BattleTech Review

If you liked Mech Warrior you’ll like BattleTech, too!

Do you remember games like Mech Warrior, Mech Commander, or more recently HAWK 1 and 2? If you liked them, chances are you’ll enjoy BattleTech, too. After almost 16 years of waiting, a new mech based game is seeing the light of day. Developer Harebrained Schemas (best known for the Shadowrun series) finally released BattleTech in April, 2018, a mech inspired turn-based strategy game.

The game runs on Windows, MacOS X and Linux platforms. The publisher notes that you need to have at least a four core processor with 8GB RAM and a 1GB GeForce or Radeon graphics card to play the game.

Our story begins in a distant future

The story begins in a part of Milky Way galaxy called Rimward Periphery which is colonized by humans. In a small cluster of planets lies a parliamentary monarchy called Aurigan Reach. After many years of peace and prosperity, Lord Tiamati Arano and his wife Sara are killed in a transport accident. Next in line for the throne is their daughter Lady Arano. The tutorial and first mission are set on the Aurigan Reach’s capital planet, with your character hired by the leader of Arano family’s security team. Your mission is to escort Lady Arano to the crowning ceremony. On the road to the capital city (surprise, surprise) your uncle Santiago Espinosa raises a mutiny and crowns himself the ruler of Aurigan Reach, giving Lady Arano the role of Hamlet in the story.

My first impression: the game is a bit slow..?

I am a big fan of Paradox Interactive and I first saw the trailer for BattleTech back in February. It was a short cinematic explaining game mechanics and the single player campaign. I was pretty excited when the game was finally released on April, 24th. After installing, I started playing the single player campaign. When you start the game you can choose a region of Milky Way galaxy as your origin, why you left your home and why you became a Mech warrior. In the tutorial mission you will learn about the battle mechanics, camera movement etc. I have to admit, at the start I wasn’t impressed with BattleTech. The game appeared too slow for me, and I was even considering stop playing after the tutorial and first few missions. But soon afterwards, a vast universe opened and the real fun began.

Every Mech pilot has four attributes: Gunnery, Piloting, Tactics and Guts. Each of these attributes changes the characteristics of the mech. Your character is a leader of a group of mercenaries called lance.

You never have money when you need them

In the first real mission, BattleTech puts you in a difficult situation. Banks (yes, they are in the game, too) constantly threaten you with seizure of your ship and Mech’s. Money is quickly running out and you have to do missions to survive.  When the battle finally starts, your lightest units move first and heavy mechs start later. I was surprised by BattleTech’s attention to detail. You can aim different parts of the enemy mechs (going for their legs was my fave) and in this way either bring down the enemy quickly or destroy some of their more powerful gear. You must watch your units too, because the AI targets you in the same manner. When you accept the mission, you negotiate with your employer whether you will only take money, the remains of destroyed enemy units, or a combination of both.

As you complete missions, you’ll have damaged units that need repair. After one mission, I managed to pickup a heavy mech and I had to invest a lot of resources and parts of other mechs to make it fight-ready. When you decide to upgrade your mech, you must take care of the overall weight. Whatever you put on your robot makes it heavier. You have to decide whether you will sacrifice armor for firepower or go for some balance of both (usually a good idea). All this costs money and time, both of which are scarce. I was at the brink of bankruptcy because I had my mechs up for repairs and upgrades.

Sunrise in BattleTech looks great

I was surprised at how much detail the map has. Harebrained Schemas’s programmers devoted a lot of time to graphics and it looks very good to my eyes. There are many small details, like the damage mechs get during battle. The audio is also great, with laser and cannon sounds effects, believable voice over and engaging soundtrack. The animation can look a bit stiff, but isn’t a bit of stiffness to be expected from 80 ton metal behemoths?

As far as multiplayer goes, you can fight other player’s mercenary groups, but you’ll need to have a Paradox account as their service pairs players. The system itself works pretty enough. I spent hours and hours of playing multiplayer and I had tons of fun, with only a few instances of lagging or disconnecting.

BattleTech critical reception – Is it any good?

As I was writing this piece, I glanced at the comments of other players who played BattleTech. On Steam, 73% of the players (down to 70% after publishing) had a positive opinion about the game. I generally agree with most of the comments. Some were about how the world deserved a good game of giant robots and that the wait has paid off. There were, however, negative comments about AI issues, plot holes, a restrictive universe map, too many random missions and so on.

The AI does have some problems. It lacks any sense of self preservation which can take a bit away from the immersion. AI mechs continue to attack your wounded mech, regardless of the tactical situation and just seem to want to cause as much damage as possible to the player – they simply don’t have a mission goal, or any strategy.

On another note, while the story missions are fun, you’ll have to do many random, farming missions just to stay afloat, have somewhat functioning mechs and stay ahead of the loan sharks (banks). And some of these missions can be a grind to do, not to mention repetitive.

On a tactical scale, light mechs soon become a liability and you’ll be going in with heavy mechs as soon as you get them. It a shame really, as the game could have been much better balanced.

However, if you are into BattleTech (by FASA) lore, you’ll enjoy what’s on offer here. Granted, some liberties are taken with the world building, but that’s to be expected in a video game transition. Even if you haven’t heard of BattleTech before, but you like science fiction and turn-based strategy/tactical games (maybe you’ve enjoyed X-Com), you’ll likely get a kick out of BattleTech. I surely got mine and for those who also fall in this category, I have to recommend the game, with a caveat.

If you aren’t into the lore, or giant robots in general, and you are just a casual strategy gamer, you probably won’t make it past the early stages. If you already got the game, try focusing on the story missions and only farm the bare minimum to keep you aflot – you’ll enjoy the game much more. It really does start slow and many elements still feel like a work in progress.

On the other hand, if you are easily annoyed by bad AI, unbalanced missions, weapons or party selection, just wait through the $200 worth 15 or more DLCs that will make the game truly great and get it on discount. You’ll enjoy the game and feel mighty smug that you got the best of Paradox.

P.S.: Expensive DLCs are already rolling out. BattleTech Flashpoint DLC is coming out this November (with a hefty $18 price tag), while we can expect Urban Warfare sometime in 2019.

Conclusion

+ Pros

Challenging combat
Compelling story based missions
Sci-fi narrative

– Cons

AI lacks refinement
Farming is a grind
Many elements feel unbalanced

Gaming Guide Score

Story - 8
Gameplay - 8
Graphics & Sound - 8

8

We Like It

The game is 5-6 DLCs short of being truly great, by Paradox standards. But if you are a fan of the lore, sci-fi in general, or turn based strategies with tactical combat (think X-Com), you'll have lots of fun. In the end, we do recommend it. I am eagerly waiting for the DLCs and will give the game another try in the future.

User Rating: 5 ( 1 votes)

About Mark Veljkovic

Mark was born in Serbia. He has been interested in computers since he can remember. After playing Sid Meier’s Civ for the first time he fell in love with gaming and to this day he is a passionate gamer. He enjoys real-time strategies and FPSs, but he is also into RPGs. He is the Art Director of the site and a part of the Editorial team.

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