Platform: PC (reviewed)
Developer: Harebrained Schemes
Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Release date: April 24th, 2018
tl;dr: Gorgeous artwork accompanies turn-based strategic combat as you duke it out in giant robots.
Family Friendly?: Click here for more information
Nearly three years ago, a Kickstarter campaign was published by Harebrained Schemes in order to bring BATTLETECH to life. Now, their funding and labour have come to fruition with the game set to launch today. The BattleTech franchise originally started off as a board game and has gained numerous followers over the decades, which helped the Kickstarter campaign raise more than $2.5 million.
Despite being a complete stranger to the series, I’ve spent the past week digging into BATTLETECH to see if the funding and hype surrounding the title are worth it.
The story starts in the year 3025. Humans have explored the stars, colonizing new planets and developing new technology along the way. One such advancement is the usage of BattleMechs or giant robots that noble families use to wage war and settle disputes. Your character is a BattleMech pilot that comes from one such noble family, but you can customize your backstory to a certain extent:
- There are nine different origin stories that give insight into your family history.
- You can choose from five defining events that occurred on your 16th birthday that shaped why you set off on your own.
- There are also six occupations are available that detail what your character’s background and talent in space.
- Players can also customize their name, callsign, and pronouns within the game.
I’m a big fan of RPGs that let you customize your backstory, so needless to say I was thrilled when I saw that BATTLEMECH let you take full control over your character’s history. I also thought it was a nice touch that they removed the gender option in favor of pronouns: he, she, and they. While this is a small detail in the grand scheme of things, it’s nice to see developers offering more inclusive choices for player options. Additionally, the choices you make in the creation screen matter, with different dialogue options opening up depending on your history.
After you create your mercenary, the premise of the game is relatively simple: Kamea Arano, the rightful heir to the throne, was overthrown by scheming family members. She wants her crown back, and you’re going to help her get it. The story and cutscenes feature gorgeous artwork, and in and out of battle you’ll hear a fantastic soundtrack to help set the mood. The cinematics alone are absolutely breathtaking, so when you pair them with a fully-fledged game it hooks you into the story like no other.
The combat system itself is inherently complicated, as comes with the turn-based game territory. You act as the commander of your squad, taking turns to accomplish goals, defeat enemies, and scout locations. But it doesn’t end there. Different BattleMechs have different strengths and weaknesses, and you can further customize their weapons and equipment when you’re at your base. Furthermore, your individual pilots can have special skills that further customize gameplay. As you use your abilities and weapons, you’ll have to keep an eye on terrain, your BattleMech stability, and the heat generated by your weapons as these factors can all negatively impact performance.
I’m not going to lie, I felt a little confused on my first couple of missions. I felt like there was a pretty steep learning curve that made the game confusing at the start. It’s entirely possible that this was due to user error on my part, but I feel like it’s worth mentioning to other people who are considering picking up the game. Additionally, BATTLEMECH itself is a very long game. Missions can take upwards of 30 minutes each, and it’s easy to get bogged down with side quests instead of moving the story forward. While this wasn’t a deterrent for me, I can see some people getting bored if they would prefer fast rounds of gameplay and a quickly progressing story.
That being said, I had a hard time putting the game down. Now that I have the final product in my hands, it’s easy to see why the Kickstarter campaign gained so many followers. The story is completely immersive, and the combat is fun and exciting, making it the best new game I’ve played in 2018. I’d even go as far as to say that BATTLETECH is one of the best sci-fi games I’ve ever played. The story, characters, and combat are an exciting take on a pre-established franchise, and I’m confident that both new and veteran fans alike will enjoy the game. I’d highly recommend to anyone who enjoys space, mecha, or turn-based games.
- Breathtaking animations and fun gameplay
- Tons of content to keep you playing again and again
- Custom backstories and lore for your character
- Combat can be complicated
PEGI 12, there is some mild robot violence, and younger kids might not have the patience for turn-based tactical combat.
Disclaimer: This review is based on a digital copy of the game provided by the publisher for the purposes of this review.