Go fully freelance with this BattleTech map unlock mod

Battletech

Stompy-bot management sim BattleTech may not technically have native mod support, but developers Harebrained Schemes aren’t so proud as to keep all their data under lock and key. Realising that folks would want to poke around inside the guts of their latest game, they left much of its file structure open and human-editable.

One of the nicer little mods to come from this is Unlock Full Map After Obtaining The Argo, which is a very boring name but does just what it says on the tin. Ideal for the mercenary captain that would rather leave the main story behind and go freelance for a while.

The Unlock Full Map mod still requires you to work your way through the tutorial and the first few campaign missions, but once you’ve access to your own personal ship, the sky’s the limit. All the systems that would normally be locked off until late or post-story will be available, allowing you to wander the galaxy, picking and choosing contracts at will in Davion, Canopan, Liao and Marik-held space.

Battletech

As BattleTech isn’t really designed for mods, you’ll need a couple prerequisites before you download your map-unlocker, most notably the ModTek modding framework, and the BattleTechModLoader tool to handle the heavy lifting so you’re not fiddling around with a dozen different directories worth of data files. These are required for just about any current BattleTech mod.

Outside of this campaign-broadening mod, there’s some interesting stuff being put together by the community. One to keep an eye on (although be wary of its affect on balance) is the Lost Weapons pack, adding in a couple rare new tools of destruction to the loot tables including stability-wrecking Rotary Autocannons in both AC/2 and AC/5 calibres, plus a more powerful (but heavier and hotter-running) LRM variant that you can find in former Star League systems.

That’s exactly the kind of stuff I’d like to see mods add to the game – little bits here and there to flesh out the BattleTech galaxy a little more, with each part of space having its own preferred combat styles. There are plenty more mods, including some game-wide balance overhauls, but you’re probably best off keeping your tweaking and tuning relatively minor until you’ve finished one run through the game. Still, you can find plenty more over on the BattleTech Nexus here.

Props to PC Gamer for spotting this particular mod.

9 Comments

  1. Zenicetus says:

    This could be good for a second playthrough, since you’ll already know the story beats in the campaign.

    On the other hand… the procedural contract missions are not the strongest part of the game. There is no real variety in the enemy you face, something pointed out in the recent Scientific Gamer review. You’re supposedly fighting other mechs representing a variety of factions like pirates, or other mercenaries sent by the different local powers, but you’d never know it once you hit the ground. The enemy mechs all look alike, and they (or their commander) don’t have any identifying dialog like they do in the story missions. Every mech you kill looks and acts just like the mechs you killed in the last mission. At least in the campaign story missions, the events are scripted to provide more context.

    Maybe the modders or HBS can eventually flesh out the factions behind all these contracts, so the sandbox missions can feel less repetitive.

    • Someoldguy says:

      It’s hard to make the opposition feel unique if the large variety of mechs you already face feel largely the same to some players. For me, a mission where you’re facing a large number of PPC armed mechs and vehicles feels different to one where you’re facing predominantly LRMs or predominantly lasers. Or jump enabled mechs vs land bound. Far more than tank battles would if you were facing different mixes of heavy tanks each time.

      The only way I can see things being radically different would be if different factions actually had wholly different approaches, for instance some swarming you with light and medium mechs while others focus on heavies and assaults. The trouble with that is most players would completely ignore the former and only fight the latter for parts to improve their lance.

      Weaponry could bring in variety, but you’d have to break away from traditional mech weaponry loadouts to give factions particular preferences without limiting them to a much smaller pool of mechs, which again would lead to some factions being ignored once the player had all they wanted from their kit list. That rapidly ends up back where we started, with most players spending most of their time fighting mechs that “feel the same” – this time because they actually are the same because they’re drawn from a smaller selection pool.

    • Caiman says:

      I’m about 35 hours deep into the game, and still have only progressed the campaign as far as getting the Argo. I’m having a blast just doing mercenary missions, I actually think Harebrained have done a great job making them feel unique through their stories. And besides, you never quite know what you’re going to be facing, and it’s quite a shock when that 2 skull mission turns out to be a heck of a lot harder than expected. That’s what keeps this game fresh for me.

      • that_guy_strife says:

        That feeling might change a bit further in, especially once you understand the spawning mechanics. I think it could use some work, procgen is relied too heavily on here, to the point where it create inconsistencies.

        One mod I’d love to see, is something that implements something like the Nemesis system from Shadow of Mordor. It would fit in so well, and add a lot of replayability to the campaign.

  2. ozzy1018m says:

    adding solaris would be a nice add. some would love to climb through the ranks as a mech jock. that what I find missing from the game

  3. Sunjammer says:

    I really bounced off this one very hard. It’s currently the third game I have ever gotten refunded, which in 32 years of gaming is pretty depressive for a franchise I was deeply in love with in the 90s.

    It’s such a bummer since I enjoyed Mech Commanders 1/2 so much yet this one made me alt-F4 out of it in a frustrated rage. Load times and performance have been shockingly bad for me, the way it informs you of reasons for outcomes makes it hard to reason about tactics beyond which ranged weapons go where, and the weird bumper cart trading blows feel of “battles” make the whole Mech war thing seem utterly impractical, even stupid.

    Either this was just always a problem with the franchise, or this one adapts it in a singularly off-putting way. At least for me.

    • Zenicetus says:

      Well, it does require some pretty major suspension of disbelief to buy the whole “giant robot warfare” thing. But you say you enjoyed Mech Commander, so it’s probably just this particular game design.

      Regarding tactics and reasons for outcomes, it takes a while to figure out what works, and it isn’t helped in the beginning missions by the low accuracy of your starting pilots. So many missed shots. Once you train them up with better accuracy, and the weapons actually start doing what they’re supposed to (especially with the “+” versions you can find or buy), the feedback on tactics gets better.

      It sounds like the performance was a deal-breaker anyway, but maybe check back later to see if they’ve improved it. I’m getting fairly long load times, but the performance during battles is smooth on my medium-grade gaming PC

      • MechWarrior_Glitch says:

        The loadtimes aren’t always terrible – maybe 15-20 seconds entering combat, etc. But I’d like if they added a setting to turn off the story cinematic on game boot. It just gets a bit repetitive after so many times.

    • that_guy_strife says:

      Hey I thought as well too. The MechCommander games had much more extensive gameplay I feel. The Battletech game is basically a simplified version of the tabletop, and nothing else. So many missed opportunities. At least it’s very moddable, so that’s something to look forward to. As for your performance issues, there’s been 4 patches in the past 2 weeks, and they really helped loading times and static screens for me.

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