Wot I Think: BattleTech

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Update: though the below complaints stand, my feelings about Battletech’s tactical core have become significantly more positive as a result of continuing to play it following publication of this review.

I was perplexed to discover that my partner, also a home-worker, was wearing earplugs as she sat at her computer. There was, for once, none of the thunderous din of new kitchens or loft extensions being built in one of the adjacent terraced houses, and nor was my own PC’s volume set high as I threw stompy tankbots at each other in XCOM-meets-Mechwarrior turn-based strategy game/boardgame adaptation BattleTech. Stony-faced, she informed me that listening to me sporadically bellow “Oh god, it’s so boring” every few minutes is not terribly conducive to work. I didn’t even know I was doing it.

I don’t like calling things boring. It’s an aggressively dismissive criticism, and often says as much about the accuser as the accused. I’ve returned to BattleTech repeatedly, in different moods and with absolute determination to find the fun in a game made from components I usually thrill to, but I keep winding up in the same place: bored. And then hating myself for feeling that way.

It’s not that I don’t like what BattleTech is doing – turn-based strategy skirmishes between squads of giant, human-piloted mechanical walkers, in very much an industrial rather than fantastical vision of science-fiction. There aren’t many videogame elevator pitches that would appeal to me more. It’s precisely because of that that I’ve kept on blaming myself, rather than BattleTech, for how bored I’ve often felt. How could I not enjoy a game that might as well have been made just for me? Eventually, though, I had a moment of minor epiphany.

You have, I trust, played a Civilization game or six in the past. Y’know how thrilling it is in the early and even middle stages of a campaign, where the majority of your decisions feel meaningful and the ratio of you doing stuff vs you watching stuff happen is very much on the side of the angels? And you know how, in most Civs, so much of the late game collapses into a slow-motion war of attrition, these gigantic empires slugging away at each other with all the energy of a 58-year-old boxer in the eleventh round? And how that essential ratio inverts, until ultimately far, far more time is spent observing than doing?

A BattleTech battle feels like that from the first turn of each battle. The scales are tipped massively, maddeningly in favour of watching rather than acting here. Every animation is too long (even after all the ‘glamcam’ over-the-shoulder action sequence options are turned off), each action is followed by numerous ticker tape-slow stat and status updates, automated camera pans have all the speed and grace of a shopping trolley with four rusted wheels, and the entire game lapses into unexpected motionlessness for a few seconds as frequently as the exhausted pusher of said trolley. My heart sinks when new enemies lurch into view – not because of the (significant) threat they represent, but because more units means more waiting.

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I don’t think that redemption is impossible. Patches to my review code have tamed some of the pre- and post-action pauses already, and there’s no reason to think that more delays still can’t be crushed underfoot over time. Some tough decisions need to be made beyond that, though.

For instance, a Mech gracefully arcing its five different weapons and a stream of missiles through the sky sequentially, rather than simultaneously, is like watching industrial ballet the first time it happens, but multiply the several dead seconds involved by (on rough average) 12 mechs over 12 turns over dozens of battles. So many passive, tortured hours of waiting for the results. Same goes for the stomping – we all want stomping from a mech game, obviously, and high-speed stomping would just look silly, so an unhurried, AT-AT-like approach seems welcome. But 12 mechs, 12 turns, dozens battles: oof.

Clearly too, we want our Mechs to be heavily-armoured engines of death, not tissue-paper-thin ‘bots that crumple after one hit. In practice, the super-armoured approach taken is less like watching titans duel to the death and more like watching two people take turns to disinterestedly fire water pistols at each other.

The stuff you really want to see, like gun-arms being blown off, mechs collapsing to the ground as their legs are blown out from under them and death-from-above jump’n’stomp attacks, is in here. Such pay-offs have to be built up to only after several units’, and usually several turns’, worth of slow hitpoint attrition, with only minimal sense of consequence or tactility.

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Getting to that point does require careful tactical thinking on the player’s part, about where to shoot from, who with, with what weapon and sometimes with a coup de grâce special ability, and that process I do enjoy, despite my frustration at its slow-motion presentation. It is satisfying to see a tough enemy’s missile-launcher hand disappear in a shower or sparks, or to slam two car-sized feet into its chest if you’ve knocked it down, but getting there is such a slog. On the other side of the coin, sitting through six enemies queuing up to lazily pepper your most vulnerable unit with as many as two dozen individually-fired guns is hellish, when all you want to know is if your lad lives or dies at the end of it.

Smart tactical thinking and a smattering of novel TBS ideas underpin BattleTech; it is not at all a mindless slugfest, and it is not afraid to be challenging. Positioning and range and weapon type and heat management and exposed flanks and permadeath and all that good jazz is here. I wish I could tap directly into it, bypass all this damned time-wasting.

I like almost everything BattleTech does, but not so much how it does it.

BattleTech’s boardgame origins are self-evident, even if the finer detail of its rules are different from its venerable, physical source material. Two meatbags locked in deadly competition over the space of a couple of hours is a thrilling time, but the subtle differences inherent in playing against voiceless AI, adding animations to every action and reaction and keeping the fight alive for dozens of hours changes everything.

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A certain kind of pep is needed to re-inject the drama – your heart needs to be in your mouth almost every time you commit to a decision, VO and music need to build a sense of crisis, new enemies need to arrive at the worst possible time, rather than simply as a tedious matter of course. You need to never be more than a few moments away from taking the situation in-hand yourself.

BattleTech feels so functional in all these regards, going through the motions turn after glacial turn, and particularly failing in the matter of making enemies’ turns fast, vibrant and scary. My new mouse has already gained grey-brown stains where I’ve spent the past few days impatiently drumming my fingers upon it while I watch and wait and wait and wait for the fleeting opportunity to move a small distance, then shoot with almost invisible effect again.

Even the user interface feels flabby. Essential concepts are badly-conveyed by the tutorial, and the screen is drowning in arrows, meters and icons. I welcome complexity and variety, and mech-specific concepts like managing your tankbots’ heat or trying to carve away specific parts of your enemies appeal deeply, but here it’s poorly-taught and clumsily-presented. ‘Slog’ is the word that keeps coming to mind about BattleTech – even sussing out what’s going to happen when you move there or shoot that lacks the necessary at-a-glance ease. It’s not impenetrable: it’s just a slog.

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The abundance of slog could have been offset by a big personality. There are well-written and performed, lore-heavy cutscenes in between storyline missions (which you do not need to follow slavishly – there are plenty of narrative-light sidemissions, which you’ll need to do to pay the bills in any case). These don’t outstay their welcome, and they do on occasion lend some humanity to this cold, muted war of machines. By contrast, almost all is silence in-mission, outside of intro and outro dialogue.

I don’t want my pilots or their enemies babbling away while I’m trying to think, obviously, but BattleTech’s gone too far – it feels like no-one’s there at all. Just some long past caring robots duking it out in a dead world. It doesn’t even play to giant mech strengths all the much. Most terrain’s not deformed when your squad stomps over it, trees are not toppled by the weight of a 60 ton machine slamming into them, there are no puny humans to squish… The closest BattleTech gets to cannonfodder are more conventional yet still bullet spongey tanks, while I feel like I’ve seen its rather lifeless environments in two dozen other games.

I wish the Mechs themselves felt more distinctive, too. There’s an impressive range of different walker-types in here, which will thrill Battletech vets, but in practice most feel interchangeable – light/medium/heavy designation and short or long-range weapons is what matters most, and precious few mechs are immediately recognisable at a glance. I’d like to feel desperately proud and protective about my favourite mechs, but here it’s hard to care about them on a level beyond repair cost.

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I should point out that BattleTech is not all battles. There’s also a base mode with its own inelegant and baggy interface, in which you can repair, upgrade and buy mechs, choose missions, unlock pilot skills, chat to ally advisors and so forth, and most importantly worry about having enough money to do any of that. If I were an awful person, I might say that it feels a lot like this whole section of the game borrowed too liberally from XCOM then tried to hide it with unnecessary sub-menus.

In fairness, it is a lot more involved in terms of managing damaged/hurt units and having to field a B,C,D or worse team while all your best guys are getting welded back together. Equipping a mech with a range of situation-specific weapons, heatsinks and jump jets offers a degree of fine customisation that takes them far beyond templates, and I also like the system whereby you can choose to scavenge specific items from the debris of a successful battle. Round up three mech carcasses of the same type, and you get yourself a free mech. There’s no shortage of meat on these bones, which is why I’m reluctant to part ways with Battletech despite how often its treacly missions make my poor partner suffer my banal bellowing.

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There is something great glinting just below BattleTech’s dour and crusty surface. So much now depends on whether future updates will dig for it or not – I pray they do. I’ve put an inordinate amount of time into playing Battletech, even starting the campaign over at one point, so convinced was I that I must be missing something or playing it wrong, but now I have reached an inescapable conclusion. If you want a picture of BattleTech, imagine a giant robo-tank silently firing an ineffective laser at another giant robot-tank – forever.

BattleTech is released today, via stores including Steam, GOG and Humble, for $40/€40/£35.

270 Comments

  1. FurryLippedSquid says:

    Well that’s a shame.

    • fuzzyfuzzyfungus says:

      I, also, am saddened. I wanted this to rock.

      Only bright side seems to be that some of the pain points appear to be stuff that you could file down pretty easily rather than intractable core defects:

      Adding a tickbox option for “firing animations play simultaneously and/or are replaced by a damage summary because LRM-Missile-Massacre was only cool the first dozen times”, say, would not be major surgery and sounds like it would speed things up a great deal. (If memory serves XCOM had a similar problem, on a smaller scale because nobody had 10 hardpoints to discharge, and that was a mod level fix) It would remain to be seen if there is a suitable “don’t waste my time” vs. “OMG deathbots hell yes!” balance to be struck, you do want your giant, lethal, but sometimes clumsy and fragile, mech to feel good and visceral(which is exactly the sort of know-it-when-you-see-it unhelpful advice that is hard to execute; but at least adding “don’t waste my time” tickboxes to skip or run simultaneously almost all the delays imposed for animations at the player’s option would be doable).

      The complaint that the battlefield feels dead is probably trickier (though might make for a fun Total Annihilation total conversion, since ‘robots unutterably distant from humanity fighting an eternal war of attrition’ is central to the premise): I suspect that the devs didn’t just forget about “it would be cool if my 60 ton death robot crushed puny obstacles” or “background VO chatter is atmospheric”(Homeworld did a great job with that, both the original and the deserts of Kharak one; I still recognize the chatter that accompanied winning, even match, and “need a call here fleet” losing all this time later); but both of those are not necessarily quick or cheap to add. More destruction of terrain decorations maybe; but bringing back the voice actors to do a zillion lines of radio chatter and concocting a suitable mechanism for determining when to use it would be deeply nontrivial.

      I hope that animation/pacing quality-of-life stuff will be enough; because that’s the part that is most practical to deliver and likely to happen; and I really want to like this one.

      • Alec Meer says:

        “I hope that animation/pacing quality-of-life stuff will be enough; because that’s the part that is most practical to deliver and likely to happen; and I really want to like this one.”

        My feelings exactly.

