Problem I Have With: BattleTech

The Kickstarter-funded ‘digitized’ board game from my favourite sci-fi universe sounds like a wet dream to me. Six hours in however, I’m having unexpectedly mixed feelings about it.

The one things I absolutely dreaded when firing up BattleTech was its, and indeed pretty much every turn-based strategy game’s, RNG. Turns out, it’s alright. In the, admittedly insufficient time, it didn’t manage to screw me over half as much as XCOM did.

My off-the-bat disappointment is with the tutorial. The job it does in explaining the intricacies of managing a ‘Mech lance in the field is nothing short of shit… says a guy who loses himself playing Warframe. Then again, this little article wouldn’t even exist were this failure the only one of BattleTech. The problem I have with it is elsewhere and it’s a little more complicated than that.

No, it’s not the accursed memory leak which tanks the frame rate into every hour-or-so’s session. That’s easily fixable.

Now I do realize that action involving tens upon tens of tons-worth of piloted humanoid robots isn’t exactly going to resemble Doom. And it shouldn’t. The MechWarrior games made that abundantly clear. Put that into a turn-based strategy frame though, cram in some rather repetitive animations (some of which can be turned off or reduced), and you’re not doing the pace any favours.

This is about as colourful and lively as it ever gets in the field. The story and lore are absolutely superb though. [image via]
The real tragedy is all the cumbersomeness wouldn’t be a critical problem if everything wasn’t so… drab. The environments are lifeless and biomes, although varied, are all depressingly brown and grey. The heavier ‘Mechs even lack distinction from each other. I am the last person to suggest BattleTech should be exploding with colour, but even the early MechWarrior titles looked like aforementioned Warframe compared to this. And, while I don’t have a particular problem with it, the UI isn’t helping things. I really want to be doing what the UI does, I’m just being put off by its overall presentation.

The fact that, due to all that, BattleTech just doesn’t ever manage to properly click with me saddens me. There is no doubt in my mind that there’s an utterly fantastic game underneath somewhere. I mean, how can it not be when, clearly, Harebrained Schemes understand the source material this well.

Battle Tech It Up!

Get yourself started up on the riveting BattleTech lore with The Warrior Trilogy books. Equip yourself with the superb ThrustMaster T16000M HOTAS system and jump into the action of one of the awesome MechWarrior games.

If you’re unfazed by our spoiled-brat whinging, BattleTech is now available on Steam and GoG.

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