There is a lot of things to talk about Battletech. There is an even spread of things that makes me love the game and things that make me hate it. Battletech was released April 24th and I have put in more than 70 hours into it, so I believe it’s time to break it down.
The character creation feature in Battletech is really not important so I find it unnecessary to have too many options. One option became controversial only because the developer believes it to be important to have a 3rd gender pronoun choice. Some people started branding the game as SJW without actually playing the game. Most of this option has a very little impact in the game and most of the time the NPC calls me “commander” anyway. Without any regards to my chosen gender. Overall, they can easily pick a protagonist, much like Chrono Trigger, and be done with it. I think a lot of development time was wasted in this feature that could have been allocated to further improve the game.
The player in Battletech is a Mech pilot who became a mercenary based on whatever events that happened in the character’s backstory. Now, at this point, it has an eerie feeling of Guild Wars 2’s character creation that has no significance to the game other than having a special dialogue option. I’ll be honest, this whole thing is rather lame and so far I am not impressed. I rather be a character with a mysterious past than having a detailed past that does nothing to my character development. Another wasted feature.
Combat vs Front Mission 3
My first impression of Battletech after watching the preview videos is that it is very similar to Front Mission 3 I used to play in PS1. I was left disappointed when Battletech doesn’t include a lot of Front Mission’s combat features. For instance, Front Mission has shield and counter-measures like chaffs. Front Mission also has an option for the pilot to disembark. I admit that it is my fault to have this kind of expectation when the game is Battletech and not Front Mission. I have to play it as it is.
Randomness plays a big role, I mean mindblowing, frustrating role. The pilot skill also offers very little to mitigate the randomness making Mech customization less appealing. However, despite the shallowness of the Battletech combat, the sheer joy of proc-ing some random result makes up for it (e.g. Gauss Rifle headshot). Some combat scenarios are not properly balanced. The difficulty rating ranges from 1 to 5 and a 3 difficulty can sometimes mean it’s a 4+ difficulty mission with less than 50% chance of success because I am outnumbered by 2:1 and outgunned by 5:1. Having only 4 Mechs deployable at a time makes some combats really frustrating.
If there are saving grace for Battletech, the main story is one of them. I really love the story and I believe that it is well written. The voice acting of the NPC during the story and the mission is very enjoyable to me. It’s not hard to fall in love with Kamea Arano the rightful heir to the Aurigan Coalition. By the end of her story arc, I was expecting something like Han Solo and Leiah love story ending. But alas, it was not meant to be.
This is the part of the Battletech I find very entertaining and my girl Jessica “Glitch” Chernovskaya makes the combat as her playground. Glitch’s voice acting and dialogue always make me smile. Now compare to Aadya “Mockingbird” Mehra, Mockingbird’s voice actor reminds me of Taimi. The pain and fear in her voice send a chill down my spine every single time. There is a current obsession about Amir “Dekker” Kowalski. I must have missed something but in some videos I’ve seen, they placed Dekker in a tiny scout merch the Locus. It was hilarious seeing him in a tiny merch while others have 80 to hundred tonners. The Mechwarriors in Battlemech is one of the best features.
There tons of weapons in Battlemech and after playing for a while and understanding the pros and cons of each weapon, I have formed a very effective strategy. Auto-cannon is the best weapon for sniper pilots. I can have my pilot snipe the legs, the torso, or even the enemy pilot for an instant kill. However the best use for AC is to finish off knocked down enemies. As I’ve mentioned, the randomness in this game is insane and there is no 100% accuracy, the max is 95%. For missile salvo, 95% means very little, but for AC, it means a lot. So the strategy I form is to have Mechs with a high knockdown rating and have my sniper finish the target. The reason to aim for a knockdown is that it grants a focus bonus against the knocked down target. This allows me to focus on a certain part, for instance, the head/pilot.
Battletech is fun when it’s working and when in combat, but a big part of the game is space travel. Space traveling is very time consuming albeit it can be a good thing when my mechs need time for repair and my pilots need time to heal. This travel feature is very similar to Stellaris when the ship will go from one system to another instead of simply traveling straight to a target destination. Most of the time, seeing the same animation over and over again bores me. Then there’s a RAM issue. It takes up 6-7GB of RAM and really slowing down my system which also slows down the loading time. Compare to Rome 2 where there are many units involved, Battletech is really slow loading into a combat map even when there are only 8 units in total.
Harebrained Schemes, the studio who made Battletech, have posted in Steam about their future goals. According to their timeline, there will be no major changes until July or August assuming that everything goes according to plan. They have performance investigation scheduled and bug fixes in May. They also planning to add new features around June/July and more than likely August. So for now, I believe that I’ll wait for those patches and because at it’s current state, the game slows down after a prolonged play time. This issue is very similar to Stellaris at late game.
For the current price of $39.99, Battletech is still a good buy even if it only comes with the Aurigan story arc without the open world feature. I got the game at a discounted price from Fanatical with a 20% discount ($31.99 expires in 3 days from today).