Category Archives: Catalyst Game Labs

Your BattleTech News Roundup For November, 2021

I hope y’all had a good Thanksgiving weekend. Being Canadian, I already had my Thanksgiving a month ago, but that doesn’t mean I can’t eat a turkey twice. Or rather, two different turkeys. I don’t bury the turkey for a month to ferment and then eat what’s left a month later. That’d be weird.

Anyway, we’ve got a bunch of BattleTech news for you, so let’s get straight to it.

Last-Minute Halloween Video Serves Up A Spooky Hellbringer

HELLBRINGER
Watch this video on YouTube.

I didn’t manage to get this one into the October news blast because Farseer Animation released it on Halloween. Given the spooky themes, it was only appropriate of them to do so, but that meant it missed my deadline by a hair.

So we’ll have a brief throwback to Halloween in today’s news. Farseer has managed to create a believable and chilling campfire tale about a cursed Hellbringer. I won’t ruin the surprise ending, but I will say it’s pretty spooky. 

PGI Dev Says Those Datamined MechWarrior 5 Files Aren’t A Clan Expansion

Another follow-up to our October news about hidden files in MechWarrior 5 that might hint at a Clan Invasion expansion. Chris Lowrey, who worked as narrative director on Legend of the Kestrel Lancers, responded on Twitter to say that the files found are mostly future-proofing for modders who might want to add that sort of content themselves. They’re mostly blank faction files that modders can use to add whatever factions they want, and because PGI put them there to begin with, it makes the odds of a future update breaking those mods entirely a lot lower.

It’s plausible, and also fits with what PGI has been saying all along in that the Clans are not coming to MechWarrior 5. At least, not officially. More on that later.

On the other hand, Lowrey also recently told The First Circuit Podcast that he couldn’t entirely rule out the possibility of a Clan-themed DLC, saying “Nothing is decided on that front.” And so far I haven’t heard of any decisions one way or another. 

Catalyst Releases New BattleTech Companion App For Black Friday Sale With Force Packs Back In Stock

BattleTech Force Packs

Of course, Catalyst is cashing in on the consumerist frenzy that happens from basically now until December 25, but I won’t go into a full breakdown of what’s available because, frankly, it’s a lot. Clan Invasion Force Packs are available if you missed out on the Kickstarter, including ComStar Level IIs, Clan Stars, and a bevy of Inner Sphere Lances, including some that weren’t available the first time around such as the Clan Ad Hoc Star and Inner Sphere Heavy Battle Lance. There’s also a bunch of non-miniature items that are back in stock, so head on over to the Catalyst store to fulfill your intense desire to spend money on BattleTech merch.

But along with all those new toys, Catalyst brings us another. The BattleTech Tactical Companion App is now available for download for iOS and Google Play. The app contains digital record sheets for every ‘Mech in the Beginner Box Set and A Game Of Armored Combat that keeps track of ammo, heat, and armor, a custom MechWarrior creator as well as several pre-set pilot cards, a lance creator, and a full game state phase tracker to keep track of your games.

And if you prefer things on paper, you can always send your ‘Mech sheets to a printer to hold something other than your phone.

More Tiny BattleTech Stores? More Tiny BattleTech Stores

I’m not sure what a chain marketing itself as Solaris VII BBQ & Bar would be offering other than booze and barbecued meats. Do they just have Solaris VII matches playing on the overhead vids? Do they have holo tables where patrons can battle it out in miniature? Do they have simulator pods where they can get as close as they can to a real-life fight? I don’t have the answers, but I’d love to find out.

I had to look up what “Chava” is, and it’s apparently a beverage served on Trell 1. Nobody knows what Chava actually is, but given the name and context of it being drunk by military figures in Decision at Thunder Rift, it’s probably sort of like tea or coffee. I imagine Chava Garden is therefore something like Starbucks, only hopefully less obnoxious with its size names. Why the fuck is a “tall” a small? Truly baffling. 

A Discussion On Why You Should Be Okay With BattleTech’s Spheroid DropShips

I suppose the Union of the two ball-type craft we've talked about would require a joystick
Watch this video on YouTube.

Space travel is hard, atmospheres suck, so an armored re-entry vehicle with tons of weapons makes a lot of sense--at least, once you have a fusion reactor that can pump out the juice to power one. But why are most DropShips basically spherical? 

A good discussion on the subject can be heard from Sacred Cow Shipyards, a dude who’s been discussing the finer points of sci-fi space travel for some time. BattleTech isn’t often a topic over those parts, but recently he did a dive into the Union DropShips and the concept of spherical re-entry vehicles in general. There are a lot of good points raised, so you should listen. Because I listened and I thought they were good points, and you wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t trust my opinion at least that much. 

Clever Title About More Pokemon ‘Mechs

Lightning Lance – fourth completed Pokemech Lance. from battletech

I’ve posted a lot of Pokemon ‘Mechs over the few years I’ve been doing this. I don’t think I’ll ever stop. If you want my attention, mash together Pokemon and BattleTech minis. That’ll get you a spot in the Sarna news blast for sure. Here we have an entry from feor1300 who deserves all the praise for turning a Turkina into a Magnezone. Bonus points for the Raichu Imp. I think that Awesome is supposed to be Electivire, but I’m not too sure. It’s mostly just an Awesome with tiger stripes. 

MWO Free ‘Mech, November Patch, And Annual Rewards Program

We’ve got the usual MechWarrior Online stuff, including a free ‘Mech, not-free ‘Mechs, and a patch. 

We’ll start with the free ‘Mech, which is the Ebon Jaguar Alt. Config B. This laser boat used to be a powerful meta choice in MechWarrior Online, and it seems to still be plenty powerful. Win enough games and accrue enough match score and you’ll get one of these 65-ton monsters for free.

Next we have the annual rewards program. If you’ve purchased any amount of ‘Mech Credits in MechWarrior Online over the past year, you get the Urbanmech UM-R80. It’s basically a K9 with ECM, which means it’s the strictly better ‘Mech. If you bought any ‘Mech pack, bundle, new player pack, or more over the past year, you get the Viper Alt. Config F. It’s a machine gun boating medium ‘Mech that can fly and is my personal pick of the litter. The third and final ‘Mech is the Atlas AS7-K3 which you receive if you’ve purchased either the Stryker, Warden, Hunter, or Predator packs. This Atlas also comes with ECM and has jump jets, which is pretty terrifying on a 100-ton ‘Mech. 

If you qualify for any of these ‘Mechs, you should see them injected into your account already. If not and you think you should qualify, contact PGI support.

Last but certainly not least, we got a new patch on Tuesday. This patch is a little smaller than previous ones with fewer changes overall, but it does bring the fourth quirk pass for some of the ‘Mechs that still haven’t been looked at. The Vulcan, Dragon, Cataphract, Hellbringer, and Executioner have all received buffs, some big, some small, and some much-needed. All Dragon variants, for instance, now have armor quirks that match the Grand Dragon that was issued earlier this year. 

Next month will bring a new map and a return of the Stocking Stuffers event, so stay tuned for December stuff. I’ll hopefully have an update out before Christmas this time. 

The Clans Might Not Invade MechWarrior 5, But The Timber Wolf Will

Timberwolf / Mad Cat Classic mod for Mechwarrior 5 Mercenaries
Watch this video on YouTube.

The Art of BattleTech reached out to reveal another new mod being made for MechWarrior 5 besides the one that replaces the male protagonist with a female version. It’s something that the Inner Sphere was totally unprepared for and possesses more firepower than even most assault ‘Mechs in MW5

I of course speak of the venerable Mad Cat. Or Timber Wolf, if you’re nasty.

And not just any Mad Cat. This mod is based on the original art by Steve Venters and has been modeled and textured by the “supremely talented” Alan Yeoh. It’s basically the best a Mad Cat has ever looked in a MechWarrior game.

Art tells me that the plan is to have the Mad Cat out by Christmas with the Vulture and Thor arriving in early 2022.

Lady Centrella Has Now Ported MechWarrior 2: Mercenaries To Tabletop

MechWarrior 2: Mercenaries

A little while ago, I interviewed Riley Centrella about her massive project to convert Hairbrained’s BATTLETECH into tabletop rules. Now she’s done it again but this time for the best MechWarrior game of all time, MechWarrior 2: Mercenaries. And best of all, you can download the whole thing for free.

This is certainly not a campaign for the faint of heart. It contains 43 Operations spread of a 98-page document. There are 43 maps, a special record sheet for the possibly fictional Commando COM-7X, and 165 Record Sheets for all ‘Mechs, vehicles, aerospace fighters, and battle armor featured in the original game.

You can download the whole thing from Magistrex Centrella’s Patreon. So long as I get to play Deadeye’s lines during the campaign, I’ll be happy.

Robert Thurston, Author of The Jade Phoenix Trilogy, Has Passed Away

We’ve lost a legend this month. Robert D. Thurston, author of the Jade Phoenix Trilogy, I Am Jade Falcon, Freebirth, and Falcon Rising, died on October 20 at the age of 84. A decades-long career that spanned over 40 stories, Thurston provided a unique voice to BattleTech that powered some of its most memorable and defining characters. 

“In his writing and thought, he was interested in exploring alternate worlds,” his family wrote in his obituary. “We hope he is finding some good ones now.”

You can read more about Robert’s life in Catalyst’s tribute here

Personally, I will always remember Thurston’s works as just being unique amongst BattleTech fiction. He brought a nobility and clarity to the Jade Falcons that has yet to be matched by any other author. Robert, you will be missed.

Microsoft Can’t Bring Back MechAssault Because Of Engine Troubles

MechAssault

Xbox recently celebrated its 20th-anniversary event by re-releasing a ton of old Xbox and Xbox 360 games via its backward compatibility program. Although there were quite a few big names on this list of over 70 titles, MechAssault and MechAssault 2 weren’t among them. Worse still, this was Xbox’s last hurrah at updating old games for modern hardware, which means we’re probably never going to see an updated version of MechAssault

Which is a bit strange considering MechAssault was basically one of the original Xbox’s launch titles. You’d think that they’d have a vested interest in preserving their legacy. Well, it turns out they tried, but there were problems with getting MechAssault’s engine to work. 

Answering ArtOfBattleTech, MechAssault game writer and designer Tom Dowd said that early iterations with Xbox Live didn’t play well with the game’s engine, so to get it to work Microprose had to cobble something together that just fell apart when modern Xbox folks tried to make it work on something like the Xbox Series X. Fixing it would involve a lot more than just mere emulation, so Microsoft cut its losses and just gave up on it. 

A shame for MechAssault fans, but don’t fret! There’s a new MechAssault game being made by some very talented individuals that you can play for free

A Lego Catapult You Can Build In Less Time It Takes To Read This Article

Catapult-Lego

Most of the Lego sets that I showcase have been fairly intricate affairs with hundreds, if not thousands of individual pieces. Here we have something that you could probably snap together in less than 20 minutes. And it still looks damn good.

This Catapult diorama comes courtesy of xig_brick, who also posted the instructions too. If you’re not into the Catapult, you can always go for the Marauder, although it’s somewhat larger. And if you don’t have the pieces because you’re a grown-ass adult who doesn’t have a bajillion Lego sets lying around (not me, of course), then you can purchase the pieces individually from Lego. Although the future is fast turning into the cyberpunk dystopia that games like Shadowrun warned us about, at least we have Lego on-demand. 

Unreleased Prototype Turn-Based BattleTech Game Debuts After 23 Years Of Waiting

Last, but not least, we’ve got a special Thanksgiving treat for you. 

