Category Archives: Convention

What’s up with Catalyst? at GenCon 2019

With GenCon 2019 behind us, I can share a few tidbits from the Catalyst Game Labs crew via their What’s up with Catalyst? session.

Present were John Helfers (fiction director), Bryn Bills (Leviathans line developer), Randall N. Bills (managing director), Loren L. Coleman (owner), Brent Evans (BattleTech line developer), and Jason Hardy (Shadowrun line developer).

Catalyst Game Labs crew

Highlights:

Additional booth and product pics:

The session was recorded! Click below to watch on YouTube:

GenCon 2019 What's up with CGL

Mech_Con Roundup Day 2 – Harebrained Show, Catalyst Announcements, And A New MWOWC Champion!

Day 2, electric boogaloo! After PGI had their big huzzah on the first day of Mech_Con 2018, the rest of the BattleTech companies got their chance at glory. We had Harebrained Schemes show off their latest BattleTech expansion: Flashpoint, Catalyst Game Labs revealed some fancy dice and that the new box sets aren’t a year-long fever dream, and the MechWarrior Online World Championships crowned a new champion! 

Harebrained Schemes Has Old Men Fight In Giant Robots

Once again, Harebrained decided to showcase their latest creation by making FASA co-founder Jordan Weisman and Harebrained co-founder Mitch Gitelman duel to the death, but this time, instead of mindlessly jumping on each other for a solid hour, they had Hatchetmen. Er, I mean henchmen.

So that went well.

I sadly did not get to see this hopefully yearly tradition when it was broadcast live on Twitch, but thankfully, PGI kept the whole 12-hour video from last Sunday online. So you can see the entire debacle so long as you’re willing to skip to roughly 6 hours in.

Which I can do for you. You’re welcome.

Watch MechCon Vancouver 2018 from PiranhaGames on www.twitch.tv

Like I said, rather than fight it out themselves, the two grandfathers of BattleTech picked two randos out of the audience to be there “advisors”. And by choose, it was more like Gitelman picked the best BattleTech player in Harebrained’s office, while Weisman got Willian von Wilhelm Helmut, the guy who won the Valhalla Tournament Of Champions. Whatever that is.

But here’s the thing: BattleTech is a game of random numbers. And on top of that, Weisman and Gitelman weren’t all that good at taking instructions. Weisman eventually fired his general, while Gitelman often ignored sound advice in favor of performing yet another DFA maneuver.

This year, the numbers were on Gitelman’s side. While last year he had to serve as Weisman’s bondsman, this year the tables are turned and it will be Weisman who washes Gitelman’s car and brews his lattes. They are from Seattle, after all.

Afterward the fight (and somewhat during), the two hosted a live Q&A session about the future of BattleTech. They revealed that more Unseen ‘Mechs are set to arrive, including the Marauder and Warhammer heavy ‘Mechs, but not to expect them in the next planned expansion which is Urban Warfare.

Catalyst Game Labs Answers Questions, Proves That Box Sets Actually Exist

The boys and girls at Catalyst Game Labs were also at Mech_Con to show everyone going gaga over MechWarrior 5 that there’s a simpler, slower, and lower-tech way of playing BattleTech that involves dice, miniatures, and a lot of reading. No, more reading than that–veritable textbooks of reading. Tomes, if you will.

I kid. I only wish I had the free time to play an actual, sit-down-and-roll-dice game of BattleTech.

But also as with last year, Catalyst answered a bunch of questions from the hardcore BattleTech faithful, chief among them was “where the hell are those brand new box sets you’ve been promising since last year?”

The answer: in the warehouse, and expecting to be at brick and mortar stores by the end of the month. It sounds like it might miss the Christmas rush, but maybe you’ll get it in time for New Years.

Box Sets

In addition to the new box sets, Catalyst Primary Randall N. Bills and BattleTech Line Developer Brent Evans also dropped a few new items on the horizon, such as new map pack called “grasslands” (to arrive sometime in March) as well as a reprint of the BattleTech Manual for BattleTech’s 35th anniversary.

We also got some news about Shattered Fortress, which will become a stepping stone to the hotly anticipated Il-Clan sourcebook. We also got a strong hint that the universe will go back to hammering the Capellan Confederation into space dust in the tradition of the classic BattleTech novels.

