This isn't to say that the combat is bad per se. Despite some flaws and the lack of any real depth to the system, it's genuinely entertaining. Something I particularly liked was the overheating - weapons don't require ammunition, but using them too often will cause overheating, rendering them useless ... and you defenseless for several seconds as you either swap weapons or wait for them to cool down. It adds much-appreciated intensity to duels and dogfights.
Exteel has a variety of gametypes, none of which really break new ground. Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, CTF, and Territory Control should all be reasonably familiar to fans of online action games. The fifth gametype, Last Stand, pits players against computer-controlled opponents, requiring them to defend their base until the time limit runs out. While this is a decent alternative to the PvP gametypes for players trying to afford new equipment, it was my least favorite mode - the waves of enemies swarm with potential targets, but the AI is rudimentary at best and it becomes an exercise in tedium more than anything else.
After every battle, participants are awarded credits based on their performance, win or lose. In team games, the award is split evenly between team members (depending on how long they'd been in the game) rather than awarded on individual performance. Since points are shared regardless of your role in battle, this encourages people to defend the flag or repair a teammate instead of just racking up as many personal kills as possible. These credits are currency in Exteel, allowing players to buy weaponry and parts to repair, upgrade and customize their Mechanaught.
There is also NCCoin, a secondary currency available through microtransactions (with $1 USD = 100 NCCoin). Exteel is completely free to play - sign up, download, and you're in - so financially there's no reason not to give it a try if you're intrigued. The wallet-based question then becomes: how important is NCCoin? Is it worth it, and is someone who plays for free a "second-class citizen" compared to someone who pays? There's no question that NCCoin is certainly much quicker than earning the credits oneself. It might take upwards of a hundred games to afford a shiny new Mechanaught let alone kit it out with top-of-the-line weaponry, whereas someone with $15 to spend can upgrade instantly.
It is, however, completely possible to simply play the game free and never bother with microtransactions - and do well. Weapons and equipment require either NCCoin or credits, never both: the high-end Mechanaughts and weaponry bought by credits are virtually identical in power (and just as cool-looking) as those purchased via NCCoin. Goodies like paint, repairs and attack skills can be purchased by both, and people who buy NCCoin will be more freely able to spend the credits they do earn on these instead of equipment - there is an undeniable advantage there. Even so, some of the most successful players I've met in Exteel have been piloting giant robots built with their own hard-earned credits.
Either way, I found Exteel to be an entertaining if flawed game that did an exceptional job of tapping into the part of me that yearns to fly around and create havoc in my very own giant robot. It's completely free to play if you'd rather, so if you've got a little Optimus Prime or Char Aznable inside there's absolutely no reason not to give it a shot.