      • NickAragua says:

        Don’t listen to these guys. This game *does* rock. I just spent six hours glued to the screen, blasting mechs and stomping tanks. In fact, I should have gone to bed two hours ago. I still have to walk my dog then wake up in 5 hours to drop my daughter off at school. So what I’m saying is I’m going to be totally miserable tomorrow. But you know what? It was worth it, and I’m going to do it again. Maybe in a couple of days, after I crash and recover.

        Slow animations? That’s great. Gives me time to relax my vice grip on the mouse for a second. Why *wouldn’t* I want to watch my giant robot let rip with an autocannon or squash flimsy buildings as it walks over them?

        Takes too long to kill a mech? Would you prefer they were made out of tissue paper? Maybe try to take shots at better odds, use called shots, or do some melee attacks backed up by support weapons (small lasers, machine guns, flamers). If you’re overheating too much, try taking a turn to run out of sight and cool off, or stop firing LRMs at point blank range with 10% hit odds.

        Mechwarriors not chattering enough? Yeah, they yammer away just fine. In fact, I’ve got half a mind to turn voices off to shut them up.

        Too many menus while on board ship? Takes at most three clicks to get anywhere. There’s a lot of stuff to do! And I’m ok with a multi-layer approach. Better than Crusader Kings 2, for example, with its “let’s barf up 5000 buttons onto the screen” approach.

        If anything, the game should probably crash after three or four hours, just so I don’t have to exercise willpower to stop myself from playing.

        That, and I don’t really like the music, to be honest. Sorry, Mr. Composer guy. It’s good quality music, and you’ve composed some very atmospheric pieces here, but when I’ve got giant robots stomping around shooting plasma out of guns the size of a car, I’m thinking heavy metal. No vocals though, I don’t want to listen to someone yell. Bet someone’s going to mod in a custom soundtrack any minute now. Hell, maybe I’ll do it. Literally within a day of release, someone already released a couple of mods, one with ‘bug fixes’ and one that adjusts the positions of star systems for some reason. So, we’ll probably be seeing new mech variants soon.

        I guess, at the end, I’d probably enjoy it less if I had to play games for a living. Imagine, instead of playing games for fun or a bit of escapism, you have to do it because, if you don’t, you don’t get to eat. And then you have to write up a review for a bunch of ungrateful internet people. Man, that’s not a job I’d want.

        • poliovaccine says:

          As an entirely different person, I, for one, am grateful that this game apparently does not do heavy metal. As someone who finds the supposed or attempted “intensity” of heavy metal boorish, obvious and laughably pubescent, I am truly down with the use of anything but heavy metal here. So much else conveys that weight and adrenaline and speed and precision and massive, bullheaded grace… and heavy metal, no matter how talented the musicians, just sounds to me like thirteen year olds going “roaar!” at their moms. Nobody’s tastes are beyond reproach, but dammit, I am so glad they didn’t think heavy metal was necessary and ubiquitous here, as this person does.

          That said, my anticipation of this game doing heavy metal combined with this guy’s desire for it together make me think that plenty of people probably *do* want a more thrashy soundtrack for their mechsplosions. And being here for the robots blowin up myself, I’m not about to argue with that. I’m grateful for my own sake, but I kinda think best would be if you could choose the music for each situation.

          Just like Rebel Galaxy let you do. You remember that one? That one little design decision was a.) totally welcome, cus I hated the music they went with (apologies to the artist, just not my bag of meat) and it was b.) totally awesome, because it could totally change the tone of the game depending what you chose. For awhile I had it soundtracked to sound like Blade Runner. Then for awhile I had 50s greaser rock for everything. Then I switched it to all smooth, dark Mingus-style jazz. All three could have been what shipped with the game (in fact a blend of all three would have been a genius use of the world and environment they had, as opposed to the music they went with, if I do say so myself). More games need that feature (I’m forever building my custom Pipboy station in modded New Vegas)!

      • Tazer says:

        I like when people who didn’t develop the game and have no idea about the underlying complexities comment on how easy it would be to add a tick box here or there.

        • TheRulesLawyer says:

          As someone who was an animator for a video game company, speeding up the animations globally should be a pretty easy task assuming they didn’t do something stupid. Making all the weapon animations play at the same time might be more of a challenge. Likely they are different files. Probably doable, but not a potential one click setting. Depends on how they are handling motion blending, or if the engine even supports it.

    • Zugs says:

      I know that there is a whole group of people in the world who do not need stop action to keep them satisfied. You failed to talk about the rich history of the battletech universe, how the tactical combat is only a half the game where as the company management, balancing the budget of your unit, using the mech lab to try out new builds was glossed over. I will agree its not a fast game and if your spend you day with your face buried in a phone, it might be more than your attention span can handle.

      I encourage people to check out several streamers and make a choice on their own. To me this review seems rushed, by someone who was never going to like the game due to its style vs their particular play style and desire.

      • Werthead says:

        What does the rich lore of the BattleTech universe matter to those players (probably the overwhelming majority) who are not knee-deep in BattleTech lore and know their lances from their Clan sfrom their heatsinks? What matters primarily is the gameplay. If you’re a BattleTech nut who wants to know if the lore is well-represented, you’ve probably already played the beta or been following those megafans who have and know the answer to that (and the fact this game is created by BattleTech’s original actual creator is probably a clue that the use of the lore is going to be appropriate).

        The review also mentioned that the strategic layer is also lacking. It’s possible to disagree with the review (I’ll be playing the game later on) but I find some of these criticisms to be odd.

        • GepardenK says:

          Well the lore matters to new players (like me) in the same way medieval history does in CKII. Even if you know nothing about it you can just feel the detail seep through.

          This review is definitely an outlier compared to others posted so far, now that doesn’t mean the opinion is invalid or not useful – but it does give the impression that Alec maybe was expecting something that the game isn’t trying to be. Take the compliant about lack of difference between mechs: from the POV of having a Mortal Combat type roster I definitely see that critique, but that’s not the sort of ‘different’ Battletech is going for. Instead it’s all about the “vehicle porn” sort of different – the kind where every Volvo and Saab all serve the same purpose at a surface level, but then as you push them to their limits the finer nuances of each become extremely noticeable and important.

          The experience is all about digging in and learning to love the details of each machine. The point here is that having XCOM classes or Mortal Combat roster type of differences between Mechs would fly completely in the face of what they are trying to achieve. It’s like complaining that A Space Oddessy is a boring slow paced film; a fact that will definitely be true for many, but it’s also the point of the film and that should be recognised.

          • shde2e says:

            Point taken, but people also need to be given a reason to dig into the machines like that. If the differences are too small to notice or matter, or just aren’t very interesting, then there is no reason for people to care.

            I also think that a comparison to movies isn’t quite apt. The main problem with these slow animations is that they very quickly become dead time.
            You’ve seen the exact animation already, so audiovisually it’s nothing new. You also roughly know what the result(s) will be. So there is nothing to do, no new information is presented, and nothing the player cares about is shown until the animation is finished. Which means the player just sits there waiting.

            Whereas in a movie you constantly get new information, dialogue or plot developments, which gives the viewer something to do and care about. It’s also a passive medium, where watching what happens is the point of the medium, rather than an interruption of the gameplay.

            Well, this answer got a bit out of hand ^^
            But I hope it helps you understand Alec’s point.

          • Werthead says:

            Having played the first 4 missions, the game sets up the lore quite well. The opening sequence recounts the entire history from now until the time period of the game, there’s a Firewatch-style “choose your background” opening that explains the rest and then tooltips bring up to date the worldbuilding. It sets everything up in the first 10 minutes of the game. Very nicely done.

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          alison says:

          The lore is literally the only thing I am interested in. I don’t give two shits about turn-based combat, and I was really hoping the developers of this game would put in an auto-resolve for combat like Crescent Hawk’s Inception had. I was considering buying this game just for the storyline and ambiance. The BattleTech universe is really cool, so it would have been nice to hear more about that aspect. On the other hand, if even a reviewer who normally enjoys turn-based combat finds this slow and boring, then it definitely won’t be for me no matter how awesome the story is.

    • Melete says:

      Only a single sentence about Mech fitting in a Battletech game and instead a multi-paragraph rant about the pacing of turn-based combat says all about this review.

      Someone who actually enjoys tinkering should have written this. This review doesn’t even scratch the surface.

      • shde2e says:

        Am I reading this wrong, or are you seriously complaining that the reviewer spent too much time talking about the main gameplay instead of Mechwarrior minutia?

        • Melete says:

          Yes, you are reading it wrong. This is a complaint that a major part of the gameplay was completely ignored.

      • MazokuRanma says:

        I think you’re missing part of the point. I love turn-based combat games. A couple of examples of recent games I’ve enjoyed would be Pillars of Eternity and Fire Emblem, just to give both western and eastern examples. That said, I would definitely have enjoyed them less if every time every character had a combat move in those games, they had spent 12 seconds executing the same animation. That becomes tedious very quickly, no matter how intricate things are under the hood.

    • dirtrobot says:

      Oh look in the options you can turn off all the dramatic camera delay stuff.

      • shde2e says:

        He did turn them off, and it was still too slow:

        Every animation is too long (even after all the ‘glamcam’ over-the-shoulder action sequence options are turned off)

    • Hunter777 says:

      While I respect your reviewed opinion, I can’t disagree more. After playing for more than four hours I am really enjoying the game. The game play is very engaging and whats more I am enjoying the story and presentation as well. Nice Battletech atmosphere and much truer to the original material , while being updated to a more modern look and sound. Few bugs but all in all great time so far!

    • zal says:

      I’ve never played boradgame (or miniature? I don’t even know) battletech, or mechwarrior 2 or 4… just MW:3 mercenaries and MW Online and some SEGA Genesis MW game, so I wouldn’t describe myself as hugely invested in the fiction.

      And yet, for me, It’s the most turn based fun I’ve had since Xenonauts. It even muscles past Battle Brothers and Darkest Dungeon and Into the Breach pretty handily which is a BIG surprise to me. I like how much it lets you avert disaster through your own actions.. It’s slower paced, but it gives tactics like facing, bracing, spreading damage and just plain running away to trade time for death.

      I do think the negative stance of this article may be a product not of the reviewer, but of being someone who has to review games. Reviewing games enforces a sort of time quantification that I just don’t feel. This game lets me save whenever so it can go a little slower and that’s ok, I’ll just pick it up next time. I’ve sat through Total War turn cycles, Massive Assault off-turns, Interplanetary railgun salvos, and Drive on Moscow German offensives, so I can say with confidence the turn flip and animations on this are just not as bad as they’re made out to be IF *** IF *** you regularly play turn based strategy/war games. the animations feel roughly on par with xcom move and reaction, although (thankfully) things are a little tougher to kill on both sides.

      If you enjoyed mount and blade or xenonauts, and like turn based games, you’ll like this game. If those games felt too slow, you may be stranded in Meer’s boat. If you relax and just play the game, (and take a break if you’re bored) there’s a lot of fun to be had.

    • thorpemark says:

      This is a great review.. and will save me time. I did pre-order this.. shame on me… but now I can safely NOT play this until a few updates take place to remove (or make optional) some of the time-wasting animations and pick up the pacing.

      I do think I will play and actually like the game once the suggested changes in “wot I think” take place.

      Thanks for taking the boredom bullet for us all!

