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BattleTech, Harebrained Schemes' highly anticipated turn-based tactics game with plenty of RPG elements and over 30 types of giant mechs, is now available on both Steam and GOG for $39.99 or your regional equivalent. The game offers a single-player story campaign that revolves around the fate and actions of an interstellar mercenary company, with PVP multiplayer and AI skirmish modes on top of that, all fueled by a ruleset adapted from Jordan Weisman's tabletop game of the same name. This explosive release trailer offers a good idea of what the game's all about:
And here's the official description:
From original BATTLETECH/MechWarrior creator Jordan Weisman and the developers of the award-winning Shadowrun Returns series comes the next-generation of turn-based tactical 'Mech combat.
The year is 3025 and the galaxy is trapped in a cycle of perpetual war, fought by noble houses with enormous, mechanized combat vehicles called BattleMechs. Take command of your own mercenary outfit of 'Mechs and the MechWarriors that pilot them, struggling to stay afloat as you find yourself drawn into a brutal interstellar civil war. Upgrade your starfaring base of operations, negotiate mercenary contracts with feudal lords, repair and maintain your stable of aging BattleMechs, and execute devastating combat tactics to defeat your enemies on the battlefield.
- COMMAND A SQUAD OF 'MECHS IN TURN-BASED COMBAT: Deploy over 30 BattleMechs in a wide variety of combinations. Use terrain, positioning, weapon selection and special abilities to outmaneuver and outplay your opponents.
- MANAGE YOUR MERCENARY COMPANY: Recruit, customize, and develop unique MechWarriors. Improve and customize your dropship. As a Mercenary, travel a wide stretch of space, taking missions and managing your reputation with a variety of noble houses and local factions.
- TAKE PART IN A DESPERATE CIVIL WAR: Immerse yourself in the story of a violently deposed ruler, waging a brutal war to take back her throne with the support of your ragtag mercenary company.
- CUSTOMIZE YOUR 'MECHS: Use your MechLab to maintain and upgrade your units, replacing damaged weapon systems with battlefield salvage taken from fallen foes.
- PVP MULTIPLAYER & SKIRMISH MODE: Customize a Lance of 'Mechs and MechWarriors to go head-to-head with your friends, compete against opponents online, or jump into single-player skirmish mode to test your strategies against the AI.
A number of reviews for the game is already available. For the most part they all paint a fairly positive picture with a few notable exceptions. Have a look:
PC Gamer 85/100:
I've got a few concerns about how difficulty varies from mission to mission, too. Noticing some strange spikes—battles that seemed wildly harder or easier than their listed difficulty rating—I tried generating the same battle twice by loading a previous save. The first time, I faced a heavy mech, two medium mechs and a heavy tank supported by a reinforcing lance of mixed heavy and medium mechs. The second time, I faced a squad of four heavy tanks supported by mixed medium and light mech reinforcements. The second version of the same mission—same objective, same payout—was considerably easier. Variance like this encourages the player to load a save rather than live with the consequences of a mission gone south, which is directly contrary to one of BattleTech's most pronounced strengths—the intricate relationship between the outcome of a battle and your overall campaign. There's no 'iron man' mode to force your hand, so it's ultimately on you to respect the negative consequences of a tough fight.
These are inconsistencies in what is otherwise an accomplished and fundamentally sound strategy game. BattleTech's success at making you feel—and want to live with—the interesting consequences of each mission is its greatest achievement, and will hopefully have an influence on other developers working in this genre. Where it fails, it fails because it doesn't fully implement all of its best ideas. Given the quality of what it accomplishes elsewhere, however, that's a good-faith sort of failure.
In all the other BattleTech videogames you’re taking factory-fresh mechs into battle, so the stories you play a part in are only those written by the developers. In BattleTech, the persistence between battles lets you weave a whole new plot through the game, one filled with characters and stakes that are wholly your own. There’s the pilot who, no matter what mech you put them in, always ends up in the hospital after a mission, the plucky Locust that, even when you’re fighting towering Assault class mechs, manages to dodge their waves of fire, and the stumpy-legged Hunchback who is always running behind the pack, trying to keep up with its friends.
The emergent story is only possible because Harebrained Schemes have done such a good job of tying together all of BattleTech’s systems - on and off the battlefield - and then applying pressure to them all simultaneously with the weight of your monthly outgoings. It’s a delightful struggle to play against, as every month you squeeze together enough credits to make payroll feels just as good as slamming the eject button on a mech surrounded by enemies - a desperate victory against all odds.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun Scoreless:
There is something great glinting just below BattleTech’s dour and crusty surface. So much now depends on whether future updates will dig for it or not – I pray they do. I’ve put an inordinate amount of time into playing Battletech, even starting the campaign over at one point, so convinced was I that I must be missing something or playing it wrong, but now I have reached an inescapable conclusion. If you want a picture of BattleTech, imagine a giant robo-tank silently firing an ineffective laser at another giant robot-tank – forever.
Impressive effort with a few noticeable problems holding it back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.
Perhaps BattleTech's worst crime is that, while it borrows many ideas from XCOM and augments them within its own deftly-weaved backstory, at the fundamental level - on the field of battle - it can't quite match XCOM's arms race-driven unit diversity or mission variety. That said, when it comes to having iconic suits of sci-fi armour balanced across wind-swept hillsides and firing laser beams into the night, it's almost impossible not to enjoy the spectacle of mechanical strides fighting at the scale and in the time signature they were originally designed to operate in.
Though it’s rough around the edges, has difficulty spikes and very much feels like the foundations on which Harebrained can build upon, the core turn-based tactical gameplay of BattleTech is great. Micromanaged the tactical combat is gripping and tense, whether you’re crossing your fingers that the damage won’t pierce your armour, or laughing as your mech punches a hole through the middle of an enemy. This could easily grow into something special, and I hope it does.