How BattleTech Hopes To Do Giant Mechs Justice

There is no shortage of classic MechWarrior games for PC. MechWarrior 2 was one of the defining 3D action games of the 90s, and MechCommander remains a beloved tactical game among the people who remember it. But you could argue that there’s never been a real BattleTech game, one that faithfully recreated both the tabletop tactical games and the kind of warfare portrayed in in the sourcebooks. The PC games set in the MechWarrior universe all had to make drastic departures.

Now, over thirty years after he created BattleTech, Jordan Weisman is finally getting around to making a PC wargame that does it justice. After successfully reviving the Shadowrun franchise on PC, his company has brought BattleTech to Kickstarter. It’s a descended from the boardgame in ways that the other PC MechWarrior games never could be. I spoke to Weisman about why things would be different this time.

“This is a turn-based game, and that allows us to dive a little deeper into what makes a mech a mech. When you’re real-time, you have to kind of… not allow the player to dive into that kind of depth because there’d be too much information overflow and decision paralysis,” Weisman said. “But with turn-based [play], we can have the user take that kind of information and micromanage the resources that are so valuable in the game: heat, ammo, understanding the discrete risks-and-rewards of trying pull off a complicated maneuver like a hairpin turn or death from above.”

These were elements that could be too fussy or complicated for action games or real-time tactical games. But they were also what helped make BattleTech an occasionally magical experience, and one that’s never been adequately brought to life on PC.

The greatest game of BattleTech I ever played was the last one. My friend and I would play it all the time in high school, to the point where we’d memorized half the fire tables and all the weapon stats, and could just focus on the Wagnerian spectacle of 180 tons of armored, humanoid war machines methodically dismantling each other with cannon fire, massive particle projects, flocks of missiles, and even bare metal fists.

The last time we played, it was the culmination of years of play together. We knew each other and we knew the game and played to each other’s level. It was a perfect bloodbath. Our two mech squads were largely destroyed, scattered in pieces all around the map, and only my Grasshopper still stood against his wounded Centurion at point-blank range. Nobody had any weapons left, or none worth considering. We’d all taken “critical hits” that had turned our mechs into shells of themselves. So I hit my jump-jets to try a Death From Above, a move that’s riskier to the attacker than the defender, and was never anything other than awesome and hilarious. One mech attempts to stomp the other into the ground like Goomba.

To my astonishment, it worked. His mech crumpled to the ground, limbs breaking off in the fall. But he looked in the rules and discovered his mech could still make an attack, since we’d ended up in the same hex. He kicked out with his remaining leg and swept my Grasshopper to the ground, snapping of my leg. We now had two disabled mechs, lying next to each other in pieces, locked in combat. With our mechs re-enacting the end of Warrior in the dirt, we decided to call it a draw.

It was a game that surpassed anything I’d ever done in a mech game, including classics like MechWarrior 2: Mercenaries or MechCommander. Even the best MechWarrior video games never quite managed to capture the sheer nuance of the BattleTech board games, with their painstaking management of heat, engagement ranges, and armor exposure. No game let you fight mechs past the point of dismemberment and disability. No game got across the sheer gladiatorial spectacle of mech warfare. These weren’t walking tanks. They were demigods.

That’s what Weisman wants to bring back to life with his upcoming BattleTech game. But it can’t be the game that I played all those years ago.

“The tabletop design, it amazes me, it’s the same 31 years later. And 31 years ago, that game was considered a modern design,” Weisman said. “It was less finicky than the games that preceded it. But by modern standards it’s not at all a modern tabletop game.”

This is sad, but true. I own the reissued edition from Catalyst Game Labs and discovered, to my horror, that the game involved a lot more math, resolution tables, and record-keeping than the BattleTech I remembered. I once tried to bust it out at a Christmas party and, an hour of setup and rule-explanations later, just gave up and joined everyone else in playing Mario Party. Even among a boardgaming crowd, its day was done.

“So why does it feature so prominently in people’s memories?” Weisman asked. “The same reason we look back favorably on a film we saw that meant a lot to us when we were a kid. …So I think it’s a matter of kind of what the emotional residue of the experience was. About the role the game and the universe played in our gaming and socializing while we were growing up. That’s is what we’re remembering. Our hope with the computer game is to take those memories, and that universe that we have that emotional connection to, and bring it into the modern world.”