As always, new fiction is the top priority for BattleTech fans, which Evans was happy to reveal that there are no less than 30 fiction projects of varying length currently in progress. These will become available via electronic distribution (ie. Amazon) as soon as they’re done, which we’ll report on once we’ve got a title to share.

Oh, and since the whole Unseen business is finally settled, expect to see some new sculpts coming out. We don’t know when, but some redesigned Warhammer and Marauder minis could be here sometime next year.

MechWarrior Online World Finals Crowns New Champions

A new day has dawned in competitive MechWarrior Online. Two-time champions EmpyreaL have finally been dethroned by last year’s runner-ups, Eon Synergy.

Whereas EmpyreaL was the dominant force in competitive MWO for several years, EON Synergy displayed incredible skill and tactics during this year’s tournament that made them completely unstoppable. Despite EmpreaL’s team of veteran players, EON never lost a game, and the look of absolute relief after proving that EmpyreaL is not invincible could be felt even through an LCD screen.

This year’s winning team were awarded medals and a shared first place prize of $34,653. They also got a ton of in-game content, although, with the amount of ‘Mechs these guys probably already have, one wonders just how much value they’ll get with an extra 50 million C-Bills.

And that’s it for this year’s Mech_Con! Join us next year when I’ll hopefully get paid to fly to Vancouver on first-class tickets due to the incredible importance of Sarna’s first-hand reporting! And I’ll be sure to bring my BattleTech TCG cards when I do. I heard there were a bunch of you jokesters playing this year.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Mech_Con 2018 Roundup Day 1 – MW5 Release Date, Trailers, And A New ‘Mech!

MW5 Banner

Another year, another Mech_Con has come and gone. Sadly, yours truly was unable to attend this year’s convention due to financial constraints (and because I couldn’t find a couch to sleep on in Vancouver), but that doesn’t mean we won’t talk about all the latest and greatest announcements that came out of the biggest BattleTech-only convention of the year.

This year’s convention was a 2-day affair, which means instead of trying to jam 24-hours of BattleTech awesomeness into a single 12-hour period (which went well into the wee hours of the morning if I recall correctly), the organizers have spread the announcements over both Saturday and Sunday. As the first day is all about MechWarrior Online and MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries, we’ll be talking about those first.

MechWarrior 5 Release Date Announced

Last summer, MechWarrior 5’s December 2018 release date was pushed back to be sometime in 2019. Now, we have a specific date in 2019 when we can expect to see the first single-player MechWarrior experience in nearly two decades.

MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries drops on September 10th, 2019.

Along with the announcement at this year’s Mech_Con, developers Piranha Games dropped a brand new trailer to give everyone a taste of how it will feel to be a mercenary commander.

The trailer very much reminds me of Mechwarrior 2: Mercenaries, and I suspect that’s very much by design. First, you see your female commander ride her Victor into battle against a Hunchback and a King Crab. Being out-gunned nearly two to one obviously doesn’t go well for the Victor, who blows up before even being properly introduced.

Next it switches to the player, who starts off in a Cicada. This again reminds me of MechWarrior 2: Mercs as my first ride after performing the Commando-required training missions was always the Cicada.

Of course, I was very young at the time and didn’t understand that the Cicada was a terrible ‘Mech. It went fast, had a few lasers, and weighed more than anything else on the field, and that was good enough for me.

After the Cicada, the player seems to upgrade to the Griffin GRF-1S, then follows that up with a Dragon, a Thunderbolt, and finally a Stalker. The clear implication is you build up your mercenary company from battlefield salvage as you go along, much like the old MechWarrior: Mercenaries games did.

Some of the big takeaways here are the sound effects, which seem vastly improved over last year’s trailer, as well as the graphics and environmental effects, which are also improved.

Of course, this is just a trailer and not necessarily indicative of gameplay. That’s why we also have a 20-minute gameplay demo that also shows how far MechWarrior 5 has come since last year.

This gameplay demo comes courtesy of Giuseppe over at Twinfinite, who was lucky enough to sit in one of the 4 “pods” that PGI set up for Mech_Con. Each pod had a full Thrustmaster joystick setup and was tied together to test MechWarrior 5’s co-op capability, which is sure to be a game-changer for the series.