  2. Ghostbird says:

    With hindsight, most of these criticisms (slowness, lots of dice rolling, insufficiently distinctive mechs, dull background lore) applied to the boardgame too, though I enjoyed it back in the day.

    • Shadow says:

      It is… unfortunate, but at least superficially reasonable. The length of the animations and the attrition gameplay is, after all, visible in all the preview videos. I’d like to think the animations issue can be fixed, just like it was addressed in the XCOM games.

      The attrition side, well, that might be Battletech itself’s fault, given its fantastical portrayal of mech combat as two giant machines slugging it out and taking innumerable hits, inspired in no real instance of warfare ever (except early 20th century naval combat, perhaps and only perhaps). This is harder to rectify, but I would appreciate it if the devs could push the gameplay towards higher lethality and a greater emphasis on mobility and positioning.

      I had prepurchased the game, so I’ll be evaluating these issues before long. Animation length tolerance is very much a subjective thing, and hopefully it won’t be as bad for me. Fingers crossed.

      • Apologised says:

        Eh, not always, sometimes battles in Battletech end quicker than you expect, as a lucky crit get’s through a Hatamoto-Chi’s torso and fraggs it’s Gyro, or your 45 tonne Trebuchet manages to dump all 30 LRM’s into the head of your opponents Victor, a battlemech twice the weight and firepower as it and kill it straight off.

        It looks like HBS took that aspect out, which, is a mistake as it’s also one of the main reasons people like it.

        Honestly, at this point, somebody needs to badger Microsoft to make another Mech-Commander game.

        • Someoldguy says:

          You can build your lance around a fast incapacitation strategy in this game once your pilots have skills and you know what you are doing. Reserve down to act just after your target mech then use melee and/or stability inflicting weapons to knock it over. That drops it an initiative tier and you can call shot it to bits before it can stand up again. That works against all but the most hardened assault mech, which you might have to knock over twice (with the added advantage that if you kill the pilot through repeated falling injuries, you can get lots of salvage from the mostly undamaged mech). It was a deliberate choice to avoid one lucky hit kill shots.

          To me the game feels more like Panzer General than XCOM. You know your own units capabilities and you know what the enemy can do. You just have to manoeuvre carefully until you are ready. Then you destroy the AA so your planes can bomb their artillery before your infantry assault the fortifications. Using the right weapons in the right sequence pays dividends over gradually wearing the enemy down by peeling off his armour bit by bit. Not too surprising since BattleTech comes from a tabletop wargame background.

        • Darloth says:

          I have gleaned the following from watching some preview videos and streamers, but I’ve watched a good consecutive 10 hours or so of gameplay at this point so I feel confident in commenting that the second, at least, is still very possible – a lucky head hit or two (especially with something like a PPC) can down a very large mech.

          While standard gyros are not represented and so cannot be hit specifically, upgraded ones can be destroyed, or more usefully ammo can be crit and then explodes internally, typically blowing off at least half a mech.

          It still feels a lot like the boardgame in terms of damage, lucky criticals, and explody bits.

    • Imperialist says:

      Difference is, a boardgame has a social aspect tied to it. It is much easier to slog through dice rolls and rules with friends and maybe a couple beers than it is to sit through the same thing alone on your PC. Different rules apply, and this is why alot of 1:1 boardgame translations end up sucking unless its tablet/mobile friendly. Its people that make these games fun, not necessarily the systems built for you to wreck them with.
      That aside, i like the game…but i refunded it and i think im going to wait for it to get better. It is mechanically solid, but i feel like visually its bland (sweet cutscenes aside) and everything is rather static looking. The animations are a bit clunky looking (none of the mechs feel weighty) and the terrain looks terrible in general. The mechs themselves look good, but combined with all the other visual shortcomings its a bit jarring.
      Oh, the UI is very nice looking. But yeah, will wait for some expanded game modes (1v1 is a bit limiting, when i feel like you could easily pull off 2v2 or FFA).

    • khamul says:

      I think this is all Jake Solomon’s fault. This reads like a description of every turn-based game I’ve ever played, until I played XCOM.

      Yeah, some of the animations in XCOM (esp. XCOM1) go on too long. But every action, every decision in an XCOM game drips tension. Everything matters. I find myself hesitating for a minute over a single action – what if I go *there*? or *ther*, or *there*… The original X-COMs were not like that: I mean, they were sometimes, but there was also a lot of chasing down the last Sectoid hidden in a cupboard.

      Making all the systems come together so that every choice has an impact, and there’s always more than one good option is really really really hard – and Solomon has made it look easy.

      Yeah, there’s a lot about the XCOM games to take issue with – but the tactical portion *is* brilliant, and what this shows is just how hard that is to match.

  3. Kefren says:

    It’s funny – I’m currently replaying FTL _again_, completing the game with every single ship and layout, and unlocking everything. It is taking me months. In that time I have played uncountable battles. And yet, I have never once felt boredom. Maybe it is some of the stuff you speak of – the speed at which it can play (but with paused commands for when it gets frantic). Or the fact that every game is like a little story, especially if you imagine personalities for the crew which affect the choices made. Or, more likely, it is hard to pinpoint what works so well in one game and less so in another. Too many details. FTL isn’t perfect, but it is one of my top ten games ever, and part of it is because I am never bored playing it, and even after losing badly I just want to start a new game. But yes, maybe some of it is to do with being able to control the pace without it turning into Benny Hill.

    • wwarnick says:

      Oddly enough, the developers of FTL just released their own turn-based mech game, Into the Breach. Entirely different gameplay than FTL, but an awesome game.

      • Kefren says:

        I own it already – instabuy on GOG! But I decided to play FTL again first, and unlock everything. Here I am, months later, loving the game even more than the first time. But I will get round to Into The Breach, and am looking forward to it.

  4. Premium User Badge

    Lo says:

    Being able to write so entertainingly about something boring is a an amazing skill :D

  5. eljueta says:

    It’s a ridiculous condition of being an adult with little time that I am almost glad it wasn’t that good, because I am now going through NieR:Automata and I was almost pulling the trigger on Battletech, but seeing the reviews I might hold on this a bit. Or really really really hope that Mechwarrior 5 is any good. Because that’s the Battletech I really want.

    • Goldeneye says:

      Most of the reviews so far have been good though, this article is the first one I’ve seen that’s negative. That’s not to say that this article is wrong (god I hate that tutorial too), but writing off a game based off one review seems premature to me.

    • TheRulesLawyer says:

      Piranha is developing MW5, so that’s unlikely after the mess they made of MWO.

  6. wcq says:

    I’m kind of glad I didn’t preorder it now.

    If there’s something I hate, it’s turn-based games that waste your time. Waiting is somehow more bearable in real-time games, because actions taking time makes sense and you need to use that waiting time to think about your next move / manage some other units. In turn-based games, waiting is just waiting. There’s a reason why everyone always turns off battle animations after the first hour, if that’s an option.

    Edit: Why do turn-based games need to wrest away camera control for those fancy-pants animations anyhow? Just let me look around and do some planning while you show off the particle effects.

  7. Bigamo says:

    So the main point of complaint of the “writer” could be solved in seconds if he oppened the options menu? Who cares, lets bad mouth the best game of 2018 based on ignorance alone. Does someone actually get paid to write this?

    • Alec Meer says:

      You’ve come here with an agenda, so my replying is mostly futile, but for others reading: the options this happy chap speaks of do not exist. You *can* turn off XCOM-style glamcam stuff like over-the-shoulder shots, which saves a bit of time at the expense of the game’s most visually-exciting scenes, but this does not meaningfully reduce the excess of waiting and watching turn-to-turn.

      • RIDEBIRD says:

        Sounds like Xcom 2, which got better with patches and had similar options (that did not do enough), but you still had to use mods to reduce the waiting time where the engine frequently just hung out for ten seconds for seemingly no reason at all.

      • Bigamo says:

        I have “come with an agenda”? Sure, to read about the game i have been waiting 30 years to play, then i come excited to read the “what i think” and got disapointed by your shallow text. Nothing really super special, or do anyone come here without “an agenda”?

        • wcq says:

          You opened with putting scare quotes around “writer”. From that alone, it’s reasonably safe to assume you’re not here to offer constructive criticism.

          • Bigamo says:

            “Oh god, it’s so boring” is what you call “constructive criticism”? Oh, that just is valid about RPS, right?

          • wcq says:

            I don’t, because it’s not. And no. Since there was more to the WIT than that one sentence.

        • Flavour Beans says:

          “i have been waiting 30 years to play”

          And my arms are very tired!

        • John Walker says:

          You called a game you haven’t played the “best game of 2018”, and criticised the review for failing to mention something imaginary.

          I think “agenda” would be a very appropriate term. Perhaps take a breath.

          • Sophistry says:

            I’m not undercutting your point – I thought the same thing when I read his post – but he could perhaps have played the Beta. Likely, if he’s an Old Guard tabletop player.

            And yet the Beta is different to the final game, and can also be arguably called a different game. Bit of a Ship of Theseus paradox, almost.

          • ManApeGoneWrong says:

            Dunno about him, but I’ve been playing Battletech Skirmish for a year or so, IIRC. I do agree with him, that it’s the best turn-based combat game coming out in 2018, because of that.

            As a reviewer, Alec should probably be aware of the fact that the game has been playable in some fashion for some time now. Enjoyable playable. I’ve spent dozens of hours in beta skirmish.

            His opening salvo against the game seemed like someone who knows nothing of Battletech, or Mechwarrior, and had a grudge from the get-go. Reading more, that initial feeling wears off but is still there. Battletech has ALWAYS been big, slow, stompy combat. Expecting anything else is ignorance, and dinging the game because it’s “slow” IS a fault of the reviewer, not the game. The game is doing it’s job… so should Alec.

            So, yeah — I can see where this dude is coming from. To me, it felt like Alec had an agenda above and beyond writing about the game, as well as the guy who called him out about it, true or not.

          • Bigamo says:

            You are wrong, i played a thousand skirmishes but he is the one CLEARLY putting an agenda. He is not under any obligation to like the game, but call this a review is just a travesty!

            Want me to make a critic coment about the game folowing my own agenda?

            The black/hispanic washing! I am a hispanic myself! And it is interesting to note that not in ANY point of the game a white person enters the hero ship bridge. There is no problem in this per se, as the Battletech universe clearly locks its regions mostly by etnicity/culture dominant in its Space, so probably aurelian reach was colonized by Latinos, so far so good. But then why THE ONLY 2 WHITE PERSONS in the game are the villains? Why were they not Latinos as their blood related princess? THIS IS the game hidden agenda, and point this travesty is MY TRUE AGENDA. But this have NOTHING TO DO WITH OBJECTIVE LOOK AT THE GAME SYSTEMS that work great and have mostly survived the test of time.

          • lordcooper says:

            Oh bless, it’s all broken.

        • Elgarion says:

          ’30 years to play?” : ok, you’re not being objective, here. You may take a breathe, indeed. And go play the game you waited so long, and like it if you think it’s any good. Freedom, you know?

      • suibhne says:

        Does it sport an option to combine consecutive enemy turns into simultaneous action, a la Troika’s 3E D&D combat in Temple Of Elemental Evil? In my book, that’s still the best TB combat on PC (pity about the rest of the game) – and that feature was a massive convenience I’ve rarely seen implemented elsewhere.