As they’ve considered how to do that, Harebrained have naturally looked hard at games like XCOM for inspiration, even if most of its tactical level wouldn’t really work for mech combat.

“What we’re taking away from it isn’t the mechanics, but the gameplay loop,” said Mike McCain, creative director. “Most missions take 30 minutes, give or take, and you’re always having that nice loop between being on the battlefield and going back and managing.”

Weisman added, “There is the relationship between tactical micromanagement of units on the battlefield and the meta-management of a military force altogether. So the way we’re doing that is: you’ve got a military outfit that you’re managing, from salaries, to what gets repaired and what doesn’t, and the skill growth of all the MechWarriors under your command as long as you keep them alive.”

That split focus between battlefield combat and a longer campaign also brings the astonishingly detailed fictional military history of the BattleTech universe into play. Mitch Getelman, co-founder of Harebrained and the producer on the original MechCommander tactical game, pointed out that BattleTech was always more than just a wargame about mechs.

“The other thing, beyond the tabletop and the rules is the IP and the strength of the setting. Jordan’s always been really great at honing in on the core fantasy fulfillment of a world and an experience, and I think that’s one of the big reasons why BattleTech and MechWarrior has persisted in such a big way.”

He pointed out that BattleTech didn’t just spawn a lot of tabletop and video games. It also developed an intensely devoted audience of readers who followed the evolving future-history of BattleTech via a long and successful series of licensed novels. They told stories that stretched from the Machiavellian politics of the Great Houses who dominated the galaxy to the small dramas that unfolded on distant frontier outposts. And within that universe, few types of stories were as popular as the ones about mercenaries.

As MechWarrior 2 players will recall, if you take the “small business sim” angle out of MechWarrior, the game becomes very different and a little less interesting. There is little reason to avoid risks or refrain from brute-force tactics, which can reduce BattleTech combat to deterministic slugging matches.

“We really want to see players in that mercenary role going through that mental calculus looking at what the cost of victory is versus the cost of defeat. Figuring out that maybe I need to withdraw from this battle because even if I win it I’m going to lose a fortune, so I’ll take the hit to my reputation for withdrawing from the battlefield,” Weisman said. “When every shot you’re taking has a longer-term ramification than just this mission, that’s really going to change how you approach the mission overall.”

Those battles should also be a little more complicated than most people got to experience in the MechWarrior series, or even the basic BattleTech board game. The MechWarrior universe was built on military sci-fi, with emphasis on things like battle doctrines, force composition, air support, artillery, etc. Yet most of the games were predominantly about mechs slamming into other mechs.

BattleTech is going to break this mold, and depict battles that are a little closer to the sophisticated combined arms encounters shown in the novels and sourcebooks. It also helps provide the sense of context and scale that makes mechs seems slightly less like big, silly robo-men.

“In a single player game, you want to be able to have a wide variety of units that are less powerful than you,” Weisman said. “Because for a mech to be the king, there have to be pawns. So that’s why the combined arms for the campaign are such an important component, to have that wider diversity of units available.”

Still, as the BattleTech Kickstarter winds down, Weisman and company also want to bring back that competitive tabletop experience I remember so vividly. The last stretch goal standing is multiplayer, which will be set in mech-only combat arenas, where you can play with a variety of different army compositions in a variety of different tactical settings.

“Multiplayer is a challenge from a design standpoint, designing something that will work as well as a single player and as a multiplayer game,” Weisman admitted. “But it’s a challenge we’re relishing.”

BattleTech’s Kickstarter will end tomorrow and is aiming for a 2017 release.

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77 Comments

  1. RedViv says:

    Aaaand PVP is in. GG everyone NovaCat4Ever

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      Timber Wolf or nout, obviously.

      However, given that I won’t be getting my hands on one here, I’ll settle for the wonderful Highlander.

      • Premium User Badge

        Philopoemen says:

        Star League Era battles…

        Amaris vs SLDF in 2750 – BattleTech has so many eras to play in, and the history of the universe is it’s major strength.

  2. Aeiou92 says:

    Astonishing just how much they got on kickstarter, considering the continuing improvement on the shadowrun games i’d wager this game is in excellent hands.

