BattleTech at E3 and What Is The “Argo”

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Concept Argo art

courtesy of Harebrained Schemes

As some of you may be aware, E3 is happening, and that means the developers of BattleTech are there to show off their latest build and drop a few more hints as to what the final product will look like. And oh boy did they ever, with Harebrained Schemes revealing 2 full minutes of never-before-seen footage of the single player campaign screens.

Hosted by PC Gamer magazine, the co-founders of Harebrained Schemes Jordan Weisman and Mitch Gitelman sat down to talk with Sean “Day[9]” Plott about the upcoming game. The conversation was mostly aimed at non-BattleTech aficionados, so I won’t bore you with all the minutiae of what was said, but I’ll make sure to give you the keynotes of the presentation.

Lady Kamea Orano

courtesy of PC Gamer

First off, we were given some additional details as to how the story will unfold. Lady Kamea Orano (the spelling of which is questionable as I’m transcribing from video) has been deposed by her evil uncle and has contracted the player’s mercenary company with restoring her to her rightful throne.

The throne, in this case, being to an interstellar nation called the Aurigan Coalition, which was revealed in a Kickstarter update to be a minor house nestled between the Capellan Confederation and the Taurian Concordat. This addition to the Inner Sphere circa 3025 seems to be made entirely for the game, but considering it’s being born from Jordan Weisman himself it is likely to be made canon upon BattleTech’s release.

After the campaign overview, the interview went into detail on the inner-workings of your mercantile ship, the Argo.

Argo

Courtesy of PC Gamer

What IS The Argo?

From the video, it can be very hard to tell what kind of ship the Argo even is. During the interview, Mitch described it as “a broken-down hulk of a spaceship” along with being “your mercenary command center,” and that “you can take it all over space, going from star system to star system.” That makes it out to sound like a JumpShip, however, the Argo doesn’t resemble any JumpShip in the known universe.

It turns out the Argo isn’t a JumpShip at all, but rather a massive mobile space station that was built before the Amaris Civil War. It was intended to follow behind the first wave of system surveyors as a sort of logistical hub, supporting colonization teams with her massive onboard hydroponics bays. The intention was for the Argo to remain in-system for months, if not years, and as such it has vastly larger living quarters, recreational areas, and passenger accommodation than any military DropShip.

Inside the argo

courtesy of PC Gamer

You can tell based on the screen grabs from the development footage that the Argo does indeed have a lot of room, with massive navigation and bridge stations. There’s also a folding grav deck that allows for artificial gravity, although anywhere else people are still forced to wear mag-boots to keep from floating off.

But it doesn’t have a jump drive, so it’s forced to piggyback on JumpShips like any other dropship. Well, not quite like any other dropship; much like the Behemoth-class, it takes up two docking bays of whatever ship it latches on to. Also, like the Behemoth, she can’t fly into atmosphere owing to her vast size. Smaller DropShips dock with the Argo in order to bring men and machines planetside.

Inside the argo

courtesy of PC Gamer

As an aside, it’s nice that HBS wants to expand the BattleTech universe and make the player feel like they have something unique in the BattleTech game, but it really doesn’t feel like the Argo was even necessary. The story could have been told just as easily with a mercenary band somehow getting hold of a JumpShip, or even just a regular Union DropShip. And considering the Argo can’t even go planetside, your mercenary company will also need a real DropShip or two just to get boots on the ground.

Oh well. I doubt anyone will complain about having a luxury liner for a DropShip, at least in comparison to what most House militaries field.

Salvage Details And Some Memorable Quotes

After a peak inside the Argo, viewers were treated to another demonstration of combat with BattleTech, which didn’t seem to offer much more than what is already available in the backer beta. We did get some information on the salvage system, which will be based on BattleMech damage and that MechCommanders will want to hit opponents “just hard enough to take them down”.

Inside the argo

courtesy of PC Gamer

We also got some pretty excellent one liners. After showing a Hunchback getting cored in the back, Gitelman commented, “Get around the back of a BattleMech and slap penetrate.” Wiser words were never spoken.  

Also, after Day[9] reminisced on playing the original table top as a child, Mitch responded, “As a kid, huh? Thanks, pal.” Day[9] will be 31 later in June.

No word yet on a final release date, but it’s looking closer than ever. I’d even bet on seeing BattleTech release just in time for Christmas.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

This entry was posted in BattleTech Game, Convention, Video Games on by .

About Sean

Hooked on BattleTech at an early age, Sean honestly can't remember whether it was the cartoon, the serial novels or the short-lived TCG that did him in. Whatever it was, his passion for giant shooty robots never died, so now he writes about the latest and greatest in 'Mech related news.

10 thoughts on “BattleTech at E3 and What Is The “Argo”

  1. Wrangler

    Mobile Space Station? Now that would make more sense to me and fit the universe. It’s like one of the few space-borne items seldom used that would allow for the module section and the spinning (grav deck) parts.

    Though i think the only real stretch is the thrusting away from the Invader JumpShip. But i’m not going sweat over the small stuff. Good know, maybe someday I’ll get to play it.
    I am backer, but low end one. :P

    Reply
  2. Frabby

    There’s been at least one rather big thread about the Argo over on the HBS forum.
    HBS promised the backers a homebase DropShip as a Kickstarter stretch goal and the Argo is that DropShip.

