BattleTech update 1 will bring speed-up options, more customisation and UI improvement

Bad news for people who love it when I bang on about BattleTech‘s speed/delay problems every single time I post about it: the devs are planning to offer “accelerated combat options” in a month or two. More unit customisation, difficulty settings and UI improvements are also due in the first major update, though ahead of that, they’ll be breaking out their welding torches and fixing up this thing’s slightly unstable legs.

As I eventually came around to after a miserable first 15 hours with it, BattleTech’s a great turn-based strategy game saddled with various presentation and performance issues. The former’s been the main problem for some of us – the unneeded pauses and slow animations artificially slow down battles by quite a bit. Easy, user-made BattleTech speed fixes already have the game’s pace cranked up to something far more fluid and active-feeling for me, but it’ll be nice to have an official toggle in the menus.

Planned as part of Update 1, due in June or July, are ‘Accelerated combat options’, which devs Harebrained Schemes coyly explain only as “We’re working on options for players who would like to accelerate the pace of combat missions.” That should appease time-starved moaners such as myself, but those with more time and/or patience to spare will be more interested in the additional promise of more Mechwarrior customisation options.

Right now, you’re limited to designing the look and callsigns of your commander character, with the rest of your Mech pilots’ aesthetic defined by the luck of the hiring store lottery. I’ve grown accustomed to the faces and extremely limited voices of my still-alive starting line-up – Glitch, Behemoth, Medusa and Dekker – and wouldn’t want to change ’em now, but sure, on my next go on the giant robot merry-go-round, it’d be nice to name everyone after Twin Peaks characters or vintage Transformers. ‘Audrey, launch alpha strike!”

Also promised are ‘granular difficulty settings – a set of discrete options for players to customize the challenge level of the game in different areas.’ I’m only guessing here, but that could cater both to people who are finding the poorly-explained tactical side of the game too hardcore and want to blast through the story acquiring new deathbots, and to people for whom BT is second-nature and so they can burn through the early game with incredible ease. After a sum total of 50 hours with the game, I am finding that I can do many missions with my eyes closed now, so I wouldn’t say no amping things. In that vein, also promised is smoothing of difficulty spikes, both suddenly too hard and suddenly too easy.

I’m probably more interested in “MechLab / Store / Salvage quality-of-life improvements – Interface additions to reduce friction when buying and salvaging new items,” though. All that stuff is fairly clunky, often with a screen or sub-menu too many, and a part failing to install and bouncing back to the parts menu during a refit because I didn’t drag it into the box just so does my nut in.

June or July for that update, as I say, that the devs note that the planned contents may change as D-day approaches. Ahead of that, sometime this month we’ll get at least one general bugfix patch, and the devs are currently investigating performance and stability issues. “Our launch wasn’t perfect,” they acknowledge, which anyone who’s experienced startup crashes or this not particularly glossy-looking game making their graphics card feel like it’s just gone twelve rounds with a King Crab will testify to.

The game’s first patch – v1.01 – was released yesterday in fact, and addresses a few minor woes such as V-sync not working properly, clipping issues, some crashes and a sometime failure for savegames to appear. (Sadly this latter occurs on my laptop, and the patch hasn’t sorted it out, though all’s well on my desktop). Full details and known issues are listed here, and the devs reckon more smaller patches will trickle out over the coming days and weeks.

No mention of meatier modding support as yet, unfortunately, but clearly it won’t be long until someone figures out how to slap Warhammer 40,000 skins all over this thing.

44 Comments

  1. Evan_ says:

    Whoa, official patch too after the community hotfixes? Someone wants to make a good impression.

    Well, it worked for me. I’m just waiting for the first dozen DLCs before hopping in. :)

    • trashmyego says:

      This isn’t a Paradox game, they’re only the publisher. HBS have never done DLC for their games, and they’ve only talked about Expansion sized paid content in relation to Battletech at this point.

      • Janichsan says:

        HBS is in fact planning DLC for Battletech, though. But the plans sound fairly reasonable.

        • trashmyego says:

          Of which they’ve always referred to as expansions.

          • Janichsan says:

            Semantics.

            According to the description of their current plans, some of these “expansions” will add little else than a more types of Mechs and maps.

