The Dreisstrager’s Bridge, for example, has a Comms System, Fire Control System, and Scouting System. Comms improves the Command skill for Dreisstrager’s captain, Mitsuba, so any unit near the Dreisstrager receives passive stat buffs. Fire Control enhances the Dreisstrager’s accuracy and Scouting raises its mobility. Other facilities focus on different things as well; the Training Room gives damage bonuses to melee and ranged attacks, while the Lab can raise the maximum upgrade cap of units. AOS Update also contains useful parts and once one branch of a facility is fully upgraded, players can choose to invest a ludicrous amount of MxP for a tremendously powerful part.
I enjoyed the AOS Update system quite a bit. It provides a fun backbone, although if players play their cards right, certain upgrades in AOS Update can truly shatter the difficulty curve in SRW 30. Besides the AOS Update, upgrading robots and pilots in SRW is largely similar to recent SRW titles; credits can be spent on boosting a mech’s stats and weapon power, while Pilot Points (PP) purchase skill programs for pilots to improve and/or learn abilities.
SRW 30’s gameplay doesn’t do anything revolutionary, nor does it really need to. It is still a simplistic strategy RPG where players choose who they want to deploy, move in range for an attack, and pick which iconic attack they want to utilize in a given turn. Each pilot can cast Spirits to give various buffs or debuffs on themselves, and sometimes others.
Most of SRW 30’s gameplay refinements are in its HUD. There is now a persistent status bar at the top left corner of the screen that gives a quick glance of how the battle is progressing. Its most useful feature is simply letting me know how many enemy units are left at any given time. There are also a few other minor HUD improvements that I liked, including a new display that gives your critical hit chance,and the life and energy bars are now curved, akin to a UI aesthetic you might see in a cockpit. It’s refreshingly sleeker.
There’s a lot of flexibility in pilot swapping for most of the characters belonging to Gundam shows in this SRW entry.
Dynamic intros to attack animations have also been introduced in SRW 30. In earlier titles, when a unit started up an attack animation, they would have a second to stand idly in place and then perform their attack. Now in SRW 30, some units have a flashy intro before it cuts to their attack animation. Red 5 from Majestic Prince explodes into the fray as it skillfully dodges shots left and right, Combattler V approaches menacingly, and the Lancelot Albion has a lovingly detailed close-up of the mech from the get-go right before it unleashes one of its most damaging attacks, for instance. While I welcome this change, it definitely has room for improvement in its implementation. There’s too many black screen transitions during battle animations to accommodate them leaving several attack sequences disjointed and somewhat jarring.
Another welcome enhancement that has been unexpectedly long overdue is that you can now turn off the text boxes, portraits, and gauges during attack animations without getting rid of the text themselves, giving the glorious attack animations a bit more screen real estate. This automatically activates during the fast-forward toggle or you can turn it off altogether as a setting in the options. My selfish nitpick is I would have liked a toggle to turn this feature on or off at any time *during* an attack animation running at normal speed, so I could still keep track of my unit’s life and energy bars without sacrificing game speed or resorting to the all-or-nothing approach.
The game also features a toggleable auto-battle mode for players that simply want to push through a mission field with foes that won’t be a threat to them. There aren’t many customizable features to the auto battle mode, aside from very simple vague options to have a unit go on the offensive or stay on the defensive. If you were hoping for something somewhat resembling Final Fantasy XII’s Gambits or Disgaea 6’s Demonic Intelligence system, this is definitely not it.
I imagine auto battling in SRW 30 is most intended for the infinitely repeatable front missions. After a certain point in the game, these stages unlock and keep on reappearing again and again after a non-front mission is completed. If players want to power grind either their levels or a pilot’s killcount, they’re free to do it again and again and again to their heart’s content.
For as much as SRW 30 gets right, it still bears the stigma that has plagued the series for quite some time now: there simply is not enough variety in its map layouts and objectives. Like many others before it, SRW 30 is filled to the brim with wide-open maps where pretty much any unit from both sides can go anywhere. It doesn’t utilize its environments to craft tricky situations or circumstances like causing a bottleneck, in which units are forced to push through.
