Battletech is a franchise that dates back to mid-80s when it originated as a tabletop wargame. The new Battletech is a faithful and fun recreation of Classic BT that was played using dice, paper record sheets, and figurines. The project first appeared on Kickstarter with Harebrained Schemes (the same people who worked on different Shadowrun games) on the helm.
The game takes place in the year 3025 with humans inhibiting the space referred as the Inner Sphere. The Inner Sphere is plagued by a series of war for nearly a thousand years. The powerful are doing everything in their power to bring down their rivals – think of it as A Song of Ice and Fire with mechs and not dragons.
These powerful folks often call upon Mercenaries to do all their ugly work that is where you come in. You fill in the shoes of a Mercenary living away from the Inner Sphere in a place called the Aurigan Reach. As the commander of your own Mercenary Group, you have the liberty to do whatever you want in the long-running civil war. Whom you decide to support and bring down will offer rewards and exciting challenges.
When it comes to gameplay, you have complete command over different aspects including but not restricted to jobs, random events, costs, training, etc. Think of the gameplay as an amalgam of combat and management. Both of these systems are fairly deep and you will be required to fix your mechs after a battle. You will not only be required to use the most effective combos but also keep your mechs battle-ready.
Like MechWarrior Online, you can manage abilities, armor, weapon heatsinks, decide which mechs to deploy, and refit them depending on scenarios. Everything fits in together to create a fun gameplay experience with the Targeting Simulation being a cherry on the top. While both the XCOM and Battletech have quite a lot in common, the latter has a deeper progression.
You also have the liberty of altering your squad depending on a mission’s requirement. There are a lot of decisions to be made and that is where Battletech excels. On top of that, Battletech boasts a robust Customization System. You can tweak everything from weapon system to armor, provided you can enough resources at your disposal. This is where contracts come in; you are a Mercenary after all.
During the course of the campaign, you will accept different jobs – some uglier than the others. Nevertheless, you do what a Mercenary is supposed to do: accept a job, get it done, and get paid. As the commander, you are needed to pay for maintenance, repairs, employees, invest in new mechs, and more. To ensure that you have a steady flow of cash to pay for all of this, you should definitely invest your time in completing these contracts.
While this may seem like a lot on paper, everything seamlessly fits in together to create an immersive system that is both fun and engaging to discover. Discovering things is something you will have to do for a quite a while, especially if you do not have a semblance of the game’s history and lore. Battletech fails to hold your hand and does a subpar job at explaining different systems. However, once you get a hang of things, you will find a deep reward system at the heart of it.
Speaking of Battletech’s visual fidelity, there is nothing to be excited about. It is an okay-ish game in the visual department and that is about it. The cutscenes are incredibly simplistic that play like a motion comic and deliver the message. Animations accompanying the turns can be annoying but it is something that you can adjust from the settings.
What takes the cake, however, is its incredible sound design that encapsulates the soul of Battletech to nigh-perfection. Jon Everist did a pretty good job of capturing Battletech’s brand of space opera. Harkening back to older MechWarrior tracks and even Star Wars. The game’s story, however, is presented with the help of dialogue boxes. Characters, even when saying something, just stare into oblivion.
It is also important to note that Battletech also boasts PVP in the form of 1 vs. 1 Skirmishes but according to Harebrained Schemes, it is more inclined towards friends having fun than something that offers a high level of competitive play.
Overall, Battletech feels and plays like a Battletech game that will appeal to its hardcore fans. For new players not familiar with Classic BT, there is definitely a steep learning curve combined with some convoluted systems and poor design choices that can put off some players.
A review code for Battletech was provided by Paradox Interactive.