In any game that gives me the freedom to play and explore away from the main storyline, I like to go back and see how much I can progress in other areas and also to see if the game would respond to it or not. In Skyrim I ended up maxing out the majority of the skills and acquiring the best equipment I could before ever fighting my first dragon. In Xcom my soldiers were leaping tall buildings and shooting plasma rifles long before we assaulted the alien base. Now it was Battletech’s turn.
If you’re ignorant of Battletech, it is Harebrained Schemes’ latest game, fresh off another successful kickstarter campaign. About two and a half years ago, after seeing what became of their shadowrun series of video games, I decided that Harebrained Schemes had proven themselves. I was also a big fan of Mechcommander 2. It is the only game of the Battletech universe that I have ever played, but I was still very much intrigued by the setting. I often went back to Mechcommander 2 to play around with different mech configurations.
After pledging to the campaign, I waited patiently. In the meantime I played through all the Shadowrun games, and loved them. My patience was eventually very much rewarded. I love Battletech. If recent reports are to be believed, sales numbers are also looking very positive. The game has a lot of potential that I would like to see be explored in expansions and DLC.
On my first playthrough of the game, I wanted to finish the main storyline, but I still didn’t exactly rush through the game. I would often travel to planets far away from the next priority mission, just to see what I can run into. Different planets can offer different jobs to take, weapons to buy, and mechs to salvage. However, the more jobs I took, the more the game seemed to keep pushing me back towards the primary story mission, and I didn’t want that.
By the end of the main storyline, I was excited to start to new game and see how much my mercenary company can progress in terms of money, weapons, and battlemechs. I also desired to go back to the simpler time of light and medium mechs.
*Light spoiler ahead*
I spent a week playing through the game without going to the mission on Axylus. Which means I don’t have the Argo, and there are only four planets that I can visit to find work and new equipment. There are only two major factions to work for, plus planetary government. I also have to travel to a new planet after every job. It was hard going at first, barely making the monthly payments. But I quickly understood which jobs I should prioritize money and which salvage (assassination missions).
It’s become apparent that heavy mechs are out of the question at this point in the game. Thus my mech collection consists of almost every light mech and medium mech. My main lance consists of a Wolverine-6K as tank, a Shadowhawk-2H as multirole, a Griffin-1N as semi-sniper, and a Trebuchet as dedicated LRM platform. The only mechs I’m missing are the Griffin-1S, the Cicada-2A, both Centurions, the Enforcer, and the Urbanmech. But I have at least one salvage piece from most of them. Except for the Urbanmech of course. Apart from the tutorial, I’ve never seen one in action in either playthrough. You may be thinking: “Well, so what? It’s an Urbanmech.” Never underestimate those little bastards.
In in-game terms it’s been years since I accepted the job to recover the Argo. There wasn’t exactly a time is of the essence clause in the contract, so I figured they’d be cool with me completing the job 11 Years, 9 Months, 2 Weeks and 3 Days later. This time, I’m gonna get that Quickdraw. I’ve customised my Battlemechs and my Mechwarriors into a well oiled, mech capturing mach- erm... fighting force. All weapons that can have extra stability damage, has it. My lance can have a mech on its back even through guarded. That Wolverine-6K has lasers coming out of its ass and with precision shot, can consistently land a head hit.
Another consequence of this playthrough is that the game’s narrative kind of takes a hit. With almost 10 million c-bills to my name, the idea that the crew is having a tough time finding well paying work kind of falls apart. But I guess you rationalize it as the bank being up their asses, and the debt is more than you can possibly imagine. At first it also seemed like the game was running out of maps to play on. While I still see plenty of repeats, to my surprise, I also ran into a lot that I never saw before. A mission’s difficulty also doesn’t rise above one skull. Oh and one more thing, be careful about leveling up your mechwarriors. Turns out, the better they are at their jobs, the more you have to pay them. Damn labor laws…
Anyway, I think it’s about time I go after that Argo, show that bandit queen who’s boss, and jack her Quickdraw. Shame I couldn’t finish building an enforcer though, I only needed one more part, but they stopped showing up. I made several interesting configurations in the game’s skirmish mode. Oh well, after Axylus I’ll probably go for another week. This game is so addictive it’s worrying.