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Battletech expansion Flashpoint and a free new mode are out now

New stompybot goodies for all, even if you're not buying

Lasers are nice, but if anime has taught me anything, all you need a blade the size of a truck. Released today, Flashpoint is the first of three planned expansions for Harebrained Scheme's stompybot mercenary manager Battletech. There's three new mechs (including the melee-loving Hatchetman above), a new mission type geared towards lighter mechs, sunny tropical planets and a major extension to the post-story endgame. The titular flashpoints are a set of mercenary mini campaigns with decisions to be made, and potentially big rewards. Plus, a huge new patch is out.

Accompanying the release of the new expansion is a massive patch. Version 1.3 adds a slab of new features, the biggest of which is Career Mode. Skipping the main story, it gives you a ship, a random set of mechs and pilots then dumps you in some backwater system and asks you to make your own fortune. If you have the Flashpoint expansion, it'll include those new scenarios as well, giving free-wheeling mercenaries plenty to do. Oh, and Career mode is set to Ironman mode by default, so you're just going to have to live with those expensive mistakes and bad dice-rolls.

On top of the new mode, there's new merc contracts being offered by pirate clans, new equipment to be found (including some LosTech gear) and a rework to the faction system. As you improve your rep with one faction, you'll become increasingly disliked by their enemies. Potentially limiting, but the folks who like you will offer more lucrative (and difficult) jobs, and sell you better stuff from their new faction-specific store. There's even a few new events to spice up your space-travel. This is all separate from Flashpoint and free for everyone - you can see the full patch notes here.

Joining the Hatchetman are two more mechs - the squat and sturdy middleweight Crab, and the more specialised Cyclops, a heavy but lightly armoured command unit. HBS reckon that there's a lot to do in Flashpoint, and estimate that getting through the new scenarios will take around thirty hours. If that figure is accurate, that's not half bad for the first of three expansions. The second, due out in Summer, is going to be focused on urban combat. By the time they're finished with this game, it's going to be an impressive package, especially considering the scale of the free updates.

Flashpoint is out now, and you can find it here on Steam, Humble and GOG for £13.94/€17.99/$17.99. Alec is working on a full review, but you'll just have to be patient - this sounds like a hefty chunk of mech-war to get through.

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