Mega Man 11 is rushing toward a fall launch and, rather than simply give players another collection of eight stages to leap through and eight Robot Masters to blast into tiny pieces, Capcom has decided to take things a step further and introduce a couple new mechanics to the beloved franchise. That's a daring move considering the game's history but, based on what I played during E3 2018, it might actually pay off in a big way.
While Mega Man 9 and Mega Man 10 took the series back to its retro roots, many fans are still clamoring for the series' next evolution. The gaming world thought they were receiving exactly that when Mighty No. 9 launched back in 2016, a supposed spiritual successor from long-time Mega Man veteran, Keiji Inafune. Things didn't really work out too well for that game, so fans are still waiting for that proper "next gen" take on the Mega Man formula.
The good news is that it looks like we're getting exactly that with Mega Man 11. It boasts a funky new soundtrack, crisp new visuals and, most surprising of all, some new mechanics for the Blue Bomber to master.
During my hands-on time with Mega Man 11 at E3 2018, I got to play through an entire level of the new game and experience the new "Gear" mechanics. To begin with, all of Mega's old tricks are still here. He can shoot, charge his shot, slide under obstacles and even call on his trusty robotic dog, Rush, to launch him onto higher platforms. On top of all of that, Mega Man can now use a Speed Gear and Power Gear to help him blast his way through each level.
Both Gears are tied to the same meter, which depletes pretty quickly while a Gear is being used. If you stop using a Gear before the meter depletes, it will begin refilling immediately. If you wait too long, the system will overheat and you'll be unable to use them for a set period of time.
As their names imply, the Speed Gear slows down time while the Power Gear gives your blaster a huge boost. The former comes in handy when trying to perform tricky platforming sections while the latter is great for taking out baddies more quickly.
But the new systems are far more than gimmicks and actually necessary if you want to make stop Dr. Wily's most recent dastardly plans. Many of the game's puzzles and enemies are actually based on these Gears, which should prove extremely rewarding for players willing to experiment. One enemy, for instance, has a rotating shield that just so happens to have an opening big enough to land a shot through. You can either rely on extremely good fortune to take him out, or you can slow down time as the shield's opening rotates your way, giving you a much nicer window to causing some real damage. Another section of gameplay saw me running from a screen-filling obstacle while attempting to blast through rocks and jump through barriers to escape. I'm not sure you can even complete this section without using your gears, quickly shifting between the two in order to buy yourself some extra time or blast through multiple rocks at once courtesy of the Power Gear.
Finally, if you find yourself up against a wall, you can trigger both Gears at once. This will leave you vulnerable afterward but, for a short while, you'll have access to a blaster that is powered to the max.
Again, I only got to play through a single level of Mega Man 11, but it was cool to see these new Gears in action. They offer a new resource to manage, some handy new abilities and, more importantly, they added a fresh level of depth to an otherwise familiar formula. Fans hoping for something old mixed with something new might just get their wish when Mega Man 11 launches on Oct. 2 for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and Switch.