BattleTech Review

The new BattleTech is the first of the games that will bring giant humanoid robots back to monitor screens. Sometime later in 2018, MechWarrior 5. From Software is rumored to be making a new Armored Core. Konami is re-publishing Zone of the Enders. And the Front Mission series will also return soon - though so far only in the form of a Left Alive spin-off. The ice, let's say, has broken.

For any fan of furs, all this is good news, because the genre has hardly shown signs of life in recent years. And so that he does not fall into a coma again, the creators need to take not in quantity, but in quality (it is possible to combine, but this does not happen). The new game Harebrained Schemes, if we consider all that has been said, may well be called the "first pancake". Yes, BattleTech can provide players with dozens of exciting hours of gameplay. The problem is that, having masterfully performed one half of the game, the creators did not get along with the second.

The main thing you need to know about BattleTech is that the developers have managed to adapt the rules of a tricky desktop wargame. Moreover, to adapt them so that the mind of the uninitiated does not explode. The authors carefully transferred all the key features of the board game to the monitor screens. In battle, you need to monitor the degree of overheating of vehicles, carefully look at the state of the armor and, if something happens, turn the mechs "unbroken" side to the enemy, and also think about whether to sacrifice armor for the sake of installing a new laser cannon.

And at first it all seems to be something very complicated and overloaded. But this is at first. After a couple of successful (although, rather, not very successful) battles, you will already know what to do to win with little blood.

In short, yes - with the main part of the game, with the battles and management of the mechs, Harebrained handled perfectly. But this cannot be said about the whole game as a whole. At one point, I came to the conclusion that BattleTech reminds me of Harvey Dent from DC comics. If anyone does not remember, Dent's face was disfigured by acid. BattleTech is half disfigured too - not by acid, but by plot.

All that the local plot is capable of is to gradually lead you forward, lulling you to sleep with unrealistically boring dialogues and a shaft of templates. The story revolves around the princess Cameo Arano, who one day lost her throne and was forced to flee. Three years after the coup, she returned, declared war on her uncle, who perpetrated the coup, and began a liberation campaign.

The protagonist of the game is not the Cameo itself, but a simple mech pilot who helped the princess escape from the army of her evil uncle. While the princess was accumulating strength, the hero served as the commander of a small group of mercenaries, and as a result, the princess went to this very group, connecting her to the struggle for the throne.

Frankly, I would not say anything against such a plot - yes, it is simple, but generally working. The trouble is that the writers of Harebrained do not know how to stop in time, so a simple story of betrayal and revenge is quickly stuffed with selective pathos. And stamps.

And during the course of the plot, you will have to restrain yourself many times so as not to start laughing at the predictability (and dullness) of the script. There is an ancient ship for you, in which the coordinates of a secret military base with a bunch of relics are completely SUDDENLY. And characters that pop up in the middle of the game, eager to REVENGE CRUELY. And the warriors burning with righteous anger, discovering that people are being oppressed and generally doing bad things to them. To hold back and not laugh is seriously, very difficult.

Trying to catch up on drama doesn't really work. "Oh my God, they tortured them here!" - the character exclaims, finding himself in the prison of the Bloody ™ Mode ™. "You killed my son - now I will kill you!" - the hero, whom we see (and hear) for the first time in the game, hisses into the microphone.

Another problem, albeit not so large-scale, is the open (not very large) world of the game, which is a small piece of the lower part of the Inner Sphere. On paper, everything sounds good - you can move between systems, look for various contracts for yourself, earning money, reputation and collecting new furs. True, there is no reason to do this. Flights between planets cost money - and if you don't have a contract where you fly, you will have to pay out of pocket.

Formally, of course, this makes sense - by earning a reputation, you increase the amount of money received for contracts and reduce the cost of buying in stores on the territory of a particular faction. Plus, different worlds have different assortment in stores, so if you haven't found something in the store, it makes sense to fly to another system and look there. The only trouble is that all this is not particularly necessary. There are also enough of those materials that you get from story and near-story missions, and I have never met any especially exclusive mechs and weapons on side missions.

Although, of course, if you look at all this from the point of view not of a player, but of a simple mercenary, then yes - if the contract is profitable, then you can jump far and wide. The problem is that the game practically does not throw contracts to which you have to fly through at least three or four systems, not to mention the other end of the map. Maybe, of course, I was so very lucky, but somehow I very much doubt that.

Each of these point systems can be visited, although some are not immediately available. The only question is whether you need it.

