Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Battletech: The Game for PC (Coming in 2017)

All right game fans, we’re going to knuckle down and talk about one of our favorite things, and the only thing we’ve personally backed on Kickstarter, Battletech.  Aiming for a release window in 2017 (we’re not completely sure when in 2017, but i have faith that they will deliver “the goods” in a timely fashion) Battletech returns to the tabletop as a turn based strategy for the first time in a very long time.  Battletech has been used as source material for a lot of games over the years, and a fair number of players get their start from the computer and console games before coming over to the tabletop side of things.  We’re going to do a brief cover of what we know, and what we hope to be true for this game.  

The game is set in the mid 3020s, which is a good time for trouble.  The Third Succession War is winding down and the great houses of the Inner Sphere have realized that they are close to losing their ability to wage war on an interstellar scale.  Raids for resources are extremely common, and in this war between the great houses, mercenaries are often employed to carry out tasks that they are unwilling to risk other units on.  The mercenary can make a good life in this timeframe, if they can keep their heads about them, negotiate good contracts, and avoid the company store.  

Rather than setting the game in the Inner Sphere, the designers at Harebrained Schemes (Hi Guys), have opted to set it in the Periphery.  Some of you are asking what the Periphery is, and i understand.  If you don’t come from a solid background in battletech, some of these terms are going to be weird.  The Periphery is the Outer Rim of human occupied space, where several minor powers have laid claims to planets and resources of their own.  Without the military prowess to challenge a great house, the periphery realms tend to keep to themselves and will fight with each other over resources and planets.  

We’re going to do a quick rundown of how space travel works, so that you can get a better idea of why the boundaries exist the way they do.  Jumpships have an extremely powerful but extremely limited ability to effectively fold space for faster than light travel.  With a functional range of about 30 light years, a jump ship can move instantaneously from one system to another.  It takes them about a week or two to recharge their drives after making the jump, so moving from place to place can take a while.  

The other quirk of how space travel works is that Jumpships are awfully fragile, and don’t move between space and planet very well.  This adds another ship to our supply train, the aptly named dropship.  Dropships move everything (and we mean everything) from planet to space, and are designed to dock with a jumpship, it makes the jump, and then they either hang on for a long ride or detach and head to the next planet. The moral of these last two paragraphs is that getting from place to place can take a while, assuming you can find a ride heading that way.  

With the limited range of travel, the powers that be have to focus their control on planets and resource rich environs.  Military resources are placed where they can exert the most control, and borders are often defended by a variety of units, from House regular troops, to local planetary militias, to the occasional mercenary command.  The most fearsome of these military units are called battlemechs, and they are the living embodiment of an idea of coolness.  10 to 12 meter tall bipedal robots that bristle with weapons, armor, and the occasional cool system, Battlemechs dominate the battlefield of the 31st century.  

What does this have to do with the computer game that’s coming in 2017?  It’s the backdrop for the game, and understanding the political and social aspects of the environment is important.  Let’s talk about what we know this is going to look like

This game will
  • Feature a brand new campaign storyline that can lead you all over the periphery in search of cool
  • Allow you to operate a battlemech company (12 mechs, with customization options)
  • Use the 3d mech models  from Mechwarrior Online
  • Allow you to go head to head with other players in a Solaris VII style arena fight
  • Have an open ended campaign mode, so that once you’ve completed the main story, you can keep playing.  
  • Feature Mechwarriors and units from the long history of the Battletech Universe as potentially friend and foe
  • It’s Pretty (no seriously, go check out the videos).  

We know that this game will not do a couple of things
  • No Clans.  We understand that the Clan Invasion storyline of the 3050s is not going to be introduced in this edition of the game.  That’s not saying there won’t ever be a Battletech Game that features the clan invasion, but it isn’t going to be this one.  We are okay with this decision, as it allows the designers to focus in on the story they are crafting and they don’t have to worry about the looming henge of the clans.  
  • This is not a direct port of the Battletech Board Game.  If you want that experience, Megamek is a lovely program that can do a lot of things.   This game is going to be a extrapolation of what the designers think that Battletech can be.  The technology exists now to create some very cool scenarios and situations, and i am looking forward to seeing what’s changed.

Things that we’re still not sure about
  • Which units will be included in the game.  We still aren’t sure what the final roster of battlemechs is going to be, nor are we sure if other combat units (like tanks or infantry) are going to be in the game as either playable forces or the opposition.
  • The interplay between great houses is also still a mystery.  We know that the wise and talented designers are still working out the kinks in this system, but we’re not completely sure of the particulars.  
  • Technological availability and customization.  We’re not sure what pieces of lostech (literally the technology humans have forgotten how to build because wars and stuff) are going to be in the game, and we’re not sure how customizable the battlemechs are going to be.  A hallmark of the Battletech universe has been that units are customizable and you can swap out guns and other weapons with almost reckless abandon.  We’re not sure how that translates to a computer game, but I’m sure that the fine folks making it will give it the best shot.  

The game looks very pretty, and they’ve been showing it off everywhere they go.  We hope this is a smash hit, and it’s the reason we’re upgrading (now replacing) Workhorse 1 with Warhorse 1.  Take a look at it, and see what you think Game Fans.

http://www.battletechgame.com/ is the website for the game itself
http://harebrained-schemes.com/ is the home of the design studio
https://www.facebook.com/HarebrainedSchemes/ if you’re looking for them on facebook
https://www.twitch.tv/hyperrpg if you want to check out the twitch tv channel that hosts a lot of fun programming from the fine minds of Harebrained Schemes and Hyper RPG

The first look at actual game play that they were showing off at Gencon this year.  It looks pretty

That’s our quick hits first look at Battletech, and we’re huge fans of this project.  

Game on, Game Fans.

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