    • Jay Load says:

      I was surprised to see how much they’ve just secured for themselves. But that can’t be right, can it? RPS and others keep telling us the glory days of Kickstarter are done with, that gamers are all wary of it now, scared away by “high profile” failures and Double Fine messing everyone around…

      Or was that just horse shit? Congratulations, Harebrained Schemes, LLC. I’m now really looking forward to playing your game. It’s a series I’ve loved dearly and have missed terribly since Microsoft killed the Mechwarrior franchise. Welcome back, Battletech!

      • thelastpointer says:

        I hope that people are having a more sober attitude towards Kickstarter. “Hey, these guys already did it, so it’s a relatively safe bet!”

        • Jay Load says:

          Yeah, now that the initial buzz and craziness has died down, I hope Kickstarter establishes itself as a solid platform for funding low-medium scale projects, as well as opening the door for some high-risk experiments from new creators who may never get their chance otherwise. It’s a fabulous thing and I’m so happy it exists.

  3. Xzi says:

    So happy it reached all its goals. I was worried we wouldn’t get PvP multiplayer, and I don’t understand why that was the final goal. How can you have a Battletech game for carebears only? Oh well, it’s a lock now, and I’m sure I’ll love the single-player campaign too.

    • TechnicalBen says:

      Costs and engine. The engine is part made, and SP is just (theoretically) adding assets.

      MP is a whole lot of programming, testing and making servers/netcode.

    • Cinek says:

      Jesus Christ, another duchebag thinking that everyone not-playing his favourite mode are “carebears”.

      • Xzi says:

        I don’t have a favorite mode in particular, but this is a tabletop game being adapted in to a PC game, and it already featured PvP heavily. Removing that aspect of the game would have been quite carebear.

        • Razumen says:

          They can’t remove it if it wasn’t there from the start. Besides, there is already Megamek on PC for a faithful tabletop experience, fans of BT want a another good SP Battletech game confirmed before a PvP mode.

        • Bugamn says:

          What does carebear even mean? Not providing a PvP mode would be simply a consequence of lack of resources, not some misguided desire to “protect players”, which I assume is your definition of carebear.

    • Chris says:

      I’m the opposite. I was actually a bit disappointed they met the PvP goal because I wanted them to focus on single player. Every single multiplayer community has the same problems: 1) They crush casual players that don’t play endless hours a day, 2) require set time commitments that frustrate me.

      When PvP gets added, huge sinks of developer time get sucked into it and the entire meta-tools around it (match making, leagues and such) and the game I funded gets the shaft (hello Chaos Reborn).

      I like to be able to watch football while I play turn based games. I can’t do that if someone is waiting on the other end. I like to play for 20 minutes while waiting for dinner to cook, then stop and eat dinner with my family. I like to crank out a few turns on a lunch hour.

      • Themadcow says:

        Well said. Multiplayer usually means a whole lot of ‘balancing’ which has the horrible effect of making single player experiences more bland, while sucking away developer time like nothing else.

        • Xzi says:

          It’s quite a different story when we’re talking about adapting a tabletop game that already has a structured set of rules and is already (for the most part) balanced.

  4. LogicalDash says:

    Annnnd multiplayer’s funded. Yeehaw

  5. freecats says:

    Can’t wait for this. I love Battletech and I want a modern game that does the miniature game some justice. This doesn’t look like it will be going full nelson but at least it is a step in the right direction. I just hope the Mad Dog/Vulture in it. That is my favorite Mech.

    • Hanban says:

      I’m also hoping to, at some point, to see the Vulture. I just loved the design of that mech!

      • Hedgeclipper says:

        The kickstarter is set before they got into all that clan silliness. No doubt they’ll make it an expansion/dlc/new game at some point.

        • Doganpc says:

          While I hope they avoid mixing the two entirely, instead doing a second release (like Shadowrun Hong Kong) that focuses entirely on the clans or clan perspective. However, I could see the clans being AI or restricted to Clan vs Clan in Multiplayer though. Kept to their own little bubble, they’re a great hero/villain. Put into the common pool by players who won’t play according to the rules that kept them “balanced” and they’re game breaking.

          • Bugamn says:

            Maybe on a tactical game they can force players to honor those rules? It could perhaps interact with the reputation mechanic?

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            Philopoemen says:

            When they first came out on tabletop, we generally played a 2 lances (8) of IS mechs to 1 Star of Clan mechs (5). We didn’t understand zellbrigen at the time (I was ten), but it ended up being fairly fair at that ratio, as long as you stuck to canon variants.

