Category Archives: News

Clan Invasion Approaches $2 Million Stretch Goal, Teases UrbanMech Plushie

 

UrbanMech

So the Clan Invasion is barreling towards the $2 million milestone with about $50,000 to go as of the time of this writing (it will almost certainly be higher by the time this gets published, and hopefully be over the $2 million threshold). 

I think it’s safe to safe to say that this Kickstarter has been far more successful than anyone could have hoped. But in the waning hours of this crowdsourcing project, I come to you with a final desperate plea: we have to get over the $2 million mark.

Why? Two words: Plush. UrbanMechs.

In the utterly insane pace that this Kickstarter has been climbing, Catalyst has been adding more and more stretch goals. When it passed $1,500,000, backers unlocked the coveted Double Forces Rapid Redeployment, which allowed them to select what Star/Lance/Level II pack they’d prefer to receive rather than merely doubling whatever Star/Lance/Level II was unlocked at their backer level.

Then at $1,875,000, backers unlocked the “Beard-Off Rematch” which will see bearded Catalyst and Harebrained Schemes team members compete in a live-streamed tabletop game of BattleTech where the losers will ceremoniously remove their beards.

But the $2,000,000 mark is the true prize. The creme de la creme, the piece de resistance, the other-French-words-that-have-great-meaning-but-I-forget, is the UrbanMech plush toy.

I want it. I wasn’t going to back this Kickstarter. Even though I love BattleTech and certainly love the new designs that Catalyst has put out, I don’t really do much tabletop gaming. Worse, I don’t really have a whole lot of shelf space to display miniatures on, as pretty as they may be. 

But I don’t care. I will make space for an UrbanMech plush toy. I will store everything else in a box if I can cuddle an UrbanMech to sleep at night. I WILL REMOVE EVERY ANCILLARY PIECE OF TECHNOLOGY CONNECTED TO MY COMPUTER IN ORDER TO MAKE SPACE ON MY DESK IN ORDER TO BASK IN THE GLORY OF A PLUSH URBANMECH.

I have backed the Clan Invasion Kickstarter at the $75 USD level (which works out to something like $15,000 Canadian) in order to make this dream come true. I implore you all to do the same. If you have donated, up your donation. Convince your friends to donate, even if they’re not BattleTech fans. We have just two days left. Together, we can make the plush UrbanMech a reality.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

MechWarrior 5 Confirmed As Epic Games Store Exclusive

Enforcer

Courtesy of PGI

So. MechWarrior 5 is going to be an Epic Games Store exclusive title after all. It’s also been slightly delayed, now releasing on December 10th instead of September 10th as previously hoped.

I can’t say I’m all that surprised. The writing was on the wall, which you can read all about in Sarna’s previous coverage on the matter. Suffice to say, what was once mere rumor has now become reality, with PGI making the official announcement on the MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries website on July 25th.

What does being an Epic Games Store exclusive mean? Well, it means that MechWarrior 5 will be available only to those willing to download the Epic Games Store launcher. It will remain there as an exclusive title for one year, and then hopefully release on Steam, GOG, and other game stores on December 10th, 2020.

As for the delay, that’s covered in the updated FAQ page on the MechWarrior 5 website. The extra few months will give PGI more time to complete localization for a few different languages and also provide time for some additional marketing before release—both of which are Very Good Things™.

An AMA held on July 25th with PGI President Russ Bullock also mentioned not wanting to compete with the release of Borderlands 3, which is set to release September 13th on the Epic Games Store. No surprise there–Borderlands is expected to be a pretty big deal. 

“Our partnership with Epic Games store allows us the opportunity to make sure MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries meets our internal goal of creating the best MechWarrior game possible,” PGI wrote on their FAQ page. And while few would have been upset with a 3-month delay in MechWarrior 5’s release, there are quite a few more MechWarriors absolutely livid at the fact that MechWarrior 5 will now be releasing on the EGS after promising since the game was first announced that it would release on Steam.