The flights themselves take time when you don't have much to do. Sometimes the game offers small random events in which all you need to do is read a couple of paragraphs of text and press one button. Events, by the way, are devilishly few, and they are often duplicated. Although, of course, I admit that only inveterate gamblers have gathered in my team.

In addition to flying and playing cards, "Argo" is needed to select contracts, improve ship systems and mess with mechs. With contracts, everything is simple - choose the one you like in terms of complexity / payment, take it and choose the desired reward. The default reward is divided between money, spare parts and reputation for the faction, and you will not receive reputation at the standard position of the sliders in the order.

As a result, you have to constantly choose what you need most - money, parts or reputation. If you want reputation, you will get little money and spare parts. Money was urgently needed - sit without reputation and details. You can, of course, not be too smart and always take the "average" reward, but then there is a risk of being left without everything at once.

You need money for two things (not counting flights between systems): to pay salaries at the end of the month and in order to repair (or alter) mechs battered in battle. Spare parts, respectively, are needed for the same: if your arm with a laser cannon was torn off in battle, then you will have to put a new arm and a new cannon.

However, if you want to rebuild the mechs by rearranging weapons or adding jump engines, then you will have to pay for that too. And wait until the engineers reassemble this Frankenstein monster piece by piece.

You can upgrade your ship to shorten the waiting time. It will cost you a pretty penny, but the mechs will be repaired much faster, which will allow you not to wait a month before the start of a new contract. There is an option - to have furs on hand for two or three tasks at a time, but this will also require money - the base hangar "Argo" holds only six cans at a time. Fortunately, you can add two more hangars, and have up to 18 normal soldiers for all occasions.

The process of arming the Mechs is one of the key elements of the game. Each fur is limited to a certain tonnage, which cannot be exceeded. Therefore, you constantly have to look for a middle ground between booking and firepower. You can, of course, make the fur either a "glass cannon" or an impenetrable wall, but this will only add to your headache.

There are a lot of factors to consider when equipping. Lots of energy-intensive cannons? Install heat sinks. Does the mech have low armor by default? Rockets and long-range lasers are your choice. Do you want to deal with enemies in close combat? Take a flamethrower, it won't be superfluous.

There are a lot of mechs in the game, and most of them also have several models. Some more laser pylons, some more rocket ones. Competent combination of all this in battle is the key to victory, so it is important to have several specializations in the mech hangar at once. Although, again, no one bothers you to run on missions exclusively with rocket mechs.

Mechs also need pilots. Pilots need to be hired, paid them a salary, treated after battles (if necessary) and pumped their skills. There are four branches of skills in the game - "Shooting", "Piloting", "Vitality" and "Tactics". Each of the branches offers two unique skills, however, each pilot can master two skills of the first level and one skill of the second level. So the specialization of the pilots has to be taken as seriously as the body kit of the mechs.

For example, a pilot who fights well in close combat would be logical to put on a mech that is capable of reaching the enemy and throwing iron fists at him. And it would be logical to put a pilot with the makings of a sniper on mechs with long-range weapons so that he would shoot enemies from afar. In heavy mechs, which by default have reduced initiative, it makes sense to plant tactical pilots with a bonus to initiative - this way you can walk faster and inflict significant damage on the enemy.

No one will interfere with pumping all branches in general, but this will take a lot of experience. And given that after battles, pilots often marinate in the hospital, practically not gaining experience, it is better to focus your efforts on one or two branches that seem to you the most attractive.

And finally, directly to the best part of the game - the battles. This is where BattleTech is best revealed, although to some it all may seem too complicated and hung with a bunch of unnecessary details. However, pretty quickly the game will explain to you why you need the ability to turn mechs back and forth, why you need so many different health bars, and also why it is important to keep an eye on the ammo. These explanations will be rather unceremonious, so prepare yourself for the fact that the first few missions you will return to the ship with a badly battered squad.

Your mechs are not monolithic, they are made up of different segments. Each segment has its own amount of armor and hull strength under it, and, accordingly, you need to monitor, first of all, just for this, and not for the general health scale.

It all works very simply. If you lose your armor on your leg, your leg will be broken and you will not be able to move quickly. If you lose your hand, lose the weapon attached to it and allow the enemy to hit directly into the “body” of the mech. Lose your head or torso - you will instantly lose your tin can. And if the fur eventually survives, then all this will have to be repaired, the weapon - to reinstall, and the pilot - to heal.

In battle, you constantly have to think not only about who exactly should be shot right now, but also how to turn to the enemy. There is no armor left on your left hand - turn your right side and continue the fight. We saw a gap in the enemy's defense - move your mechs so that they fall exactly there, and finish what you started.