The demo starts off which each pilot walking along a dropship gantry to pick which ‘Mech they’ll pilot. Giuseppe hops aboard a Thunderbolt, which is a fantastic choice if I do say so myself. I’ve gotta say, the dropship’s Mechbay is a very impressive addition to the MechWarrior franchise and really gives you a sense of scale for the ‘Mechs you’ll be piloting.

As soon as the game starts, you can see a drastic improvement in graphics from last year’s game. Last year, things looked very drab, dull, and plain. This year, the colors seem more vibrant and there’s a much greater emphasis on textures and greenery to make the terrain come alive.

Admittedly, it does seem that framerate issues remain, so optimization will be a big deal. But PGI has 10 months to figure that out, which should be plenty of time. If last year’s game was a playable alpha build, this year seems much closer to a playable beta build.

Of particular note was the voice acting, which seems to take a page out of BattleTech’s book and casts some memorable voice actors to belt out some lines when beginning a mission.

The music seems adequate if not particularly outstanding, but that’s also subject to change in a year, and I’m sure you can always replace the tunes with MechWarrior 2 covers if you prefer.

Along with the 20-minute demo, we also got a sweet piece of box art for the game. Although it seems highly unlikely anyone will actually buy this game in stores, you still gotta have something to put on a web page to advertise your game, and once again, the talented Alex Iglesias hits it out of the park with this terrifying image of a rampaging King Crab.

Since when did the King Crab become the poster child of the MechWarrior franchise? It seems all the marketing material is going King Crab over Atlas these days.

MechWarrior Online Reveals Brand New ‘Mech – The Corsair

Just like last year’s introduction of the Sun Spider, PGI is bringing yet another brand new ‘Mech to the world of BattleTech.

Corsair

It’s called the Corsair, and Catalyst Game Labs’ Randall Bills has once again given the new ‘Mech his blessing with another fantastic short story describing its origin. I highly recommend going over to the MechWarrior Online website to give the Corsair a quick read-through, or you can get the Cole’s Notes version on our very own Wiki here.

The Corsair is described as a classic “FrankenMech” made from the bits and pieces that periphery bandits and pirate groups can salvage from whatever is available. According to the ‘Mechs description on the PGI website, all of these pirate FrankenMechs are cobbled together from various heavy and assault ‘Mechs and given the blanket designation of “Corsair.” This would mean that Corsairs don’t have any particular weight or loadout and can be made of pretty much anything.

And the Corsair’s visuals certainly confirm its hodge-podge nature. Its chest looks like the blade of a bulldozer, its right shoulder seems to come from a Thunderbolt, while the legs are only vague symmetrical without having any symmetry to their armor plating. Your guess is as good as mine as to where those arms came from.

However, when the Corsair is introduced to MechWarrior Online later in March, it’ll come with a set of standard loadouts and designations much like every other Inner Sphere ‘Mech. This sort of belies the Corsair’s FrankenMech nature by making every version come with the same tonnage (95-tons) and one of 5 weapon loadouts, but it’s likely that a variable weight ‘Mech would require a drastic overhaul of MechWarrior Online’s base code.

With MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries only 10 months away, there’s no way PGI would pour that kind of manpower just to make one ‘Mech a little more flavorful. If we’re lucky, we’ll see some true Corsair-style ‘Mechs in MW5.

The COR-5R sort of looks like if an Orion had sex with a Thunderbolt and then ran headlong into a bulldozer. An AC/10, LRM-15, SRM-6, 3 Medium Lasers, and one Large Laser is surprisingly competent for a pre-Clans era Inner Sphere ‘Mech. It looks like there are enough hardpoints to allow for quite some variation too.

As with any MechWarrior Online ‘Mech, the Corsair’s true performance will all come down to its quirks, but we won’t know about those until closer to the ‘Mech’s ship date on March 19th.

MechWarrior Online Announces Huge Holiday Bonus

via MWO

Last year, if you played MechWarrior Online on December 27th, you got two free hero ‘Mechs (the Sun Spider and the Roughneck) along with a ton of in-game cash and free loot. This year, they’re doing the same thing by giving away the hero variant Corsair as well as the upcoming Warhammer IIC.

A lot of people have fond memories of the Warhammer IIC as the best damned 80-ton assault ‘Mech you could use in MechWarrior 2. Those same gamers are hoping it will be the best damned 80-ton assault ‘Mech in MechWarrior Online. You’ll be able to find out for sure on December 27th if you play just a single game. You don’t even have to win–you just have to play.