And it’s resulted in many pre-order holders demanding a refund. To PGI’s credit, they’re offering a no-hassle, no-questions-asked refund to anyone who wants one, even if those pre-order buyers already used their community bonuses that were tied to MechWarrior Online. PGI also pointed out in their development update that those Community Pre-Order bonuses represent $100, $180, or $300-worth of MechWarrior Online goodies (depending on the level you pre-ordered MechWarrior 5) which they are now giving away essentially for free.

That said, many view the sudden swap to Epic as a betrayal even with the refund policy. There are also some open questions on just when PGI decided to sign a deal with Epic. MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries was still selling pre-orders up until May, and Bullock was even fielding concerns of Epic exclusivity in AMAs as late as April 10th, saying that the game would release on Steam and GOG as planned and they had no intent to release on Epic.

Catapult

In the July 25th AMA, Bullock stated there may have even been “a couple of days crossover” between when PGI signed their Epic exclusive deal but were still selling community pre-orders promising a Steam release.

PGi didn’t exactly have the greatest reputation to begin with, but this bait-and-switch with Epic has truly pissed-off a lot of folks. The various MechWarrior and BattleTech-related subreddits are abuzz with people expressing their outrage and that they will make full use of PGI’s offer of a full refund. 

I don’t have numbers, but we know from the previous MW5 AMA that the game received roughly 20,000 pre-orders. You gotta think that a significant quantity of those pre-orders has been refunded by now.

To get your refund, email support@mw5mercs.com. All refund requests have to be in by Septembers 1st, and please give PGI 10 business days to process your refund. They’re probably dealing with a lot of angry people, so patience will be a virtue.

Battlemaster

What will this mean for MechWarrior 5 and the future of the MechWarrior franchise? It’s hard to say. Whatever deal they’ve signed with Epic has almost certainly secured PGI’s financials for the time being, and Bullock said in the July 25th AMA that Epic provided enough data to convince him that MechWarrior 5 will still sell as well—if not better—on the Epic Games Store than on Steam.

Maybe that’s true. Maybe Epic’s smaller, more carefully curated game store will give MechWarrior 5 the sort of visibility that would have been impossible on Steam. Maybe this will result in that injection of fresh fans that an old franchise like MechWarrior desperately needs. There are certainly more than a few people that think MW5 going Epic is the right call.

It’s just a shame it had to come at the expense of so many old-school MechWarrior fans who are now angrily demanding refunds. 

And as always MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Clan Invasion Boxed Set Funded In 7 Freakin’ Minutes, Catalyst Frantically Throwing Up Stretch Goals

Grendel

Catalyst’s Clan Invasion Kickstarter was fully funded in 7 freakin’ minutes. That’s pretty amazing. Then they hit all their stretch goals in just 20 minutes, resulting in Catalyst’s top brass frantically trying to create stretch goals to keep the momentum going. That momentum seems to show no sign of slowing down, even after having reached their stretch goal of $1 million on July 24th.

Currently, the Clan Invasion Kickstarter is sitting at $1.134 million as of the time of this writing, but that number is climbing so fast that I’m certain it will be out of date by the time this story gets printed.

The benefit of all this incredible support is an ever-expanding list of new ‘Mechs being added to other both Clan and Inner Sphere ‘Mech packs. You’ll have to go to the Kickstarter for the full listing, but a few standouts include a new Clan Fire Star pack with a Kit Fox, Cougar, Fire Moth, Nova Cat, and Warhawk. These, like every ‘Mech to be released here, are all brand new sculpts with Catalyst teasing their updated designs on both the Kickstarter page as well as their Twitter account. 

There’s also an Inner Sphere Direct Fire lance which includes an Atlas, Marauder II, Orion, and Crusader. Just before hitting the $1 million mark, a few unlocked stretch goals brought a pair of ComStar Level IIs, the first of which brings a King Crab, Highlander, Black Knight, Exterminator, Hermes, and Mercury, while the second contains a Crockett, Flashman, Guillotine, Lancelot, Crab, and Mongoose

If you didn’t read your favorite ‘Mech in the above paragraphs, don’t fret–it’s probably somewhere in the ever-expanding list of stretch goals. Head to the Kickstarter page to see what else might be in store and maybe make a pledge of your own to grab your ride in miniature form.

