Dropzone, the 15-minute mech fight RTS, goes free-to-play next week

We selected Dropzone, a competitive RTS/MOBA hybrid that limits matches to just 15 minutes in length, as one of our favorite games of PAX West in 2016. It debuted on Steam Early Access in February in a $20 Squad Edition, but it's been designed from the beginning to be free-to-play. And soon it will be: Developer Sparkypants dropped a major update today that adds new Team 3v3 and 1v1 Ranked Draft modes, and announced that the transition to free-to-play will happen on April 12. 

Team 3v3, which Sparkypants said is the "number one community-requested feature," is a simpler way to play that lets each person control a single unit rather than putting all three into the hands of one, so players "can quickly learn the controls and dive straight into the fight." The new Ranked 1v1 mode, on the other hand, is aimed at advanced players, and puts a much greater emphasis on the importance of Pilot, Rig, and Gear choices during the pre-match drafting phase.   

The update also incorporates a new Party System and in-game chat, adds "Multi-queueing" to help streamline matchmaking by enabling players to search for multiple types of games simultaneously, and fixes various sorts of bugs. There are still some known issues to be dealt with, a full breakdown of which you can get in the patch notes

Ahead of the move to free-to-play, Sparkypants has put the paid versions of Dropzone on sale. The Squad Edition, which includes access to all Pilots available at launch, is half-price, dropping it to $10/£8€10, while the Commander Edition, with all Pilots now and in the future as well as some other bonus stuff, is 55 percent off, taking it to $18. Sparkypants didn't specify how the free-to-play release of the game will differ from the paid versions, but it did warn on the Steam page that "in future releases players will start with significantly fewer Pilots and a limited Gear selection. Cosmetic items are exclusive to these bundles and will not be available for purchase separately." 

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.