Harebrained Schemes was not lying when he said that BATTLETECH is their most ambitious brainchild. Chamber stories and close streets of megacities of the Shadowrun trilogy are in the past: BATTLETECH is a grandiose space Opera. And, despite the inherent genre of pathos, shooting multi-ton robots and overloaded plot, it is surprisingly elegant.
Yes! The adaptation of the monstrous, slow-moving, entirely math-bound table wargame from the eighties is elegant. Even more: BATTLETECH’s combat system is the purest ruthless tactic without bows, ruffles and crutches. Only you, the enemy, the task and the battlefield.
A rare visitor in our area
In Mechwarrior to manage even one fur — not an easy task and full of nuances, and to take command of a small platoon is equivalent to the logistic nightmare (look it up, the rules of the Board game). But BATTLETECH expertly got rid of math boring wargame. In whatever situation, on whatever planet you find yourself, the project asks the same simple questions. What fur should be activated now? Where to move it? What’s the purpose of opening fire? Any of the weapons?
In response to these questions, without exaggeration, is the whole game.
After seven hours of story campaign, I felt that Harebrained Schemes was starving my inner tactics. If you’re spoiled for the variety of options in the XCOM series, battles in BATTLETECH will seem too simple, not enough crisis and brainstorming. “Here are your robots, here are others. Shoot at others, protect your own.” Either you dozen active skills or set of hammers that you need to drive the same nail. It’s primitive!
So I thought. Exactly until he made his first mistake.
The beauty of the BATTLETECH combat system lies in the ratio of risk and reward: it is a constant threat that can not be estimated one hundred percent, breathes life into the battle of roaring iron.
Fighting mechs only at first glance seem indestructible. In fact, even the heaviest robot is a glass gun. Yes, the mechs have a scale of armor and strength, but attacks do not damage the entire armor, but a separate part of the body, which has its own defense indicators. The doublet of lasers hit to the body, a swarm of missiles in the right shoulder, machine gun — legs. At the same time the player has no (with rare exceptions) control over aiming: so the developers simulated specific clumsiness of the furs.
In other words, you never know for sure from what attack your or the enemy machine will be smashed to pieces: no matter how thick the armor of the avant-garde, it does not guarantee invulnerability. Even a pilot sitting in a safe cockpit, can shell hit, and prolonged rocket fire sooner or later will deprive the balance, and… Spread on the ground fur — a pitiful sight and easy target.
And what if not only the armor, but also the internal mechanism is destroyed? If the opponent, for example, has come on lazybones, crushing him with a forearm? Things happen. If you do not think and fixed on the forearm something explosive (for example, cartridges for artillery guns), it certainly will jerk, and the pilot will have, to put it mildly, hard. What if your forearm was your most expensive, rarest, and most powerful railgun? Well … I Hope you have a spare.
One miscalculation, like a Domino, causes an avalanche of consequences, and even a victory in battle does not always pay for the loss. Injured pilot after the mission will go to the hospital — it is possible that a couple of painfully long months. The destroyed equipment for fur not to return, torn off by a shot of a hand, feet and armor sheets — too. Repair of strongly shabby fur flies in such kopeechka that sometimes it is more expedient to sell the broken-down car on scrap metal.
And all would be nothing if your group of mercenaries to the ears in debt. Each month, the creditors demand money, the pilots are supposed to pay, equipment to maintain. On all this it is necessary to get from somewhere Finance, and not just to be engaged in it when your best pilot at death, and the coolest fur is not subject to repair. To briefly hire a new pilot unprofitable to go for a lucrative job without as too dangerous. We’ve arrived.
Eat or become food
Unlike many tactical strategies, BATTLETECH does not forgive the player’s delay and rash moves. The longer the fight, the more holes in your armor and the less ammo in the zagashnike, and patch yourself up in the middle of a shootout magic kit will not work. Gradually, the space for maneuvers is reduced so much that one minor mistake at the wrong time can destroy your entire squad.
Your wards are ordinary people sitting inside rare, fabulously expensive cars. Opponents are often in no way inferior: they have access to the same equipment, mechs and even the skills of the characters that you have. You’re equally vulnerable. Weapons are never superfluous, but the winner is not always the one who is better armed. Fortune smiles effective, not brave.