MrTalida has just published a prototype build for a canceled turn-based BattleTech PC game that was being worked on by FASA Interactive and spearheaded by Asylum Entertainment way back in 1998. Unlike MechCommander, this would be a more faithful adaptation of the turn-based mechanic of tabletop BattleTech, with little digital ‘Mechs shooting over a hex-grid digital battle map. 

The game was never announced and judging by the Powerpoint presentation I saw, FASA had trouble getting investors to put money into a turn-based PC game. A shame, since then we might’ve had something before Hairbrained’s fabulous BATTLETECH from 2018. 

Over on the archive site is a Milestone 8 build of the game that was created in January 1998. The build comes with a playable scenario, ‘Mech editor, and map editor, but it doesn’t have all the planned ‘Mechs or assets. The final product was supposed to have 120 ‘Mechs, over 40 vehicles and infantry types, and have both multiplayer and a single-player campaign.

Getting this to work will be tricky as it was designed for Windows 98. I’m no expert, but you’ll need to at least start with an emulator and then cross your fingers. Even if you get it to work it’s still a prototype and not a finished game, so don’t expect much. But it is a very interesting look at what might have been. 

And that’s it for November! Join us next month as we go over your favorite Holiday-themed gift ideas. Although by then it’ll probably be way too late to purchase a gift and have it shipped in time for Christmas. Ah well.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Your BattleTech News Roundup For October, 2021

The cold and rainy weather has finally struck Southern Ontario, so that means it’s October. The spooky season gets dismally grey where I live, which is only appropriate for the spookiest of non-holidays.

Here’s hoping your personal pandemic experience has gotten to the point where it feels like razor blades and needles are the larger concern with trick or treating than catching COVID. Get vaccinated if you haven’t already, and keep an eye on the relevant medical organizations about potential boosters.

And now, on to your regularly scheduled BattleTech news for October 2021.

The Clans Might Be Coming To MechWarrior 5

This technically happened at the end of September, but by then I’d already hit publish on that month’s news blast, so we’re pushing it into October. A datamine into the most recent MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries patch revealed some interesting new content might be coming to the game, and it involves the Clans

Am I surprised? Well, not that there’s a Clan Invasion potentially coming, but that it’s happening so soon. We’ve only just wrapped up the Fourth Succession War with the Kestrel Lancers expansion and now we’re talking about a Clan invasion.

First, the evidence, courtesy of a Reddit post from neverfearIamhere. The datamine reveals references to the invading Clans, including Clan Wolf, Jade Falcon, Ghost Bear, and Smoke Jaguar, as well as the long list of non-invading Clans. There are also references to the Bushwacker, Hellspawn, Night Gyr, Osiris, Fafnir, Piranha, Thanatos, and Uziel. More recent tech like MRMs, Light PPCs, and Rocket Launchers are also mentioned. The weird thing here is that tech is from the 3060s while the Clan Invasion is supposed to be in the ’40s and ’50s. 

The other weird thing is how often PGI has stated that MechWarrior 5 wouldn’t go into the Clan Invasion, and indeed this sentiment was repeated on a recent No Guts No Galaxy video (which made it sound like MechWarrior 6 was more likely). But I gotta mention that datamines are not necessarily indicative of anything. There could be any number of reasons why that code is in MechWarrior 5, including potentially other DLC packs that bring the timeline into the FedCom Civil War era. I don’t know and PGI hasn’t said anything. But it’s there, and that’s maybe something. 

MechWarrior 5 Female Protagonist Mod Adds Much-Needed Representation

MW5 Female Protagonist with Voice-Over Mod
Watch this video on YouTube.

I always found it a bit odd that MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries doesn’t have an option for a female player character. I mean, it’s 2021; pretty much every franchise out there has gotten the message that gender equality in gaming is a good thing, and they’ve written their games so that the player can choose between male or female. Some have even started giving players the option of falling somewhere else on the gender spectrum.

Being able to play a trans MechWarrior is probably a little more than PGI can handle at the moment (more on that later), but c’mon guys. There are plenty of female MechWarriors in BattleTech, and fans should have the option to play as one.

But where PGI fails, modders provide. The Female Protagonist mod not only adds a female player portrait but also replaces the male voice lines with new ones. The voice is AI-generated so there’s a certain robotic monotone quality, but as mod creator SankaraSamsara says in the mod description, “It’s better than nothing, I think.” 

You can choose between several new player portraits including a few characters from Harebrained’s BATTLETECH as well as Yelena from Deus Ex and even Dr. Kynes from Dune. There’s also a “they/them” pronoun version of the mod that replaces all the appropriate pronouns in the text.

This mod is still in active development, and the creator has already confirmed on Twitter that there are plans to add real voice acting in a future update. Stay tuned. 

Renegade HPG Remasters TRO 3057 Cover

Renegade HPG collaborated with Emil of @ArtofBattleTech fame as well as Jayden Morris to remaster the classic cover of the TRO 3057 DropShips, JumpShips, and WarShips. This here’s the Leviathan, Clan Ghost Bear’s gigantic combined dreadnaught/transport ship. Emil resized the image using some fancy AI upscaling, while Jayden redid the Ghost Bear logo. Renegade HPG brought it all together in one tight little package for Gallery 3025. Which, by the way, you should join if you’ve got the funds.  

Catalyst Provides Update On Clan Invasion Packages

The question many BattleTech fans have been asking Catalyst lately has largely been “where’s my stuff!?” It’s a fair question to ask, given how long they’ve been waiting for their Clan Invasion packages to arrive. 

According to Catalyst, over 90% of Clan Invasion shipments have been delivered without a hitch as of the beginning of the month. That said, there are still quite a few folks who haven’t received their minis, pins, challenge coins, and the all-important UrbanMech plushie. 

Most of them are apparently in the EU. This is due to the fact that the Chinese factories creating the Clan Invasion box sets sent the entirely wrong box sets. Then there was a series of warehouse delays and logistical delays, and then GenCon… and more stuff. You can read the whole thing over on the Clan Invasion Kickstarter page

Bottom line, Catalyst is now all-hands-on-deck ensuring that everyone gets everything they ordered. At the beginning of the month, they received a report on all non-delivered items and will ensure there’s a separate shipment for everything that was missed. 

“We know there is still a great deal of work to do to get us through Wave 2,” Catalyst wrote, “and to keep fixing issues that have cropped up along the way (like Russia!) and on which we will continue to work hard until we have fulfilled and satisfied all 12,000 active backers.”

Of course, Catalyst has more than just Clan Invasion boxes to ship. They’ve recently gotten started with the fourth and final cycle of ilClan BattleMech Recognition Guides with Volume 19, and there are also these interesting figures of what appears to be a Stormcrow Alt. Config B. Prime variants are usually not my preferred OmniMechs, so variant figures are likely to be a pretty good moneymaker.

Living Legends 2 Looks Like It’s Coming Along Nicely

Living legends 2: Atlas boarding and power up scene concept.
Watch this video on YouTube.

Remember Living Legends 2? The team behind the MechWarrior: Living Legends successor recently posted a development update showing several new ‘Mech models in Unreal 5. There’s a Bushwacker, a Marauder, and of course, a big bad Atlas, all of which look fairly close to their classic TRO designs. 

So far, the team says they have a functioning game prototype, but everything is basically placeholders. They’ve got a fully animated Bushwacker and all the game’s systems and netcode working, but there are some systems that haven’t been implemented like ammunition and heat. 

But things definitely seem to be progressing at a pace far faster than you’d expect for what essentially amounts to a fan project. These industrious folks have even got a Steam page set up, although it remains invisible until they’re ready for open alpha testing. 

Oh, and they’ve also changed the name yet again to Living Legends 2: Armored Combat. It sort of evokes the BattleTech name without using the actual trademark. As always, we’ll be keeping a close eye on these guys to see how Living Legends 2 shakes out. 

Fast Food Of The 31st Century

Fast Food chains in the Battletech universe from battletech

Brutetuba shared this little ditty on Reddit recently, and I love it. I don’t know where this idea came from, and I don’t know how it was turned into the tiniest piece of game architecture I’ve ever seen, but it’s great and you all need to burn down Catalyst’s inbox to turn this into an official product. And y’all need to tell me where I can get a tiny hat for an UrbanMech. That shit’s dope.

MechWarrior Online Is Giving Away A Lot Of Stuff This Halloween

We got a lot to talk about in MechWarrior Online, so I’m going to try and speed through it. 

First up, the annual rewards program has been announced. If you played at least 100 matches between November 24, 2020, and now, you’ll get five million C-bills, a ‘Mech Bay, and 100 GSP. If you paid any amount of money in the same time period, you get a free UrbanMech UM-R80 and an additional 100 GSP. Buy any of the new player packs, bungles, DropShip Deals, ‘Mech Packs, or basically anything other than the recent Stryker, Warden, Hunter, or Predator packs, you get a free Viper VPR-F. Buy any of those previously excluded packs and you’ll get an Atlas AS7-K3, and if you bought one from each of these categories, you’ll get two decals, three Boosted cockpit items, and 200 additional GSP. 

Next, MechWarrior Online recently released its October patch which brought the Hunter Pack and the remastered Viridian Bog. The map was redesigned with feedback from the Cauldron to be more open, have more sightlines, and offer greater tactical freedom for the two teams to try and flank opponents. Several weapon systems and equipment have been tweaked, and we’ve got a brand new quirk pass for several ‘Mech designs. Commandos, Jenners, Vipers, Phoenix Hawks, Warhammers, Marauders, Stalkers, Marauder IICs, Corsairs, and Fafnirs have all had their quirks adjusted, so check out the patch notes to see if your preferred ride has some new tricks up its sleeve. 

And of course with Halloween around the corner, there’s a new event and a new free Mech. Loot bags are back, which rewards random goodies for every 100 match score you accumulate in each match. Crack open 250 bags and you’ll get a Hellspawn HSN-8P and a ‘Mech Bay along whatever items you receive in each loot bag. Events like these are great ways to restock your ‘Mech Credits and C-bills for free-to-play players, so be sure to play a few games and grind out that Hellspawn.

MechWarrior Online Says Trans Rights After A Bit Of Convincing

PGI did their very best to get canceled earlier this month after they denied a MechWarrior Online competitive team the use of the words “Trans Rights” and “Trans Fights” in their team names. Daalpacagirl outlined the whole situation in a long-winded Reddit post, along with screenshots of emails between herself and a MechWarrior Online admin, but the TLDR is that she tried to get into the MechWarrior Online World Championships with two teams called “KDCM V: Trans Rights” and “KDCM VI: Trans Fights,” and the PGI admin said “no.” 

What was truly bizarre was PGI’s explanation for declining the team names, saying MechWarrior Online was not an “appropriate environment” for “real-life political discussions.” PGI allowed the teams to go ahead and compete, just without the “Trans Fights” and “Trans Rights” tags. 

The whole thing blew up on social media with PGI co-founder Russ Bullock stepping into the fracas with some pretty awful things to say in support of the GM that denied the team names, calling the whole thing a “tough situation.” If you’d like to see what response THAT got him, PC Gamer picked out a few good examples.

It was at this point that live operations manager Matt Newman had to step in and eat crow, issuing a public apology on the official MechWarrior Online website and remedying the situation personally by restoring the removed team names. 

“Our actions obviously hurt and offended people, I apologize. We will do better,” Newman promised. “With the understanding that trans rights is not a political issue, we will allow the team to use either of their original choices as their team name.”