    Personally, I think they overshot their target by a long margin, retroactively introducing a 100,000 ton DropShip in a time when the next biggest known DropShip was 45,000 tons.

    The most discussed feature of the Argo, of course, is its alleged ability to dock three other DropShips when being jumped, called “daisy-chaining” by the fans. Some think it’s okay, others rant that this nullifies the whole underlying concept of BattleTech’s JumpShip/DropShip system. (And yes, I’m in the latter camp.)
    HBS said they’re aware of the problem and that Randall Bills, then CGL’s Line Developer, had flagged the daisy-chaining as violating canon. However, Jordan Weisman and HBS said they’ll stick to it nonetheless.

    Reply
    1. Sky

      Daisy chaining would be structurally unsound, boom no more daisy chaining. That all they have to say.

      Reply
    2. kdogprime

      The Argo isn’t a Dropship, since it can’t land on a planet.

      As for “daisy chaining”, it wouldn’t really matter if the Argo was capable of linking up more Dropships to itself as long as it had its own K-F booms to link to the other Dropships, extending the jump drive field around them. From everything I’ve read, there is no mass limit for a jump drive. Rather, the more mass there is, the longer the FTL jump takes to complete. Dropships only weigh a few thousand tons on their own, but they are designed to carry many thousands of tons of cargo. A fully loaded Mammoth could weigh upwards of 92,000 tons and the largest jump ship (the Monolith) has nine docking ports. Nine Mammoths at capacity is 828,000 tons.

      If a K-F jump drive can move a 2.4 million ton Warship to another star system, it could presumably handle the Argo, and three daisy chained dropships.

      Reply
  3. Timmy

    So glad a new version may be on the way!
    There seems to be a lot of interest still around.
    Just saw on a set of the old Battletech simulators on ebay. Did those ever stand the test of time?
    Was glad to see HBS return to the market. We needed fresh blood that has nothing to do with the old guard if this investment is to be successful.

    Reply
    1. MechAustin

      I certainly agree with your final statement, but just one thing. Does it even GET any more BT old guard than Jordan Weisman? :D

      Reply
      1. Sean Post author

        You’re right, I’m pretty sure he can say Amaris was actually a talking dragon and we’d all just take it as canon :P

        Reply
        1. Frabby

          Weeellll…
          I don’t mean to belittle Jordan Weisman’s role in creating the BT universe, yet the vibe I got was that he headed a creative team of authors more than fleshing out the world himself. Treating Weisman as the holy man of BattleTech doesn’t adequately reckognize the fantastic worldbuilding work done by the Keith brothers, Charrette, Stackpole, and numerous others – last but not least one Patrick Larkin who is actually credited with writing the background fluff for the Battledroids setting.

          Weisman even turned his back on the BattleTech universe pretty early on, focusing on computer games instead and leaving development of the universe in the hands of the authors, with Bryan Nystul and later Sam Lewis as LD. When it comes to canon I wouldn’t consider him an expert by any means.

          FASA famously played hard and fast with canon anyways. It’s FanPro and then CGL (chiefly, Herb Beas) who cleaned up house, working down a laundry list of errors and inconsistencies inherited from FASA.

          Mind you, I’m not slamming FASA. They did a great job creating the basic premise. But Jordan Weisman certainly didn’t do it all alone, nor did he personally run a tight ship when it comes to BT canon and all the details. He’s two decades behind by now.

          Reply
          1. mike

            FASA may (OK did) make some continuity issues, but to say that FanPro and CGL have cleaned up is something from where I am standing a joke. They have done so many retcons that have changed the basic fluff of the game just to make changes. They even had to make the rule that new trumps old as they were doing it so much.

  4. Tempus

    I love the basic idea of the Argo, that the three ‘gravity bays’ (or whatever term they use for them) would fold along the spine of the ship when under thrust (so that ‘down’ is still down relative to the bulkheads, floors, etc, then extend out once the thing makes orbit (or when not under thrust) to allow for spin gravity. That’s a pretty cool design and something Ican see the Star League experimenting with as a sort of mobile base of operations when doing planetary exploration.

    Finding the thing is even a classic lostech trope enabling the start of a merc unit.

    Yes, I agree that the daisy-chaining ought not be allowed.. It’s fine if it has ‘docking airlocks’ or whatever to allow a small dropship like a Leopard to dock with it, but they ought not double as secondary docking collars. Hell if you really want to ‘daisy chain’ then have some internal bays big enough to fit a leopard. even with some overhead, you’d be under 10% of the mass of the entire ship to have a large cargo bay that could accomodate three 1900 ton dropships, almost as if they were the old ‘drop-shuttles’ in the days before docking collars.

    What’s not realistic to me is the company holding onto such a prize for their own use. It’s a one-off so any parts have to be remade from scratch, the maintenance costs would be outlandish, and that’s just the kind of thing a fledgling merc unit can’t afford. Secondly it’s a heck of a prize that would be difficult to defend and thus hard to prevent someone from just taking it from you. You’d be better off to sell it to the highest bidder and then use the proceeds to buy some more standard dropship (Union or a little Larger like a Triumph or Fortress and retro-fit it as a base.

    Reply

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