            Ofc course it always generally devolved into melee at some point too lol

          • Doganpc says:

            That’s the problem though, you have to force players to honor those rules. Multiplayer games, you know people won’t care about reputation, it will be about being able to seal club people with clan mechs.

            8 vs 5 is ok, but even with that the range and efficiency of the clan tech does a good job of negating the unit differential. IS players generally have to be near perfect or just get really lucky on their rolls assuming they get close enough to get rolls. That’s my experience though :)

          • Bugamn says:

            One possibility for multiplayer is the use of a scoring system so that a player can lose even if their mechs are standing alone at the end. In this case infractions from honor would be deducted from the total, although some people wouldn’t care. Another option would be a mechanical implementation, so a pilot would lose “efficiency” if he acted dishonorably. But that would take some balancing. Or maybe implement some points systems so that battles are balanced, like suggest 8 IS against 5 Clan?

    • felis says:

      Mechwarrior Online, which shared their 3D mech assets with HBS, does have the Mad Dog, so there is a good chance to see it in some future iteration of BT :)

  6. spec10 says:

    backed this the minute I saw it. Can’t wait for the PVP on Solaris VII. If I get to pilot a Centurion, put a YLW tag on it, and maybe get to call myself spec10 Xiang Allard, it’s gonna be BT heaven for me. :D

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      Bluerps says:

      Hah, Justin Allard! “Sic semper tyrannis” blew my teenaged mind. :D

      • Chaoslord AJ says:

        Awesome plot-twist. Stackpole really is an underated writer.

        • felis says:

          One of the great things this KS brings is indeed some Stackpole novellas (or hopefully another novel).

  7. suibhne says:

    This is the only KS campaign where I’ve gone back and raised my original pledge.

  8. rabbit says:

    sounds pretty great.

  9. peterako1989 says:

    Im kinda bummed they gone with the new designs instead of the old ones. I don’t think its always cool to renew everything. That atlas from the would-be mechwarrior 5 trailer was way better than the new one.

  10. David Bliff says:

    Early coverage made it sound like it was basically just arena battles adapted from the tabletop, which I’ve never played. The fact that they’re making a macro-level game and sticking to the logic of the universe (allowing withdrawals, mostly) means I’ll be getting it for sure. I didn’t play the MW games enough to get a real understanding of the history of the universe but the physicality and (like Star Wars) limitations of the technology in the setting were always really cool.

    • felis says:

      That is largely due to the logic of kickstarting: They tried, and I think honestly tried, to get a realistic degree of development for the various funding levels figured out. I am glad they did hit the macro levels with overarching campaign and everything, tho.

  11. tnankie says:

    Just realised that one of the things that made warhammer: Dark Omen so wonderful was having to field below strength armies. The same money v’s power questions (do I commit my powerful but oh so expensive troops to that melee, I need them stopped right now, but I could use those two…hmmm) of course I’d then replay the mission to get a better result, you know, one where I actually made money rather than lost it :)

    So I really hope that there is an iron man mode and that I use it, does anyone else really stick to iron man and play it out if it goes less than well? I find that I only really use iron man in Europe Universalis IV and that is probably the steam achievements. Oh and bronzeman in XCOM-long war (allows you to restart a mission from the beginning if it goes tits up, but rearranges the starting locations of squads, pods, and Meld)

    • Xzi says:

      I’ll rarely do Iron Man as my first play through, but if I pick up the game mechanics quick enough in normal/hard I’ll either go back and play Iron Man or do that for my second run.

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    alison says:

    I’m actually kind of excited for this game. I pretty much hate turn-based games, and although i occasionally dip my toes into 4X, the moment a game lists turn-based tactical combat as a “feature” it gets perma-banned from my Steam wishlist. But Battletech: The Crescent Hawk’s Inception was the first PC game i played, ever. On a Hercules graphics adapter. With a green screen. I can’t help but feel a little bit nostalgic.

    I have no particular interest in lumbering mechs, since it seems an entirely inefficient way to build a futuristic killing machine, but that universe of Jason Youngblood and stock markets and underground resitance and melting baddies with napalm was ace. I know the turn-based nerds are loving Shadowrun, so i figure if i play any turn-based game, this should be it. And if they can hit the single player campaign out of the park, oh my, i could be a convert. They better let me make a battalion of puny swarming Locusts. Plus a token infantry guy. With an SRM.