Along with the ‘Mechs, you get 6,000,000 C-Bills in spending money (which should be enough to customize one of the two ‘Mechs), 1,250 MC (which is game equivalent of real-world money), and 7-days of Premium Time to encourage you to play a little longer than one game.


And that’ll do for today! Join us next time as we cover the MechWarrior Online World Championship Finals, announcements from Harebrained Schemes and Catalyst Game Labs, and maybe even peek at a few of the posted photos over on Twitter.

And as always MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

 

What’s up with Catalyst? at GenCon 2018

GenCon 2018 is almost a wrap, and Catalyst Game Labs had a What’s up with Catalyst? session where the-powers-that-be shared insights into the BattleTech product line and the future of CGL.  Present were Loren L. Coleman (owner), Randall N. Bills (managing director), Brent Evans (BattleTech line developer), John Helfers (fiction director) and others.

GenCon panel

The group covered a lot of topics, and here are the highlights!

  • BattleTech: Legacy, an anthology, is now back in print and was supposed to be at the GenCon booth, but was not available in time.  It should be available in the next 30 days or so.
    BattleTech: Legacy cover
  • BattleTech: A Splinter of Hope/The Anvil (a novella omnibus) by Philip A. Lee and Blaine Lee Pardoe was available but sold out in short order.
  • The Nellus Academy Incident, a young-adult BattleTech novel by Jennifer Brozek is also available (on Amazon).
    Nellus Academy
  • Audiobooks are being released for BattleTech fiction!  First up is Embers of War, narrated by Tren Sparks.  Catalyst is working towards releasing more BattleTech and Shadowrun audiobooks, and will be alternating releases between the universes. Today you can purchase the Embers of War audiobook on Amazon.
  • Reprints of BattleTech: Total Warfare are in, and were available GenCon, with the nice retro 1987 BattleTech Manual cover:
    Total Warfare cover
  • Reprints of the other BattleTech core rulebook are on the way, including TechManual, Tactical Operations, Strategic Operations, and A Time of War.
  • The new boxed sets were available for purchase!  BattleTech Beginner Boxed Set and BattleTech: A Game of Armored Combat both sold out by noon on Thursday.  They should be available in stores around October:
    BattleTech: A Game of Armored Combat
  • Shattered Fortress was released at GenCon, and is essentially part 1 of 2 of the IlClan storyline.  We can hope for part 2 at next year’s GenCon:
    Shattered Fortress To Debut At GenCon
  • New Map Packs are coming soon, and were available for preview at the GenCon booth.  Six all-new maps, “designed to be easier to use and clearer to understand than ever before“.
  • There were some cool 12-inch tall 3D-printed mechs in the booth that were being played on a 10×10′ scaled-up map:
    Booth 1
    Booth 2
  • This menacing, torso twisting (remote-controlled) ‘Mech greeted you at the booth:
    Booth 3
  • Some fun energy-drinks were also available for purchase (Loren claims they taste just fine…):
    Energy Drinks
  • Between now and next year, we can expect a lot of new novels (e.g. Forever Faithful by Mr. Pardoe), and more.  Check out the Upcoming Releases page for more details.
  • Loren made no additional comment on the Harmony Gold Lawsuit, and redirected everyone to read the public statement (though he said he is pretty happy with how it turned out).
  • Catalyst has been diversifying into board games (and has some neat little gems like The Duke).  Dragonfire has also been very successful, and they’re hoping they can continue the trend.  They’re working on a few new ideas!
  • Next year will be BattleTech’s 35th anniversary!  There might just be a few special things to celebrate it.
  • Catalyst will also be at PAX West, PAX Unplugged and Mech_Con later this year.

Additional booth pics:

Booth 4 Booth 5 Booth 6

Shattered Fortress To Debut At GenCon

Shattered Fortress To Debut At GenCon

courtesy of Catalyst Games

Shattered Fortress is almost here! The new sourcebook detailing the end of the Dark Age era of BattleTech is set to debut at GenCon, with the .pdf files to become available the first week of August. 

We first heard about Shattered Fortress last February when we interviewed Brent Evans, the lead developer for BattleTech. He said that the previously developed ilClan sourcebook had generated so much content that the Powers-That-Be over at Catalyst decided to break it into two books, with Shattered Fortress being the lead-in to the fireworks display that will be ilClan.