        • GepardenK says:

          The Temple of Elemental Evil… now that’s a name I haven’t heard in a long time

    • Vylinius says:

      Not to defend Bigamo’s disrespectful stance, but another review which recently came out mentioned options and on another forum where this review was discussed people talked about such options to handle some of the issues brought up in this piece. So, it’s possible, that a misunderstanding occurred which has lead to hyperbole on Bigamo’s part.

      This isn’t to say that I totally agree with the review as it is presented, but I can understand the viewpoint. Personally, I’m the kind of nut who enjoys watching the animations of every single unit in Civ 4, which in the late game in the middle of the war can turn a single turn processing into a long multi-minute affair. And having at least watched if not played the game, the animations and waiting to see what the AI does or the shooting of the player’s mechs hasn’t bothered me too much. That said, I haven’t played the game, so I guess my opinion may change in some hours when I finally get the chance.

      Beyond that one thing I haven’t spent as much time on is really studying the UI Which is why I found your opinions on it to be very interesting, but also frustrating. I didn’t feel like much depth was provided to your comments on the UI and wanted to know more detail about what was the trouble with it.

      Besides that, I’ll admit to having contributed to the negativity at first that came with the release of this review on another website, but I wanted to post here in part to give a fair shake, and try and show that even a critic can be reasonable.

      • Nevard says:

        I’ve seen a review come out recently that mentioned options, it’s this one. It says they exist and don’t fix the issue.

      • Premium User Badge

        phuzz says:

        There is a couple of options here.
        Either Alec has found the options that skip some of the cut scenes, but they still didn’t fully fix the issue (and as he mentions this in TFA, I’m assuming that this is the case).
        Or the options to speed everything up exist, but they’re so well hidden Alec didn’t find them, which is still a problem of the game, abit probably an easier one to fix.

    • Chaoslord AJ says:

      And did you actually play it or just assume it doesn’t suck because you waited 30 years?
      Also that means you’re probably 40+ so one should assume some adult internet commenting, get a grip, man. It’s just some game.

      • FeloniousMonk says:

        Mom just played Battletech from conception through the third trimester. She was playin’ at the hospital. They wheeled the board into the maternity room. My bed was Battletech themed. We lived in a semi with little arms glued to the sides. SO DON’T YOU TELL ME THAT I’M 40 WHEN I’M ONLY 30.

        I refuse to be held to the internet commenting standards of a 40 year old.

    • FeloniousMonk says:

      You’ve got a whole lot of points you want to make here – that you can fix every problem in the WIT in the options (possible, I suppose, but unlikely), and that this is the “Best Game of 2018.” That’s a huge claim, and I’d like to hear your pitch on it, but you are so hung up on the WIT that you may have forgotten to support your argument.

  8. RIDEBIRD says:

    Appreciate this review a lot. Well written as well, and you narrate your experience in a cohesive manner. This type of waiting and processing is my gripe with this genre – I do like fancy animations, but they do not need to be overly complicated or take forever to execute. The weapon firing sounds really boring to watch over and over again, especially if the impact is not there.

    I was going to buy this, but I’ll wait a bit for patches and mods to make it a bit snappier.

    • Vylinius says:

      Personally, I’ve thought the game is presently worth buying and made my own purchase, but I can agree about the weapon sounds in conjunction with the impact being a bit lacking. Sometimes the weapons hit, sounds go off, and a tank explodes. Other times it takes a few seconds for the tank to explode as the game processes all the damage, which I can see as being very jarring, and even more so with how weapons may feel lacking utterly in terms of impact when there’s isn’t something as exciting as a tank exploding happening at the end.

  9. pookie191 says:

    I guess I’m the only one who read the article, saw the issues that were being complained about and went AWESOME!

    • Flavour Beans says:

      I wouldn’t say you’re the only one. While the overall vibe of the review did put a bit of a damper on my excitement for the game, everything stated here was justified well, and I was easily able to go “Oh, well, I don’t think that’s so bad, so this will probably still work for me!”

      • Alec Meer says:

        I’m always happy when people enjoy something I didn’t; I try to spell out why I didn’t so people can make their own decisions about whether it’s their kind of thing or not. One thing I can’t do is try to represent those people by pretending I had feelings I didn’t.

        • Flavour Beans says:

          Which I respect, and no one should expect you to. And yet… well, I’m sure you get hear far more on the matter than I could imagine.

        • Laurentius says:

          Yeah but it would quite honest to maybe admit it upfront that apart from XCOM and XCOM2 you actually didn’t enjoyed any other turn based game in recent years.

          • Alec Meer says:

            No, that would be a lie. I shouldn’t have to defend myself against whatever axe you’re grinding, but mere weeks ago I was raving about Into The Breach, just for one example.

          • aldo_14 says:

            If you disagree with a review and can’t find a specific fair critique of the content, I think it’s grossly disingenous to start suggesting ‘oh, the reviewer doesn’t like the genre’ rather than just accept opinion as opinion.

        • modzero says:

          See, I feel like the confusion here stems from the fact that RPS writers are unaware of their role of god-emperors of gamingkind, and their negative opinion about something constitutes a potential great injustice, as it’s actually illegal to play a game Alec — or any other RPS writer — doesn’t like. Think about the horrifying purges certain opinion expressed by John Walker started.

          I’m planning to try out Battletech in an underground bunker in a remote, undisclosed location, hoping that the death squads don’t find me.

          Damn you, Alec!

          • pack.wolf says:

            One of my co-workers bragged about having bought the Digital Deluxe Edition. Out of fear for my children should I stay silent I reported him to the authorities. I have not seen him since.

        • gabrielonuris says:

          Yes, and when that happens, I consider the review to be a successful one. Like the posters above said, even disliking said features, you described them beautifully so I could form my own opinions.

          That’s exactly why I like to read negative user reviews on Steam: I go right way to the negative points about a game, so I can conclude if those are a big deal for me or not; and about the positive ones? Well, they’re already positive.

    • Shinan says:

      I didn’t necessarily go “AWESOME”, but I did think “oh this sounds like the perfect game for me to play while catching up with all those TV-shows.”

      I have been severely looking for one of those games recently. I did do some CK2, which is always good for that. But this game also sounds like it would work perfectly. (I also kickstarted this game so I’ve already bit the bullet on it)

    • poliovaccine says:

      Reminds me of my reaction at six years old to those anti-drug ads with the exploding egg haha… I saw the ad many times before I realized it was trying to say something other than “DRUGS ARE PURE EXPLODING AWESOME”

  10. Flavour Beans says:

    It feels weird that such a thing should be exceptional enough to feel worthy of praise, but this review highlights one of the reasons I swing by RPS on a daily basis: the reviews are honest, and accept the fact that games are a subjective experience. Both this and yesterday’s Frostpunk seem to be relatively (though not necessarily outright) negative compared to most other reviews, but this is just due to how the game struck the person doing the write-up. If all I ever wanted to see was reviews that agree with every other review out there, all I would need is a MetaCritic average.

    The added fun of RPS comes from how often someone besides the WIT’s writer will enjoy a game more, and bring that energy to further discussion and coverage. RPS is internally honest, too.

    • Elgarion says:

      I totally agree with you. Kudos!

    • 1Derby says:

      Yep. This. Constructive criticism is important and welcome.
      One of the strengths of software as a medium is that it can continue to evolve once it has been releasesd into the wild. The bones as laid out in this review tick all my boxes. TBS, base management, etc.
      Seems to me this is a diamond in the rough.
      I would rather play a diamond in the rough than a highly polished turd.

    • FeloniousMonk says:

      Yup. I don’t normally weigh on to make this point but I’ll assume (in the same spirit you might experience while laying incense outside the cave of the Oracle) that the reviewers at RPS actually have human feelings and like hearing that they did a good job and generated a thoughtful review in a forum that accommodates differences of opinion.

    • Premium User Badge

      ooshp says:

      I wouldn’t normally waste my time blowing sunshine up the writer’s arse for merely opining on a video game and explaining their thoughts, but due to all the rubbish above I figured I’d add my vote.

      The WIT does what it says on the box, and does contain plenty of ‘YMMV’ disclaimers. It’s a measured piece of writing by someone who really wanted to love the game, and explains all the UI & mechanical issues that are currently getting in the way of that. Rather than a negative review of the game, I’d say it’s a review by someone who is disappointed that he can’t slap a recommended sticker on its face.

      There. That’s my WIT of the WIT.

    • poliovaccine says:

      Too true. Thing is, that subjective moment they capture is one I tend to have in common as well, and probably, as fellow humans, so do you, which is why it’s valuable – and resonant/appealing. I feel like a decade or so ago, reviews for videogames were still so primitive that they were hardly distinguishable from the back of the box blurbs they became, but with time and repeat experience, plus an internet’s worth of discussion, has come a certain gonzo sense of self awareness they needed, as pieces of craft + human experience. I’ve mentioned how my favorite thing about John Walker is his consistency in calling out the emperor’s new clothes, and that’s because that’s still a thing today, though it’s less of one than it used to be. That is, that *thing* where a game’s marketing and hype define, dictate and delineate the discussion to be had about it, and that sludgy, associative thoughtmass of *stuff* in turn seeps into a reviewer, where it then incubates until its cumulative secretions congeal into a solid pearl of a review, which works its way to the surface to be expelled like a burst pimple, vomiting semi-solid lumps of pus strewn in its own gravy. Bits and bobs of hype will be recognizable in the effluvia, but they will be sufficiently digested and fermented as to be different enough in chemical composition and/or alcoholic enough to dispel any nagging doubts of rehashed, underdone, inherited-by-mere-lazy-osmosis, quote-unquote “opinions” (which are somehow so much more contemptibly *unambitious* than the merely financially-compromised ones that it makes me *truly* sick, in a place beyond mere corporeal nausea – which, incidentally, I’ve no doubt inspired here, if you’ve read this far, and if somehow I haven’t, well then just imagine swishing that gritty, sandy, pimply semi-congealment of pus around with a mouthful of warm beer for awhile – and tonguing it out of your teeth). I just made *myself* hlerp! Goo’nite errybahdy!

  11. Sophistry says:

    For someone who was mildly annoyed at most by the whole XCOM2-pausing business, this does seem heavily skewed towards a similar issue here. I’d hope that RPS would commit to putting an edit in at the top of the page should patches or a mod be created to solve the issue for those who are bothered by it.

    Full disclosure – I am a backer, so some people will assign bias here, but I really didn’t come away from the beta thinking “Oh boy, I was kept waiting a lot!” and I haven’t thought the same while watching people play it in the run-up to release. There have been some rather long loading screens between scenes, but that’s all that’s stuck in my mind on the subject.

    Each to their own, but I can understand why some people are going to feel like a restaurant review that feels like it mostly complains about the fact there was no hand soap in the bathroom.

    IIRC from the podcast, he had to replay the tutorial mission chain several times, and that I think is contributing to the malaise with the game.

    • Alec Meer says:

      That was Adam, not me, on the podcast.

      • Sophistry says:

        Well you’re often all referred to as a “Hive Mind” so I think I can slide on that one :P

        (Also it was the first one I listened to. Keeping track of whose voice was whose while doing the washing up was a bit much for me. :) )

    • Rituro says:

      Not sure about an edit to the WIT, but I imagine there’ll be a “Has Battletech Been Improved By Its Updates?” in the not too distant future should such updates come to pass.

