It’s like a baby photo, but if a baby was an entire team of mechs.
Image: Subset Games

Into The Breach is a great strategy game, but I can’t seem to translate the skills I learned with the starting team into any of the more advanced ones.

The basic game design of Into The Breach rewards you for learning general strategies. As you play through your first few attempts at the game, you learn how you’re supposed to interact with the game. For example, you learn that the game is just as much about holding out against your enemies as it is about defeating them all. You learn that completing objectives should always be secondary to preserving your power grid. You learn the true meaning of friendship. Maybe not that last one.

The “starter set” for Into The Breach is a trio of mechs called the Rift Walkers. They’re exactly what you might imagine when someone says the word mech: They’re big, hulking machines that look like they can dish out damage and take a hit. They’re very Metal Gear REX, if you know what I mean.

I’ve gotten pretty good with the punching, cannoning, artillery-striking action of the Rift Walkers, but I cannot seem to translate that skill to any of the other unlockable teams of mechs. I’ve so thoroughly tutorialized myself with the general strategies that help me do well as the Rift Walkers that I just can’t seem to make the transition over to any of the other teams that are available to me.

My industrious, hard working Rift Walkers.
Image: Subset Games

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Those other teams all do different things from the direct attacking and moving of the Rift Walkers. The Rusting Hulks shoot out clouds of smoke to interrupt enemy attacks and deal damage over time. The Steel Judoka flip and move the enemy Vek into attacking and defeating themselves. They all function in radically different ways from my tried-and-true punching and shooting robots, and I just can’t seem to bridge the gap to thinking in these completely new ways.

To be clear, I don’t think this is the game’s fault. There is something that happens with me where I get locked into very particular ways of playing a game, and shaking that up becomes really hard for me. It’s frustrating in the case of Into The Breach because it is such a great game with a wide possibility space of encounters and ways to play it. I just can’t manage to make myself get into the groove of that big space.

The worst part of it is that I’m now worried that I’ve done this with other games. Am I playing Cities: Skylines wrong because I learned some bad habits way back when it launched? What about Darkest Dungeon? Games of strategy build on knowledge most of all, and I think I might have goofed myself when it comes to what I think I know in Into The Breach.