To her credit, Daalpacagirl graciously accepted the apology on Twitter and promised to continue competing in MechWarrior Online. Russ, meanwhile, wisely remained silent following PGI’s apology, although he offered no apology himself. Sort of explains the lack of a female protagonist in MechWarrior 5, huh? 

I Don’t Actually Love Hunchbacks, But I Kinda Love Hunchbacks

Finished a new Mech illustration, here’s a Hunchback for your enjoyment! from battletech

I know that my signoff is a Hunchback serving up flapjacks, and on more than one occasion I’ve commissioned art of Hunchbacks doing stuff like stirring cauldrons and experiencing explosive dysfunction (to the point where you could accuse me of trying to rebrand Sarna’s signature ‘Mech as the Hunchback), but it’s not because I have any particular love for Hunchbacks. I don’t really like Hunchbacks--they’re tough and dangerous, but they’re kind of a one-trick pony. They’re very good at that trick, but I tend to prefer ‘Mechs that don’t get ranged by a Whitworth

But I also can’t help but appreciate Hunchbacks for their iconic looks. They’re both instantly recognizable by any BattleTech fan and they’re incredibly versatile for their humanoid shape and fully articulated hands. For this reason, it’s easy to make a Hunchback look interesting and dynamic. 

Reddit user nickelangelo2009 showcases the Hunchback‘s dynamism perfectly with their newest illustration. This MechWarrior is very clearly trying to conserve their Hunchie’s limited ammunition, but that’s fine because blazing away with all three lasers still looks cool.

And that’s it! Join us next month as we stop being spooky and we start getting somber before the arrival of winter, my least favorite season.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy. 

stay syrupy

Your BattleTech News Roundup For September, 2021

courtesy of PGI

September will be a month to remember. This month, not only did many of us receive our Clan Invasion Kickstarter packages, but we’re also getting a very special present in MechWarrior 5. For the first time in a MechWarrior game, we’re going to be able to play giant rock ’em sock ’em robots.

And yes, I’m aware Hairbrained’s BATTLETECH did melee combat first (and also allowed shoulder charges and mule kicks, too), but there’s something viscerally satisfying about punching a ‘Mech in first-person. It’s going to be so sweet.

As usual, we got a lot to talk about so we’re not going to dwell too much on the arrival of melee combat in a MechWarrior game for the first time, ever. Don’t worry, we’ll pick that thread up later. For now, on to the news!

The MechWarrior Online World Championships Are Back

The MechWarrior Online World Championship Series is back, baby! This was technically announced at the end of August, but we’re pushing this into the September news just due to how amazing it is. 

The last time we saw an officially sanctioned competitive MWO tournament was back in 2019 when PGI held an invitational-style tournament due to falling player numbers. The 2020 tournament never happened, which was unsurprising given how PGI was hard at work on MechWarrior 5 and the pandemic was putting a stop to many game events and tournaments.

But that’s all in the past. The MWO Champion Series returns in 2021 in collaboration with the MWO Comp community, a group of die-hard MechWarriors who kept the competitive spirit alive while MechWarrior Online went through its Cauldron-fueled metamorphosis

The rules seem to be mostly the same as previous championships, with 8v8 games featuring all tech and ‘Mechs available with a maximum of 3 ‘Mechs in each class with no duplicates allowed. A 480-ton maximum is also applied, so there’s no loading up on heavies and assaults allowed.

The competitive queue is already available to all MechWarrior Online players who are part of a competitive team, with the queue open on Thursdays and Saturdays. The competitive queue closes on October 18, and then round one of the double-elimination finals begins on October 30 with the grand finals on December 11. Prizes will be both in-game and real-life cash prizes. 

It’s going to be a very interesting tournament with all the changes that the Cauldron have instituted. New builds, new ‘Mechs, and new strategies will be employed to account for the refreshed maps that have arrived throughout 2021. It’ll also be exciting to see if there are any new faces that have arrived in the competitive scene thanks to MechWarrior Online’s renaissance.

But speakin’ of new maps, a brand new refreshed Caustic map arrived on September 21’s patch, along with another quirk pass. ‘Mechs like the Griffin, Enforcer, Thanatos, Ebon Jaguar, and Rifleman are all getting revamped quirks along with many, many more designs. Check out the patch notes to see if your favorite ‘Mech just got a facelift that’ll bring it into the current MechWarrior Online meta.

See The Timber Wolf In All Its Glorious Variations

SU-SMD recently started on an expedition to draw every version of the Timber Wolf, from Prime to Z, along with unique camo schemes for various Clans employing each design. I like ’em, since you hardly ever see a Timber Wolf other than the Prime variant, with its big, boxy launchers and paired laser pods. I can’t wait till we get to the U alternate configuration for some underwater Mad Cat action [UPDATE: it’s everything I imagined.]

Sarna Unveils A Searchable Map Of The Known Universe

First off, I want to make it clear that I had absolutely nothing to do with this herculean effort. That credit all falls to Sarna Cartographer Gruese, founder and editor-in-chief Nic, as well as the team members of Operation: Doneve. This searchable map will be made available on the main site as well as in the Discord, which you can find here.

This map covers the Inner Sphere and the rest of the known universe right up until the year 3151. Additionally, each planet will have its own centered map which allows you to see which factions owned it during which period. Just click the little arrow over the map to bring yourself forward or backward through BattleTech‘s eras.

You can see the whole map of the Inner Sphere here, and get an example of the planetary-focused maps by looking at Park Place here. It took over 6 years to catalog over 3,000 planets/systems, but the results I’d say are worth it. 

MechWarrior 5 Generated 160,000 Sales For Steam Release

We don’t know how many copies MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries sold when it was first released on the Epic Games Store, but we do know how many it sold on Steam and Xbox. This comes courtesy of a recent financial report from EG7, developer PGI’s new Swedish overlords. An additional 160,000 units were sold when MechWarrior 5 was re-released on Steam and Xbox in May, with 75,000 Heroes of the Inner Sphere DLC purchases on top of that. About 81% of those sales were on Steam, so Xbox/GOG and Epic accounted for the remaining 30,000 in new sales.

That might not sound like a lot compared to all the many million-unit franchises out there, but EG7 considers this a financial success, and that’s all that really matters. EG7 will foot the bill for marketing and publishing, while PGI focuses on making new DLC and adding features to MechWarrior 5--such as the recently-announced Legend of the Kestrel Lancers. We’ll dive into that in just a second, but first… 

MechWarrior 5 VR Mod Goes Into Beta

Virtual reality compatibility was initially touted as one of MechWarrior 5‘s features back in the day, but the complexities of VR proved too much for PGI’s small development team. The feature was cut ahead of the game’s Epic release and there hasn’t been much discussion about it since then. Perhaps VR will get official support in the future, but in the meantime, we have mods.

Specifically, we have VRWarrior from modder Kitt, now available on Nexus Mods. This mod provides support for Oculus, HTC, SteamVR, and Windows Mixed Reality headsets to experience MechWarrior as never before. 

As someone who only recently got their first VR headset, there is nothing that compares to the level of immersion you achieve with VR, and especially for games that put you in some sort of vehicle. Games like Beatsaber and Superhot are fun and all, but when you can only move a few feet in any given direction before you hit an invisible wall, it sort of ruins the experience.

Sitting down in a chair with a headset and a game controller doesn’t have that problem. What VR does is allow you to move your head and look in the direction your head is pointing. This makes you feel like you’re really in the cockpit of a giant death machine, and that’s a feeling that’s difficult to replicate outside of VR. 

However, VRWarrior isn’t perfect. The mod only works when you actually get into a mission, with all the in-between menus and dropship scenes still happening on a flat monitor. It’s also still in very early beta, so expect there to be bugs (many of them are already noted on the Known Issues portion of the mod’s page). But either way you look at it, I’m excited for VR to finally find its way to MechWarrior

Gallery 3025 Brings Us Yet More Great Art

A little while ago, we saw this Archer as a work in progress, but now Jayden Morris has unveiled the finished product on Gallery 3025. It’s pretty amazing, and as always, I encourage you to assist Gallery 3025 by subscribing so they can bring even more precious BattleTech art like this into the world.

MechWarrior 5 Punches Onto PlayStation Along With New Legend Of The Kestrel Lancers DLC

MechWarrior5: Mercenaries - Legend of the Kestrel Lancers Expansion Pack Features.
Watch this video on YouTube.

Big, big news for MechWarrior 5. First, the game is heading to PlayStation. PGI senior community manager Daeron “Bombadil” Katz made the announcement on the official PlayStation blog earlier this month, noting that this will be the first time that a MechWarrior game has come to a Sony-branded console since MechWarrior 2: Arcade Combat Edition for the PlayStation. 

Besides receiving full crossplay with both the PC and Xbox versions, the PlayStation 5 version of MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries will include support for the DualSense controller’s haptic feedback and adaptive triggers. It’ll also come alongside a free update that lets players swap control of lancemate ‘Mechs during gameplay--another all-new feature never-before-seen in a MechWarrior game.

There’s also one other new feature coming with the free update. Fans noted in the PlayStation 5 announcement that there were some UI tweaks, and in the weapon’s table there was something labeled “HANDS.” A follow-up tweet from PGI offered a tongue-in-cheek “no comment,” but basically confirmed that the game was getting melee-based combat--a first for any MechWarrior game. 

Fast forward a week and PGI announced the new Legend of the Kestrel Lancers DLC will arrive at the same time as the PlayStation launch of MechWarrior 5. This new DLC brings MechWarrior 5‘s timeline up to the Fourth Succession War, which saw the newly-formed Federated Commonwealth steal away planets from House Kurita, House Marik, but mostly House Liao. This all-new 14-mission campaign will bring “unique mechanics, authored missions, and custom dialogue and cinematics.”

There’s also going to be new ‘Mech skins, 23 new ‘Mech variants (with a lot of Archers, for some reason), three new biomes (Jungle, Tourmaline Desert, and Megacity), five new random mission types (Scorched Earth, Objective Raid, Targeted Kill, Guard Duty, and Battlefield), and seven new quest lines including the new “all-out-war” battle scenario.

Also confirmed with the DLC features trailer was what MechWarriors have been asking for since as far back as I can remember. Melee combat will finally appear in a MechWarrior game.

It seems like it’ll be limited to just punching, which means only ‘Mechs equipped with fists will get the option to play rock ’em sock ’em robots. However, ‘Mechs with fists are the ones that often needed a little extra to feel the most impactful in the game. My Quickdraw suddenly shoots from bottom-tier to top-tier heavy ‘Mech, along with the Commando and Panther.

The mighty Atlas probably didn’t need the help, but I doubt anyone is going to complain. 

We still don’t know exactly how melee will work, but I’ll assume it’ll be like a weapon system that you can bind to a button and then launch a haymaker at anything that’s close enough. 

Lancemate ‘Mech-swapping and melee combat are included in the free update that launches alongside the PlayStation release of MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries. Legend of the Kestrel Lancers will include the new campaign, sidequests, and 23 new ‘Mech variants. Both are launching on September 23. 

Hatamoto-Chi Is The True ‘Mech Of The Samurai

I couldn’t go without featuring SU-SMD’s other BattleTech piece, a commission from Everything BattleTech’s David for a Hatamoto-Chi in full Draconis Combine samurai regalia. This is the sort of thing that reminds you that the Dracs have a lot of very pretty ‘Mechs so long as you can get over the retro-futuristic aesthetic.

