That’s a fair point. But I would argue the area control is a relatively minor gameplay system. It’s there, sure, and it accounts for two of the victory point stars, but it’s much more of a race than people throwing elbows at each other.
That said, it certainly looks, and sometimes feels, like an area control. You’d certainly infer as much from the mechs and heroes and eventually zeppelins. But to my mind, it’s more of an engine builder.