Leak Suggests Microsoft Might Resurrect MechAssault At This Year’s E3

MechAssault

Microsoft might be bringing back MechAssault at this year’s E3, and I have no idea why.

So my day job is to write about games for another publication (among other things), and I found a very interesting leak concerning Microsoft’s upcoming E3 presentation on June 9th. The leak comes courtesy of a thread on NeoGAF from an industry insider, and while the leaker seems on the up and up, all of this is unverified, so break out the salt shaker while you’re imbibing this little tidbit.

Under the section our anonymous tipster labeled “Has A High Chance Of Happening” is… well, this:

MechAssault/Mech Game – Reveal (Microsoft owns the right to MechAssault, for those who do not know. There is a VERY high chance that a new mech game has been in the works and it will be finally revealed here)”

For those of you who skipped MechAssault on the original Xbox, kudos! You made the right choice. MechAssault was–and I say this as a lover of arcade-style robot shoot-’em-up games–bad. It was buggy, had some pretty extreme difficulty spikes, and featured a plot that had only the barest hint of resemblance to the wider BattleTech universe.

They also just made up a whole bunch of ‘Mechs that did nothing to follow the wider BattleTech aesthetic. Like, what the fuck is a Hackman? And why is it a 35-ton ‘Mech with a top speed of 54 kph and armed with a Gauss rifle? Why couldn’t they just use the freakin’ UrbanMech?!

To me, Dark Age had its place and as a genuine attempt to revive BattleTech’s tabletop years, I can respect it and even like it. But MechAssault was crap and had no redeeming features. There. I said it.

They made a sequel in 2004 called MechAssault 2: Lone Wolf, and a Nintendo DS game that was even worse than all previous MechAssault games put together. Then resources were put towards a nascent MechWarrior 5 as MechAssault’s sales didn’t exactly impress (although apparently good enough to warrant a sequel). Then MechWarrior 5 was canceled (which was not the current MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries, set to release this September), but that’s a totally different SNAFU for a totally different day. 

The point is, MechAssault is unloved and nobody asked for a reboot of MechAssault. Apparently, Microsoft is so desperate for some exclusive game franchises that they’re dusting off the old MechWarrior IP and putting it towards a new game.

MechAssault Phantom War

We know that the actual MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries is coming this September, and Piranha Games (the makers of MechWarrior Online) are licensing the MechWarrior IP from Microsoft (as well as Topps–it’s really complicated), so there is a slim chance that MechWarrior 5 might just be the ‘Mech game that our leaker was referring to. But I doubt it.

So yeah. Woo MechAssault.

But let’s just take a step back and imagine a world where Microsoft didn’t make a terrible BattleTech arcade game. Let’s imagine a world where they instead remade MechCommander, or just remastered MechWarrior 4 so that we can replay that little gem. Remasters are a big deal these days–just ask Blizzard and Capcom.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

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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.

18 thoughts on “Leak Suggests Microsoft Might Resurrect MechAssault At This Year’s E3

    1. Sean Post author

      I don’t hate MechAssault as much as I make it seem. But I definitely didn’t like ’em.

      Reply
  1. David Razi

    MechAssault was a lot of fun and had plenty of redeeming qualities. Far more than the disaster of Dark Age, something related to MechWarrior in name only.

    Reply
  2. David Ritterskamp

    You just answered your own question of “why now?” Because Mechwarrior Mercenaries, that’s why.

    Reply
    1. Wick

      Could have used it for a few years now though. Xbox’s slate of unique games has been pretty barren for a while, and though it pains me to say it, it makes good business sense for Microsoft to make a new exclusive MechAssault/MechCommander/Mech-something game, regardless of quality or attachment to canon. They’re struggling to compete with Sony and Nintendo with only Halo and Gears series as major exclusive IPs. They paid for the rights to make (bad) games, but outside of licensing to PG and HBS, haven’t utilized it for over a decade. Had they beaten PG and HBS to the punch by making a BattleTech game in 2017 or early 2018, that would have helped, but announcing one right now looks more like they’re trying to ride the coattails of the others.

      Reply
  3. James oberg

    Love first mechassault. I think your opinion of this is in the minority. Now 2…. I’ll say was week.

    Reply
    1. James Bixby

      MechAssault 2’s primary problem was that the developers took what was a novelty in the first game (the elemental level) and thought because it was so loved on forums that it would make for a good/great core game mechanic.

      literally everything else in their, from the spider drones to the half atlas with magictech I could swallow for the sake of a fun game.

      Reply
  4. Appogee

    Yes, MechAssault was something of an insult to the BT franchise.

    BUT it was fun in its own right.

    So I’d certainly give a new version a shot.

    Reply
  5. Pat Rich

    I enjoyed Mechassualt 1 and 2. There’s something surprisingly satisfying about killing Battlemechs in a vehicle or battle armor. I would even dare suggest the games have a lasting legacy since combined-arms play eventually found it’s way into Mechwarrior: Living Legends.

    Reply
  6. Eggs

    Does microsoft have the rights to produce another one?

    Yes they hold the rights to MechAssault, but do they have the licence to use the original source material anymore?

    Reply
  7. Kdogprime

    The reason why is very simple.

    The MechAssault games were arcade-like and thus their learning curve was not very high. They were easy to pick and play. And because they were console-based, you didn’t need a high-end gaming rig to run them properly, unlike all their PC-based counterparts.

    It also makes them fairly easy to develop, not to mention cheap. Microsoft is just trying to cash in by making a game that will sell for maximum profit while putting in minimal effort.

