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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.

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Alec Meer

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Co-founder of RPS. Dungeon Keeper & X-COM 4 Life.

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