    I love the smell of napalm in the morning.

    • Xzi says:

      As a gamer who enjoys many genres, turn-based included, I’m also nerd-loving Chaos Reborn, TYVM.

    • RegisteredUser says:

      I also had Battletech: The Crescent Hawk’s Inception be one of my earliest gaming memories.
      The variety and depth of that game as a C64 game still blows my mind, considering we are looking at a $2.5 Million game that is promising us a less broad experience decades later.

      I sincerely wish this insanely epic hodgepodge of writing tidbits, adventure, action and hardcore tactical fighting would find its way back as a more frequent occurence in gaming. CHI truly did a lot of things at once, but most of all it really drew you in.

      Also shooting an inferno launcher at human enemies was priceless. Now that’s what I’d like to see in high-fidelity graphics sometime now that we are there.

  13. EhexT says:

    “But you could argue that there’s never been a real BattleTech game, one that faithfully recreated both the tabletop tactical games and the kind of warfare portrayed in in the sourcebooks”

    While not faithful to the Tabletop rules, Mechwarrior:Living Legends was the most faithful-to-Battletech game ever made. Elementals, Tracked, Wheeled, Hover, Aerospace and Mechs. C3 systems and electronic warfare. Dozens of Mechs with multiple variants each. The best depiction of pretty much all BT weapons (low-caliber ACs have never felt so good and so USEFUL), Clan weaponry that was actually balanced. The most outrageously interesting terrain (rapidly spinning asteroid with quick day-night cycle and varying ambient heat level as well as freezing/melting lakes? Yeah.)

    Then the MWO devs killed it.

    • YoYoFoSho says:

      I agree. That MWO game killed all hope I had in a decent, new MW game. And then they ruined it f2p and overall terrible game design decisions to cater to the bane of modern gaming: the matchmaker. That MW:LL attempted SO much more by adding all that stuff, but mwo dumbs down it all down into Mech Death Match – The Game. And don’t forgot the awful, awful grind, which no Mech Warrior game has ever been about.

      • Cinek says:

        Most Mechwarrior games were Mech vs Mech, nothing more. MWLL was great because it took on new path, away from the Mechwarrior standards.

        For me the Mechwarrior Tactics was what killed any hope for a decent Mechwarrior game. It was an ultimate flop. MWO at least got some nice elements in it (eg. arts design) and is still proper, playable game that’s actively being expanded. The biggest problems they had (have) were the community managers, moderators, guy(s) responsible for game balance (I’m still laughing how they changed missiles from being useless to the most overpowered), and whoever was picking the priorities of the development. There were some secondary factors, like the fact that it was simply overhyped for what the devs actually developed, but still… IMHO it wasn’t as bad as many people make it to be.

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      Philopoemen says:

      MegaMek was the most faithful. And free.

  14. Doganpc says:

    I love that they want to do combined arms, “Because for a mech to be the king, there have to be pawns.” Perfectly stated. Really excited for a Battletech game where all the paperwork is handled by a computer and I get to just live in the moment. Rather than in a rulebook that I can’t get anyone else to read so we could actually play.

  15. Dunbine says:

    I almost cried (again) at that Warrior reference.

    Also, supported.

  16. Razumen says:

    I hope they can keep a lot of the detail and nuance of the tabletop game in, like falling over, skidding along a road after running and tripping, jumping on peoples heads, kicking, punching, etc.

    If all it is is just shooting at one another that will be immensely dissapointing.

    • Cinek says:

      Then prepare to be disappointed. I for one am very happy with just the shooting part as lone as it’s done well. All the stuff you mention would be an added bonus, a new horizon to explore.

      • Razumen says:

        Kicking and punching are pretty trivial to implement, and falling over/tripping are a fundamental gameplay mechanic from trying to push your pilots piloting skill too far. Not to mention that falling over HAS to be implemented anyways for when Mechs lose a leg.

        I don’t think I should have to argue why jump jets absolutely NEED to be in the game either.

        I’m glad you’re excited, but it’s not a Battletech game without these things at all. It should just be another turn based game with fancy graphics but shallow-ass gameplay.

