On the surface, Auto Assault seems like an entirely different type of massively multiplayer online role-playing game. Instead of running around with swords or laser pistols, you’re a postapocalyptic car, armed to the teeth and armored for protection from all sorts of mutants, scavengers, rogue militiamen, and so on. As you get deeper into it, though, Auto Assault reveals itself as a pretty standard MMORPG. Like most games in the genre, it’s addictive. And the tweaks and the setting itself help make it feel different. But it also has a series of problems that really hold it back.
The biggest change that Auto Assault makes to the genre’s typical formula is its combat. Rather than just press an attack button and watch the fun while firing off the occasional spell or special skill, Auto Assault makes you think more about your car’s position while you’re fighting. That’s because your main methods of attack are a front-mounted weapon and a turret that rotates atop your vehicle. And you don’t just hit an attack button and watch the shots fly back and forth. Instead, you actually hold down a fire button to start firing your weapons. The game draws a few arcs on the screen that represent the range of your weapons, and when you get an enemy in those arcs and hold down the fire button, the game starts rolling a ton of theoretical dice against your stats to determine if your shots miss or hit, and how much damage is done. There’s a bit of skill involved in keeping your enemies in front of you when you’re engaging in direct combat, though not all of the classes in the game specialize in such direct methods.
There are three different races here. The humans have only recently resurfaced onto the contamination-covered planet after locking themselves in massive arks and bombarding the planet in an attempt to cleanse it. The mutant race is very spiritual about things, and it uses the contamination to heal itself. The biomeks were once the human race’s front line of combat against the mutants, but after all the pure humans locked themselves away and left these cyborgs to die, the two factions don’t really get along very well. That leads to player-versus-player conflict in the middle of the world map, but you don’t really get to see that until you’ve reached the upper end of the level cap.