Greetings Mechwarriors! It’s good to see you back and ready for more hard work in the Periphery! Many of you will be unfamiliar with the origins of this game, and that’s fine. Back in the 1984 a board game called BattleTech was released as a table-top wargame set in the BattleTech universe! The game was a lot different back then than it is now. A lot of people think of MechWarrior Online when they think BattleTech nowadays. Full of Clan mechs and new weapons, a “modern” and much different BattleTech than before. However, in this new iteration of BattleTech, we go back to the year 3025, back to the Succession Wars Era. No Clan mechs, no new weapons, but “true” to the original board game in many, many ways.
BattleTech is a real-time-strategy game, much like XCOM, where you play through a campaign story or multiplayer PVP. You play the role of a commander set out to find your way after a coup occurred and forced you off world. Commanding a mercenary company, you accept contracts to complete and earn C-Bills (the currency of BattleTech), and reputation. You use those C-Bills to make purchases and to maintain your ever growing financial bottom line. Each pilot you hire, each mech you own, costs you an operating cost each month. Fail to pay these fees, and you’re done for, game over man.
But enough of that, let’s get into the meat of the review. How’s the game actually play? That’s what you guys really care about, the gameplay!
The gameplay is what you’d expect an RTS to be. Similar to XCOM, you move a single unit (sometimes more than one) a specific number of tiles. After you move, you have the chance to attack, or hunker down and defend. Your units are varied, though you start with very basic “Light” units such as Blackjacks, and Locusts, you can earn your way up to the Assault tier for the big, mean, and slow, Atlas! Lights have the most range of movement, as to be expected. They’re main job is to scout the enemy. They’re lightly armored and lightly armed, it doesn’t take much to destroy these light units. However, get one in close, sensor lock an enemy unit, and let your big LRM (long range missile) boats pelt the enemy across the map!
Whether you’re in the Campaign or multiplayer, the core concepts are there. Move a unit, wait for the enemy to move theirs. You’re always trying to gain a tactical advantage over the enemy. Whether it’s Elevation, defilade, flank, or anything that can give you the upper hand in a fight. An example would be the use of your jump jets to counter or destroy an enemy unit. Let’s say you snuck your medium unit up a cliff and the enemy cannot see it. That enemy will advance towards you and when the moment is right, you can jump jet right on-top of the enemy unit to destroy, or severely maim it. You can also jump right behind a unit, if it’s close enough, and shoot it right in the rear get get some major damage on target. It’s the small features like this that really make the gameplay.
While the core gameplay mechanics are indeed great, it’s all fairly bare-bones. A lot of features are still missing, or a work in progress. Many more mechs will be released, and many more features as well. One major feature I was hoping would have been in the final release was Co-op, or at least 2v2 PVP. As it stands at this moment multiplayer consists of 1v1 combat. That’s not horrible, but would be a lot more fun with more players involved.
One aspect of the game I really love is the ability to customize each mech your own way. While being limited to a tonnage system where each mech can only have “x” tonnage, you are free to pick and choose what weapons and equipment each mech have. Each modification you make costs money, and in turn, time to build/repair. All of this goes right into the financial system that you are required to pay every month. If we were stuck with stock mechs, I think the game would be much more bland and boring. I really enjoyed putting nothing but a Large and Medium laser in my little Locust with no armor! Surprised it stayed alive all this time too!! You get up to 3 bays to fill with mechs, which you unlock as you play the game. Each bay can hold 5 mechs. Each mech that is in a bay counts towards your monthly expenditure. Putting the unused mechs into storage will negate that cost.
At the beginning of the game, you are locked to a small playfield. Due to story constraints, you are unable to go just anywhere you want. As time goes on, and as you progress through the story, you will unlock the ability to use jump ships to go anywhere on the map of the universe in game. Allowing you to seek out easier, or harder contracts to build C-Bills or find great Salvage for new mechs as you choose. I really liked this portion of the campaign. While the story was short, as you’ll see below, being able to do these side missions as you choose makes the difference.
Let’s be honest here, the story is rather bland. It’s short and straight to the point. You basically know where you’re going right from the start, so it’s not really a surprise when you get there. More of a let down than anything. I’m not saying it’s bad, just short and could have been done differently for better effect. The cutscenes are all hand painted, which in itself is an awesome portion of the story. But aside from the cool cutscenes and the mediocre story plot, it’s very lacking. Being set in 3025, right in the middle of the Succession Wars, I expected more. I wasn’t expecting to be basically handed the end of the story from the beginning. It’s too predictable, in a game like this the story shouldn’t be so straightforward and short. The Succession Wars was a great period for BattleTech. They could have done so much with the plot to make this truly spectacular, but it is what it is.
Music and Art
One place this game truly shines is the soundtrack. Created by Jon Everist, the music is simply amazing. Truly fitting for the BattleTech universe. Any game can be great, but without a music score that really fits the ambiance it cannot truly shine, or be called great. With epic fantasy games, you need a truly epic soundtrack. Jon Everist succeeded in bringing that to BattleTech. Listen below for a sample!
The Artwork, in general, is really good. The Cutscenes alone make the game stand out. They’re beautifully created and assembled to truly impact the story. The unit models and the world are brilliantly created, and it just all comes together so nicely. The only downfall to the art of the game would be the ugly 3D character models in the portraits. Instead of using 2D painted artwork for the player, they choose a 3D model that allowed the player to pick from a range of appearances and then alter the lighting and angle of the portrait. Wanting this type of feature required 3D, and could have been great, but it seems very amateur in design and out of place within otherwise great artwork.
Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy the game for what it is. But no one can deny it’s an unfinished game. I feel it was a bit rushed to get to the starting line, and it paid the price for it. It’s now up to the developers to make good on promises made and bring in much-needed features (such as 2v2 or more PVP Multiplayer) and more mechs in general. Hopefully, they expand on the story and refresh the hideous 3D models for the portraits.