          • trashmyego says:

            What isn’t semantics is their consistent use of the term. Along with the fact that they’ve only referred to releasing one or two of them. The vast majority of their discussions deal with the free updates. Quibble much?

            This isn’t a Paradox game in anyway, HBS isn’t owned by Paradox, the expectation of relentless DLC is unfounded.

  2. Troubletcat says:

    Cool, I’ll probably pick it up some time in the next year or so, nice to know the squeakiest wheels will have been greased by then.

  3. EthZee says:

    My secret hope is that this game slowly keeps getting patches and mods to speed up turns and actions until one day you boot it up and it’s a new Mechwarrior game

    • grimdanfango says:

      Alas, that’s still probably a safer bet than hoping Piranha Games’ new official MechWarrior game isn’t shit.
      :-(

      • Chrithu says:

        I hope in exchange for sharing their mech models they in turn get some expertise on story and Company Management from HBS. Apart from the actual battles being a solid fun afair what satisfies me the most is what HBS have done with the whole Management process for your merc Outfit. I hope MW5 takes inspiration from that.

        Other than that I am one of the few people that actually think MWO is a good game. Sure it has a lot of unused potential and slogs away on CryEngine But apart from that it ia solid and fun affair in my view, for what it wants to be.

        • magogjack says:

          MWO is my most played game. Despite its issues I love it.

          Sure it would be nice to have inverse kinetics back, Dragon bowling, and melee added, but the game thats there is top tier, for me.

  4. grimdanfango says:

    No mention of meatier modding support as yet, unfortunately

    I don’t think there’s going to be. HBS have been fairly explicit about not providing specific modding support – their concession has been that they have compiled the game as an “unobfuscated” Unity game, and given modders clear permission to knock themselves out hacking about with whatever underlying code that makes accessible.
    Could potentially see some fairly complex mods over time I think – there are plenty of experienced Unity users out there, and Battletech has a pretty raving-dedicated old fanbase.
    Looking forward to see what comes out of it.

    • Chrithu says:

      Yeah I think part of the reason is that despite their Support on the modding Tools the modding Scene for their shadowrun games never really kicked off. At least not as far as I followed things and to Skyrimesque proportions (and frankly that is te only Scenario in which providing modtools makes sense for a Team as small as HBS).

      • Darloth says:

        There’s a lot of mods for the Shadowrun Returns etc game line. Some of them are really impressive and really big.

        It’s not skyrimesque, but almost nothing that doesn’t have the playerbase of Skyrim even CAN be that big.

  5. DeepFried says:

    Honestly once I moved all the gameplay sliders to the left in the settings menu I didn’t really have any issue with the gameplay speed, my approach to tactical games is quite ponderous anyway, and I have no problem with watching the movement and weapon fire animations, just not the cinematic and camera zooms.
    Getting rid of the pre and post pauses however would be welcome, it hasn’t bothered me enough to edit the files, but if its a menu option I’ll be all over it.

    • Someoldguy says:

      If it’s only those pauses that bug you then it’s only four lines in one file you need to tweak. Making the mechs move faster requires editing the file for each mech type.

    • gi_ty says:

      I feel much the same way. I am a TBS lover, but the ponderous nature of this game is wonderful to me. I was playing a single mission last night it felt like 15-20 minutes to me, when i checked the time I realized it had been over and hour! I can see why some would find that irritating but I waas completely immersed in it. Hell I can spend 30 min tweaking the setup on a single mech. Finding a great balance of weapons and armor for each different chasis is an entire puzzle game on its own.

  6. Syt says:

    I’ve started to read up a bit on the lore/worldbuilding for the Battletech universe. How come there’s never been a grand strategy game about this?

    • dubyabyeats says:

      There was this board game (Succession wars) from 1987 which was at a strategic level

      link to boardgamegeek.com

      • ReverendPhoenix says:

        One of the biggest hurdles to making anything Battletech has be the overly litigious nature of Harmony Gold. Now that this games has set precedent in the legal case we may finally get more games in this universe.

        • Mr. Unpleasant says:

          Afaik HG only owns the rights to a few Robotech ‘Mech designs.
          BT just went out of fashion with its baroque eighty-ness (but has regained some popularity lately).

