Described as “tower rush with vehicles,” the tactical action-racer Vroom Kaboom is a frenzied base defense game with Twisted Metal-like vehicles battling it out.
Players will choose between one of three factions and build a deck of vehicles to take on others in 1v1, 2v2, or 3v3 battles. Matches take place on a road littered with traps, ramps, collectibles, and, of course, vehicles.
Each team has a base on opposing sides of the street. Like Hearthstone and other card-based battle games, players start out with a hand made up from randomized cards in their deck. Cards are usually vehicles, but missiles, power-ups, and other unique items shuffle in as well.
There are two different card resource types: flames and oil. Flame cards are usually special vehicles like an airship take out ground cars from above, or a missile to do massive damage to the enemy base. Both of these regenerate slowly over time or can be picked up on the road.
With vehicle cards, the player has the option to control it or let the motorized monstrosity head to the enemy side via A.I. control. You can only control one vehicle at a time, but switching between active transports is swift and easy.
While in control of a vehicle, players can switch between lanes to pick up collectibles or get in the way of oncoming enemies. Most cars have guns and a special ability such as an evasive jump or a devastating shockwave. Others, like the bulldozer, are designed to ram into opposing vehicles and do massive damage. All skills lead to some hectic scenarios. My little motorcycle looks like nothing compared to an oncoming truck. That is until I use the shockwave ability seconds before we crash head-on, forcing the truck to turn 90 degrees and slam into a wall or barrier.
After spending some decent time with the game, I’ve established a favorite combo of vehicles. I’ll send out two low-powered but quick motorcycles to pick up collectibles and distract the enemies first attackers. Then, I’ll fire off a missile while enemy vehicles are distracted before sending in a heavy hitter like the big bus or bulldozer to take out any stragglers.
The variety of cars caters to multiple play styles. Players can build their decks to avoid enemy vehicles and target the base alone, or they can take the slow and steady approach by keeping big cars on hand at all times. I built for the more deliberate and steady approach by supporting my big vehicles with a constant wave of smaller ones. The weaker cars would distract and damage enemies before the bigger ones come in to finish the job. By protecting the big vehicle, I was able to safely see it to the other side where I can then do massive damage to the enemy base.
Controlling cars is a bit awkward at first. You don’t directly control the movement of the vehicle. Instead, you adjust which lanes to ride in. The car then hard turns into the chosen lane which you can keep adjusting on the fly. This movement forces one to plan and move into lanes early, as fast changes cause a loss of control and will sometimes wreck the car entirely.
Also, I’ve noticed some clipping issues with most vehicles. It looks like they’re frame skipping and dragging behind the rest of the gameplay, but the problem usually corrects itself after a few seconds. These issues are likely due to the early beta state the game is in.
To add to the insanity, Vroom Kaboom has friendly fire turned on. In 1v1, this isn’t much of an issue. However, when matches grow to 3v3, your team could end up being your worst enemy. At the start of one game, all three of us sent out vehicles at once. Instead of being a formidable wall ready to take down the enemy, all of them ended up crashing into one another. Half of our army blew up on itself while the survivors ended up with most of their health gone. It was a sad but hilarious learning experience.
Vroom Kaboom has a ways to go. Currently, there are only three maps. Each map represents a faction, with their themes of desert, urban, or industrial. These areas are fun and well-designed, but it gets a bit old playing on the same one again and again. Also, the vehicle movement could be fine-tuned. The current roughness seems intentional, forcing you to plan by changing lanes early on. That said, there needs to be some leeway on this. A touch of the control stick (mouse and keyboard is also a viable solution) sends the vehicle swerving into a lane, often leading to a wreck. Switching to precise controls would result in better, more strategic battles and could prevent some unnecessary crashes.
The game has a planned release window of late-May, where it will launch as a free-to-play title with VR support. While the foundation is excellent fun, the team over at Ratloop Games Canada needs to iron out some control issues and add just a few more maps to flesh out the experience. Otherwise, Vroom Kaboom is a game worth keeping on your radar. It is a fun, unique indie experience with a lot going for it. All the game needs is some strong post-release content, and we may have a sure-fire hit on our hands.
This preview was based on a digital copy of Vroom Kaboom for the PC provided by the publisher.