As for what we can expect from this new book, a posting over at the BattleTech forums gave us a lovely little preview straight from the back cover:

Shattered Fortress To Debut At GenCon

“In 3146, the Republic of the Sphere hangs by a tenuous thread. The last fragments of Devlin Stone’s dream to shepherd humankind toward a more prosperous future hide behind the impenetrable defenses of Fortress Republic. As the interstellar communications blackout rages, the ambitious Great Houses vie for military dominance, and the bloodthirsty Clans strive to find a weakness in the Fortress’s armor on their path to conquering Terra and claiming the coveted title of ilClan. When the Wall comes down, will the Inner Sphere plunge even further into the abyss of interstellar war, or will this herald the dawning of a new age?

“Shattered Fortress chronicles the twilight of BattleTech’s Dark Age, as nations are thrown into turmoil and predators circle the broken remnants of the Republic of the Sphere. This volume provides a year-by-year look at pivotal turning points in the history of the Inner Sphere, offers a peek behind the curtain of Fortress Republic, and reveals the fateful decisions that will ultimately decide the future of humanity.”

This is, of course, good news for anyone who didn’t like the Dark Ages of BattleTech, which according to my research, was most people. The whole “everyone is back to using AgroMechs thanks to the general degradation of technology” was just really… well, dark. That, and it’s hard to get excited about people going to war with pitchforks and hand grenades.

We can only speculate on what will happen in each of those years mentioned, but hopefully something happens to the HPG Blackout. Whether that’s a slow rebuilding of the network or some other technology taking its place, we’ll have to wait and see. We’ll certainly get some high-level highlights of what’s to happen with the Clans, and maybe even get a few tales from the Great Houses that don’t involve just giving up planets to the Republic.

GenCon begins this Thursday, so fingers crossed those .pdf files will be available on the same day.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

MechWarrior Online World Championship Tournament Announced With Stock ‘Mech Restriction

courtesy of mechwarrior.com

courtesy of mechwarrior.com

The MechWarrior Online World Championship tournament has just been announced with a surprise twist.

Stock ‘Mechs. That’s right: rather than taking out the highly customized, tuned, and optimal loadouts that all these pro-MechWarriors are used to, they’ll be confined to using the as-stock weapons, ammo, and armor that you can find on any of the old TRO’s.

PGI announced their latest iteration of the MechWarrior Online World Championship tournament on Twitter, with CEO Russ Bullock writing that the team “wanted to do something different” when it came to this year’s competition. That difference evidently being to lock everyone into using the configuration that most ‘Mechs came in as they were originally purchased.

I say “most” since that’s not the only restriction. The tournament has been limited to Inner Sphere-only technology circa 3039, with PGI providing a list of eligible ‘Mechs and variants on their MWOWC rules page.

courtesy of mechwarrior.com

courtesy of mechwarrior.com

Teams are comprised of 8 players, just as last year, with no team being able to field more than three ‘Mechs in any given weight class. Also, no duplicate chassis are allowed, so if someone takes a Wolfhound then nobody else on that team will be able to. Quirks, skill points, and consumables will all be as normal.

The stock-class restriction was quick to draw both criticism and praise from the MechWarrior Online community. Many professional players lamented the fact that stock-class ‘Mechs are perhaps even less balanced than the current metagame present at the highest levels of competitive play. Most competitive builds are mission-focused to bring down opposing ‘Mechs, but stock builds are made for the larger BattleTech lore, which often pits ‘Mechs against other opponents such as infantry, tanks, and AeroSpace Fighters. Those sub-optimal chassis are likely to be overlooked entirely as competitive teams scramble to find the best anti-’Mech chassis available.

However, stock-class tournaments aren’t entirely new to MechWarrior Online, with many beer-league teams playing in such casual tournaments throughout the year. Those MechWarriors may be encouraged to give the competitive scene a try with these new rules and restrictions.

But while the unrestricted MWO strives for balance among all ‘Mechs (with varying levels of success), stock ‘Mechs were never designed to be equal. There will be clear winners and losers in the list that PGI has provided. For example, I think it highly unlikely that the stock Locust will see any amount of play. The stock version has virtually no armor, and without the benefit of 3050s-era weight-saving technology to give it a larger engine, it runs too slow to dodge any shots.