    Reply
    1. Wick

      Technically speaking, you did need a high-end console though: an original Xbox, which under the hood was essentially a mid-range PC. By comparison circa 2001 that was plenty powerful enough to play mid-1990s MechWarrior 2.

      MechAssault (1 and 2) could be considered high-end software for the Xbox though. The game engine pushed the hardware so much and did weird tricks in the Xbox OS that they were the only first party games not to ever make it into Xbox 360 backwards compatibility. I remember the MS backwards compatibility forum discussing why MechAssault and MA2 were struck from the list (after originally announcing all MS published titles would be featured) and the short answer was something like “unemulatable operating system hacks to improve performance on original Xbox hardware beyond recommended specifications.” Basically the developers did something parent company advised against, and made it impossible to support on future hardware, specifically the 360. Having never owned an original Xbox and only a 360, this rather angered me as never got to play them. (Sold them on Ebay a few years back.) I’d be interested in a renewal entry, but after HBS’s BattleTech and what I see of Piranha’s MW5, a new MechAssault better come with its gauss rifles loaded and stick to a fairly canon storyline or folks like us should duly laugh it out of consideration.

      Right now I’d give it less than 50% chance of happening. Microsoft bought up a lot of smaller game companies last year to help shore up their very weak first party lineup, and its time to start seeing some results of those purchases. Microsoft announced over the weekend that they’ll be introducing 14 games at E3 press conference on Sunday, and a great many are known or presumed based on those companies prior work, but from my research, that leaves just 2 empty slots, either of which could be taken up by a new Age of Empires, Fable, Sea of Thieves, We Happy Few sequel, or new IPs. I think NeoGAF was right that with 14 games on tap there was enough room for a MechAssault game though analysis makes it unlikely. Also Xbox Head Phil Spencer’s been dropping the MechAssault name since at least 2017 [https://twitter.com/Lotus_Lila/status/821466163813220353] and nothings come of it yet, so no reason to be sure the NeoGAF rumor is any more true now than it has been in the past.
      The 14 titles/developers I could uncover:
      1. Halo Infinite (343 Studios)
      2. Gears 5 (The Coalition)
      3. Gears Tactics (The Coalition? or someone else?)
      4. Wasteland 3 (inXile Entertainment)
      5. The Outer Worlds (Obsidian Entertainment)
      6. Forza Horizon 5 (Playground Games) – more likely of the two Forza entries
      7. Forza Motorsport 8 [presumptive title] (Turn 10 Studios) – less likely, and instead could be taken up by the Forza Street game announced for iOS and Android
      8. Battletoads (Rare)
      9. Ori and the Will of the Wisps (Moon Project)
      10. State of Decay 3 [presumptive title] (Undead Labs)
      11. Bleeding Edge (Ninja Theory)
      12. Minecraft Earth (Mojang)
      13. ??? [possibly We Happy Few 2] (Compulsion Games)
      14. ??? (The Initiative) – the name of this company is certainly intriguing, but past news was they were to work on “groundbreaking” IP [https://wccftech.com/microsoft-innovate-initiative-groundbreaking/]. I don’t think reviving old MechAssault IP counts.

      Reply
  8. Samuel

    “MechAssault is unloved and nobody asked for a reboot of MechAssault”

    I’m sorry Sean but that is very arrogant thing to say. Many people (including me) have been wanting a new MechAssault since MechAssault 2 launched in 2004. MechAssault’s return has been teased for a few years now by Phil Spencer on twitter. Those tweets garnered a decent amount of attention and excitement. There’s even a MechAssault discord server which is made up of dedicated fans who still play both games online together to this day via a application called Xkai link. And let’s not forget about the fan made Mechasssault game “Wolves’ which is also being developed by dedicated fans of the franchise.

    If you don’t like MechAssault that’s perfectly fine, you have the right to your opinion but please don’t make such ludicrous statements like that. Also I personally don’t really have much faith in MechWarrior 5 Mercenaries because it’s being made by the same guys who also helped make Duke Nukem Forever. I just finished that game on Insane difficulty and it was probably the worst and most frustrating experience I’ve ever had with a game. Between the terrible enemy placement, inconsistent and unforgiving boss battles, and the long 40 second loading screens…..it was a extremely bad experience. Let’s just hope that MechWarrior 5 doesn’t suffer from these problems too.

    Reply
    1. Bogus

      I’m not going to deny that PGI has a mixed reputation, but blaming them for DNF is just plain inaccurate unless the beef is exclusively with the two console ports that they were contracted to do. PC version was all Gearbox, and even there it’s debatable how much of the bad was Gearbox’s fault versus simply being the tainted legacy of the most celebrated vaporware in history.

      Personally, I’m in the wait and see camp. Hopefully they’ve learned a lot from MWO.

      Reply
  9. Sapphirus

    Mech Assault is like The Room of the Battletech Video Game line. It’s so bad that it’s actually fun

    Reply
  10. Wick

    For the record, a new MechAssault game was NOT one of the new games announced by Microsoft during their E3 press conference. NeoGAF’s rumor did not pan out. We’ll have another year of empty teases from Phil Spencer to follow to though.

    Reply
  11. TotemSP2

    Being a kid in 2003, Mechassault was inspired me in a lot of ways, but mainly that’s all just the Battletech stuff that had done that. The actual games I can comfortably say do not stand up today, and looking back on them, they seemed like so many of the 3rd person shooters that were prevalent in that generation. Neverthless, I loved it and regret nothing.

    I even liked the First game more than the second.

    Reply

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