E3 2011: Trenched hands on preview – the manliest mech shooter ever tower defended

Developer Double Fine consistently challenges our expectations of what can be done within a genre. Trenched isn’t any different. Trenched tells the story of two soldiers who lost their legs in World War I, but still wanted to fight. So, one becomes corrupt and creates a race of TV monsters and the other creates mobile trenches; essentially giant, customizable walking tanks. Gird up, soldier! It’s time to defend your country, your way of life, and your very manhood. And bring three friends, because this thing is at its best in four-player co-op.

Trenched offers a few different styles of play, but the basic concept is tower defense with a hands-on approach. Instead of floating above the battlefield and laying down turrets and other defenses, you’re doing it from a walking tank right down in the middle of the action, guns blazing. If you want to do the dirty work yourself, blasting blue scorpion-like creatures with your triple chainguns, you’re more than welcome. If you want to go nuts with upgrading your turret emplacements during battle, go right ahead.

We played two distinctly different levels during our demo: one set in a fishing village and another in a desert. The action is fast and frenetic, with mere moments between each wave in which you can grab scattered resources from downed baddies. In this case, upgrade collectibles are TVs - trust us, it makes sense in Trenched’s warped universe. We loved that there wasn’t a penalty for running and gunning, and that if we wanted to, we could lay turrets down to make our defense job easier. This was helpful because in our demo, enemies never attacked from just one direction at a time.

We also saw some of the massive customization options for both the trenches and avatars. You want to put a Daft Punk-esque helmet and leather jacket on your pilot? Go right ahead. Does a shotgun suit your play-style more than triple machineguns? Have at it. Would you rather have a lipstick-red killing machine than a yellow one? Done. With the tools provided, it doesn’t look like you’ll see any two trenches appearing exactly the same, which should make differentiating teammates during multiplayer a tad easier.

With enough of Double Fine’s signature style on tap, this is one war we can’t wait to enlist in.

Jun 14, 2011