BattleTech Is Slowly Being Turned Into Audiobooks

I’m not sure if any of y’all knew this since I didn’t know it until a helpful Sarna reader pointed it out, but BattleTech’s many novels are slowly being converted into audiobooks. You can head on over to Audible to see which books are currently available, such as The Gray Death Legion saga, Wolves on the Border, and A Bonfire of Worlds. I’m a big podcast guy, so audiobooks are a great thing to slip into my usual listening habits. 

The narrators for books already converted are fine, but I’m holding out for Tex’s rendition of Michael Stackpole’s Blood of Kerensky series. Tex made the announcement on the official Black Pants Legion YouTube page, adding he’s under an NDA so he really can’t offer too much in terms of comments. All he told me was that he needed to upgrade his computer hardware just to render the audio of sufficient quality and that he considers himself an “ultimate amateur” in the audiobook biz, so don’t get too excited.

He also wasn’t able to offer me a timeline, so patience is a virtue and all that.

BattleTech Returns To GenCon 2021

Catalyst Game Labs was at Gen Con this past weekend to showcase many of the new miniatures that arrived with the Clan Invasion Kickstarter Wave 2 packages. I got mine, by the way, and the minis are superb. I hope y’all get your packages in the coming weeks. 

To really make these new minis pop, CGL, Arcturus Rising, and Iron Wind Metal set up a diorama featuring a mixed landscape battle bookended by boxes of Clan Invasion ‘Mech Packs. You can even spot a few new Iron Wind sculpts in there, including the Goliath C, Sojourner, and Archer ARC-9W. 

We’ve got Guardian982 on Reddit to thank for these pictures, which also show a brand new official Annihilator hiding behind a building. The Iron Wind Metals ‘Mechs are available on its website now, while that Annihilator comes as part of a brand new Wolf’s Dragoons Assault Star Force Pack available from Barnes and Noble. This is an exclusive item, so you can ONLY get ’em from Barnes and Noble, and it’s a pre-order item too. Shipping for these Wolf’s Dragoons Force Packs starts December 15. Inside you’ll find the aforementioned Annihilator, but also a Rifleman, Archer, Blackjack, and a re-posed Timber Wolf.

And that’s in for September! Join us next month as we head into the spooky season with some more scary announcements.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Your BattleTech News Roundup For August, 2021

No jokes, no quips, no higgeltybips. We’re jumping straight to the straight facts today because there’s a load of BattleTech news this month and it ain’t gonna get spoon-fed to your eye holes with flowery language about summer rains. 

Besides, we got some big news to start us off.

Clan Invasion Wave 2 Shipping Has Started

If you’re like me, you probably thought that combining all your Clan Invasion toys into a single shipment made sense. This was before a global pandemic, a global shipping slowdown, and that stupid tanker that got stuck in the Suez Canal. Time makes fools of us all, as they say, and I felt very foolish indeed for my naive decision from so long ago.

That said, our long wait is almost over. Clan Invasion Kickstarter backers will soon be shipping their Second Wave packages over the next few weeks, with deliveries expected to last into September. Emails have already started going out for people to confirm their addresses. If your address hasn’t changed, no action is required, but you might as well double-check that nothing weird has happened between now and what feels like a lifetime ago. 

Sarna has a Discord!

A few months ago, an official Sarna Discord was created.  It’s already grown to over 750 members, and is a great way to connect with others in the BattleTech/Sarna/Wiki community.

The focus of the Discord is as an aid to the wiki — join the #research-desk, or as #wiki-questions.  If you have any technical problems with the site you can post in #wiki-issues.

Of course you’re welcome to discuss is #general BattleTech stuff or about #videogames-general — we love talking BattleTech.

Most of all, we aim to be friendly!  Join us!

To Serve And Protect

Urban Tyrant from battletech

Our first artist spotlight is PhearTheHam on Reddit, who posted this phenomenal image of an UrbanMech in a police uniform. We’re not sure which planet this Urbie is on, but whatever it is, it’s got an urban center with a crime problem big enough to warrant an AC/10

So Detroit, basically. 

Wolves Remakes Terra In Its Own Image

Another month, another Wolves update. This one brings back one of MechAssault 2‘s levels using some of the original assets completely new, custom assets [ed. PajamaBoy has corrected me--sorry about that!]. Terra certainly looks a lot different in the 31st century thanks to ComStar rule. This is what the world would look like if a telecom company took over. 

I gotta say, for a completely fan-made game, the Wolves folks are better at keeping their players up to date than most AAA developers. 

Eldonious Rex Makes The Best BattleTech Paperback Cover Ever

Oh, Eldonious Rex, you’ve done it again. Eldonious recently released his Marauder Print Pack, a collection of original prints that would look great on a wall or the cover of the latest CGL novel. Here we see a Marauder II taking on two Hatchetmen in close-quarters combat. It’s gotta be one of the most dynamic still images of ‘Mechs fighting I’ve ever seen. Catalyst, I hope you’ve hired this guy to be your cover artist.

You can get this image along with several other Marauder-themed items (including a coaster) over on Eldonious Rex’s commerce site here

MechWarrior: Living Legends Releases Update 0.14.4

Development continues on the old Living Legends even as a new standalone Living Legends is also under development. Honestly, there’s not a whole lot new in update 0.14.4 but there are a few notable fixes. 

First, ambient temperature wasn’t updating correctly on vehicle HUDs, so that was fixed, and damage modifiers that were allowing splash weapons to crack through a ‘Mech’s head armor have been tweaked to stop providing quick and undeserved kills. Third, all ASF build timers have been set to 45 seconds from 10 seconds to prevent players from just Kamikazeing into ground objectives over and over again and wasting team tickets. 

There’ve also been a few tweaks to the Kagoshima map, including added ammo buy zones on the side caps, rolling fog has been added to the lower part of the river valley, and the Karnov has been moved from the middle of the map. You should see these changes live on servers now.

Games Workshop Drives Warhammer Fans To BattleTech 

I was a little late for this drama because I’m not much of a Warhammer fan, but apparently, Games Workshop has declared war on its own fanbase. 

Earlier this month, Games Workshop updated its intellectual property guidelines to have a “zero tolerance” policy towards infringements. This includes “pirating books, using a 3D printer to make copies of their models, and a ban on fan animations,” according to an article from Vice

The weird part here is that even though I’m not a Warhammer 40K nerd, I’ve still seen the incredible fan-made Astartes series on YouTube. Games Workshop actually hired that guy as well as a bunch of other talented individuals to make original content for a new streaming platform that Games Workshop is launching on August 25, so you can imagine how awful it looks for Games Workshop to suddenly turn around and say “no more fan animations, now you gotta pay for it.”

This led r/GrimDank, the official Warhammer meme subreddit, to switch to entirely BattleTech memes for an entire week, driving untold hordes of Warhammer fans to discover BattleTech for the first time. 

Tex wrote up a lovely welcoming post on GrimDank, while others have taken to trying to map Warhammer 40K factions to BattleTech factions (it doesn’t always work, but the effort is what counts here). As a reporter, I just report the news, but if any former Warhammer fans are reading this, welcome! Sarna is your one-stop shop for all the BattleTech info that’s worth keeping (which is to say all of it), and I’m sure you’ll come to love it as much as every other BattleTech fan does.  

MechCommander Mercenaries Returns For MechWarrior 5

Mechcommander Mercs – yeah, I'm just teasing you all now.
Watch this video on YouTube.

You remember MechCommander Mercenaries? The MechWarrior 5: Mercs mod that turned the game from a game where you command a single lance from the cockpit of your personal ‘Mech to a game where you command an entire company from the safety of your DropShip? Well, the Steam release of MechWarrior 5 and its Heroes of the Inner Sphere DLC sort of broke the mod for a while, but version 1.3 fixes it, and it’s available now over on Nexusmods.

Besides being playable again, MechCommander Mercs 1.3 adds a few new features, such as squadmates sharing sensor data for the purposes of long-range missiles, new empty/low ammo message on the game’s UI, and has better ‘Mech AI that should be compatible with other mods (like the TT AI mods). 

However, there are still a bunch of things left to do, and also several known issues in the current release. For example, if you decide you’re tired of being a bystander and you want to get back into the action by entering back into Mason’s cockpit via the F6 button, you’ll break the Mason AI if you try to leave again. 

There are other issues too, so read up on the 1.3 release notes before installing. 

Assassins Are Bad, But This Art Is Great

I love the Assassin. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a bad ‘Mech; it’s under-gunned and under-armored compared to anything in its class, and it’s not particularly effective in its singular role of hunting down and killing light ‘Mechs. It’s a poorly designed ‘Mech built by corporations that were looking to milk the Star League military-industrial complex and it honestly hasn’t gotten any better in the half-millennia since its introduction. 

But man, it just looks so damned good, and I just love me a recon-in-force ‘Mech that can fly (even though there are many, MANY other ‘Mechs that can do it better than the Assassin). 

So thank you, fed0tich, for indulging in my unabashed love of the Assassin. Please feel free to do so again at your earliest convenience. 

Tex, Stackpole, Pardoe, And HPD Renegade Talk All Things BattleTech

Tex, Michael Stackpole, Blaine Lee Pardoe and Renegade HPG Talk BattleTech
Watch this video on YouTube.

What do you get when you combine two of BattleTech‘s most prolific authors, Renegade HPG, and Tex? Two hours of the most fascinating conversation interspersed with some amusing anecdotes and Tex’s… unique brand of humor. This interview winds its way from the Minnesota Tribe and Clan Wolverine to the author’s favorite missed opportunities for cover art to some interesting “what if” scenarios. 

If you’ve got two hours to kill, you could do a lot worse than Renegade HPG’s latest interview. Check it out in the video here.

Battle Bound Answers Who Would Win In A Fight Between The Black Widow Company And The Gray Death Legion

Battletech: Battle Bound S2E2 - The Black Widow Company vs The Gray Death Legion
Watch this video on YouTube.

I stumbled across Battle Bound in one of my many jaunts across the wider world of BattleTech, which is to say it popped up in the subreddit and thought it was amusing enough to watch while I work.

What we’ve got here is a group of creatives that are essentially jazzing up a BattleTech playthrough with some nice editing, some video game-inspired effects, and narration courtesy of the one and only Tex. Frankly, I’m OK with Tex becoming the voice of BattleTech--it’ll give George a break from doing Duncan Fisher all the time.

Before the main event, Battle Bound shows us a bit of BattleTech history with an unboxing of the Gray Death Legion and Black Widow Company‘s Japanese sourcebooks and even goes deep into each company’s dossier, outlining each pilot, machine, and even their ‘Mechs unique quirks. This is circa 3025, so ‘Mechs often went into battle with damaged systems that just couldn’t be fully repaired. 

If you want to see a BattleTech tabletop game made as exciting as it basically can be, this is it. 

Boston Dynamics Shows Off Precisely The Wrong Kind Of Robot We Should Be Making

Atlas | Partners in Parkour
Watch this video on YouTube.

It’s a little sad to see current robotics going in the direction of small and dextrous rather than giant and lumbering, but I guess we gotta start with baby steps, right?

Boston Dynamics is a name we’ve covered before around these parts. Being on the forefront of robotics design means we’re just itching for the folks over in Boston to invent myomer musculature, fusion engines, gyroscopes capable of keeping an 80-ton death machine from toppling over. 

Instead, we get Atlas running a parkour course and then doing a backflip. It’s impressive, yes, but I think we need to collectively remind Boston Dynamics that we’re not at all interested in the cyberpunk future of robot ninjas. Give me giant stompy robots, thanks. 