With 19 days left to go, the $1.5 million stretch goal seems totally doable, and $2 million isn’t outside the realm of possibility. There’s some really need stuff left to unlock, including a charity event stream of MechWarrior 5 and the potential to choose two different ‘Mech packs instead of just getting one for eligible backers. 

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

(UPDATE: Apparently a lot of these stretch goal ‘Mech packs have already changed. This Kickstarter is a very living project. The latest changes have been summarized on this Reddit thread courtesy of Cataphract40, but they could change even more over the next 2-and-a-half weeks.)

stay syrupy

 

Is MechWarrior 5 About To Go Epic Exclusive?

So MechWarrior 5 might become the next Epic Games Store exclusive title. Maybe.

Before anyone starts shouting, there has been no official confirmation from either Epic or PGI (the makers of MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries and MechWarrior Online). What we have is some troubling changes to the MechWarrior 5 website and PGI President Russ Bullock saying they’re just due to a harmless website update.

First, a shout out to Reddit user Ironshards for making the original post, as well as user Vektorweg for making a comparison between the old MechWarrior 5 FAQ page and the new one

One thing that you’ll immediately notice is that the new MW5 FAQ is much smaller than the old one. You’ll also notice that there is no longer any mention of getting a Steam key from pre-orders that recently wrapped up and that any mention of Steam has in fact been totally removed. The pre-order beta has also been removed.

Getting rid of the pre-order info makes sense since you can’t pre-order MechWarrior 5 any longer (although they might have another pre-order closer to release). But removing all mention of Steam–ostensibly the platform that the game will release on–seems a little strange. Suspicious even.

In case you’re not up on the latest brawl to hit the digital gaming market, Epic Games is the maker of Fortnite (that battle royale game you see the kids playing these days), Unreal Engine 4 (which is the same game engine that MW5 uses–more on that later), and also a brand new digital storefront called the Epic Games Store.

The Epic Games Store works just like every other digital storefront, but with a big incentive for game developers. Rather than the customary 70/30 revenue split, Epic gives studios more of the gaming pie to the tune of 88/12 (that’s 88% revenue to the developer, in case that wasn’t clear). All of this is done under the guise of breaking the virtual monopoly that Steam holds on the PC gaming market.

However, the Epic Games Store doesn’t have anywhere near the same features as Steam, GOG, Discord, or other game stores have. They don’t have cloud save file storage, user reviews, wish lists, news feeds, or bundled prices that reflect already-installed DLC. They also don’t have multi-language support or support for payment in any currency other than US dollars.

To be fair to Epic, they plan to implement all these features within the next 6 months, but when it launched, the Epic Games Store was a barren wasteland compared to Steam. 

So to get people onto their store, Epic has adopted an aggressive strategy of gobbling up PC games as exclusive titles. They also don’t care if that game promised its Kickstarter backers or pre-order buyers a release on Steam. Just look at the debacles of Shenmue III and Metro Exodus for proof if this.

MW5 Screens

Here’s where I’m going to diverge from the facts for a second to insert some personal opinion, which I mention specifically because this is a very heated topic with a lot of misinformation floating around.

It seems clear to me that Epic’s plan is to replace Steam as the de-facto PC gaming platform. Steam makes TONS of money–enough that Valve hasn’t really released a real game in years (Artifact doesn’t count)–and Epic wants that bank all to themselves.

But to get it, Epic is spending a ludicrous amount of cash essentially guaranteeing the developer a reasonable amount of sales. This is based off a tweet from June whereby a Korean games community discussed how SNK was offered “hundreds of thousands” of pre-orders for Samurai Showdown to become an exclusive title.

The only games store looking for exclusive titles is Epic, so put two-and-two together and you get Epic’s gameplan.