  12. Mungrul says:

    Thanks for the review Alec. I’ll consign this to the inevitable Humble Monthly giveaway.

    I was dubious about the high price to start with, but was willing to give it a shot if it reviewed well. But the cost combined with middling reviews have settled things.

  13. Bigamo says:

    i wish Brendan Caldwell have reviewed BattleTech, i think he is more the kind of gamer for who battletech is aimed.

    • Megatron says:

      …Rather than the guy who’s renowned for his love and experience of the X-Com series, old and new?

      I’m struggling to see what you think you’re missing.

      • Archonsod says:

        Battletech is a wargame, XCom isn’t. From the review it sounds like they’ve went for a more traditional wargame approach. Generally they don’t cross audiences quite so well – see Incubation : Battle Isle Phase 4 for example.

      • DatonKallandor says:

        Anybody who loves XCOM probably shouldn’t be reviewing games like it, because XCOM is fundamentally flawed in numerous ways, almost all of which Battletech avoids.

      • wraithgr says:

        I mean, a squad based skirmisher is basically identical to a walking tank tactical sim, right? /S

    • Premium User Badge

      ooshp says:

      If all you want is a five star review to support your confirmation bias, just google one. Why waste your time on informative opinions with no giant score at the top?

    • Sin Vega says:

      Listen, if I, some dickhead, can review multiple games in genres I loathe and still recommend some every week, a guy who’s been writing about games for longer than some of this site’s readership have been alive can review a bloody mech game.

  14. Mostquito says:

    As most people, I do not have any experience with retail version of Battletech, but beta skirmish was not boring to me at this level of magnitude, and it lacked any kind of context, so I have still got hopes for it.

    But the criticism on Civilization-series is spot on.

  15. Shirsh says:

    Sounds like speed of Shadowrun Returns, no surprises.

    • Indigo says:

      I got that exact same feeling from Shadowrun. While playing, I kept telling myself that I should really enjoy this game. But I just couldn’t. And I just couldn’t be bothered by the story either. It felt really shallow. I still don’t know why…

      • Vylinius says:

        I think this is a problem of personal biases. Not say that your feelings towards Shadowrun were wrong, just that it’s a matter of taste to some extent. For instance, I find the gameplay of other games in genres I don’t particularly enjoy to be “shallow” or I did. Talking with people who enjoy those games and can get into all the nitty gritty parts of playing them at a high level showed me how I was wrong to think them shallow. Shadowrun Returns and its various expansions do have depth to them both in terms of tactical play and how one equips and builds a character. Not necessarily the most depth I’ve ever seen, but they do have depth.

        Now the story in Shadowrun can feel a little shallow, but it’s essentially aping the storytelling style that is often found in tabletop RPG’s which makes it more a stylistic choice in my mind than necessarily a “lacking” element. And for that stylistic choice it’s a very good example of it. But, it’s a choice that isn’t to everyone’s tastes.

        Point of my comment being sometimes I feel it’s very important that we as consumers or reviewers understand when something’s more about our tastes or personal preferences rather than it being an “objective” problem with something.

        • Indigo says:

          Oh, don’t get me wrong. I didn’t say Shadowrun had a problem. I merely stated that the game and the story didn’t “clicked” for me. And that I still don’t know why, because on paper it should have everything I like. Which kind of saddened me, actually.

          However it hasn’t stopped me from Kickstarting Battletech. But given the review and some comment, I fear feeling the same.

          Anyway, it won’t stop me from trying it. Just got the mail from Harebrained with the Steam key :)

  16. Palindrome says:

    This is the worst review of battletech so far, meta critic is currently sitting at 84%. This is a ‘wot I think’ which is fair enough but when the end product is so out of sync with other reviews it looks very much like the final review is more to do with the reviewer rather than the game.

    As ever it is good practice to look at multiple reviews to get a clearer idea of the quality of anything.

    • Flavour Beans says:

      Games are a subjective experience, like any other medium. No matter the review, it will always have something to do with the reviewer. If nine out of ten people think Battletech’s wonderful, then someone has to be that tenth person.

      • Palindrome says:

        Which is why there should be 2 reviewers for each game, even if the second review is only a single paragraph based on a smaller portion of the game. Personal opinions and biases would be a significantly reduced factor then. Personally I always look at a diverse range of reviews as standard practice anyway.

        • obowersa says:

          On the other side of the coin, I’d argue that personal and biased reviews are exactly what I’m looking for.

          There is already the option of comparing multiple reviews from different sites to get a feel for what different folk think. I absolutely wouldn’t want two reviewers to have to review the same game on the same publication just to avoid the idea that a subjective review is a negative thing.

          Bias and subjectiveness should be celebrated in journalism, as long folk are upfront about it. It’s what gives personality and flair. Overtime you learn which writers generally resonate with your own perspective and which don’t. That lets you give more credence to those personalities you tend to fall in line with.

          Yes this review was negative of certain parts of the game, but also spoke to a great deal of depth behind the scenes. The problems the author presented are ones I think I’ll be fine with and looking at other reviews has assured me it’s not a complete lemon so I’ll take the risk.

          I really hope we don’t end up pushing for a day when we remove any and all personality from reviews. It would definitely be a step back.

        • napoleonic says:

          There are multiple reviewers for each game. They’re just not from the same site.

          • Alec Meer says:

            Well, yeah. And if someone else on staff here has a strongly-held opinion that differs from the WIT, they’ll invariably end up writing something about it here. Or sometimes we might get a strong pitch from a freelancer with a different take, and we like having that breadth of opinion whenever a game inspires it. I’d like it, for instance, if we wound up at some point running something from a BT tabletop vet about how this holds up to their expectations. As a straight-up review, that would only be relevant to a thin slice of the potential audience, but it’s (potentially) valuable as a specifically-contextualised discussion.

            That said, we don’t have some sacred duty to deliberately reflect every possible opinion out there just to keep a game’s fans happy. As always, we title reviews “Wot I think” for a reason.

        • poliovaccine says:

          Personal opinions and biases are all a review even *is.* Either you get with the reviewer’s priority set and, ultimately, their personality, or else you don’t, in which case you find a reviewer whose tastes you *can* trust, because there’s enough of em out there. I tend to read RPS cus I find that representation for me and my interests here – not in all the reviewers, or all the games, but in 3 out of 5 anyway, which is enough to keep coming back, if you promised. I don’t gel with every review, but I do with more than not, or else this place would lose its functionality for me. That is, though, ultimately up to me to decide.

          I get it when a review exhibits some clear, flagrant bias. But that’s kind of a “know it when you see it” sort of thing, and this isn’t that. Now if the reviewer had said something like, “I’ve waited thirty long years of my miserable goddamned life to play this fucking game,” then they might have betrayed some personal bias.

    • fuzzyfuzzyfungus says:

      Aggregated scores are certainly a useful tool to avoid “my tastes not that of reviewer”; but, unless one has specific reason to think that a reviewer has highly atypical tastes not applicable to you, aren’t more-negative-than-average reviews a pretty valuable component of aggregated review values?

      Doesn’t mean you have to be as pessimistic as the least happy reviewer; but one assumes that positive reviews could also be “more about the reviewer than the game”; which would skew your averages without the atypically unhappy included.

      • Palindrome says:

        If the reviews were relatively mixed then yes but in this instance this particular review is an outlier.

      • poliovaccine says:

        Having “atypical tastes” is tough to tell apart from “having a different taste,” that’s kind of the problem here.

  17. Moni says:

    I watched a “Let’s Play” video of this. The bits where the mechs hilariously overkill things with ALL of their guns suggests there’s at least minutes of fun to be found in this game. 84%, Recommended.

    • poliovaccine says:

      In my incredibly judicious and serious-pantsed buying of games, I’ve genuinely considered whether I will get more minutes of fun out of playing than it will take to actually download.

      Sometimes I try to figure if downloading a game is taking longer than it would have to drive to my local mall, smoke a cigarette in the parking lot before I can even face the seething crowds, and then go in and buy the game at a physical store, on a disc, and then return to the car, unpark, drive home again, unwrap the shimmering exterior plastic, and insert the damned disc into my good old fashioned CD drive… and it gets difficult to account for what traffic was like back when you could still buy games somewhere at my local mall.

      Sometimes I count my own breaths and make graphs of how long I was able to count them. I linearly improve. I’m a riot at parties.

  18. Someoldguy says:

    It’s curious. I can recognise everything Alec says as being a valid criticism of the game, and yet having watched 20+ hours of people streaming Battletech over the past fortnight, I don’t share the same sense of disappointment and I’m itching to get going. Some streamers have absolutely been too slow for my patience level, taking a minute or more prevaricating over each movement decision and then making a poor one. Others have moved confidently and reasonably swiftly, articulating what decisions they are taking and why they matter. And they do matter.

    Like a football team, not every play is going to be a shot at the goal, but every play you make should be putting your team in position to make that scoring shot, destroy that mech, win that mission. If all you’re doing is chipping away at the enemies until they blow up then you’re doing the equivalent of just playing chess by advancing your pawns up the board until they can make tit for tat exchanges.

    It feels like Alec is wanting it to be the sort of visceral fun of a first person Mechwarrior game when it’s closer to a deliberate planning game like Combat Mission. But that can’t be right, because he’s enthusiastic about XCOM. I guess I won’t know for sure until us mortals get our hands on the controls this evening instead of just watching other people play.

    • Raoul Duke says:

      If you’re prepared to sit through 20 hours of watching someone else play a computer game then you quite possibly have a different threshold for boredom than the reviewer does…

  19. Balaks says:

    I pre-ordered this weeks ago and do not regret it. Bit disappointing to read this review but I’m still confident I’ll love the game as I played the board game back in the day and it’s full of happy memories. Can’t wait to play it!

  20. AwfulCitizen says:

    Being pretty excited for this upcoming game that I have (other than played different development stages) kept away from reading reviews, I have to say from all the reviews I have come along, this one takes the crown. Not because it was terribly exciting, but because “Oh god, it’s so boring” to read the moans and complaints of the reviewer every few lines is terribly conductive to tears of joy. I mean your partner had to wear earplugs…

    Every reviewer is different and some are really good at what they do and others are excruciatingly terrible. RPS has had a record of being both good an terrible depending on the game.

    Nevertheless I always take reviewers with a pinch of salt, as they are after all opinions. If I led myself to play games by how reviewers usually comment on some “bad” games I would live in a cave with no internet.

    Reviewing games is a pain, I stopped doing it because I could never find myself being objective to the game I was reviewing, which I think is the case here. The reviewer thinks the game has the same woes as other mechanics used in XCOM2 with the camera and cutscenes, and I can agree with you there, because sometimes those cutscenes get repetitive, but that doesnt make the whole game boring and dull. There are other aspects this game brings in that are actually pretty fun and entertaining.

    I thought also HBS did an amazing job with the goodies they threw in with the Deluxe version of the game. I only kickstarted for $50 and the artbook alone blew my mind to kingdom come, the artbook alone is worth the Deluxe Upgrade. The soundtrack is pretty upbeat and really good, how come these aspects of the game as a whole are not mentioned on your review?

