BattleTech (PC) Review

By Eric Ace 25.04.2018 4

Review for BattleTech on PC

BattleTech is a long running science fiction and military franchise from the 1980s that has undergone numerous owner changes (including name changes, such as the multitude of MechWarrior games). The franchise itself has spawned a large amount of tabletop games, computer games, books and card games set around mechs. Five years since any other videogame release, this title seats the player in the cockpit of a mech to manage a rebellion both on the ground as well as the strategic components between battles.

The strengths and the weaknesses of BattleTech become apparent fairly quickly for anyone playing through the campaign. The pacing problems present in the story are similar to problems set in the actual battle portion of the game. The depth and options are interesting but far too often some aspects are incredibly complicated, whereas others are woefully simple. This is not to say the experience is bad, since it is actually interesting, but more that the flaws hold back what otherwise would have been a great package.

Screenshot for BattleTech on PC

From the beginning, this throws the player into a tutorial learning the basics of the combat acting as a student under your former teacher. The basics are pretty simple, feeling like the basics of any strategy game, such as Fire Emblem, where the player picks a unit, and then they move and attack after. It is a little more complicated, but these are the basics.

From the beginning, gamers create their character and, while a little limited, the options are interesting regarding various aspects of their past. Options range from picking their birth place, like the outer rim, or some core territory, and then things like what happened to your family, and past job. These things apply different stat boosts, and throughout the story give certain dialogue options based on their past. There are only four stats, excluding levelling up; this determines a major portion of your character's starting abilities.

Screenshot for BattleTech on PC

The battle system is where some of the flaws start to show themselves. Combat is divided into phases where the smaller mechs on both sides get to go before the bigger ones. For each unit's turn they get to shoot, move and shoot, or move further with a few special abilities, like revealing a unit so others can shoot it. It is interesting but far too often someone goes before someone else without much indication why and it leads to an odd hand-off feeling to the way battles develop.

Problems start appearing due to the way damage is done. When attacking, you have the option to choose from all the weapons on a mech to shoot, ranging from missiles, lasers, and so on, each either using up limited ammo or increasing the overall heat of the mech, which needs to be dumped and prevent further firing. The enemy is composed of various sections, like their core, arms, or legs. Depending on where it hits, it can blow off the limbs. The idea is pretty cool but leads to a very random outcome where a hit can suddenly do critical damage and the mech is stuck in place for the rest of the mission.

Screenshot for BattleTech on PC

Other issues that bog the game down are unnecessary depth to areas where others are oddly shallow. There are a lot of aspects to each weapon, such as range, heat usage, damage, accuracy, cost, and given that a typical mech has four-to-six weapons it becomes a chore to sort through what the best weapon might be. Hardcore players may enjoy this but casuals will be put off. Similarly, each mech has different enough stats that they need to be paid attention to, but not enough that it does more to annoy the player if they aren't on top of it. While varied mission objectives are fresh, they often devolve into 'fight your way here; oh, your backside suddenly is ambushed,' which takes a lot of planning out.

Likewise, the strategy part is similar in that some aspects are really watered down, such as only having four character stats, but then weapon and mech customisation is complicated enough that merely finding something 'good enough' becomes the norm rather than trying to figure out what the best ammo type to load might be. It is too bad as, like many parts of the game, with some simplification it would be immensely improved.

Screenshot for BattleTech on PC

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

While the story in BattleTech takes some interesting turns, and the combat is slow if serviceable, the game chugs along as playable with occasional moments of greatness. The major issues come from how combat is both too slow at times and too random, plus there are too many numbers to sort through for anyone short of the very dedicated. The structural problems are too ingrained in the game to easily fix, which is unfortunate as there is actually a solid package underneath the problems.

Developer

Harebrained Schemes

Publisher

Paradox Interactive

Genre

Strategy

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Jeff (guest) 25.04.2018#1

Sounds like the reasons you don't like the combat are a lot of the reasons fans of Battletech backed the game in the first place. We wanted a PC adaptation of the tabletop game, and for the most part we got it.

Jeff (guest) said:
Sounds like the reasons you don't like the combat are a lot of the reasons fans of Battletech backed the game in the first place. We wanted a PC adaptation of the tabletop game, and for the most part we got it.

The problem of the combat is it is way too lost in its own minutia.  Too much of it is just marching around, or figuring out decisions of firing guns that aren't particularly meaningful.  To clarify there are not many 'meaningful' choices offered to the player beyond a simple strategy, without the name 'battletech' on it, it would be a lot more forgettable than it is.  Strictly for fans of the franchise the strategy is serviceable, but for unaffiliated strategy players, the game simply isn't good enough to recommend in a glowing capacity.
 

Sam (guest) 09.05.2018#3

Main point is that this game is not for casual gamers, it's not a basic button bashing or crit seeking game, it's not an X-com (which I like otherwise).
But as for the rest (and I write as someone who never played the tabletop game), everything is actually very natural and no tutorial is needed to understand how things work, if it's not the first turn-based game you play: the initial combat makes the gamer learn the ropes the hard way.

Contrary to what I read in previous comment's reply, each single round means crucial decisions, do I stay back and hit from long range while staying in cover, do I go mid range or melee with the risk of being hit back, do hit 1 or multiple targets, do I focus 1 area, 1 leg, the left torso where this particular weapon is attached,do I position to hit the arm, the back, do I hope to make the mech fall down with rockets etc etc.... Result can be frustrating due to randomly generated hit calculations but that goes both ways (you may survive very hot situations).

Main drawback to me is the loading times at this stage (and you save often and reload often when it gets difficult). And probably that we are not restricted enough in terms of Mech tonnage for all missions. Otherwise, it's a much more satisfying an experience than Shadowrun, which was developed by the same studio. It's probably the most pleasant turn-based squad game I've played since original Jagged Alliance 2... That means since 1999.

MS (guest) 01.07.2018#4

Sadly, not a good game.

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