  17. Tarfman says:

    Why was the PvP so far down the stretch goals. Multiplayer is an integral part of most modern games. To be honest I thought it stank that it was the last stretch goal. Just thought they were been greedy and put it there because there are so many mech fanatics out there that they knew they would probably get it. If voice acting and artwork were at the end instead I don’t think it would have made the 2.5. Just stinks to me.

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      Point A- from observing this kickstarter and the reactions on places like RPS, you seem to be alone in that opinion

      Point B- ‘greedy’? You don’t know HBS very well, do you?

      • Tarfman says:

        Maybe greedy is a bit much but my main point is that I don’t think they would have got that money if the MP was further down the pecking order. I think the MP was put at the end cause they knew that they would have more chance of making the 2.5 if it was there. Its a good way to make more money for development. I’m looking forward to the game.And am a fan of battletech.

    • Hedgeclipper says:

      Getting PvP working requires fiddling round with potentially fiddly network code and lots of people don’t care about it + if you don’t have a good game to start with (ie all that other stuff) no one will play the multiplayer – it only makes sense to make that the last point.

    • FelixG says:

      Because we already have one multiplayer game set (kinda) in the Battletech universe kicking around, and it is complete shite.. We don’t need another multiplayer focused game. I would much prefer voice acting and artwork to multiplayer.

  18. Doganpc says:

    I like that they’ve researched XCOM. I liked the new one, had just enough %Odds, Management, and Investment while still being paced well for today’s ADD and time strapped entertainment demands. I want to look at my options, see the odds and choose my method of execution defying those odds.

    Ooooh, do you allow people to save? A game like this, i’d love to see released as a rogue type. You get to save up to the moment you left, not go back and retry each mission until you “get it right.” Man, I need to get on their feedback board!

    • YoYoFoSho says:

      They are going to have a regular mode, presumably with saving, and also an Iron Man mode where the decisions you make you will have to live with (non-save scumming mode).

      • Kaeoschassis says:

        Pretty sure I’ll be playing Iron-Man. I want my losses to feel like they had an actual impact. I want to care about my Mechwarriors.

  19. aircool says:

    Mechs… the only shooting games where aiming at the crotch does actually incapacitate the target.

  20. Kaeoschassis says:

    Obligatory mention for Titans of Steel: Warring Suns, which is a fairly good digital interpretation of Battletech’s rules but not actually a Battletech game. It’s ugly as sin and daunting to get into, but it’s there, and it’s also 100% free, so if anybody wants something to tide them over, there y’go.

    So goddamned excited for this, though. And judging by that kickstarter campaign, so’s everyone else. There’s no doubt in my mind whatsoever that the mechanical side of the game will be brilliant, I’m just hoping the narrative/worldbuilding side is up to scratch, because that is, as your article pointed out, such a huge part of Battletech/Mechwarrior. Given how much I adored the Shadowruns though, I don’t see that being a problem.

  21. racccoon says:

    I just worry that they don’t over do it & don’t make it like a supreme commander one either, because battletech is battletech.
    Beautified graphics do not make game any more unless it has good original game play.

  22. Premium User Badge

    Philopoemen says:

    As a former BattleTech writer, I have to stick to my ComStar/Word of Blake roots and say “dirty mercs”, but the FedSuns in me is a little bit excited, even if I have to play a merc.

    Hopefully they go the 3rd Succession War, 4th Succession War, War of 3039 route rather than jumping straight into the The Clans in the inevitable sequel/expansion (it is HBS)

    And depending on how faithful to the boardgame it is, Iron Man only for me.

    The biggest issue will be making sure people can’t game the mech designer – old time BattleTech players players are well aware of the Medium Laser spam, which can take a bit of fun away.

    • FelixG says:

      Shhh, we don’t talk about the word of derp sillyness that ruined the later parts of the game’s story and lead to the terrible dark ages shite.

      Maybe they can use this game and those that come after it as a good lever to rewrite some of that dumb stuff. xD

  23. Rindan says:

    I am pumped for this. I like the BattleTech mechanics, and I am happy to see it be turn based so you can really focus on those instead of aiming your guns and frantically smashing buttons in real time.