Once you understand this, BATTLETECH will turn from a simple tactic into a ruthless pursuit of optimization. You position the mechs so that all the guns worked at full capacity and with maximum accuracy, and the turns of the body and the field of view are calculated to the last degree. In the hangar, you also spend a long time poring over the fur, wondering whether another gun, cooling element or jet engine will fit into the body. And if not, why not sacrifice a couple tons of armor?
Even in the middle of a fight, knowing that one stray bullet can smash the core of your best fur into atoms, you compromise. It’s too early to eject: if this fur goes now, the others will fall. Maybe turn it so that the body was not visible? Or cowardly hide behind an ally? Or do not care about everything and stand to the last, hoping that the pilot will survive the likely explosion? At such moments, you forget about the slowness of the action, about how long and clumsily the battles take place. When the enemy artillery is attacking the very valuable and almost finished off the fur, glance, firmly adheres to the reservation counter. How much longer will it last? Will it hold?! Miss, miss, Yes miss you already!
By passion BATTLETECH sometimes easily overtakes even XCOM, and games Mechwarrior series and even more so: any critical hit or just a successful volley over and over again causes a storm of emotions. Successes and failures are felt almost physically, because you never know what exactly will happen, how to play you bet. Yes, a lot depends on luck and random numbers, and in tactical strategies the excessive importance of randomness is to be denied — but not this time. Wayward BATTLETECH — generator intense and unforgettable emotional situations. From the surprisingly successful attack the enemy’s heart immediately goes to the heel, and after their own success, lips stretched themselves into a grin. All this BATTLETECH achieves a minimum of funds, sometimes literally quoting the rules of the original wargame. Harebrained Schemes were able not only to competently transfer them to the game, but also to add to the gameplay adrenaline, dynamics and rage, which from him did not expect. When Battletech works, I want to ask only one question: who should throw money at the target, so that in the future Shadowrun will get an adaptation with the same depth of mechanics?
But this effect only lasts as long as the game really works — that is, the first fifteen to twenty hours. Then play becomes bored.
The first couple of days of playing BATTLETECH I was optimistic. On the third and the fourth got tired. And in the fifth, sixth and seventh already caught myself thinking that I run the game through the force to finally pass it, write this text and become a free man again.
The problem with BATTLETECH is that IT tries to be everything at once: a Cosmo, a harsh tactic, and a simulator of a mercenary with a pseudo-living open world. Unhurried, not rich in events very old-fashioned mechanics vargeyma placed on the plot progression of XCOM: Enemy Unknown and narrative Shadowrun. Trying to sit on all the chairs at once, Harebrained Schemes relish plopped in a puddle. Even to describe uncomfortably. First of all, the plot. It is so bad that every turn and” surprise ” is visible for several light years. Yes, this is so: in the game from the creators of the trilogy Shadowrun one of the most depressing, Packed full of clichés stories in recent years. The screenwriters dump on the player the decaliters of the exposition, dozens of meaningless terms, names, dates and events, and until recently pretend that it is important and necessary. While in fact no effort, if they were at all, can not hide the fact that the plot in BATTLETECH — only lazy appendage to the giant robots. Made simply because the Studio is expected to.
Database management, which was copied from XCOM, does not work either. Harebrained Schemes saw good mechanics, but did not figure out how to implement it. During periods of calm you can dig around in furs, chat with your ship’s crew (a waste of time), and… everything. Click on the button and see how your ship flies to the place of the next task. No decisions on engineering issues, selection of upgrades, no-th-th. The cold void of space.
Sometimes, of course, in the way can happen any random events: the crew decides to play poker, will run into a pirate ambush or detect a distress signal. But these events are sadly not enough, and they are ridiculously often repeated — sometimes several times per game. For fifty hours I saw only five unique events and ten repetitions.
Flights are annoyingly boring and time consuming, and to speed up this painful process, it is necessary to invest in pumping the engine — just like in any mobile F2P.
The promised “open galaxy” is empty, there is nothing to look for. Yes, star bodies have characteristics: some planets are allegedly densely populated and technologically developed, others are poor, abandoned and covered with snow. But this is a bludgeon and does not affect the gameplay.