BattleTech (video game)
Promotional artwork for BattleTech
|Release||April 24, 2018|
BattleTech is a turn-based strategy video game developed by Harebrained Schemes and published by Paradox Interactive. It was released on Windows and OS X on April 24, 2018, with a Linux release to follow. The developers set aside US$1 million to create the game, and turned to Kickstarter to secure funding for additional features, including a single player campaign, an expansion of that campaign, and a player versus player multiplayer mode.
In the game, the player assumes the role of a mercenary commander leading a team of powerful combat vehicles called battlemechs. The player is responsible for selecting each mech's model, armor, pilot, armaments, and skills, and controls a team of four mechs (a 'lance') in combat. The world of BattleTech is dominated by powerful noble houses locked in a devastating war, and the player selects one or more houses to serve.
The game shares a setting with the board game that launched the BattleTech franchise, Classic BattleTech, and many members of the development team have worked on previous games in the franchise. This includes both of the studio's co-founders; Jordan Weisman created the franchise while at FASA, and Mitch Gitelman was the producer for MechCommander and MechAssault.
BattleTech is a turn-based strategy video game. Players assume the role of a mercenary commander leading a "mech lance", or group of four giant humanoid-shaped combat vehicles. The developers state that the game will have the spirit of the board game but will not use the board game's rules. The player selects each mech's chassis, the weapons and armor mounted on that chassis, as well as smaller details such as actuators and gyros that influence a mech's turning radius. In addition to choosing hardware, the player can also specialize the mech's pilots (called "mechwarriors") by selecting talents from a skill tree.
BattleTech shares a setting with the original board game, now called Classic BattleTech. The game takes place during the 3025 Succession Wars Era, in which powerful noble houses employ an ever-shrinking number of giant fighting vehicles called Battlemechs ('Mechs for short), piloted by individuals called MechWarriors, to fight for control of the Inner Sphere. The fighting has lasted for so long, and has been so intense, that it has caused technological regression. The small number of remaining 'Mechs makes them exceptionally valuable to the warring houses, and the player will have the opportunity to select which house or houses to serve.
In a map published by Harebrained Schemes during the Kickstarter campaign, the Inner Sphere is depicted as an area of space stretching between 400 and 600 Light-years away from Earth in every direction. It is divided between five major states, each tied to a noble house, and four minor states. Each major state borders Earth and expands outward, while the minor states occupy small areas on the outside edge of the map known as The Periphery.
The game takes place in the peripheral realm of the Aurigan Reach. The Reach is governed by the Aurigan Coalition which is made up of several independent systems led by noble houses in accordance with the standard Inner Sphere feudal system. The Reach lies between the peripheral realms of the Taurian Concordat and the Magistracy of Canopus, and bordering the Inner Sphere Successor State of the Capellan Confederation. Much of the Aurigan Reach is made up of former holdings from the Taurians, Magistracy, and Capellans, though the three realms abandoned many of the systems for defensibility reasons. After their abandonment, the Reach systems became unified under Arano family and began consolidating and expanding, incorporating not only the abandoned planets into the Aurigan Coalition, but even annexing border planets from their neighbors.
The Aurigan Reach was created by the HBS design team led by Kiva Maginn as a space where players could move through an original story line without infringing on the already set lore of Third Succession Wars BattleTech. "Our first priority was to find a way to coexist with BattleTech lore... We needed somewhere interesting, close but not too close, and basically empty. A blank slate where we could do whatever needed to be done to make our story work." The area of space chosen for a Reach was a blank space between the Magistracy of Canopus and the Taurian Concordat that had planets occupying it, but has little to no mention in sourcebooks, novels, or other media.
BattleTech was developed by Harebrained Schemes. The studio is led by Jordan Weisman, who created the BattleTech franchise while working at board game and wargaming publisher FASA. Many members of the development team worked on another game in the franchise, MechCommander. Along with Weisman, the development team will be led by Mitch Gitelman, the producer for MechCommander and MechAssault, and Mike McCain, who served as creative director for Harebrained Scheme's games in the Shadowrun franchise. Harebrained Schemes is working with Catalyst Game Labs and Piranha Games, who also publish BattleTech works, to maintain continuity across the franchise. This includes using art from Piranha Games' MechWarrior Online.
Studio co-founders Weisman and Gitelman implied in a May 2015 interview that they might soon be announcing a game based on an intellectual property that they had previously created, with Game Informer speculating that they meant either BattleTech or Crimson Skies. BattleTech was revealed in July 2015. The Kickstarter campaign for the game launched on September 29, 2015, and received its funding goal of US$250,000 within an hour. The studio had already committed $1 million to the development of the game before launching the Kickstarter, which would fund a basic "skirmish mode". The Kickstarter campaign set stretch goals of $1 million, $1.85 million, and $2.5 million to fund a single player campaign, an expansion to the campaign, and an online player versus player multiplayer mode, respectively. The $1.85 million level would add procedurally generated levels and would make the campaign open-ended, allowing for an indefinite campaign. Harebrained Schemes planned to release the game in early 2017 for Microsoft Windows, OS X and Linux.
According to Weisman, fans of the franchise had been asking for a new BattleTech game for years, and the only thing holding his team back was that they did not own the rights to the game, which are held by Microsoft. Weisman was not interested in developing a spiritual successor, stating in an interview that the fantasy mech game Golem Arcana was as close as he was willing to get towards creating a BattleTech game without the license.
Harebrained Schemes chose the turn-based strategy genre because they wanted the game to play out at a slower, more methodical pace. Weisman emphasized that in a turn-based game, players could be presented with the chances of success or failure for each action, and have time to think through their decisions. In an interview with PC Gamer, he explained that the idea was to make a game with "even more depth than we did in the old days as a pen-and-paper but make it fluid and fast playing so you're focusing on the strategy, not on the mechanics". This depth is reflected in the number of options players have in customizing their mechs. Players that are only interested in combat, however, will be able to play the game without spending time on customization.
The studio wanted the game to feel realistic and believable, with Gitelman explaining "We're grounding BattleTech, so it doesn't just feel like this goofy sci-fi future". Harebrained Schemes paid special attention to ensuring that the size of the mechs was apparent to players, despite the limitations of the top-down view in showing scale. This informed several of the team's decisions. The development team intentionally set the mechs to move at a slow pace, and the in-game camera shakes when they move. The mechs' movement also leaves cracks in the ground and causes damage to objects in the environment.
In May 2017, Paradox Interactive announced that they had partnered with Harebrained Schemes to publish the game, meaning that they will provide additional funds, as well as marketing and localization support. In August 2017, Paradox announced that the game had been delayed to 2018 in order to give the development team more time to refine the game.
Paradox Interactive and Harebrained Schemes have announced one downloadable content expansion for BattleTech.
The Flashpoint DLC features self-contained, procedurally generated missions which do not affect or influence the main game. In these missions, decisions must be made that will change the progress of the self-contained story chains. The missions also introduce a concept called "consecutive deployments", in which mechs are unable to be repaired between missions. The DLC also includes new mechs, a new biome, and a new multiplayer mode. The DLC is scheduled for release in November 2018, alongside Version 1.3 of the main game.
At launch, the game received generally positive reviews upon release.
BattleTech included non-binary gender pronouns for player characters. This has earned the game support from people who recognize genders other than male and female, but has also drawn sharp criticism from people who do not.
|2017||Game Critics Awards||Best Strategy Game||Nominated|||
|2018||Golden Joystick Awards||PC Game of the Year||Nominated|||
|The Game Awards 2018||Best Strategy Game||Nominated|||
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