Initially, there were some unsavory rumors that Epic was full of spyware and was actually a front for the Chinese government. So far, that’s all turned out to be bunk, but there was an element of truth to it. Epic is 40% owned by Tencent, a huge Chinese entertainment and media company, and I think it’s Tencent that is funding Epic with gobs of cash to throw at any and every game they can turn into an exclusive title all with the intention of eventually becoming the big kahuna of PC gaming. 

Anyway, opinion over, and now back to speculating on MechWarrior 5.

We already knew from last month that PGI was hurting for cash. New ‘Mech Packs being sold in MechWarrior Online had stopped being profitable, and Bullock basically admitted that the studio was going all-in on MechWarrior 5. If the game flopped, then PGI would be in serious trouble financially, to the point where the likeliest outcome would be the cessation of operations.

But if MechWarrior 5 went Epic Games Store exclusive and PGI got a cash infusion from Epic, they wouldn’t have to worry. Epic guarantees their sales to the point where they could at least continue as a business. On top of that, MechWarrior 5 already uses the Unreal 4 engine, making even more sense for an exclusive deal.

If this all turns out to be true, I can’t blame PGI for taking the money. Games development is a risky business and most studios are one bad game from going bankrupt. That said, they promised a Steam release with their pre-order, and judging by the MechWarrior subreddit, people would be mighty upset if MechWarrior 5 were to suddenly become an Epic exclusive.

Twitch Streamer Nuttyrat asked Bullock on Twitter about the changes in MechWarrior 5’s FAQ, with Bullock responding that they’re just the result of the community pre-order being over so there’s no need to have information about it on the site.

But again, it seems odd to remove all mention of Steam at the same time as removing the pre-order info.

Personally, I don’t have nearly as much hate for Epic as a lot of rabid Steam fans do, and if Epic is able to eventually provide the same sort of services that Steam does I’d have no problem with switching sides. However, the use of exclusives to get users is pretty anti-competitive and puts a sour taste on things, especially when those games already promised to release on Steam and other platforms.

We won’t know for sure one way or another until Russ or PGI make an announcement. Which will probably come at the upcoming MechWarrior 5 Developer Update and AMA scheduled for this Friday at 6 PM PST (UPDATE: Looks like the AMA was delayed to next week, according to MW5’s most recent tweet).

And as always MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

 

Clan Invasion Boxed Set Kickstarter Is Live!

courtesy of Catalyst Game Labs

Hey everyone! The Clan Invasion boxed set Kickstarter is live. Looks like it’s already well past its funding goal and Catalyst is busy making up stretch goals like a bunch of madmen. You should head on over there and show your support if you haven’t already.

We’ll have more coverage on this madness after the dust clears a bit. Promise.

Clan Invasion Box Set ‘Mechs Revealed!

You’re gonna love the news here, folks! Catalyst has revealed the ‘Mechs to be included in the upcoming BattleTech: Clan Invasion boxed set Kickstarter, and we’ve got a good spread on our hands.

The news comes from a recent update on the Catalyst website that gave us a sneak peek on what to expect. In addition to the box and rulebook art (which we saw in the earlier Kickstarter announcement), Catalyst has given us the five ‘Mechs to be included in the box set, and a few of them are personal favorites.

Starting with the Nova (or Blackhawk, to you Spheroids in the audience). I’ve loved the Nova since the early days for its pug-nosed and fireplug stance. The lack of torso to twist was never really a big deal, especially when considering the Prime configuration has enough firepower to core an assault ‘Mech in a single blast.

But more than that, the Nova appeals to my love of workhorse line ‘Mechs. The Nova was cheap (at least, cheap in terms of Clan OmniMechs) and fielded by almost every Clan in the Kerensky Cluster. It could fulfill almost any role and was never looked down upon by Clan warriors.

Next we have the Grundel–sorry, I mean the Grendel. This is perhaps my favorite Clan ‘Mech. As with the Nova, it’s a workhorse design fielded by many Clans, but unlike the Nova, it was a late addition to the Clan Invasion of the Inner Sphere.

