The summer of Mech, they'll call this in years to come, when they've stopped caring about strict definitions of when a season is. Later this month we get Harebrained Schemes' healthily-Kickstarted XCOM-meets-Mechwarrior affair Battletech, and then towards the end of 2018 we return to a first-person, real-time view of that big, stompy world, with MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries.
It's a bit of an unknown quantity right now, given devs Piranha Games' last crack of the ambulatory tanks whip was 2012's unlovely (but still live) MechWarrior Online. MW5 will return the series to its singleplayer roots, and its latest attempt to win back the hearts of jaded MW fans is to show us how much stuff we get to smash, stomp, crush, bash, decimate and so forth.
Flashy 2018 Unreal engine gloss aside, this trailer reminds me a lot of the kind of PC game marketing - i.e. ridiculous music and an awful lot of terrain - we saw around the turn of the century, which perhaps is only appropriate when it comes to MechWarrior games. It's still very hard to get a handle on how MechWarrior 5's stomposity is going to feel in the hand, but from unneccessarily complicated-looking control panels to skull-faced Mechs to cartoonishly flying bodies to that familiarly industrial colour palette, it's at least looking the part from afar. MWO wasn't too good at letting you stomp right over wee small things - hopefully this is a good sign that MW5 will redress that particular balance.
There's also this bit of blurb about what, specifically, we will be able to crush into paste:
MECH DAMAGE: Mechs will take damage to various parts, including limbs – and depending on what has been damaged on your mech will vastly affect how you can perform in battle. If your leg is destroyed you may not have the stamina or speed to get back to your dropship in time, for example.
ENVIRONMENT DAMAGE: Environments can cause damage as much as an environment can absorb damage. If you are on a hot planet and running a larger/quick-to-overhead mech build, you will be able to deal far less damage to your enemies. Additionally, in both urban and natural environments you will have the ability to use buildings, certain rock formations and trees as cover but all of it is destructible – so if getting at enemy mechs means taking down a skyscraper, THEN BY ALL MEANS…
ENEMY AI DAMAGE: MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries will feature numerous forms of enemy AI infantry and combat vehicles and helicopters designed to defend and protect bases, forts, mines or resources. Taking them out will require precision aim and a penchant for knowing which types of ammo and weaponry work best to deal with smaller but deadly and hostile units.
Of course, there's a question mark over how much Mech is too much Mech in the same year. Is 2018 big enough for Battletech and MechWarrior 5? Well, they're two totally different genres, so yeah, obv.
MechWarrior 5 is due for release in December, if all goes to plan. As for Battletech, I'm quietly playing it right now, and all being well I'll be Wot I Thinking all over your eyes next week.