          • modzero says:

            Honestly, “company that stitched a new cartoon from another cartoon” suing “company that stitched a hard-ish-sf game from the same cartoon” is the weirdest thing ever. Okay, weirdest thing I’ve heard in the hour I’ve heard about this the first time, but it _was_ a pretty weird hour.

    • Mr. Unpleasant says:

      Are we talking about traditional games as well? Because Interstellar Operations covers grand strategy in the BT universe.

    • thetruegentleman says:

      A grand strategy game would be tricky: there are too many units for a Total War style game, and a Crusader Kings style game doesn’t really bring anything special to the table.

    • Zenicetus says:

      I don’t think a grand strategy game for this franchise would be sell very well. The worldbuilding is fairly dry, with only human empires, so it lacks the color of other sci-fi franchises. The worldbuilding and lore is basically just to set up the mech battles.

      A larger scale, mixed strategic/tactical game like Total War would probably do well. The current game is fun, but it’s a little claustrophobic with just a single lance of 4 mechs under your control.

  7. fearandloathing says:

    Hmm, making the most desired fix official only months after the release, I’m sure that’ll work wonders for sales. Obviously that ini fix is prone to introduce new bugs, but it seems fair to take that risk rather to lose players. Together with the new patch they will have to offer a discount to attract new players and give some free stuff to owners if they want them to go back into the game.

    • Janichsan says:

      The next patches scheduled for later this months are reserved for urgently needed bug fixes. I would say stability and perfomance fixes have at the moment a higher priority for current and new players than quality of life features.

  8. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    Warhammer 40k skins would be what… Imperial Knights? Titans?

    The scale seems kinda unkind to 40k really. There aren’t many devices in 40k that could fit this size without fudging it pretty hard.

    • Alec Meer says:

      Yeah, I’m thinking Epic (as-was) really. Titans and Dreadnoughts and Rhinos to stomp on. Would love there to be some wee small men in the game generally but sadly that’s not happened.

  9. Danarchist says:

    I would love it if they would give some attention to the screen ratio problem. I have a humble 2560×1080 monitor, and I am forced to play Sophie’s choice choosing between playing with giant black boxes on the side of the screen or not being able to see the buttons im pressing at the bottom of the UI. This would be far less annoying if it wasn’t working mostly fine for my brother with a different brand monitor on the same resolution.
    I tried monkeying around with ini files a bit, didnt help.

    • geldonyetich says:

      I was just about to mention I wish they’d add some proper ultrawide support. Over 1 of 10 of their customers are trying to play the game on an ultrawide.

      • DeepFried says:

        That number seems high, i’d be interested where you got it.

        • geldonyetich says:

          You expect me to back up my spurious statistics with hard data? 3 of 10 people who ask this turn out to be pedophiles.

          Oh, fine, it’s probably lower. The best I can do is link you to some Steam hardware survey data which puts primary desktops running widescreen resolutions as closer to 5%. So it seems I was only off my double.

          Interestingly, though, panoramic ultrawide capable multi-monitor setups of 3840 x 1080 ran closer to 35%! That’s a surprise, and reason enough to make sure ultrawide is supported in my opinion.

          • Janichsan says:

            Wut?

            I guess you are misinterpreting a few things there: the only two actual ultra-widescreen resolutions listed (2560×1080 and 3440×1440) amount to just 1.2% together.

            And someone with a “multi-monitor desktop resolution” of 3860×1080 does in pretty much all cases not use this resolution for “panoramic” gaming, but simply to have two separate full HD displays on his desk.

    • Richard_from_Winnipeg says:

      What brand works and what brand doesn’t? I have the Dell UW29 and am curious about this game.

      • Danarchist says:

        I have an LG (that i bought after reading an RPS article actually) and my bro has an chinese make off-brand model that I cant remember the name of.

  10. Axyl says:

    “Bad news for people who love it when I bang on about BattleTech‘s speed/delay problems every single time I post about it”

    Alec, you owe me a new shirt to replace the one that got bacon-and-egg sandwich snort-laughed onto it when I read that while eating.

  11. Viral Frog says:

    So the patch yesterday must be why my game is suddenly crashing now. Didn’t experience a single crash until yesterday, which I found odd. I didn’t know they issued a patch until just now.

  12. magogjack says:

    Behold the power of Alec !

  13. PiiSmith says:

    They made it quicker, just for him! ;)

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