The Grendel was created by Clan Diamond Shark and sold directly to other Clans looking to refill their touman before the Battle of Tukayyid. It was more common to find in Clan Smoke Jaguar, which had lost more machines in its drive to Terra than competing invading Clans due to their straight-forward and unwavering combat style.

Clan-Invasion-Star-All-Five - via Catalyst

What I love most about the Grendel is that it’s fast, powerful, and incredibly maneuverable. Seven jump jets let it jump over almost any obstacle, while its various loadouts allow it to strike hard at any range. If I had to pick any Clan ‘Mech of the 3050-era as my favorite, it would be the Grendel.

Frankly, it’s a little surprising for the Grendel to be included over something like the Ice Ferret or Viper. The Grendel didn’t take part in the initial invasion and really didn’t show up until Tukayyid. As much as I love the design and think it could beat a Ferret or Viper any day of the week, it seems inappropriate to include in a box set themed for the Clan Invasion.

Then again, there are still more than a few ‘Mechs left unaccounted for, so perhaps the Ice Ferret and Viper will still make an appearance.

Anyway, next up is the Adder, another surprise that I totally forgot about when the Clan Invasion was first announced. Twin ER PPCs make it quite the potent little ‘Mech and it’s definitely tougher than the Kit Fox, which was another common light design.

Next is the Timber Wolf, the quintessential Clan ‘Mech and poster child for Clan tech ever since the original TRO: 3050 dropped. And then there was MechWarrior 2 and MechWarrior 3 which again used the Timber Wolf for their marketing.

I get that it’s a favorite design for a lot of folks out there, but to me, the Timby is just totally overused. Give me the Summoner, the Hellbringer, or even the Linebacker over the Timber Wolf. But I can’t fault Catalyst for giving the fans what they want, and there’s no denying the Timber Wolf is a strong machine.

Clan Invasion

Finally, the Executioner. I’m not a fan of assault ‘Mechs in general, but I respect the Executioner for its speed and jump capacity. It’s out-gunned by many designs of equal weight, but nothing is able to withstand a blow and keep on coming than an Executioner. Perhaps best of all, it can keep up with the rush of smaller, faster designs thanks to its MASC. At least, for a little while anyway.

Catalyst has a full list of what you get with the Clan Invasion boxed set, including the 15-page Clan Primer, all-new 24-page novella, and Alpha Strike cards for the give designs mentioned. We also have a start date for the Kickstarter, which goes live on Wednesday, July 17th at 1 PM EST.

Head on over to the Catalyst site for the full deets. And maybe one of them can ship me the Grendel model before anyone else gets one. I’ve got a brother who would love to get his hands on one of these to paint ‘em up, and maybe do one for me too.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Harmony Gold Resurrects Itself Once More And Regains Rights To Robotech License

Robotech

courtesy of Bounding Into Comics

Just when you think you’ve finally slain the beast, Harmony Gold rears its ugly head once again.

Last Friday, Den of Geek reported that Harmony Gold had renewed its license to the Robotech intellectual property from Tatsunoko. In the tangled weave of BattleTech and Robotech, many of the famous Unseen ‘Mech designs were originally created by Tatsunoko and used in various anime productions, namely Robotech, The Super Dimension Fortress Macross, The Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross, and Genesis Climber Mospeada. In their mad dash to monetize these animes for a Western audience, Tatsunoko licensed off their IP piece-meal to both Harmony Gold and another marketing firm, Big West.

According to the publication, a California court held in 2017 that Tatsunoko and Harmony Gold’s license was valid, but also that it was set to expire on July 5th, 2021. That was a day many in the Robotech community were looking forward to as they blame Harmony Gold for preventing any new content from being produced.

Sadly, there dreams of a future where Robotech could be expanded were dashed when Harmony Gold announced their agreement with Tatsunoko would extend “well into the future”. The full press release is below:

“HOLLYWOOD, CA, July 5 – Harmony Gold USA, Inc. announced today that it has reached an agreement with the Japanese anime studio, Tatsunoko Productions, Co., to extend the worldwide, co-copyright ownership and exclusive management, excluding Japan, for its landmark anime series Robotech (including Macross, Southern Cross and Mospeada). This agreement was achieved after a lengthy negotiation and allows Harmony Gold to continue to exploit the animated Robotech franchise well into the future.”