    So I understand your review, but I think tarnishing a game because you found the animations and cutscenes repetitive and boring a terrible game people should stay away from. It’s like saying this review is terrible and boring and people shouldn’t come back to RPS to read reviews ever again don’t you think?

    • Vylinius says:

      I think you’re being a little facetious here with your reply, as with my other comments I can see where you’re coming from, but to mention an artbook like it should matter to a game review isn’t an honest critique. The reviewer played a game, found it to be a slog and didn’t enjoy the experience to a great degree. That’s fine and it doesn’t tarnish a game for such an opinion to be written about it. It’s not as if RPS is the only review site, nor is the writer here their only writer as others have pointed out by saying this game may have appealed to another reviewer more. Though, it’s perfectly fine for you to want to spend your time reading elsewhere just as well.

      Hell, I don’t read this website regularly and entirely joined now in order to contribute to the discussion in this article and I’m unlikely to return for future reviews, since I don’t really read reviews very often. Point being, if we want to have a constructive discussion about what we find to be good and bad about this game or this article, we should be civil and straight forward.

    • Alec Meer says:

      “a terrible game people should stay away from”

      > I did not say this. A potted summary of the piece would be “a good game laid low by profound presentation failings that I hope updates can resolve.” Inevitably, people are reacting only to the introductory paragraph – I was probably playing with fire there.

      • Goldeneye says:

        Well, first impressions do matter in journalism, and with a headline and opening like that, of course people will get the impression that you think the game is terrible.

      • Horg says:

        If your opinion of the game is mostly positive, try following the structure of ”praise, bollock, praise” in the write up. It’s a fairly common technique used by assessors in my field of work that conveys the necessary positive and negative feedback while minimising the potential negative impact on morale. Information presented this way is more likely to be accepted and acted upon in a constructive manner. I’d say it’s worth sacrificing a little personal narrative license in order to convey a more representative tone in the article.

      • Palindrome says:

        “If you want a picture of BattleTech, imagine a giant robo-tank silently firing an ineffective laser at another giant robot-tank – forever.”

        Not far off though eh?

        • Someoldguy says:

          If only he’d punched the robo-tank to make it unsteady and remove its evasion and then hit it with a PPC to make it fall over. Then it wouldn’t be ineffectual.

      • wraithgr says:

        If only you’d actually written that instead of “If you want a picture of BattleTech, imagine a giant robo-tank silently firing an ineffective laser at another giant robot-tank – forever.”.
        I’m sure you realized at the time you were poking a hornet’s nest but hey, most comments in an RPS article since however long ago, right? That’s gotta feel good…

  21. Gothnak says:

    KS’d this, only my fourth after Hex, Gloomhaven a ‘The Which Sleeps’ (Which won’t be coming out!).

    Looked as though it’d be awesome, and tbh, the complaints seem justified but eminently fixable. Fingers crossed they do the same as XCom and just made the whole thing snappier. The good thing about this review, is they’ll read it and probably do something, so thanks!

    • Palindrome says:

      That which sleeps isn’t quite dead yet so it may see the light of day eventually, maybe.

  22. padlina says:

    I’ve watched the streams of the game and so far the tempo is not much different than XCom.

    Arrow and status galore – that’s battltech system. If you take it out it’s not battltech anymore, just a dumbed down game with robots.

    Do you play a lot of TBS ? It sounds like it’s not really your genre and you approached the game with expectations based just on the setting as indicated by the 3rd paragraph.

    • LexW1 says:

      The Firaxis XCOM games are virtually unplayable without “speed up” mods for an awful lot of people, and indeed the devs also updated the game to speed up a lot of elements.

      And from streams, Battletech is significantly slow-paced than the XCOM games.

  23. GuillaumeJ says:

    I’m a backer, and I have not played this game (yet), but watching a friend playing the beta, I’ve got the same feeling that it could be boring. Will have to play by myself, of course, and I expect a lot of the strategy layer.

    Comparison to Xcom are not fair, since there’s a lot of personality in Xcom which seems to be missing here.

    But I am only the only remembering (very fondly) Mechforce on Amiga ?

    • Shake Appeal says:

      I think you might be pleasantly surprised by the personality in this. HBS have already turned out some of the best-written RPGs ever, and the crew of your ship in this are far more interesting than any of the characters in the Firaxis XCOM games — and especially in XCOM2, with its weird Saturday morning cartoons vibe.

      What they need to do is let you customize your Mechwarriors more, so that they can have the same personality as your little dudes in XCOM do.

  24. RayEllis says:

    I haven’t played the game myself, though I have watched countless hours of beta footage. I have to say I haven’t found it boring at all.

    I have been moved to frustration, however, though that is not down to the game, but the sometimes glacial pace of the person(s) playing the game. The game animations, camera movements and so on all seem fine to me.

    I am, however, a child of the original turn-based computer game age, before the Dark Days ™ of RTS arrived to supplant what I see as a more enjoyable form of strategy gaming, so I am biased.

    To be honest, the more turn-based games that get produced, the happier I’ll be.

    • LexW1 says:

      I don’t think having played games for a long time means you tolerate unnecessarily slow or over-animated turn-based games, or at least it shouldn’t. I mean, I’ve been playing games since 1984, and I don’t think the Firaxis XCOMs have an acceptable pace by default, for example. Nor does the turn-based part of Total War: Warhammer. Fortunately both have mods to speed them up.

  25. Laurentius says:

    Have Alec even enjoyed any other of TBS game of recent years revival apart from XCOM and XCOM2? Not to my memory. The Banner Saga was also “slog” to his own words. He disliked ShadowrunReturns games. He is completly burned out on turn based games and it has been for years. It does not mean that Battletech is good but I would take Alec review with big reservations. If I would listen to that guy I would pass on The Banner Saga andmiss one of my favourite games in recent years.

    • Shake Appeal says:

      Oof, didn’t know Alec didn’t like Shadowrun or Banner Saga. Those are probably my two favorite game series of the decade, and Dragonfall is my favorite RPG of this century.

      I can understand why someone would find this game boring — although I think the issue is exacerbated when a lot of reviewers, streamers, etc. don’t seem to know how to kill things efficiently — but I’ve also spent a dozen hours happily watching other people play it this past weekend. And I put a dozen hours into happily playing 4v4 skirmish against the AI in beta. Maybe some of the criticisms can be addressed with options or QoL updates (which are planned); I know the devs have a “speed up” debug menu option that moves everything instantly.

      • Alec Meer says:

        Laurentius is being disingenuous for reasons of his own. I love all manner of TBS, old and new. I liked the story/adventure stuff in Banner Saga a *lot*, but found the battles quite dry. I found the first Shadowrun Returns too limited, but I had a great time with the much-expanded follow-up, then I found the next one overly similar.

        • Laurentius says:

          “disingenuous”? Well, “It’s just that this particular journey becomes something of a slog.”, these are words from your own The Banner Saga WIT. I’m just finding a pattern here. It’s kind of interesting that these games became slog to you. Sure, it could be these games’ problem, or it could be a case of a reviewer.

        • Shake Appeal says:

          I love the Banner Saga battles! And they could have kept making Shadowrun campaigns with the same ruleset and engine, and I would have kept buying them forever provided the writing kept up, too.

          I suspect that HBS will add a lot of polish, features, and expanded content as budget allows (they’ve already mentioned QoL improvements, refinements to the MechLab, and increased customization options), and hopefully that will address some of the sludgier, grognard-y stuff.

          But you should be conscious that this is one of those games where people have been waiting literal decades to play a faithful adaptation, and they’re not going to take kindly to someone saying, “Yep, it’s faithfully slow and boring.”

          I never played much tabletop Battletech, but having read the Paradox forums in the run-up to release, its devotees are, well, devoted.

          • Archonsod says:

            I suspect there’s probably a joke to be made between Alec’s complaint that the between turn downtime is merely ‘minutes’ and the average between turn downtime of the boardgame. It’s one of the things that bothers me about Ogre’s computer translation – I can’t get used to the idea of finishing an entire turn in less than thirty minutes.

  26. Goldeneye says:

    How odd this review is. While I agree with certain points (I’ve written a lot in the game’s official forums about how horrible the game’s tutorial is), the issue about the slowness of animations seems to be down to personal taste. I’ve watched hours of pre-release streams of people like Christopher Odd, Sidestrafe, CohhCarnage and Beaglerush play the game’s campaign, and so far I massively enjoyed what I saw (helped by the fact that the streamers seemed to also massively enjoy the game), enough that it got me more hyped for the game than I already do now.

    • bambusek says:

      Same. Watched some streams, didn’t get the feeling game is too slow. True, heavy mechs can take punishment, but isn’t it exactly how it suppose to be?

  27. Azmedaj says:

    Well… I still pre-ordered, but this is precisely why I preferred the 3050 setting to the “classic” 3025 setting in Battletech. The introduction of the clans made the engagements more dynamic and the mechs more vulnerable – with far more speed and firepower, but similar survivability. The asymmetry of tech also added a needed, in my opinion, mix to the rosters in each engagement.

    If this game does well there’s supposedly a possible expansion or sequel that would cover the clan invasion… But who knows how they would balance that. No one wants to play the technologically inferior side, and it would be difficult to create a compelling strategic layer for the clans…

    • GepardenK says:

      I think they chose this timeline to focus on the fundamentals. It makes sense for a first release, things get very complicated fast with Clan tech etc introduced.

      There is no doubt they’ll release Clan related content if they’ll get to do expansions or sequels. Featuring iconic mechs such as the Timber Wolf is just too jucy a opportunity to pass. They’ll find some way to make it work balance wise within the lore, Mechwarrior and Mechcommander did after all.

  28. Pneuma_antilogias says:

    For the hours the reviewer claims to have spent with the game, the review is surprisingly shallow and uninformative.

    I was expecting more on the strategic layer (other than an accusation -without any evidence whatsoever- that Battletech borrowed from XCOM and then tried to hide it) and found nothing of substance there.

    Ok, the game is slow, got that.

    Basically, the fact that Into the Breach came into this discussion told me far more that the entire review.

    • spacedyemeerkat says:

      I agree with you.

      Having read every single word, all I really got was the game is dull and it’s too slow.

    • Eliijahh says:

      Same. I had hoped to learn more about the strategic layer of the game. For me, that is the main selling point of this game.

    • Soushi says:

      Have to agree, not being Mechwarrior fan myself and only seeing couple of hours of gameplay on YT I’m fairly excited to play this game and what makes me so excited is the strategic layer: with all the management and mech customization it opens up.

  29. Frank E says:

    I can’t say whether the game will be good or not since I’ve only played the skirmish beta but I’ll have to disagree with pretty much all of this review. While there are things I didn’t like about the tactical game, none of those were even hinted at in the review. I actually like the pacing, but then again I also enjoyed the pacing of XCom. In XCom, I liked the anticipation of watching my snipers peering down the barrel and slowly lining up those shots. I always thought it added to the game even if it did slow things down. That comes down to a matter of taste though and I can see why some people wouldn’t like it.