An overwhelming amount of stages throughout the game have the same objective – clear all enemies on the map, and that’s it. There’s a lot of repetition as far as its gameplay scenarios go; it’s often cool to see how a SRW game adapts a certain episode or story arc from a show when its story plays out, but the mission structure contextualizing it often leaves me unsatisfied. There is one specific stage in SRW 30 that did manage to surprise me in how it chose to present it though. If you’re familiar with how the Code Geass: Lelouch of the Re;surrection movie played out, the way SRW 30 tackles it is neat!
Further on, one of the weirdest intrusive mechanics in SRW 30 is emergency missions. Later on in the game, it will have times where the story arbitrarily forces you to do a key mission with no rhyme or reason behind it. All other missions, besides the minor optional ones, are locked down and unavailable to select until the emergency mission is done. Sometimes, emergency missions will chain into one another back-to-back, and every player that I’ve spoken to about it has had these missions pop up at a different time from one another – so there’s no consistent way to entirely bypass it. The danger behind emergency missions is that progressing through too many key missions can sometimes leave players missing missions permanently for that playthrough. For a game that emphasizes player freedom, the implementation of emergency missions is a frustrating misstep.
At the time of writing this review, DLC 1 has been out for a few weeks now and DLC 2 is coming soon. SRW 30 suffered a lot of bad bugs after rolling out DLC 1; among them was that it deleted a certain pilot and their mech, unless a player still had a key mission they would appear in, which (forcefully) added them back. Obviously, this option wasn’t available for players who were too far in and didn’t have any key missions left, and it took well over a week to get resolved. On top of that, the roll out of DLC 1 introduced new crashes for several players and some have yet to be resolved at the moment.
Another legacy pet-peeve of mine is the SRW series’s recent focus on recreating a “cinematic” feel to its battle animations that aim to follow an anime’s source material lockstep, right down to its choppiness. Don’t get me wrong; I love a lot of the animations recently, but it has been irritating me more and more ever since
SRW V that the deliberate cut to framerate for a lot of iconic attacks do not mesh well with how smoothly the rest of the game runs. There has to be a happy medium to execute these attacks more smoothly. I miss the slick choreography from earlier entries like SRW Alpha 3 and SRW Z where things flowed more naturally.
Despite my numerous grievances with SRW 30, and the SRW series as a whole recently, I still think it is one hell of a game and it is absurdly long. My first playthrough after having done mostly everything clocked in at around 130 hours. A lot of the character interactions were a blast to witness. Seeing a hypothetical version of Char after the events of Char’s Counterattack interact with a post-Code Geass R2 Lelouch was a real treat. Having the Getter Robo crew act as mentors for the Rayearth trio is awesome and wholesome. Witnessing a better, improved version of the Gundam Narrative cast because of how past Gundam protagonists influence them is a cool thing to see. There are so many sweet and funny moments throughout SRW 30’s plot that I loved.
Super Robot Wars 30 is a fantastic celebration of the franchise’s past 30 years. There is a lot of love and care put behind honoring its past and present. Even its soundtrack has a lot of new remixes and arrangements to legacy tracks. The roster of SRW 30 act as solid ambassadors for the series’s debut on the worldwide stage, even including a niche crossover sequel novel to GaoGaiGar and Betterman.
SRW 30 is a great starting point for newcomers to the series; it is also a milestone for veteran SRW players due to how it has revamped its narrative structure to be more open-ended and non-linear. If there is one common thread throughout every single SRW game, it has always been to form your giant robot dream team and have fun breaking the game in half with them. SRW 30 is no different.
Versions tested: PC and PlayStation 4. Super Robot Wars 30 is also available on Nintendo Switch, but the English language option for Switch is only available in the Japanese release, like the PlayStation 4 version.