MWO August Patch Brings The First ‘Mech Quirk Pass And Revamps HPG Map

MechWarrior Online’s renaissance continues with yet more updates! This time we’ve got a first quirk pass to several underused ‘Mechs as well as a massively updated HPG map. 

You can see the new HPG over on MechWarrior Online’s website, but it looks like the giant satellite dish has been pushed to the side and the actual battlefield is going to be a collection of ramps and technologically infused boxes. This might make the map seem a little more boring from an aesthetic perspective, but this is all to prevent games from devolving into two teams constantly circling around the HPG in a maneuver affectionately referred to as “NASCARing.” 

In MWO’s first quirk pass since the Cauldron took the reins of development, a collection of underused ‘Mechs is getting a much-needed performance boost in the form of quirks. Although somewhat controversial to BattleTech purists, quirks are basically MWO’s method of balancing BattleMech designs. Because ‘Mechs come in all different shapes and sizes, some are just easier to hit than others. Some have big arms that protect the torso, some have no arms at all, and some are just giant boxes that are so easy to hit that they turn into a walking bullet sponge on the battlefield. 

On top of that, certain ‘Mechs have better hardpoints, better omni-pods, or other non-equipment factors that just make them better or worse than other ‘Mechs in their weight class. Quirks give MechWarriors a reason to use a particular ‘Mech that’s just objectively worse without a little help. 

In this first quirk pass, the Locust, Mist Lynx, Adder, Cougar, Arctic Cheetah, Javelin, Incubus, Spider, Arctic Wolf, Hellspawn, Ice Ferret, Cicada, Centurion, Shadow Hawk, Hellfire, Thunderbolt, Nova Cat, Timber Wolf, Awesome, Victor, Highlander, Highlander IIC, Supernova, Mauler, Atlas, Kodiak, Dire Wolf, and Marauder II all get revamped quirks--mostly buffs, although a few quirks were removed or reduced to make way for the new quirk set. 

I’m particularly interested in the Ice Ferret quirks, as it’s one of my favorite ‘Mechs and it’s going to be quite a bit tougher following Tuesday’s patch. The Incubus and Cougar also look very interesting, as does the Centurion, which looks like it’ll suddenly become the tankiest medium ‘Mech in the game.

Both the new quirks and HPG remaster are live now, so go out there and blast people with some of these quirked-out ‘Mechs!

But as they say, that’s not all! There’s a free Shadow Hawk SDH-2K available for those who play the game even a moderate amount between now and August 9, and MWO community manager Daeron “Bombadil” Katz recently did an interview with No Guts No Galaxy’s Sean Lang to discuss the future of the game. There’s apparently going to be a huge announcement for both MW5 and MWO sometime next month, and PGI is also looking into restarting the MechWarrior Online World Championships and even hosting a virtual Mech_Con sometime in the future. 

Now This Is A Helluva BattleTech Map

I saw this pop up in my Twitter feed and just had to share. Longino Garcia’s battle map for the city of Olalla during the Battle of Tukayyid is nothing short of sublime.

And that’s it for August! Man, the time sure does fly. I’m still waiting on my Wave 2 order, but I hear someone at the door and it could be the mail person with my box now.

Oh, and have you checked out Sarna’s interview with BattleTech Line Developer Ray Arrastria? ‘Cause you should.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Sarna Interviews Ray Arrastia, BattleTech Line Developer At Catalyst Games

courtesy of Catalyst Games

A little while ago, BattleTech got a new line developer. We wanted to interview him back then, but he was busy with the Clan Invasion Kickstarter, then ilClan, and then there was a global pandemic, and it just never really worked out. But now that Wave Two is on its way and ilClan has shipped, we’ve finally got a chance to sit down with Ray and get to know a bit more about him. Plus, I got to ask a few questions about what’s next for BattleTech from the guy who should really know.

Today, Sarna talks to Ray Arrastia, BattleTech Line Developer at Catalyst Games. Enjoy!

Continue reading

Your BattleTech News Roundup For July, 2021

It’s raining here where I am right now. A summer thunderstorm, the sort that comes on quickly, blocks out the sun, and then dumps a bucket of water over your head before leaning back into a more sustainable downpour that comes with the occasional far-off thundercrack and enough wind to rattle the branches of trees and bushes. It’s the sort of weather where you wish you could just stop whatever it is you’re doing and just read a book by candlelight.

Mostly because I’m worried one of those lightning bolts will strike my house and fry my laptop.

But that’s just how dedicated I am to ensuring you, dear Sarna reader, get all the BattleTech news that’s fit for human consumption. And trust me, there’s always a heap of BattleTech news to consume, so let’s hop to it. 

What If MechAssault Was A SNES Rail Shooter?

Just as July arrived, so too did these delightful images from MrTalida. They imagine MechAssault, a game we’ve discussed a few times around these parts, but as a SNES rail shooter instead of a 3D action game. Think After Burner, but with ‘Mechs instead of jet fighters.

As a huge fan of these classic arcade games, this set of pics hit me right in the nostalgic feels. But better, since it’s Mechs. It almost makes me wish that we had these MechAssault games instead of the brutally hard BattleTech game we got on the Sega Genesis (called MechWarrior 3050 on the SNES). 

MechAssault 2 Lives On In Garry’s Mod

Speaking of MechAssault, it’s been brought to my attention that a group of modders is trying to recreate MechAssault 2: Lone Wolf as a mod for Garry’s Mod. The current MechAssault 2: Mech Pack public beta provides potential players with access to all 15 chassis (or 33  total ‘Mechs, if you count the palette swaps and the Spider boss), as well as both Elemental and standard Inner Sphere battle armor

This is still a mod for Garry’s Mod, so you’ll need to own Garry’s Mod in order to install the MechAssault 2 pack. It’s also still in beta, although the mod creators are currently looking for others to help them complete the project and maybe recreate all of MechAssault 2 inside Gary’s Mod.

It looks like these guys have already made quite a bit of progress with almost 30,000 downloads. If you’ve got Gary’s Mod and loved MechAssault 2, check out the mod here

MechWarrior: Living Legends 2 Will No Longer Need MechWarrior 5 To Play

Podcast 226 - Living Legends 2 Dev Talk
Watch this video on YouTube.

So remember MechWarrior: Living Legends? The same folks are making a sequel, which was announced last March. At the time they planned on making it using MechWarrior 5, which would have meant you’d need to own MechWarrior 5 to play Living Legends 2, but now the dev team has announced that’s no longer the case.

JPL Studios has announced that MechWarrior: Living Legends 2 will no longer need MechWarrior 5 and will instead be released as a standalone game. Apparently, lack of access to MechWarrior 5‘s source code meant that the changes JPL Studios needed to make for Living Legends to exist as an MW5 mod were just too complex to do without knowing the ins and outs of MW5‘s code. 

This, unfortunately, means that JPL Studios is going to have to make an entirely new game from scratch. Well, almost scratch. It’ll be made in Unreal Engine (same as MechWarrior 5), but JPL will need to make all their assets, animations, and everything else on their own. And because the only way to get this done under Microsoft’s Game Content Usage Rules is to do all this without actually selling the game, MechWarrior: Living Legends 2 will remain totally free. 

It’ll also drop the “MechWarrior ” moniker because it’s copyrighted and just go by Living Legends 2. But we can call it MechWarrior: Living Legends 2 here because that’s basically what it is.

Don’t expect any updates on this project for a while. Scuttlebutt around the Living Legends 2 Discord is that we might see an alpha build later this year, but don’t hold your breath. 

As for the original Living Legends, expect to find new VTOLs in the future along with some “thoroughly reworked” flight models. 

Now This Is A Poster That Could Get Me To Leave My House

I made a poster for my upcoming demo event in Brooklyn this weekend. from battletech

Bauermeister hosted a BattleTech intro event in Brooklyn a few weeks ago, and to get everyone in the mood, they made a poster for the occasion. To say it’s pretty sweet is a bit of an understatement.

Not sure why that Clan Wolf MechWarrior is behind the wheel of what appears to be a very standard Inner Sphere Warhammer, but whatever. Rule of cool and all that.

Wolves Wave 3 Is Taking The Puma (Adder) In A Very Different Direction

I’ve never been a huge fan of the Puma aesthetically speaking. It’s a great little ‘Mech, don’t get me wrong, it just looks sort of like if a Kit Fox found a home that it started carrying around everywhere it went. The Cougar looks a lot cooler, which is likely why you see a lot more of it in various video games including MechAssault.

Wolves, the MechAssault fan game that we’ve been following for a while now, is getting ready for its Wave 3 release of ‘Mechs. And one of those ‘Mechs just so happens to be the Puma.

I’m not going to say that the Wolves version of the Adder improved substantially on the ‘Mech’s hermit crab aesthetic, but I will say it looks exceptionally unique. I’m here for it.  

Now THIS Is A Grasshopper

Reddit user Philbobagginzzz is a hobby enthusiast from Alberta, Canada who loves painting miniatures. Warhammer and BattleTech are both parts of Phil’s repertoire, but we’re going to focus on the BattleTech side in this post.

It’s a Grasshopper. But not just any Grasshopper--it’s a PURPLE Grasshopper. And the base is also the size of your fist, so it’s less of a tabletop mini and more of a figurine. It’s something that I’d be proud to mount on my mantle, and I love Grasshoppers, so it gets a pass in this month’s news dump. 

Alpha Strike Cards Out Now For WarShips, JumpShips, DropShips, And Small Craft

Alpha Strike might not get all that much attention around these parts, but it does something that I think is very important in BattleTech: it makes things simpler. BattleTech is fine for an afternoon of fighting between lances, but blow that up to a company-level engagement and you’ll be playing for a week. Alpha Strike cuts down on the dice rolls and makes it a lot easier to include large-scale engagements in your tabletop nights.

It also makes space combat a lot easier, and now that you can get Alpha Strike cards for WarShips, JumpShips, DropShips, and Small Craft, you can have a massive space fight that won’t take the rest of the year to finish. 

Both Alpha Strike card packages are now available on Catalyst’s store and Drive-Thru RPG for pay-what-you-want. That’s 140 WarShips and JumpShips along with almost 200 DropShips and smaller spacecraft. 

Also, a recent update on the Clan Invasion Wave 2 shipping: Australia and the UK within the next two weeks, mid to late August for the USA and EU, no word on Asia and “the rest of the world.” Here’s hoping Canada is considered part of the USA for the purposes of shipping. 

Crusader. That’s It. That’s The Title.

Samir Dawoud (who goes by SU-SMD on Reddit) is still posting great art online, so I’m gonna keep tellin’ you about it. This one is a CDR-3R Crusader, a classic Unseen design that only just got a visual makeover in Recognition Guide: ilClan Volume 17, which hasn’t been uploaded to Sarna yet. Until it does, this is the best-looking Crusader I’ve ever seen (I’m only up to Volume 14 in my personal reading). 

This particular image will soon be featured on a custom BattleTech card courtesy of Renegade HPG over on Gallery 3025. Speaking of which…

A Reminder That Gallery 3025 Exists And Is Doing Good Things

We’ve talked about Gallery 3025 before, and we’re going to talk about it again right now. Do you want new BattleTech art? Animations? Even more elaborate fan projects that bring the BattleTech universe to life in new ways? Then you should sign up to Gallery 3025. For a very low monthly donation, you can get quick and easy access to brand new BattleTech art and also bask in the satisfaction of knowing you’re one of the noble few keeping BattleTech alive. 