That being said, you shouldn't risk it if you are not sure of success. The slightest mistake can cost you a pair of arms or legs, or even an entire mech with a pilot, although it is incredibly difficult to destroy someone here with one shot.

In general, there are several methods to disable the enemy. You can corny destroy the torso of the fur. You can kill the pilot - then the car will fail, but for this you have to work as a surgeon, cutting off the enemy's limbs. You can also break both legs of the robot, because without legs, the fur is also considered destroyed. In general, there are enough options.

To make life not too easy for you, in battle there are still many different variables that must be taken into account. The fur may run out of ammo - and then you will have to engage in close combat. The mech can lose stability and crash onto its back, giving opponents a great opportunity to practice accuracy. You can overdo it with shooting, and the mech will overheat, gradually "burning" from the inside. And if you continue to shoot, he will be out of order on the move, and you will still be lucky if his arms are not ripped off.

Shooting accuracy also depends on a lot of parameters. The arrangement of the bellows in height, the distance between the bellows, the skills of the pilot, the features of this or that weapon, the use of all sorts of terrain features like a forest, a dust storm or a mineral field - all this is taken into account, so here the percentage of randomness is minimal.

Sometimes it will be wiser not just to mindlessly shoot at the enemy, but to use some of the skills, change the deployment, or even try to move the enemy with a multi-ton fist on the head. Melee combat in BattleTech is generally extremely useful and should not be underestimated. And, you know, it's incredibly pleasant to watch how small cans are crumpled from one kick of a huge assault fur.

And you also need to take into account the fact that the mechs move in turns in the game. Battles are divided into five phases, within each phase mechs move with the amount of initiative equal to the phase number. Phases 5 and 4 are for light mechs, 3 for medium mechs, 2 for heavy, 1 for assault. Thanks to the combination of various skills and abilities, you can increase your initiative and lower the enemy's - say, an assault mech can be "dispersed" up to three units of initiative, which will quickly thin out the enemy ranks, getting rid of some unlucky mech. And knocking the enemy down, you take away a unit of initiative, making him wait a little longer.

Also, do not forget that different types of mechs have different conditions for mechs - for example, dust storms rage on Martian planets, ice mechs cool faster on ice. Also remember that not all missions are reduced to the destruction of the enemy.

In the end, all this results in a bunch of questions. Who is better to send on this assignment? What is the best way to equip mechs? Would it be better if you just take the cargo off the planet and run away, or try to engage in battle with enemy reinforcements in an attempt to get new mechs and weapons? In battle, the list of questions only expands, which in the end can affect the duration of the task - on some you can easily get stuck for an hour of real time, if not more. But not boring!

However, this is only in words it seems that everything is so complicated. After a few tasks, you will get involved and solve most of the issues with ease. And all this complexity and overload is more than compensated by the emotions that the game gives.

Have you invented and implemented a seemingly idiotic but effective plan on the fly, and it worked? Fine. Was your 'Mech able to smash an enemy' Mech's head with one railgun blast? It's time to open the champagne. The enemy missed a critically wounded ally with a shot, and you were able to take him away in time (or at least the pilot was ejected)? Carried away, we play further.

It is in battles that BattleTech reveals and gives a full-fledged gaming experience - different from other games in the universe, but also very interesting. Yes, the authors sacrificed some of the rules of the board for the sake of balance and playability, but for the most part everything is in place.

As a result, BattleTech evokes conflicting emotions. If you close your eyes to the plot and the unnecessary open world for nothing, then you will get a wonderful tactical strategy in which a squad of four combat humanoid robots diligently knocks out the crap from other squads of combat humanoid robots, sometimes interrupting for maintenance, going to the infirmary and playing poker. In this form, the game is almost perfect, and there is practically nothing superfluous in it.

But if you suddenly wanted a good space opera, the development of the history of the BattleTech universe or well-written characters, then you are definitely on the wrong door. In terms of scenarios, the game can offer practically nothing interesting, constantly drowning the player in the lake of pathos and trying to portray the drama. Fortunately, all of these plot inserts are mercifully short, and usually followed by another mission, where you can once again plunge into the sea of ​​numbers and tactics.

There are only two things that can get in the way, even for those who don't care about the plot at all - localization (there is none) and optimization (its - surprise! - also not). On a computer that is more powerful than the recommended requirements, BattleTech arranges two-minute downloads, eats a huge amount of RAM and loads the video card in a way that Final Fantasy XV did not always succeed in. Well, at least it doesn't crash - and thanks for that!