    What isn’t just a matter of taste, and where the review comes across as absolutely clueless is the criticisms of the UI. It’s hard to design an easy-to-use UI for a (fairly) complicated game and whoever designed the Battletech skirmish UI nailed it in that regard. I was replaying XCom:Enemy Within a few weeks ago and kept thinking that I wish the UI was half as good as the Battletech UI. XCom’s UI is annoyingly bad in comparison.

    One thing that I will agree with is that the pacing is a lot slower than most TBS games. The comparison that someone made to early 20th century naval combat fits. You usually don’t kill units in one or two salvos so it’s more a battle of attrition than something like XCom or Jagged ALliance. That certainly won’t be everyone’s cup of tea.

  30. automatic says:

    Thanks for the review. I suspected from the start this game wouldn’t be as awesome as people hyped about it. Not only because the obvious capitalization on nostalgia that sometimes makes devs rely too much on the title value by itself, but also because games have evolved a lot since the first BT, so sticking to classic rules, although desirable by a lot of people, may not work as well on a computer game as they expect. I will still try it sometime, because I like BT. Maybe after a couple of patches.

  31. ExMachinaOz says:

    Interesting … I have pre-ordered and pre-downloaded this game, though wasn’t a Backer and never played tabletop, so have a bit invested in it being enjoyable but hopefully still an open mind. Lack of good VO during missions and too much waiting seem pretty clear issues. Harebrained aren’t AAA but at $40 we should expect polish and style as well as good underlying content.

    But I wonder if part of the reason Alec hasn’t enjoyed it is coming to this game that combines more rawness (trying something new) and a slower-paced heritage after progressing through the nu-XCom to its apogee in the polished, but also supercharged WOTC.

    Way back in the day when I first played Baldur’s Gate after years of Diablo and its sequels, it felt quite dull at first. “What, I play 10 hours to slog up to level 3, and finally find a sword +1 damage like it’s a big deal, whereas in Diablo I would have gained 10 levels and found swords of +327% damage all the time?”. But I came to appreciate the story & lore of BG and its sequels, and more methodical D&D based gameplay over time.

    • Moraven says:

      Never been a TT player but was invested into the universe and PC games growing up.

      Code Name STEAM, a XCOM like on the 3DS Nintendo handheld, was good but had some QOL issues like slow enemy animations and no map preview, which had reviewers basically write it off. Playing it anyone can agree it can make the game feel like a slog. Impression I get from this review.

      But I now I will be sold into the fighting, MechLab building and management as I did with MechCommander and MechWarrior, reliving your BT moments you read.

  32. bambusek says:

    So, the tactical game about fights between large mechs is “slow” and it is “bad”? Certainly, I would expect something like that from console centered site that tries to appeal to hyperactive kids that get bored if anything lasts longer than quarter of second, not from RPS. Sad.
    In Company of Heroes, RTS game after all, when two tanks met and just shot at each other without trying to hit weaker rear armor, it took time before one of them is destroyed and I suspect Battletech mechs, at least heavy ones, are suppose to be better armored than WWII tanks were.

    Maybe author will enjoy Iron Harvest more. I have a feeling mechs there will be more like papercraft models than fearsome machines of war.

  33. Trudel says:

    I was only mildly excited for this game, now I’ll wait and see how it developes post launch.
    I’m more of real-time strategy/tactics type and loved Mechcommander 2 back in the day. I hope we’ll see a sequel one day.
    While there is a big difference between real-time and turn-based strategy, Alecs main gripe with Battletech would vanish if the battles were real-time.

  34. leontios says:

    RPS reviews have really changed over the years. Arguably so has RPS. Right now i must admit they are more a matter of luck of the draw. Meaning that if the reviewer and the subject click you will get a positive albeit biased review and vice versa. The neutral (or as neutral as possible) sometimes whimsical and sometimes (those rare few times) almost inspired reviews are declining. This review in my opinion (i stress the opinion part) is a good example of a reviewer who probably was not super excited to review this game in the first place. This lack of excitement (and i am being mild here) i believe, is evident in the end result.

    Just so you know my own biases as i write this comment i pre-ordered the game, i have never played the tabletop and have only ever played that online FPS disaster which shall remain unnamed. That said i love Mecha and i absolutely adore X-com and strategy games in general.

    Someone mentioned something about a second person reviewing or having a look. I think RPS used to do that before. its not such a bad idea afterall.

    • Premium User Badge

      calcifer says:

      It is utterly and completely baffling to me how anyone can complain about “bias” in a review. Of course it’s biased; it’s the personal opinion of a single human being. “Objective reviews” are a myth, perpetuated by people who don’t happen to agree with the reviewer.

      In fact, let me give you a quick “objective review” of Battletech:

      Battletech is a video game where the player controls mechanical units (“mechs”) to inflict damage on the opponent’s mechs. The user is considered to have won the round if they can destroy their opponent’s units before they lose their own units.

      The game has many features like keyboard and mouse input, a settings menu and sound effects and music. It is available via various digital retailers for a region-dependant price.

      I don’t know about you, but I much rather read the RPS version.

      • automatic says:

        Agreed. Some news media try to disguise their bias through article’s formatting and depersonalization, but the writer bias is always there. I’m not sure if leontios wants robots or just people who likes a game to write it’s reviews.

        • leontios says:

          I should have perhaps avoided the use of the word neutral here, as i see why you would take it to the extreme assuming that i would prefer some robotic newscaster reading from the teleprompter kind of approach. What i should have said is a little less subjective. Meaning, if i like pixel FTL kind of games and i am reviewing for example Star Citizen it might not sit that well with me. As objective as i might try to be during my review my boredom and or lack of interest will one way or another manifest itself. So either i state my biases from the beginning (which i dont agree was done here) or RPS can group reviewers by interest so we dont get a luck of the draw kind of scenario which is what my main point was in the first place. I hope this is a little more clear.

      • Archonsod says:

        The problem is where the bias lies, not that it’s there. Most people tend to think the primary purpose of a review is to convey information about the product under review. If the bias in question is an inherent dislike of the nature of the product under review the information one conveys tends to be limited, simply because it’s difficult to separate out one’s dislike of a specific example from generally dislike something (usually because it’s essentially circular; if you dislike ice cream it’s incredibly hard to describe why you dislike chocolate flavoured ice cream without referring back to the fact you dislike all ice cream).
        The funny thing in this case of course being that Alec opens by revealing his bias – it’s a game he should by all rights like – and spends the rest of the article explaining (at least to my reading) how frustrating he finds it that he doesn’t actually love the game (concluding as far as I can tell that the game largely gets in the way of itself).

        • GepardenK says:

          I think what might make people react negatively to this review is that it can be interpreted as overly self-serving. It almost reads like an examination of the emotional journey of being bored by a game you want to like, with the game itself being treated as random collateral damage that could have been replaced with any other game that served the same purpose for the article. There seems to be very little focus on explaining what the game aims to achieve, how it goes about achieving that and what demographic it might be of interest to, scope of the product (multiplayer, skirmish), etc etc. And while this is fairly consistent with the RPS subjective style of writing it’s not exactly surprising to me that some people feel the article diddn’t do the game justice – particularly since the general consensus is that it’s a fairly solid addition to the TBS genre.

    • suibhne says:

      I’ve been reading this site for 10 years. [checks watch] Wow. Yeah, really.

      What you write doesn’t seem familiar to me at all. I’ve seen some changes in focus over the years, but this “Wot I Think” is par for the RPS course…since before they were ever called “Wot I Think”. I happen to value the style and editorial approach; you may not, and that’s just peachy. But let’s not pretend this is somehow different from what we all know and have come to expect from RPS over the past decade.

      • leontios says:

        Well considering that my opinion is subjective and that your contrary opinion is, obviously, subjective, i believe that we can agree to disagree.

  35. Fnord73 says:

    Hmm, watching the streams I really dont see this as a big problem, and what there is will surely be modded or patched. I am more concerned with if there are enough tactical option, if the AI is capable and so on. Im not going to rage rage against the review, because it is indeed subjective and so true, but for me this will hopefully be a game where I play a few battles now and then instead of playing it all in one go. Just like a boardgame campaign, basically. But Im concerned that its just a matter of blobbing up and firing and firing. Oh well, will find out in a few hours.

    No PvP though, am I right?

    • Sian says:

      I don’t think it’ll be entirely about blobbing up. Yes, you’ll want to concentrate your fire on one threat at a time to bring them down faster, but flanking seems to play a big role to get to the weaker armour on the back of mechs, and lighter mechs benefit enormously from moving a lot to increase their evasion.

      And yes, it does have pvp.

    • Someoldguy says:

      There’s 1:1 skirmish battles against the AI or another player. If the game is successful there’s scope for the PvP to be expanded (it was in the kickstarter but had to be cut).

  36. Foosnark says:

    The last time I played Battletech, which was probably the early 90s, I was in the skirmish for about 6 hours. During that time I managed to draw the fire and pursuit of two enemy players away from the main goal before I got myself killed. Some 9 hours later, my team won, whether or not it had anything to do with me.

    I Kickstarted this game in September 2015 and it’s felt like a looooong wait, with many tantalizing updates.

    I started preloading it on Steam yesterday afternoon, but my internet connection is down to about 150-200K per second and I hope but don’t know for sure that the game will be ready for me when I get home from work today.

    …so it sounds like the pace of gameplay is about like that. (Though I’m somewhat relieved by comparisons to their Shadowrun games; aside from regularly missing 5 “85%” shots in a row at point-blank range, and occasional tedium in cyberspace combat, I quite enjoyed those.)

  37. wiski says:

    Sounds like you wouldn’t have liked the tabletop game either. A lot of the things you didn’t like about this game are the things that have a lot of people who have been waiting for a tabletop interpretation of Battletech for decades to be extremely excited.

    • Abracadaniel says:

      Then why not just play the board game? It’s not even multiplayer or coop, which I would think is the main reason to play most board games.

      • Fnord73 says:

        According to Eurogamer it has 1p vs. 1p skirmishes, so its a kind of multiplayer? Genuinely confused now.

        • Sian says:

          It does have multiplayer battles, definitely. No coop as far as I know, though.

        • Palindrome says:

          There are skirmishes at the moment and ranked PvP will be added after launch.

      • Someoldguy says:

        That’s rather like saying why play cRPGs when you can just play pen and paper. Time, money, kids, friends scattered to the four winds, not having a big enough dining room table to gather everyone around, they all count against reliably being able to get some good face to face gaming in.

        I’m currently fortunate enough to be able to get a PnP game once or twice a week except in summer when everyone is on holiday. Being able to pick up a single player game satisfies the itch the rest of the time even though it doesn’t manage the same atmosphere. This game was kickstarted on the premise that it would be pretty faithful to the tabletop roots and it’s done its best to deliver.

    • GrassyGnoll says:

      I think you may have a point wiski. Battletech games where each player controlled a full Lance (four units) could take hours with just the two players.

      The reviewer may actually be highlighting what many an ex-TT player would consider part of the Battletech experience. From what I’ve seen on u-tube and twitch they’ve got it about right, but future tweaks could make the game more bearable of those who like at more streamlined experience. Also, this review isn’t that negative, Alec still goes back so they are doing something right.