The latest from Gallery 3025 updates us on Jayden’s piece of an Archer as it gets reloaded with LRMs. The Archer is mostly done, and all we’re missing is the actual missiles, plus a VTOL and a bit of AAA. You can bet that when it’s done it’ll likely be the cover image for one of Sarna’s news blasts.

MechWarrior Online’s July Patch Brings More Balance To Weapons And Jump Jets

MechWarrior Online just got its July patch, and this month we get a weapons balance pass and a change to the new Canyon Network map that almost makes MWO feel like a live service game. 

Canyon Network has flooded as of this match! No idea what this means for gameplay (yet), but maybe it’ll mean ‘Mechs that stay low in the floodwaters will get bonus cooling while peeking above the hills will give better sightlines on your opponents. Also, it’s neat for any part of MechWarrior Online to change this rapidly, so kudos to Francois on this map update!

As always, there are too many weapon changes to just list ’em all here, but I’ll give you my quick hits. Pulse Lasers were overperforming for both Clan and Inner Sphere, so the Cauldron has decided to buff regular Large and ER Large Lasers to better compete, along with Light PPCs, Snubbies, and Heavy Large Lasers. Steam SRMs have been tweaked to better improve their striking power, and LB 5-X ACs for the Inner Sphere now take just 4 crits instead of 5. 

Another big change in this patch is to jump jets. Jumping has always felt better in certain ‘Mechs, with usually the lighter end of each class enjoying the best jump performance. The 40-45 tonners in particular made the best jumpers since their jump jets cost only half a ton but provided as much lift as you’d get on a lighter machine. 

The Cauldron’s latest changes help to smooth out jump jet performance disparity so that mounting jets on heavy and assault ‘Mechs isn’t quite so useless. Smaller ‘Mechs will enjoy increased initial thrust, while heavier ‘Mechs will have improved burn time so they can still make those high jumps, they’ll just do it more slowly.

MechWarrior Online is still in the midst of the Beach Party limited-time event where you can snatch a free Atlas if you play enough. There’s also a new Warden ‘Mech Pack coming that reimagines the Timber Wolf and Dire Wolf as old-school 3D renders sort of like how they did with Enhanced Imaging mode enabled in MechWarrior 2. They also come with some fun Elemental bolt-ons so you can bring a point of Elementals into battle (they won’t actually shoot or anything, but they look nice). 

That’s it for July! The rain has stopped here and we’re back to hot, humid, hazy weather--the kind that makes you want to just take out a book and read under a tree. This time without the fire risk.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Your BattleTech News Roundup For June, 2021

Ahh, June. Honestly, my favorite month, and not just because it contains my birthday (ah, but which day? I’ll never tell!). It’s hot, but not too hot, it’s wet, but not too wet, and the bug population hasn’t had quite enough time to explode like it will in July and August. June is, in my mind, the perfect month.

Not to mention there’s a whole bunch of BattleTech news to get caught up on, so let’s hop to it!

Latest Tex Talks BattleTech Dives Deep Into The Marauder

Battletech/Mechwarrior Lore : The Marauder
Watch this video on YouTube.

The latest Tex Talks BattleTech came out just after I posted May’s news blast, so I wasn’t able to promptly advertise the majesty of Tex’s latest project. For that, I apologize and beg your forgiveness. 

The Marauder was never my favorite ‘Mech even though I acknowledge it shares a special place in BattleTech and among most BattleTech fans. Like the Shadow Hawk, Locust, and Warhammer, the Marauder is a ‘Mech that will never die. Not even a decade of litigation can keep the Marauder from being perhaps the most famous BattleMech ever made. 

Tex does the Marauder sweet justice in this hour-and-a-half-long documentary. I think it’s Tex’s best work yet, and I encourage you all to learn more about both the machine and the history which produced it. 

I’m really hoping the Charger is next. There’s a ‘Mech with a story that deserves Tex’s special attention. 

Timothy Seals Just Updated His MechWarrior Remix Album, And You Can Still Download It For Free

I’ve probably gone on at length about Timothy Seals and his great work remixing and reimagining the original MechWarrior 2 soundtracks, so I won’t go into it again. All I’ll say is that the original MechWarrior soundtrack still holds up, and Timothy Seals only improves it further.

And now you can get the definitive version of Timothy Seals’ “Bred for War” album over on Bandcamp. This 19-track album includes several songs that were previously only available on YouTube, as well as the rest of the songs that were already on Bred for War. 

You can download the whole thing on his Bandcamp page paying for what you want, although only honorable MechWarriors will throw this bard a few coins. 

An Update On That MechWarrior 2 Unity Port

MechWarrior 2 Unity3D Reimplementation Project Beta 10 (MEK Engine)
Watch this video on YouTube.

I can’t remember when I first reported on someone remaking MechWarrior 2 in Unity, but here have an update on how things are going. 

And it looks like things are going well! Silent Thunder, the first mission in the Jade Falcon campaign, seems to have loaded just fine, although there are some issues with the enemy AI not really responding to the player’s presence. The game uses all the original sound files but updates the laser and explosion effects to be a little bit better than the original. There are also some issues with the explosions not lighting up the terrain as much as they should. There’s still no minimap, heat implementation, nav points, or music. You can basically walk around, shoot the objectives, and quit. 

But hey, that’s something! And it’s a lot of progress over where the team was last we checked in. We might see MechWarrior 2 reborn in Unity before the end of the year! 

MechWarrior Online’s Revival Continues With ‘Mech Agility Pass And A Reborn Polar Highlands

MechWarrior Online Polar Highlands Quick Preview
Watch this video on YouTube.

We got another MechWarrior Online patch that just went live! It’s not a huge patch, but it does come with two big deals. 

The first is the remastered Polar Highlands, which got a preview earlier in the month. Previously, Polar Highlands was relatively flat. Low, rolling hills provided breaks to line of sight, but the map was notorious for favoring LRM-focused builds which could utterly decimate an opposing team. Combine that with a lance of players dedicated to supporting their missile boats and Polar Highlands often turned into a match of who’s LRMs struck first. 

Although LRM-boating is a legitimate strategy, it’s not conducive to fun gameplay. The best and most reliable strategy against missiles is to stick to cover, so the new Polar Highlands adds larger hills, bases, structures, and long winding trenches to ensure ‘Mechs have an escape route when they find themselves under fire. 

And second is the agility pass. The Cauldron warned us of the impending agility changes in our recent interview, with the majority of ‘Mechs receiving a big boost to their acceleration, deceleration, run rate, torso twist speed, and torso pitch and yaw angles. These changes are designed to make the game feel more fluid and less like you’re fighting against the controls of a gigantic robot. Which you are, but fusion engines and myomer musculature shouldn’t feel cumbersome. 

Some ‘Mechs, such as the Quickdraw, Linebacker, and Commando, didn’t receive any boosts at all since they’re sufficiently nimble already, while other chassis like the Mist Lynx, Raven, Stormcrow, and Orion saw massive boosts to their overall maneuverability. 

Almost every ‘Mech saw some improvement, so I’ll bust out a few old favorites to see how they perform later this weekend. 

With agility out of the way, here’s hoping that rescale is next on the agenda. But as Bear_cl4w said in the Cauldron’s most recent vlog, there’s no specific timetable on that at the moment. 

Clan Wolf, Move Out! 

Great art from Reddit user SU-SMD of a Clan Wolf star dropping from a Union-C and then moving onto their objectives. That Viper and Shadow Cat are jumping quite aggressively, but that seems to be the standard operating procedure for Wolf maneuvers.

MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries Took Over E3’s PC Gaming Show

Let's get things started ... | PC Gaming Show E3 2021
Watch this video on YouTube.

If you were watching E3 as closely as I was, then you likely noticed how MechWarrior 5 featured quite prominently in the PC Gaming Show. In fact, Day9 was in the cockpit of a dropship, while Frankie was in the cockpit of a 65-ton CPLT-C1 Catapult. The hosts frequently swapped back and forth between various set pieces from MechWarrior 5, and the big interview during the show was with PGI’s community manager, Daeron Katz (who wore a stylish hat for the occasion).

It was a fun surprise to see how much pull MechWarrior still has in the wider gaming world. Sadly, the PC raffle where someone would win a MechWarrior-inspired computer was only available to US residents, so my Canadian passport disqualified me from entering. 

Anyway, although this was clearly just a marketing stunt, it was cute and fairly well done. There wasn’t really anything new discussed, so just catch a glimpse of the clips for everything you need to know. 

Lego Mad Dog? Lego Mad Dog

We like Lego, and here we have a 1:21-scale Lego model of a Mad Dog courtesy of EngineeredEntropy on Reddit. This model is extremely well done, with the only issue being that it’s not quite strong enough to stand up on its own. Plastic just doesn’t have the same structural support as Endo Steel, sadly. Bonus Timber Wolf at the end of the 20-slide carousel.

In Honor Of Brood X, Someone Held A Cicada Death Race

As many of you in America’s East and Midwest are already painfully aware, Brood X has arrived with a vengeance. Brood X is one of 15 Cicada broods that periodically rise from the earth to sing us the song of their people, and they do it every 17 years or so. It is the largest and furthest-ranging brood of Cicadas in the United States, filling the air with their characteristic buzz before mating and then dying off due to mass predation. 

To honor Brood X’s arrival, Reddit user VonJankmonBT hosted the “Cicada Death Race” at the Solaris 7 Dunken Davion Raceway. As the name implies, the race involves a bunch of old Cicada BattleMechs running around a hexagonal racecourse while trying to murder each other.

What makes VonJankmonBT’s fictional death race so exceptional is that they really went all-out on it. Check out the Reddit post for a full race report and a collection of pictures showing each lap of the Cicada Death Race. 

Because the Cicada‘s lasers are technically part of the torso and not the arms, the leading Cicada isn’t able to flip its arms around to start firing back at its pursuers. Thus, being in the lead is actually a very dangerous proposition for a Cicada racer, making this race a real blood bath.

Now we just need someone to put as much effort into an Urbie Durbie.

Is America About To Make Real ‘Mechs?

Well, no, not really, but a study from the US Army Research Lab looked into the idea and determined it’s at least possible. But they don’t really recommend it.

This comes courtesy of Popular Mechanics, which looked into the study published in the journal PLOS ONE. The study specifically examines something called the Heglund Formula, “which estimates the energy required for animal locomotion.” Physicists determined that the power required to move an object using legs is roughly the same as using wheels or treads up to 35 tons, so it’s no less efficient energy-wise to get around in a Jenner than it is a light tank.

So, great news for ‘Mechs right? The US Army is saying, “Well, we can make giant robots if we really wanted.” But that doesn’t mean they’re going to do it. The study also notes that walking vehicles are taller and thus more vulnerable than low-slung tanks and armored combat vehicles. And while ‘Mechs have an easier time getting down steep slopes, there’s not a lot of call for armored combat on the side of a mountain.

The study also doesn’t go into determining exactly how to power a theoretical BattleMech, just that it’s not immediately a bad idea from a power perspective. But hey, we’re one step closer to real ‘Mechs. Now we just need to have a century of warfare involving nukes and orbital bombardments before we sign a piece of paper that makes ‘Mechs the best means of waging war.

Farseer Animation Teases Next Project, And It’s Also About The Marauder

Marauder Trailer
Watch this video on YouTube.