There’s also some clear winners on the list. The Wolfhound was already a favorite among pro-players, and the stock loadout of four Medium Lasers and one Large Laser is essentially a viable laser-vomit build even unmodified. It will certainly be much slower than we’re used to seeing on the competitive stage, and it will run vastly hotter thanks to single heat sinks, but as a light ‘Mech, it seems like the best of the bunch.

Other laser-vomit builds, such as the Crab, the Grasshopper, and Black Knight are also likely to be popular as they’ll allow for pinpoint damage without needing to worry about ammunition. Another possible ‘Mech to watch out for is the Archer. Without AMS or ECM to provide protection, LRM-boats such as the Archer could spell a quick death for any light ‘Mechs caught out of position, especially since those light ‘Mechs will be moving far slower due to a lack of XL engines.

As for assault ‘Mechs, the King Crab is likely to be popular, but with only two tons of ammunition split between either torso, each powerful AC/20 will only have 7 shots to connect with. Professional players are good, but even the pros might not be able to make 7 shots work in the long run.

courtesy of mechwarrior.com

courtesy of mechwarrior.com

As for why PGI decided to go with stock ‘Mechs, it seems likely to do with the upcoming release of their latest game, MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries. Much like Harebrained’s BattleTech, MW5 is set to take place before the Clan Invasion around the year 3025. By showing off competitive players in ‘Mechs that will likely be found in MW5, PGI turns the tournament into a publicity stunt for their game’s release.

The tournament begins on June 21st, which gives competitive teams a few weeks to look over the approved ‘Mechs and see what might work in an 8v8 competition.

This will surely be a MechWarrior Online World Championship unlike any other. We’re certain to see some new faces and maybe even some new strategies thanks to this restriction.

Or it might turn out to be a boring fight between Wolfhounds, Grasshoppers, and Crabs. We won’t know for sure until later in June.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Watch the MechWarrior Online World Championship Finals

courtesy of mechwarrior.com

Good evening, ‘Mech fans! This is not Duncan Fisher, but now that I’ve mentioned his name you’re imagining the rest of this article in his voice, which was my plan all along.

The greatest competition in MechWarrior Online history concluded at Mech_Con 2017. This year’s World Championship finals was a fantastic display of skill from the best MechWarriors the world has to offer. Everyone was playing at the top of their game, and there were some real nail-biters that kept the crowd on the edge of their seats.

While the preliminary rounds were all posted on the Piranha Games Twitch channel, this year’s finals have been posted to YouTube for everyone to enjoy. Also unlike the preliminaries, things were a bit different for the finals. The top three teams played a double-elimination tournament, meaning once a team loses twice they’re out of the running.

Each of the top three teams came to play in the grand finals, and absolutely no punches were pulled.

So without further adieu, here are your MechWarrior Online World Championship Finals!

Continue reading

The BattleTech Match Of The Century: Mitch Gitelman vs. Jordan Weisman

The BattleTech Match Of The Century: Mitch Gitelman vs. Jordan Weisman

If you missed Mech_Con, then you missed one of the greatest duels of all time. Mitch Gitelman, co-founder of Harebrained Schemes, and Jordan Weisman, the other co-founder of Harebrained but also of FASA and all things BattleTech, fought to the death in their highly anticipated turn-based strategy game, BattleTech.

The stakes had never been higher for these two giants of industry. At Weisman’s suggestion, the pair agreed that whoever won the duel would take their opponent as his bondsman for a period of one week.

“Will you kneel to me, Weisman?” Gitelman asked.

“No, but you’ll kneel to me!”

“Bring it, old man.”

And thus, the battle was joined.

Continue reading

Meet BattleTech’s Newest ‘Mech: The Sun Spider

 

Meet BattleTech's Newest 'Mech: The Sun Spider

Mech_Con brought a lot of fantastic new developments to BattleTech, but one of the most interesting ones was the introduction of a brand new ‘Mech born of a collaboration between Piranha Games (the makers of MechWarrior Online) and Catalyst Game Labs.

Called the Sun Spider, it’s a 70-ton OmniMech from Goliath Scorpion, a Clan we really haven’t heard from much recently until the release of The Wars of Reaving sourcebook. In it, we find out the ultimate fate of Goliath Scorpion, how they were abjured from Clan space and ultimately founded their own nation in the deep periphery.