  38. Abracadaniel says:

    Good review, as always interesting with a different opinion on the matter. I can’t help but feel the same without even playing yet, just from watching the gameplay videos, Paradox has been throwing our way it seems a bit boring, you move, you shoot, some rng and that’s pretty much it for the rest of the game. I have never been a huge Battletech fan so maybe i’m not as biased as so many fans and backers. I understand that fans will want the game to be good, have paid money and waited for years on end. But it’s important to look at the game itself and not everything else around it. I have also never been a big fan of HBS, I felt every game they made showed potential but lacked polish and had some bad design decisions thrown in.

  39. Neurotic says:

    RPS does seem to attract an awful ot of trolls these days. Lots of them don’t seem to realise how obvs they are because their dismal, broken ranting stands out like a sore thumb. They consistently demonstrate that they have no idea who the core team are here, or what their experience is. I would say it’s absolutely baffling, but so many of the supposed news sites and blogs that one can read about gaming and pop-culture generally are of such poor quality, I suppose finding the pearl amongst the swine is too shocking.

    • modzero says:

      I actually feel that it’s Kickstarter campaigns growing fanbases with an attitude of a bolshevik political officer. Lots of loud shouting about how a game is great, and even its failures are actually successes. And if they ever _do_ acknowledge a failing, it’s instant summary execution for the developers.

    • Moraven says:

      Just a lot of die hard TableTop fans who have been wanting a digital interpretation of their game for decades.

      Tho there is always been MegaMek for people to play TT on their PC.

  40. Fnord73 says:

    Wait, it actually has a PvP option and it isnt mentioned in the review? Or did I miss something? Because heyho, that means we can actually play Battletech for reals and that is a BIG thing.

  41. Sian says:

    Like many others I’m a bit flummoxed, especially about the bit about the game being rather silent and feeling like nobody’s there. Sure, the opposing pilots don’t utter a word, but almost every attack is commented upon by your own forces. I can see it getting repetitive, but it’s not really silent – at least that’s what I saw in various videos.

    Like some others here I don’t think it’ll be too slow for me, but that’s a matter of personal taste, and I might change my mind after having actually played it instead of just watching. To me, the boring parts are when one of them YouTubers thinks about a move for ages without saying much or while repeating the same points over and over, not the actual animations and stuff. Granted, an alpha strike being fired all at once would be better than sequential fire if only for the ridiculousness factor.

    • Someoldguy says:

      I believe some of the opposition voiced content for the campaign missions was cut at the last minute, not sure why. It was definitely present in the early campaign streaming. Hopefully it can be modded back in even if it doesn’t meet the exacting standards of HBS for some reason.

  42. Schlobo says:

    Oof. You see this many comments on any RPS article and you know that someone has shaken the hive, the resultant bees have circled the wagons, and now…I am out of dumb folksy phrases. I wonder how highly, and where, this review was reposted to earn such vitriol?

    Thanks for sharing your opinion, Alec. I don’t have skin in this game (AHA, THERE’S ANOTHER), but I thought it was a well-considered review. Defy the shrieking, and carry on!

    • modzero says:

      On the PDX forums, where you can learn that reading RPS is apparently a simulation of being a “drooling idiot”. I have no idea what they mean *drools*.

      • Palindrome says:

        That was a single post amongst hundreds. Context, its important.

        • modzero says:

          Among hundreds other very angry posts. Seriously, it’s pretty clear that it’s the usual crowd getting angry about RPS. No surprise there, giant robot games _are_ a dated theme for a rather dated crowd, after all.

          • Palindrome says:

            “The usual crowd”? No, it was just standard forumites in that thread who were generally quite confused as to the content of this review, one of whom went a bit too far.

            Be careful of developing a persecution complex.

  43. rocketman71 says:

    Backer here, have been playing the beta, which I think is an excellent game. BT lover as well.

    All I can think reading this review is:

    1) Alec was not the right writer to do it

    2) After reading the review, “Oh god, it’s so boring” is totally out of place in the first paragraph. I don’t want to think how many people that did not have this game in their radar will have written it off at that point at just closed the browser. Alec is not going to make many friends at Harebrained for a long time, and deservedly so.

    Such a pity. This game has a public, and it deserved better. And by that a mean a better review.

    • Pneuma_antilogias says:

      I agree; regardless of whether one feels that the criticism voiced in the review is valid or not, there is not enough information on the mechanics of the game, how the strategic layer ties into the tactical layer, etc. Nothing to show that the reviewer actually played the game beyond a couple of tactical maps.

      Feels like something that was written after a morning’s worth of gameplay.

      Overall, it’s a poor review, even if the argument that “it’s slow and boring” proves valid. No word on how the weapons act, their uses, the tactical choices they present, but two paragraphs on the animations?

      A boring review. And if that says more about me than it does about the review, so be it :)

      • Moraven says:

        Maybe re-read the closing paragraph.

        • Pneuma_antilogias says:

          Perhaps I did not express my self clearly enough:

          Despite the claims of the reviewer, there is NOTHING in the actual review that demonstrates he played the game beyond a couple of tactical maps.

          I’m sorry, it’s a poor review, even if it turns out he’s right and it’s a slow and boring game. A review that leaves half the game out of the review is sub par.

    • Moraven says:

      Why not? Not everyone is going to like every game they write for. Alec essentially says there is a gem of a game after various QoL improvements are made. Likely part of the problem of the development is most of the people doing the Beta test (had access, never played) are die hards who do not mind the slowness and played the hour long skirmishes on the tabletop.

      Its not Alec’s fault if people stop at a him talking about his initial experience of boredom. Clearly the majority commenting did not read the entire review.

  44. bacon seeker says:

    I love that RPS reviews are called “wot I think” and are purely qualitative, with no score. I may not agree with them, but at least I’m fairly confident I’m getting someone’s actual opinion (as I would from talking to a friend) rather than a formulaic piece that’s partly determined by advertising and parent company considerations. I hope that never changes.

    • bacon seeker says:

      Also, the comment sections here usually provide some useful information to supplement or criticize a review, unlike the comment cesspools in some places.

  45. Templar says:

    Great read. This touches on feelings I discovered as a kid playing video games. The remorse, the guilt, the bad feelings you get sometimes when you want to like a game but it dosnt happen but you try to force it because you feel like you should for some reason. The most recent experience was a thousand hours in elite dangeroud before I said what am I doing to myself and just walked away. I had this problem alot as a child from a poor family and knowing how ridiculously expensive games were (And still are sometimes). Youd get some for a gift on a holiday or birthday from loved ones and youd be so grateful and feel obligated to enjoy the game. But some games were just terrible and made you feel terrible trying to enjoy them.

    Theres to many good games now with most of us having large backlogs to do this to our selves anymore.

    • A.- says:

      Thank you for this comment.
      I wish the door to these ideas and conversations was a tad more open than it is today in discourse around gaming.

  46. DatonKallandor says:

    If your mechs are ineffectually shooting at each other you’ve undergunned them and are not exploiting holes in enemy defenses properly. The pace adjusts to the player – if you know how to play it goes fast.

  47. Dogahn says:

    I’m ready to finally get my hands on this. The criticism lies entirely in visual presentation and pacing, so it seems like there is solid gameplay underneath all that self glorifying animation… That’s really what it is, a creators love for finally showing you what he has been imagining. Putting the artistic vision ahead of the functionality.

    No worries, I bought in at $25; getting what I paid for.

    • Dogahn says:

      About 10 hours in. The game is ponderously slow at times. It’s not so much the weapons, but the transitions. Camera is late to switch targets, seemingly mandatory pause when switching between units, battle load times drag on… It’s like a late turn civ game at times. I’m wondering if this is actually a Unity engine issue they’re up against.

      Outside of that, Nice campaign story, mouseover is consistently useful or flavorful, and I’m enjoying the art in it.

      Game is at risk of being one where the combat is a forced detraction from a solid management game. Thankfully though, truly turn based, faithfully waiting for my return from dad duties that crop up here and there. If only it didn’t take a year to load.

  48. cpt_freakout says:

    Thanks for the well-considered WIT. I’m a backer for this (sucker for TBS and tactics games) so I’m going to play it regardless, but I’m glad I can now adjust my expectations. I mean it’s not like I didn’t feel disappointed by the first Shadowrun and then loved the sequels, so the QoL problems in this game might be fixed sooner rather than later, in ways that might not be evident at first. At least that’s what I can hope for!

  49. icarussc says:

    I nominate the last sentence of this review as Sentence of the Year 2018. So great!!

  50. Splyce says:

    Man, the white knights are really out in force for this one. Jeez, I’m a fan of HBS, too, but I’ll be damned if I want every review on the universe to turn into and IGN 7/10 for every piece of drek out there.

    We get it. You LOVE BattleTech. That’s great. Somebody finally made a game called that, and said the board game was the inspiration. Some guy said he had been waiting 30 years to play this game? Seriously?

    Everyone with a ‘learn to play’ or ‘you just don’t get it, obviously’ response to this review just comes off as a cloistered child. Yes, your chosen geek fetish has made it out into the wider world, and maybe, it’s actually kind of boring and not that exciting. Maybe you’ve heard this before? Perhaps the representation here is faithful in the extreme, but it also sounds a bit rushed and underbaked, what with no voice in missions and no destructible terrain (MechCommander 2 had this how many years ago?) When HBS did Shadowrun, they had none of this and the engine was as bare as possible, but it was a shoestring crowdfunded game. Production value here sounds to be way lower than it should have been.

    If you pre-ordered and played the beta and had a ton of fun, that’s great! Enjoy that you finally got the game you wanted after 3 decades. But if this is what happens when a boring BattleTech game gets released to less than thunderous applause, we should all just unplug the internet when StarCitizen drops.

    • Pneuma_antilogias says:

      Oh, for pity’s sake. What an inane response.

      The review does not touch HALF the game. It gives minimal meaningful information about the other half, the boring one.

      It’s a poor review. That’s the point, not that it “attacks” the game.

      I mean, before all you “measured” and “mature” people charge to defend the honor of RPS, try to read what the other people actually write.

      Over and out.

    • Templar says:

      Regardless of content and material if the game has a poor transmission that lags and pauses for every shift it should be pointed out. Stop crying and stop letting developers get away with shoddy work. Its a game critique site. He correctly critiqued it. If someone who reviews games for a living didnt catch shit like this and tell you about it they wouldnt be very good at what they do. I appreciate the lack of spin.

    • Viral Frog says:

      My problem with this review isn’t that it’s a negative review of Battletech (I’d never even heard of Battletech prior to this game’s Kickstarter). My problem is that, from watching streams, there’s about 50% of the game that the review completely ignores. And, as I can see, that’s basically the primary complaint amongst the comment section.

      I enjoyed watching this game on streams. I didn’t once notice the sluggishness (as I mentioned in a comment further down, I do now realize that it wasn’t exactly fast paced, but that’s not really a bother to me.) Anytime I found myself not enjoying the stream was because of the streamer I was watching and not the game itself.

      I haven’t played for myself yet, of course, so we’ll see how I feel in the end. I’m 7.5 hours away from being able to dive in. :(

      • awrc says:

        The battles are just so damn boring…. It isn’t even that they take that long there just isn’t any real tactical choices, it seems like the only important thing is where my mechs are standing :/ When I hear the X-Com comparison I can’t understand it. In X-Com I just wanted to get back into the battles here I can’t wait to get back to the campaign because at least that is a little interesting.