Farseer Animation is back with a teaser video for their latest project, “Marauder.” If you’ll recall from around the same time last year, these are the folks that brought us that fabulous “Battle of the Crescent Fortress” animation, which is almost ten full minutes of some of the best fan-made fiction around.

This time we only have a minute to figure out what’s going on, but it looks like there’s Clan Jade Falcon going up against a lone FedCom Marauder. Dig the old-school Nova model being used here, as well as the Elemental infantry battle.

“Coming eventually” is about the best time frame we can hope for in what looks to be Farseer’s most ambitious project yet, so be patient on this one.

Clan Wave 2 Shipments Delayed Because We Can’t Have Nice Things

Sorry to end the June news on a bummer, but this just came in over the wire. Catalyst has just told Clan Invasion Kickstarter backers that Wave 2 has been delayed because the ship that was supposed to pick up the last two containers today didn’t even stop in port due to a COVID outbreak.

Yeah, COVID ain’t over, and it probably won’t be for years to come even as we all get vaccinated (and if you haven’t yet, I certainly hope you do soon). Catalyst is now calling for delivery around the first of August.

On the plus side, we got to see some ComStar minis, so that’s cool.

That’s it for June! Enjoy some MechWarrior Online events that are ongoing and be sure to take a breather. You deserve it.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Your BattleTech News Roundup For April 2021

Well, now it’s April, and I’m still waiting on the go-ahead to get me some of that sweet sweet COVID vaccine. Here in the wilds of Canada, vaccines haven’t been as readily available as the rest of the world, and being in a relatively low-risk group (I work alone, at home, in the dark usually) means that I’m not really a priority to get vaccinated. That hasn’t stopped me from camping outside the pharmacy every day waiting for the sweet taste of stainless steel.

I’ve been asked to leave several times. Apparently, merely wearing a mask isn’t enough for some people.

Anyhow, let’s get to the BattleTech news for April, shall we?

MechWarrior Online Gets Its Second Big Balance Patch, But This Time The Players Did It

MechWarrior Online April Dev Vlog 01
Watch this video on YouTube.

So. This is a big change for MechWarrior Online. Previously, PGI had absolutely no problem with ignoring complaints from players, but after last March’s balance pass went over about as well as Dire Wolf with a faulty drop pod, PGI has had a change of heart.

March’s balance changes are being reversed in April’s patch. Not only that, PGI has brought on The Cauldron, a group of both professional and casual players previously known as The Gulag, to work on MechWarrior Online’s future development. This provides direct player input into the design process for MechWarrior Online for the first time, ever.

I don’t know who all these Cauldron folks are, but I do know that they have some pretty great ideas for revitalizing MechWarrior Online. That starts with a comprehensive balance pass that attempts to tone down over-used meta weapons, dial up under-used off-meta weapons, and just overall makes every weapon effective in its own role. 

On top of that, The Cauldron plans to increase baseline agility for all ‘Mechs, perform a re-scaling pass so certain ‘Mechs won’t be uncharacteristically gigantic for no reason (I’m lookin’ at you, Shadow Hawk), and a quirk revision pass that will make crappy ‘Mechs worth using again (my Nova eagerly awaits a return to relevance). 

The Cauldron has already posted the weapon changes on the MWO website, so you can go over them there to see some of the new numbers. Almost everything has been adjusted in one form or another. I don’t think it’s overstating things that MechWarrior Online will feel like a totally new game once this patch goes live. 

Weapons are getting the attention for April, while May’s patch will be about agility changes. Maps are also getting some attention as well with changes to spawn points and other tweaks, with particular attention to Canyon on the first go. 

This is all great to hear, but I’ve been playing the game recently to pick up some of the free ‘Mechs, and I still absolutely abhor this game’s utter fetish for embedded menus and clicking buttons. It takes 5 clicks to start a friendly playgroup when it should take 2. That and the team deathmatch gameplay means that I’m often waiting for a game to start as long as I’m actually playing it. A 50% game uptime is still really awful. 

But hey, baby steps. First, let the players fix the wildly unbalanced game, and then maybe we can talk about GUI design. I’ll be taking a look at the new patch this weekend to see how it changes the game for the better.

MechWarrior: Living Legends Adds The Archangel And Two Tanks To Its Arsenal

From MechWarrior Online to MechWarrior: Living Legends, which also recently got an update. Included are the Shoden and Schrek assault tanks--the first a Clan missile support tank and the second an IS PPC carrier. Update 0.14.0 also adds the oft-requested Archangel, the terrifying Word of Blake assault ‘Mech.  The retractable blade on the Archangel is strictly cosmetic, so don’t get too excited.

Update 0.14.0 also brings several map revisions, bug fixes, and a targeting control revamp. You can get the patch now over on ModDB

DC Bruins Creates Operation Bulldog Animatic With The Help Of Gallery 3025

MechWarrior: Bulldogs
Watch this video on YouTube.

Gallery 3025 is already showing us just how valuable it can be. With their help, DC Bruins was able to complete an animatic that shows a possible scenario from Operation Bulldog

It’s not quite a finished animation as you can see most of the moving pieces are built from sketches, but the small amount of animation added here and there add a lot to what would otherwise be a storyboard set to some intense music. DC Bruins has been working on this piece off-and-on for years, and it’s great to finally see it come to fruition. 

But don’t expect to see a polished version for a while. Animation takes a LOT of work, so getting DC Bruins to give Operation Bulldog some color will take a lot more patrons on Gallery 3025. Which is my way of saying you should all subscribe to Gallery 3025. 

Seriously, I love this and hope to see a lot more from DC Bruins in the future. 

Wolves Wave 2 Is On The Way With A Raven Showcase To Start Us Off

Raven Showcase | Wolves Wave 2
Watch this video on YouTube.

Last month, I thought Wolves was treating us to a Raven showcase when they were actually showing off the Raptor II, a ‘Mech with a lot of MechAssault history for being essentially created just for MechAssault 2: Lone Wolf. Pyjama Boy kindly corrected me and promised that this month we’d get to see the Raven in action.

And what Pyjama Boy promises, Pyjama Boy delivers. Here’s a Raven, and here it is in shooting the shit out of a bunch of Summoners, Cougars, and several other Ravens in an alpha build of Wolves

Also, we got a date for Wolve‘s next big update. Wave 2 of Wolves will bring the Raven, Raptor, Hellbringer, Summoner, Atlas, and Mad Cat Mk II, as well as three new maps to clear out endless hordes of enemy ‘Mechs on May 1st. That’s not very long at all, so be sure to download the game now to be ready to play on patch day!

Remember That Stupid Ship That Got Stuck In The Suez Canal? Well, Bad News For Clan Invasion Backers…

Yup. That stupid ship--Evergreen or Everclear or Everwhatever--has caused an already strained logistics chain thanks to COVID-19 to just up and snap. So expect a somewhat later shipping date for Wave 2 miniatures than previously indicated. Catalyst said in a recent Kickstarter update that they’re hoping to have everything State-side by June 10, but that assumes some other giant-ass ship doesn’t get its giant ass stuck in the Suez Canal.

Whatever. We’ve been dealing with disappointments for over a year, this is just one more to add to the pile.

On the plus side, Book 2 of the Highlander Covenant series, Paid in Blood is now available to all, as well as Fall From Glory by Randall Bills. There’s also Recognition Guide: ilClan Volume 14 available now from Catalyst or DriveThruRPG. No ship getting stuck in a canal can stop these digital products!

Harmony Gold, Big West Finally Settle Macross/Robotech Dispute

Harmony Gold has long since settled its ongoing dispute with BattleTech‘s IP holders such that we will likely never hear from them again. But Robotech was a franchise that wasn’t so lucky. In much the same way that FASA got dragged into a massive IP dispute thanks to Tatsunoko selling their ‘Mech designs to whoever would pay for them, Bigwest and Harmony Gold have been fighting over the Macross and Robotech franchises for decades.

And now it seems that fight has also come to an end. Both the Robotech and Macross websites have issued statements confirming that Bigwest Co. Ltd. and Harmony Gold have come to a mutual agreement that ends their decades-long dispute. 

What this means is that the Macross films and television sequels can now see worldwide distribution once again. It also means that Bigwest won’t stand in the way of the upcoming Robotech live-action film. 

It’s pretty crazy to see the evolution of these legal disputes. I guess Harmony Gold has finally figured out that sitting on their IP won’t get them any more money, and the only way it’s worth anything is if they use it. A lesson learned likely from their loss against BattleTech.

Someone Put A ‘Mech In Smash Bros. For Some Reason…

Project M/SSBB PSA Promo: Battlemech
Watch this video on YouTube.

Yeah, I’m not sure why this exists, but it’s cool. We have Mecha Krizalid to thank for this crossover that places MechAssault‘s Cougar inside of Project M, a mod that allows for user-generated content to be added to Super Smash Bros. Brawl.

I gotta say, even at 35 tons, the Cougar is ludicrously overpowered for Smash Bros. Like, what the fuck is Pikachu going to do to an OmniMech? Shock it slightly? Run around? And the Cougar seems to be able to tank damage up to the 200s while one-shotting Mr. Game And Watch with a PPC blast to the face.

The video description reveals that not only will the Cougar be present in this mod, but various other BattleMechs are going to make an appearance as costumes for the Cougar. I’ve already seen an Uller in action, and I think there was an Atlas II mentioned.

That’s it for April! Next month will bring the arrival of MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries on Steam and the Heroes of the Inner Sphere expansion, as well as the usual surprises that I’ve come to expect from the BattleTech community.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Your BattleTech News Roundup For March, 2021

Man, March turned into a whirlwind of announcements! First it was MechWarrior Online getting a controversial patch, then MechWarrior 5 getting a Steam release date, and then MechWarrior Living Legends announced that they’re making a sequel mod. Plus there’s an update from Catalyst on the Clan Invasion Kickstarter, and as always, some delightful new art to share from around the web.

So no more small talk. Let’s get to the news!

Shrapnel Celebrates Its First Year And Updates On Wave 2

We’ll get the good news out of the way first. Clan Invasion Wave 2 is on track to start shipping out in May/June, according to the most recent Kickstarter update. Manufacturing should be done by the end of the month, with freight happening in April. 

There are, apparently, a few things that are running “a few weeks behind” due to delays, but Catalyst isn’t letting that delay Wave 2 shipping. No word on what those items are, but they better not be my goddamn Urbie plushes or I will start a riot.

In other news, Shrapnel – The Official BattleTech Magazine has just completed its first full year of print. That’s a pretty big deal, if you ask me, as Shrapnel has a lot of BattleTech content you won’t find anywhere else. And these magazines aren’t like picking up a copy of People--they’re more like grabbing the latest Reader’s Digest or National Geographic with 160+ pages to go through. This includes stories from vets and first-time authors, actually playable scenarios for your next tabletop game, and tons and tons of new art. 

Frankly, they could use more art, but I’m not complaining about what we got.

New this month is Fall from Glory, the Founding of the Clans series’ first book, as well as Fang and Claw, a short story from Michael J. Caravella. That’ll come to Clan Invasion Kickstarter backers Ristar and above, with no word on a wider release as of yet. Check your emails for the link for this short story.

MechWarrior Online’s First Major Update In Years Was A Bit Rough…

MWO Catapult K2

MechWarrior Online recently got its first major patch in two years, and wow, people were not happy. There were a few map tweaks, some new trials ‘Mechs that don’t suck, and a few other miscellaneous tweaks and bug fixes (not the least of which was a new intro that won’t blow out your headphones every time you boot the game up).