    …that said, I would love to see a mech game that a real time action game that has multiple pilots. Getting overwhelmed by all the knobs is a real thing, and in real life we solve it by using multiple people. We really have seen very few games where multiple people cooperate to control one big nasty thing, regardless if it is a spaceship or mech. It is a hard mechanic to do as all the jobs need to “fun”, and you probably need a way to deal with people who don’t have a friend, but I would love to see some games give it a shot.

  24. jgf1123 says:

    If I were to read one Battletech novel, what should it be? I think I read one Battletech novel. It might have been a novelette or short story; it really didn’t make an impression on me. Maybe Battletech fiction isn’t for me, maybe I just started in the wrong place. Where should I start to give it a fair shake? (Oh, and I backed the KS when it hit the mercenary campaign.)

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      Philopoemen says:

      “Warrior” Trilogy (En Garde, Riposte, Coupe) by Mike Stackpole for the history of the universe, and set up of the political structure of the great houses.

      Wolves on the Border by Bob Charette for the best 3025-era story to cover how battles are actually fought.

    • FelixG says:

      I am very fond of the Blood of Kerensky series (Lethal Heritage, Blood Legacy, and Lost Destiny) as they give a good look at the innersphere, clans, and have compelling characters and story.

    • Cinek says:

      Blood of Kerensky series. You’ll read the first one – you’ll want to finish it. It’s basically everything you’ll need to know about BattleTech universe unless you want to go into some specific details, in which case you’d be better off by reading BattletechWiki than reading tons of books (as with every large universe – many (most?) of them are between bad and very bad).

    • thetruegentleman says:

      Perhaps it isn’t a book you should read: I suggest reading the on-going Battletech game at: link to forums.somethingawful.com.

      The first page give a good description of what the houses are like, and many of the more popular characters make an appearance in the between-mission fluff. You won’t have any idea who all these people are, of course, but that doesn’t matter: their all very different from their book counterparts in some rather important ways, courtesy of audience votes.

      Basically, it’s a decent way to find a character or mech group you might be interested in, and thus allows you to go from there to whatever books you might want.

  25. Pazguato says:

    Great article and interview!

  26. vahnn says:

    Multiplayer’s in. I officially cannot wait.

    I was really hoping for some kind of co-op mode, be it campaign, mini-campaign, or skirmishes vs AI, but 1v1 PvP multiplayer is still excellent. But… How about 2v2 PvP? Pretty please?

    • MrPyro says:

      Co-op is listed under things that might get developed later depending on exact funding levels:

      “Funding after $2.5m will go into polishing the features and content we’ve already committed to. After that, any additional funds will go toward funding a Post-Launch Live Team that will continue developing additional features and content. First among them will be Cooperative Multiplayer, which will allow you and a friend to face-off against AI opponents.”

  27. Jungle Rhino says:

    This looks glorious – as an avid tabletop/board gamer I picked up the recent Battletech re-release which is great but definitely not a ‘modern gaming experience’. But boy it provides some beautiful moments. Highlights include my AWS-8Q lighting up a completely unscathed CTPL-C1 with his 3x PPCs. 2 out of 3 hit mech – BOTH hit the cockpit!! BOOM headshot :) Also equally hilarious my sneaky Jenner who ran behind my opponents Atlas to shoot it in the butt. Atlas calmly turns around, strides over and *KICKS* my Jenner in the leg. Inflicting so much damage that both the leg AND side torso were wrecked – which saw the arm fall off as well! He was literally kicked in half!! Epic cinematic moment :)

  28. PhilBowles says:

    This could be promising. I did enjoy Battletech as the original wargame, but very rarely had an opportunity to play it, and none of the computer games appealed. There was one good CCG attempt, but massively overpriced and either short-lived, or I just dropped out of it.

  29. J. Eel says:

    I was only peripherally aware of Battletech back in the day but it was such a gravity well on the scene that even I knew some of the mechanics by osmosis even if I never gleaned anything about the setting. I really hope that whatever they wind up doing, they use hexes and elevation and range bands and heat points so on. I love the new X-Com and the Shadowrun Returns games, but after years of using 2 or 3 moves on a square grid to either take cover or flank a target, the idea of having a whole new way of looking at combat is really appealing. I am really, really interested in the prospect of the action economy having a risk-reward system, and in the kinds of insane outcomes of unlikely interactions of mechanical minutiae described in Julian’s last game. There’s a lot to be said for elegant simplicity, but you can keep that player-facing while letting the machine do the byzantine rules crunching.