But the Sun Spider comes before all of that, having been first conceived shortly after Clan Coyote introduced the OmniMech. It was shelved after the initial prototype proved to be too unwieldy, and only saw limited production during Operation REVIVAL.

Sun Spider

courtesy of Piranha Games

The primary configuration of the Sun Spider comes equipped with an Ultra AC/10, one ER Large Laser, and a whopping four Streak SRM-6, making it extremely deadly to anything that gets within close range. The chassis itself runs at a standard 81 kph (which I’m sure will get bumped up to 86.4 kph if it ever gets to the tabletop), and 14 double heat sinks keep the ‘Mech cool unless the pilot decides to start alpha-striking like there’s no tomorrow.

The Sun Spider‘s Quirky Birth

I spoke with PGI’s senior game designer David Bradley while at Mech_Con where he gave me the Sun Spider’s amusing origin story. Since the release of the Roughneck, PGI had been thinking of other ‘Mechs they could bring to MechWarrior Online that was developed completely in-house.

He described the original sketches for the new design as a “TIE fighter with legs”, something that would surely land PGI in BattleTech’s second legal spat with the Star Wars franchise. The design was refined after handing it over to the renowned Alex Iglesias, who both brought the ‘Mech to life and imparted his distinctive style to save PGI from a lawsuit.

Sun Spider

The next step was choosing a name. Originally the ‘Mech was to be called the “Manul” after a species of Asian wildcat. It was then changed to Sun Spider to better fit the lore of the ‘Mech, while Manul was kept as the name for the Hero variant.

Speakin’ of lore, PGI decided to take a different approach when creating the Sun Spider. Their initial in-house ‘Mech, the Roughneck, was a good first effort but just didn’t quite have the same feel as other machines in BattleTech. Let’s be honest, nobody wants to pilot a converted Industrial ‘Mech, which is why Dark Age wasn’t a very popular era in BattleTech history. To get that feeling of authenticity, PGI decided to team up with Catalyst Game Labs to see where they could insert the Sun Spider into BattleTech lore, and also get Randall N. Bills to write it all up.

Sun Spider

The final product feels just like an entry from a long forgotten Technical Readout, and has just the right tone and setting to feel like a natural part of the BattleTech continuity and not a fan-made ‘Mech roughly inserted into the universe. By using a little-heard-from Clan, PGI is able to attach that sought-after authenticity without needing to break any new ground.

You can read up on Star Colonel Tabok’s experience in Manul on the MechWarrior Online website.  

The Sun Spider is an interesting and unique addition to BattleTech, and one that helps flesh out the universe. I could see this design, and how it was created, touching off a larger debate on what is considered official canon in BattleTech, especially if it takes CGL some time to include this chassis in a new and official TRO.

What do you think of the new ‘Mech? Is the Sun Spider a fine new addition to BattleTech lore, or an unappreciated interloper on BattleTech’s hallowed ground? Let us know in the comments!

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

PGI Releases New MechWarrior 5 Teaser, Updates on MechWarrior Online

PGI Releases New MechWarrior 5 Teaser, Updates on MechWarrior Online

Piranha Games had a rollicking time last Saturday, culminating with a slew of announcements at last Saturday’s Mech_Con.

For the MechWarrior Online fans in the audience (of which there were many) PGI previewed a brand new map and game mode all based on everyone’s favorite game world: Solaris VII.

Welcome To The Solaris Games

Solaris

courtesy of Piranha Games

MechWarrior Online is typically played as a 12v12 slugfest, where companies of ‘Mechs all rush in to make mincemeat of each other. In the World Championships, those battles are reduced to 8v8, making each team a pair of lances. In the new Solaris game mode, those battles are reduced even further to be 1v1 duels or 2v2 tag team fights.

Rather than have competitive classes divided into the standard light, medium, heavy, assault, and open class, MWO will divide things up into divisions numbered 1-7. Each division is demarcated by specific ‘Mech performance rather than weight to account for the fact that some ‘Mechs are simply better than others. This means that some lighter machines might find themselves grouped with heavier chassis – and vice versa – in a very similar way to how MechWarrior Arena handles there balance issues in their unofficial Solaris-style tournaments.