But the new patch also included some weapon and equipment changes that nobody really asked for. You can go over the exact numbers on the MechWarrior Online website, but in general, PPCs do 20% more up-front damage at the cost of 20% less DPS. That means a far slower recharge rate than you might be used to. 

The reason for these tweaks as given by PGI was to open up more “space” for other weapon tweaks down the road and to make PPCs (and Gauss Rifles) more specialized weapons. In this case, specialized means dedicated sniper weapons. You get a whole bunch of bang, but if you can’t reposition while your PPC/Gauss recharges, you’re kinda pooched. 

There’s a lot of talk online about this patch being an overall nerf, but I don’t think so. They certainly succeeded in making PPCs/Gauss Rifles into sniper weapons, and in the hands of a coordinated lance, this means trained PPC fire can bring down a ‘Mech in a single salvo. In those scenarios, the longer cooldown doesn’t matter because the target is already dead.

But I don’t play in those sorts of matches. I just play in PUGs, where it’s basically controlled mayhem every match. A 7-second Clan ER PPC cooldown means that my Nova-A has absolutely no ability to plug a hole in a line if the enemy side charges. I’ll get one shot off and then I have to wait an eternity to fire again, at which point faster-firing Medium Pulse Lasers or SRM-6s have chewed me to pieces.

To me, this change doesn’t feel great. It pigeon holes PPC-boating ‘Mechs into dedicated snipers and punishes pilots with poor aim. That’s fine for pro players, but for a game that’s trying to encourage a renaissance with new blood, it just seems too unforgiving to newbies to be the right call. 

To me, the changes to PPCs/Gausses (and even the MASC changes that were included) feel like PGI is just trying to introduce some sweeping changes to the MechWarrior Online meta. I get that--established MMO and online service games do it all the time to keep things fresh and interesting. But it’s easy to get carried away with that sort of thinking and make changes that look like they’ll really shake things up on paper but really don’t feel great for existing players. 

Plus, MWO players are a curmudgeonly lot that don’t take change particularly well, especially if they didn’t ask for it. 

Mechwarrior Online Patch Notes Review - March 2021
Watch this video on YouTube.

On the plus side, MechWarrior Online is giving away a free Grasshopper-5H for the Month of March and also hosting a public test server with a slew of changes that have been suggested by a group of players calling themselves “The Gulag.” Those changes include an overhaul of pretty much everything based on input from both casual and professional MWO players alike, so it’ll be interesting to see how it compares to the latest official patch from PGI.

UPDATE: Oh hey, looks like PGI has decided to rollback the weapon and MASC changes in the latest patch after all. I gotta say, that’s a big change for PGI, which has typically ignored public outcry from its players after unpopular changes. If that’s not a positive sign, I don’t know what is.

I’ve Always Called This ‘Mech The Murder Turkey

Jade Falcon Turkina Assault Mech – started off as a technical drawing, got carried away with action and weapon effects! from battletech

Redditor SU-SMD apparently started this image as a technical drawing, but then it got away from them in a very great way. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the Turkina portrayed better.

MWO EU Server Lost In Fire, Same One That Took Down Rust

Our second MechWarrior Online story is how the danged European server burnt down. A fire destroyed a building at the OVH Strasbourg server farm, which just happened to be where MechWarrior Online hosted its European matchmaker. 

The game Rust also hosted its save data at the same location and suffered far worse losses. Monthly backups meant that it wasn’t a total loss, but community-hosted servers that didn’t have backups were just… gone. 

MechWarrior Online got a new server the next day and is back and running for you fancy Europeans, so there’s no need to deal with a 200 ping when you’re playing with me here in North America. 

MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries Gets A Release Date On Steam, GoG, and Xbox

Hey, so, remember when MechWarrior 5’s Steam release got delayed till the spring, but then PGI said that they’d also come out with the Heroes of the Inner Sphere DLC as well as an Xbox release at the same time? Well, we’ve got a date: May 27.

The news came first from EG7, the new owners of Vancouver-based developer PGI, with the official MW5 sources following suit a day later. Those MW5 sources also gave us our first look at the Heroes of the Inner Sphere key art, which features a pretty snazzy Atlas if I do say so myself. 

“We are very excited to also be able to give Xbox and Steam players a good dose of MechWarrior fun,” said EG7 CEO Robin Flodin in a statement. “It is also great to be able to present yet another example of the EG7 companies working together to bring a world-class title to market.”

The funny part (at least to me) is that MechWarrior 5 was initially delayed from December to avoid getting stomped on by Cyberpunk 2077, and then Cyberpunk turned out to be a slow-motion train wreck. Now May is coming up with games like Biomutant, Subnautica: Below Zero, Resident Evil Village, and the remade/remastered Mass Effect trilogy, with more announcements being made all the time. It’s sort of an out-of-the-frying-pan-into-the-fire situation if you ask me.

But hey, if you were among the many who thought that the Epic Games Store release was like an early access preview, then the real deal is just two months away.

Tex Talks BattleTech Returns To Discuss The Marauder Soon™

In the meantime, enjoy this preview image of the Marauder from Wild-Cat144 over on Twitter. I’m anxiously awaiting Tex’s next big project, and you should too.

MechWarrior Living Legends 2 Announced

MechWarrior: Living Legends 2! New multiplayer Mechwarrior game! Pre-alpha footage (March, 19, 2021)
Watch this video on YouTube.

A little while back, I gave MechWarrior: Living Legends a try. It was great fun, but it’s a game that’s definitely showing its age. MechWarrior: Living Legends, for those unaware, is the total-conversion mod built on the original Crysis engine, which is pushing 14 years old at this point--old enough that it’s already received a remake on a brand new engine.

Rather than use the Crysis Remake for MechWarrior: Living Legends 2, the fine folks at JPL Studios have decided to use the far more moddable MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries as their starting point. This makes creating another total-conversion mod much easier since a lot of the assets they’d be using (like all the ‘Mechs, for example) are already present in the game.

That and MechWarrior 5 is built on the Unreal 4 Engine, which just has more knowledge and support out there. 

JPL just announced MechWarrior: Living Legends 2 over on Reddit, revealing that it’s been a passion project a year in the making. The team is made up of many of the same people who worked on the first MechWarrior: Living Legends, but I’ve been told there has been a lot of new blood brought in thanks to MWLL2 going public. 

According to the Reddit post, alpha tests are coming “within a couple of weeks,” and MWLL2 project lead Nathan reports that the team will be hosting smaller stress tests before then to make sure everything works. Support will start out for 32-player matches, but that number might increase over the course of the mod’s development. 

Nathan tells me that MWLL2 will follow the same format as the original mod, which is a sort of Battlefield-style persistent battle with matches focusing on taking control points for resources. The team with the most points gets declared the winner after roughly an hour of play.

Obviously, more MechWarrior is always great, but I think MechWarrior: Living Legends 2 has a lot going for it. First, it’ll be in a modern engine with way more technical support and it’ll be made by a proven team of modders with a passion for MechWarrior/BattleTech. Second, it might even add a multiplayer component to MechWarrior 5 that PGI has no particular interest in making. Sure, co-op campaigns are great, but competitive multiplayer adds a level of replayability that you just can’t beat. 

I’m excited to see what JPL comes up with, especially given the quality of product they’ve put out with the original MWLL. For updates, follow MechWarrior: Living Legends 2 on Twitter, and for (possible) access to some of the upcoming stress tests or even the technical alpha, head on over to the MechWarrior: Living Legends 2 Discord.

From Mice To Elementals?

So, this isn’t exactly BattleTech news, per se, but it does seem to have a direct link to the BattleTech universe in that it’s yet another piece of technology common to the Clans in the far future that has just been invented right now. Thanks go out to an eagle-eyed Sarna reader for giving me the heads up.

A group of scientists in Israel has just grown a mouse embryo in an artificial womb. That’s according to the MIT Technology Review, who interviewed biologists at the Weizmann Institute of Science. The embryos were grown by adding blood serum from human umbilical cords along with a pressurized oxygen mixture. 

The mouse embryos only lasted between 11 to 12 days before they grew too large for the glass containers they were in to continue supplying them with adequate oxygen, but the basic concept has been proven: conception without a womb. 

The crux of the article is the huge ethical concerns such technology raises for humans, specifically with the ongoing abortion debate. However, for us BattleTech nerds, this is the first step towards a true Iron Womb.

And that’s all I got for March! Join us next time for more BattleTech news, and hopefully some teasers for Heroes of the Inner Sphere.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

MechWarrior 5 Is On Steam & Catalyst Is Having A Sourcebook Sale

Yeah yeah, I know February’s news technically got out on March 1st. I forgot it was a short month–sue me. Anyhow, to prevent that issue from happening again (not that it would since there are 31 days in March) I’m getting a few quick hits out that y’all should really know about. Especially this Catalyst sale over on DriveThruRPG. So let’s hop to it!

DriveThruRPG Is Having A Huge Sale On BattleTech Stuff

DriveThruRPG BattleTech sale

First off, there’s a big sale going on over at DriveThruRPG. Our good friends over at Renegade HPG tipped us off via Twitter, and you can follow the link above to give him a small commission too. 

Lots of stuff are up to 40% off thanks to DriveThruRPG’s GM’s Day Sale, from now until March 15, although we’re really only concerned with the BattleTech stuff. Here, you’ll find great deals on PDF products, but it looks like the print-on-demand stuff is still full price, so if you desperately need to murder trees to experience the fullness of giant stompy robots, then prepare to pay full price.

Fall From Glory

But the rest of us that don’t mind losing a little sleep due to all that screen time, then you can pick up some BattleTech sourcebooks on the cheap. Both Historial Operation Klondike and The Wars Of Reaving are 40% off, and you can get some of Clan Recognition Guides for a reduced price (but not 40%–that’s for the real sourcebooks). 

In other Catalyst news, I just got the email that Fall From Glory, Randall N. Bill’s first new novel in the Founding of the Clans series, will be available to Clan Invasion Kickstarter backers in the coming days. Everyone else will have to wait two weeks for the novel to go print-on-demand. 

I still need to get caught up on Hour of the Wolf, so Randall might have to wait a bit for me. 

Let’s See Some Grizzly Love

Ghost Bear Grizzly – Concept from battletech

It wouldn’t be a news update without new art. This one comes from Reddit user SU-SMD showcasing their design of the Grizzly. It’s great, and seems to showcase some Rasalhague livery–perhaps following their integration into the Rasalhague Dominion?

It’s a shame you don’t really see these ‘Mechs anywhere these days. A great throwback to Ghost Bear’s Legacy

MechWarrior 5 Has Steam Page Now, So That’s Cool

So remember when PGI said that MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries would release on Steam later this spring simultaneously with an Xbox release? Well, the Steam page for MechWarrior 5 just went live, so that must mean something. Right? 

You can’t actually buy the game yet–only wishlist it. This usually means that there’s a release date coming soon, since why bother making a Steam page if you didn’t actually plan on selling the game in the relatively near future? 

There’s nothing on the Steam page that we didn’t already know from various teasers, dev vlogs, and blog updates that PGI has published in the past. There’s also nothing on the MW5 website to give us an idea when MechWarrior 5 will go live on Steam as so many of us have been waiting for. All we can say with confidence for now is “soon.” 

There is one thing: the MechWarrior Online Twitter account recently published this photo that seems to showcase a new menu screen for MechWarrior 5. So that’s cool. 

Alright, that’s all I got for now. We’ll circle back later to see how this MechWarrior 5 business shakes out.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy