clear up.

    Burst is an extremely powerful resource and is just as much of a tide-turner as it should be. EXVS is fundamentally about boost management; you need to spend boost to both deal and avoid damage. And Burst gives you a heckton of boost. Popping Burst lets you secure a hit on someone, or lets you avoid otherwise unavoidable shots from the enemy. And that’s not even mentioning the other buffs. Much of the game at high level revolves around Burst timings.

    Iron Blooded Orphan melee suits are actually some of the strongest in the game. But of course if you don’t know the basics of movement you’ll just run into bullets for free.

    I know it’s hard to find English resources for this series, but please don’t assume you understand the game so much after playing blind for 2 days. Straight up, you’re not going to learn a fighter in that time without someone teaching you. There’s already so much misinformation on EXVS out there, I hope this article is updated at some point.

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