Review: BATTLETECH (PC)

Developer: Hairbrained Schemes
Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Platforms: PC
Genre: Turn-Based, Strategy
Rating: n/a
Price: $39.99

 

Funded by Kickstarter backers, BATTLETECH is a tactical combat game set in the Mechwarrior universe. From an isometric perspective, players will control a squad of up to 4 ” Mechs” (Editor’s Note: This is the developer’s designation, which we will maintain for this review). Players can also engage in some light role-playing elements via skill trees and conversations out of combat, as well as making their own character. Sadly this ‘Mech needs to go back to the garage, as game-breaking bugs are still present as of release day.

Content Guide

Violence

Players engage in mech-on-mech combat with a variety of futuristic weapons including missiles, lasers, and guns. Pilots can be killed or injured but no blood is seen on screen. Mechs can be blown up or damaged, including limbs blown off. Buildings and surrounding areas can be damaged or trampled by player or enemies.

Spiritual

In a in-combat communication, gods are referenced by a character in despair: “Oh my gods!” This happens twice, but no other mentions of religion are present.

Review

After playing my review copy for a few hours, BATTLETECH updated again, and after that, would crash on startup every time. I have not been able to get into the game since. So while I will not be able to recommend BATTLETECH in it’s current state, I will give my impressions based on the gameplay I did experience in hopes that it will keep it on your radar until such a time as it can be patched and debugged further.

This became a common sight. As a sidebar, I actually played more than just 2 hours, but the time played reset each time the game updated before release.

The game starts off strong with a good look at our possible future in a intro cinematic that has a motion-comic feelit reminds me of Titanfall, but with a hand-drawn style. After that I was free to create my character, which included changing my look, callsign, and instead of choosing gender I had my choice of pronounshe, she, or they. I was then able to choose my background, which gave me different bonuses to the 4 skill trees and later, specific choices in dialogue trees.

The motion-comic style of the cut-scenes is a highlight.

The introductory mission is good at explaining things as long as you pay attention to the tip pop-ups. In fact BATTLETECH  deserves kudos overall for how well it makes information available. Anytime words are in yellow and slightly bold, you can mouse over them for more information. It’s a good integration and doesn’t break the flow or annoy since you have to actively use your mouse to find out more.

I’m about to mess up this Panther ‘Mech. In the bottom right, you can see my weapons and their hit percentages. Players can disable weapons each round if it’s unlikely they’ll hit or if they will make you overheat.

Graphically, BATTLETECH feels like a double-edged sword. It looks great—’Mechs can lose arms and legs (and they persist on the battlefield), explosions look good, and trees lean away as your giant robot pushes by. Often when you move your last ‘Mech, the camera switches to a follow-cam that puts you closer to the action, which is great. You can change how often this happens in the settings. However BATTLETECH seems to take up a lot of resources, so if you’re sitting on the low end of the system requirements scale don’t be surprised if you have to dumb down the graphics and resolution all the way, which means you won’t get to see some of these graphical flourishes.

Charging into combat, Mechwarrior style.

In combat, players have several options at their disposal with each ‘Mech. You can sprint (moving far while foregoing a shot), move and shoot, brace, or even wait to take action. Times that by four, and it’s clear why some missions will take over an hour. This plethora of choice and tactical options is great, and makes combat really fun as you try to move your team into position without letting the enemy get the upper hand. You also have to balance your ammo consumption and make sure not to overheat, which can do just as much damage to your equipment.

This will be your view for most of combat. Players can also zoom and rotate the camera.

After a couple introductory missions, players are freed up to the open world and your ship where you can do a lot of cool things. I wish I could tell you about them, but that’s as far as I got. I also took a small look at the Skirmish mode, and it seemed to be what you’d expect – small battles versus the computer or friends, with the option to customize a ‘Mech to take into battle. I take no joy in this part of the review, but even after trying many different things including reinstalling twice, it still crashes before I even get to a menu. In it’s current state, I can’t really recommend it as a buy. I have a lot of respect for Harebrained Schemes and I loved their Shadowrun games, but they didn’t have these bugs in my experience.

This is the default loadout for the Atlas ‘Mech. You do not want to fight an Atlas ‘Mech.

Review code generously provided by Triple Point PR

The Bottom Line

 

 

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Andrew Borck

Christian/Husband/Dad/Gamer/Writer/Master Builder. Jesus saves and Han shot first.

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