Solaris Divisions

courtesy of Piranha Games

Just like the Solaris Games, each MechWarrior will have their stats tracked and be placed on a leaderboard for their division based on their performance. And just like on Solaris, performance matters. You make money via patrons (similar to joining a stable) and the better you perform the greater your access will be to higher paying patrons. There’s also a “sponsor” system where you can be sponsored by companies like Defiance Industries and Vining Engineering (VEST) to give you a percentage bonus on your take-home pay.

Sponsors

courtesy of Piranha Games

It looks like they really tried to capture the feel of Solaris by also finally adding cosmetic additions to ‘Mechs. These cosmetics will be given randomly by patrons and sponsors (although, given the latest rulings against loot boxes in Europe we’ll have to see how that’s implemented), and they also don’t confer any real benefit. Strapping a giant ax to your Kodiak will not make it into a Berserker.

Leaderboards will track for a season which lasts three months before a champion is crowned and the whole thing resets for the next season. One can likely expect to see some special events happen here as well, such as a Grand Tournament of champions.

Kodiak With Axe

courtesy of Piranha Games

Solaris will release with three maps: The Jungle, The Colosseum, and Boreal Reach, with The Factory and Ishiyama hopefully making an appearance later.

Best of all, Solaris brings back everyone’s favorite announces from MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries Duncan Fisher. He’ll be joined by Lars Olafson, an actual canon announcer from the Solaris Broadcasting Corporation, to be Fisher’s co-commentator.

In what appears to be typical Russ Bullock fashion, he gave a tentative release date of “spring-ish” at Mech_Con. You can check out the teaser video below.

Along with the Solaris game mode came a new map for the standard MechWarrior Online 12v12 games called Solaris City. This map imagines a raging battle happening in the actual Solaris City, with ‘Mechs battling it out around iconic Solaris monuments in a neon-filled cityscape. It looks like there will be a few destructible objects too, which is relatively new for MWO, and likely inspired by their work on the upcoming MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries.  

You Get A ‘Mech, And You Get A ‘Mech

The biggest news for MechWarrior Online fans had to be when Russ announced the largest giveaway in MWO history. For anyone that logs in to play one game on December 27th, they’ll receive 25 Stocking Stuffer clicks, 3 million c-bills, 3 days of premium time, 1250 mc (which is the game’s equivalent of about $10), and two free Hero ‘Mechs: the Roughneck and the Sun Spider.

Holiday Bonus

courtesy of Piranha Games

One of the biggest complaints surrounding MechWarrior Online is the heavy burden it places on new players, almost forcing them to spend real cash to make any progress. This giveaway is a fantastic way for new players to get into MechWarrior Online because it gives them a ton of resources absolutely free. If you ever considered playing MWO, download the client and log in to play one game on December 27th to get a ton of free stuff.

MechWarrior 5 Release Date Announced

Of course, the biggest news of the night is always surrounding the hotly anticipated MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries. Bullock played a brand new trailer for the game at Mech_Con, and MechWarriors old enough to remember will find some distinct similarities between the opening moments of the trailer and the opening moments of MechWarrior 2: Mercenaries. Check it out:

It really seems that PGI is trying to take the best from the two previous Mercenaries games and make a definitive single-player MechWarrior experience. I managed to get my hands on a playable alpha build later in the evening to see what all the fuss was about, and I can confidently say the game has captured the best from MechWarrior Online and MechWarrior 4, and we’ll have to wait and see if it grabs the same kind of mercenary commander feel one got in MechWarrior 2.

Russ also announced a release date of December 2018. That gives them plenty of time to polish the game and work out the bugs, which they’ll need. Even with the beefiest hardware NVidia could provide, my time with MechWarrior 5 was marred by a truly abysmal frame rate. But keep in mind that I was the last person to play the build after a full day of gameplay on an Alpha version of the game. Likely there’s just a memory leak somewhere that needs to get plugged.

MW5

courtesy of Piranha Games

The extra year will also give PGI plenty of time to make good on their two big promises of the convention: full mod support and 4 player co-op. These are modern features never-before-seen in a MechWarrior game, and I cannot imagine the fun I would’ve had if only MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries had been a co-op experience. Details are scant, but Russ mentioned it would be like replacing one of your AI teammates with an actual human being – a godsend for any MechWarrior fan.

With 2018 fast approaching, it’s shaping up to be a fantastic year for all things MechWarrior. We’ll be sure to keep you in the know with every new announcement.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy