BattleTech's expansions have been a little light on new murderbots. Flashpoint brought in new multi-stage missions and Urban Warfare took the fighting to city streets, but this week's Heavy Metal DLC is all about those mechs. BattleTech's third (and final, for now) DLC drops with seven classics alongside the bespoke new Bullshark, accompanied by enough new lasers, missiles and mortars to turn even the biggest steel titan into a smoking scrapheap.
Might as well throw out the scales on this one - Heavy Metal's income roster includes some proper beefcakes to blast apart.
Heavy Metal lets Harebrained Schemes live my personal dream, leaving a permanent mark on BattleTech canon by creating their own bespoke mech. The Bullshark is an absolute unit, a 95-ton Assault with a rugby player's build packing more autocannons than I can count.
At PDXCon, producer Mitch Gitelman told our Nate that the team were very respectful of the 35-year history of the setting when designing a new mech. “Once you leave your ego at the door and embrace the lore, rather than try and fight it, you realise you can do a lot of creative stuff without disrespecting anyone who’s contributed to this shared universe".
As for why it's a whopping 95 tons? Art director Marco Mazzoni wanted it to be 95 tons "because there aren’t many 95 ton mechs in this part of the setting". Fair dos. The Bullshark even comes loaded with a special Thumper cannon, one of Heavy Metal's new area-of-effect weapons, using it to politely redraw a town map.
The DLC also comes with 7 classic mechs, ranging from the unassuming Flea to the rubber-necked Annihilator. Like the Bullshark, each comes with a unique piece of kit that "reflects the flavour and lore of the original board game". I'm just glad they don't reflect the atrocious quality of old metal BattleTech miniatures.
Lighter mechs have been given some extra oomph with a new Coil Beam weapon, a nippy wee bugger that hits harder the faster you travel before firing. Gitelman claims it turns the Flea - a paper-thin Olympic sprinter - into the "star of the show", letting it Usain Bolt around the map before blasting the arms off some poor bugger. Meanwhile, mortars bring some additional area-of-effect options to the table, while Inferno Missiles let you deal valuable heat damage from a distance.
There's a treat for lore buffs, too. A new Flashpoint operation features the Wolf's Dragoons, a sorta-good-guy mercenary band who show up in BattleTech media from time to time.
Beyond Heavy Metal, BattleTech also received a substantial free content drop. Update 1.8 adds two new mechs (Warhammer and Marauder) and a few new multiplayer maps, but it also brings in official mod support compatible with the ModTek tools modders have developed for themselves. There are plenty of neat little additions besides that should make revisiting the Periphery worthwhile, even without the latest DLC