Earlier today, Harebrained Schemes released the first big update for Battletech. Unfortunately I don’t have access to my PC, so I can’t directly play the game to see how it all feels. I hope it won’t affect a little something I’ve been doing. Regardless, there are some things listed in the patch notes that I’d like to discuss.
A new custom campaign mode has been added that adds granular difficulty settings. Now if you know me, than you’d know that I am a big fan of this and I think almost every game has room for it. I would very much like to see how I would do if I made the game as punishing as possible. Unfortunately I don’t see anything in the patch notes saying that we can skip the tutorial. But at least we now have the option to speed up the gameplay by pressing the spacebar. I used to do that a lot back in the day when I was playing games on a gameboy advance emulator.
The game has been significantly rebalanced. Many weapons saw a heat decrease, including one weapon that desperately needed it, the large laser. Previously it generated 30 points of heat, that was only 10 less than the PPC. All for just 10 points of damage less than the PPC. Putting a large laser on anything lighter than an assault mech was wasteful. Now that it’s heat generation’s been lowered to 18 it’s significantly more viable. However, heat generation from the medium laser have been increased from 10 to 12.
Stability has also been rebalanced. The heavier the mech is now, the more stability damage it’ll take to unsteady them and knock them down. I am somewhat worried about this one. Like many players, I have a dedicated LRM mech. The ability to knockdown multiple enemy mechs have gotten me out of many bad situations. It might make taking mechs fully intact a bit more difficult as well. All those LRM’s do rack up damage, and if it’s an enemy with half its armor, it might crumble long before it goes down 4 times.
“The Called Shot bonus for multiple-hit weapons (SRMs, MGs) now diminishes by half with each successive shot.” This might impact my play style more than anything else. I’m assuming that by called shot, they also mean called shots on enemy mechs that have been knocked over. When I’m outnumbered, I use multi-shot on my LRM boat and my sniper to down at least two mechs in one round and I start coring them with my front assaults.
I have a Highlander equipped with 3 medium lasers, 1 large laser, and 3 SRM-6+++ racks. Those SRMs do 12 points of damage for each missile; that’s 216 points of damage in total. This Highlander does devastating damage in an alpha strike. Same goes for a King Crab I have; I removed the two AC-20’s. These things can core almost any mech with a called shot to the torso, thanks primarily to the SRM racks. But now, even if I start at 100% chance to hit, after the first one, it drops to 50%, and down and down it goes. I’d be lucky if three missiles hit. It is per SRM rack I imagine though. Maybe this might encourage me to use more SRM-2 and 4s.
AI has been reworked as well. Enemy units in defend base missions should no longer be so suicidal. Before the patch, the units would rush to destroy buildings, even if you were shooting at them. Now they should have a sense of self preservation. I hope they take this further. I heard the developers mention certain ideas they were thinking about, via a reddit AMA. They were pondering the idea of adding a nemesis system of sorts, ala Shadow of Mordor. It’d be great to see an enemy pilot eject.
Although the AI section also listed the following: “AI improvements to Defense: Smithon to the AI’s ability to advance towards priority targets. Also encounter re-balancing to accommodate the improved behavior.” I hope that doesn’t mean that the AI is now smart enough to ignore the turrets and attack the fuel lines. Because with what they bring in, my lance of 4 mechs won’t be enough to distract them. But I’ll trust that the re-balancing that they mention is sufficient.
The developers did a twitch stream today where they spoke more about the changes, specifically about the new difficulty modifiers. One of them are as follows: “Enemy Force Strength - increase or decrease the baseline strength of the enemy forces you’ll face in procedural contracts.” They explained that if you set this modifier to hard than you basically increase the chance that heavier mechs could show up earlier in the game. Mechs that you might not be able to handle.
If you clicked a link I listed before, or this one, than you’ll see that I’ve been playing my second playthrough of the game very slowly to see what I can get early in the campaign. Currently I haven’t done the grave robber mission yet. But I’m sporting assault mechs. So now it’s got me wondering; could I potentially end up going to Axylus with an Atlas?
I should get to play again soon. Now I’m getting excited to find out the answer to that question. I’m also excited to do a full difficulty playthrough and see how far I can get. All this from just a patch. This game really does have a ton of untapped potential.