Skip to main content

BattleBots is alive and deadly in Besiege's internet fight clubs

(Image credit: Besiege Bots YouTube / Spiderling Studios)

The last time I played Besiege it had just hit Steam Early Access around half a decade ago. The premise was simple: build siege weapons and vehicles to destroy enemy soldiers and structures. Four wheels and some spikes, maybe a hammer arm flopping around up top, and you're golden. I should've seen the parallels. Besiege was always a BattleBots game. 

With nearly five years of updates going into its creation tools and multiplayer features for this week's 1.0 release, Besiege is essentially the unofficial BattleBots platform now. Just look to the Besiege Bots YouTube channel, where you can watch dozens of homemade Besiege creations duke it out with combatants from all over the world. 

Using Besiege's sandbox creation tools, players build their own robots, deck them out with creative weaponry, and battle other players and their own robots in a deadly trap-ridden arena. This isn't just a schoolyard scrap either. Besiege Bots hosts massive tournaments across multiple weight classes. 

There's no falling up this ladder. Winning a Besiege Bots tourney takes true instinct and ingenuity. 

And yeah, while the presentation could do with some gussying up—I miss the dramatic music and frantic commentary—Besiege Bots is a striking emulation of the competition at the center of the hit TV show.

For the very young or unfamiliar, BattleBots is a show about remote-controlled robot pit fights that kicked off back in 2000 (though it was preceded by two years by the UK's Robot Wars). It became something of a phenomenon at the time, at least in my 10-year-old social circles. 

Treating cheaply engineered, sawblade-wielding, self-righting chunks of metal with the overwrought pageantry of professional wrestling worked for dorks and traditional sports people alike. I mean, robots fighting robots—it's hard to deny the appeal. 

Because Besiege's toolset is capable of much more than what a 40-year-old hobbyist can throw together in their garage, the Besiege Bot community has some elaborate rules. 

Pop over to the Discord (find an invite in the video descriptions) and you're bombarded with rules spreadsheets and video how-tos that walk prospective pit fighters through robot weight class designations, weapon archetype rules, locomotion requirements, and dozens more specifications that keep the competition grounded (even though Besiege's physics are a little floaty). 

Above: Dramatic music elevates Besiege Bots. 

I'm still working my way through some of the recent tournaments to find the standout bots, and weed out the best battles, but even without Chris Rose screaming in my ear over Hans Zimmer-lite, Besiege Bots is some good-ass YouTube.

A quick glance at the leaderboards shows driver Dundiddlydoo of the Netherlands in a massive lead across all weight classes, with drivers from the US, UK, Canada, Hong Kong, and a few fellow Netherlanders trailing in the top 10. Clearly, there's room for more competition, so please feed my new YouTube obsession and hit up the Discord, ingest the rules, and build some convoluted death robots. 

Besiege is only $5 right now anyway. I'm pretty sure a garage, tools, and an engineering degree are a little more expensive. 

James is PC Gamer’s bad boy, staying up late to cover Fortnite while cooking up radical ideas for the weekly livestream. He can still kickflip and swears a lot. You’ll find him somewhere in the west growing mushrooms and playing Dark Souls.