There are a lot of flower statements from various HG executives over on Den of Geek, so if you care to listen to their horse manure you can head on over there to get it straight from the equine’s mouth.

Robotech

Before we get into what this might mean for the BattleTech community, I think it’s important to note that Robotech fans HATE Harmony Gold even more than we do. All they do is sit on the IP and sue people that come even remotely close to infringing upon it. For this reason, basically no new Robotech material has been produced in decades, and the Twitter replies are filled with angry Robotech fans shouting at Harmony Gold to take a long walk off a short pier–and that’s being generous.

So, what does this mean for us in the BattleTech camp? As a refresher, last summer PGI (the developers of MechWarrior 5 and MechWarrior Online) announced a settlement deal with Harmony Gold that allowed the use of the Unseen designs in pretty much all of BattleTech’s various forms, including Harebrained Scheme’s BattleTech, MWO, MW5, and the tabletop game.

Much of that settlement was predicated on the uncertainty of Harmony Gold’s claims to the various ‘Mech designs. There wasn’t any question that they owned the characters for Robotech, but Tatsunoko licensed off the various ‘Mech designs to Big West in a separate deal. PGI brought this uncertainty of Harmony Gold’s standing to even launch a lawsuit over the Unseen in court, which prompted HG to drop their case and settle.

Just because Harmony Gold now has a firm grasp on the Robotech IP once again doesn’t mean they have possession of the ‘Mechs too, as confusing as that might seem. So this likely means that nothing will really change for BattleTech.

Robotech

However, we don’t know the terms of the settlement with PGI. It’s possible the terms had a time limit and Harmony Gold will start coming after BattleTech’s creators for using Unseen designs in the future. Or it’s possible that the redesigns of the Rifleman, Warhammer, Archer, and others are now far enough removed from the original Robotech versions that a court would rule them different enough not to be infringing.

But as I always say, I’m no lawyer. If any of you legally trained folks want to go dig up this new deal between Harmony Gold and Tatsunoko to see what the specifics of that deal is and get back to me, we’d all be mighty grateful. For now, though, don’t panic.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

State Of Play: How MechWarrior And BattleTech Are Doing Post E3

June is almost over. E3 has come and gone, and with it came basically no news about BattleTech, MechWarrior 5, or anything else ‘Mech-related. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t news to report! And now that I’ve got a minute to get caught up, here’s what’s happening in the world of BattleTech video games.

BattleTech Releases Urban Warfare Expansion And The Raven Was OP AF

Raven v Wolverine

Urban Warfare is out, and with it comes a bunch of new things including Flashpoints, a new biome, and new ‘Mechs. The Javelin arrived with the 10N and 10F variants, which allows you to boat up on SRM-6s or Medium Lasers, depending on your preference. But the ‘Mech that made the biggest splash was easily the RVN-1X Raven.

Why? ECM was busted, my friends. With a Raven in your lance, every ‘Mech is effectively cloaked until they move or fire. While this seemed like it would only be useful for guarding assault ‘Mechs that move last in the turn order, if you simply reserved your movement until the enemy had gone, it actually just made your lance completely untargetable unless your opponent was already inside the ECM bubble or they used Sensor Lock.

Also, there was a bug in the game that prevented the enemy AI from using Sensor Lock or just charging the Raven as soon as it appeared. This had been noted by many in the BattleTech community as a completely busted mechanic that needed fixing. 

Here’s my man Baradul with a pretty good example of what I mean.

See how the enemy AI was basically helpless against the Raven‘s ECM? That bug has since been fixed as of the June 20th 1.6.2 patch. Gone are the days when a single Raven could take down an entire enemy lance single-handedly, and good riddance. Ravens should be fragile balls of copper wiring and heatsinks liable to explode at the slightest provocation.

With Urban Warfare out of the way, all eyes turn to the next expansion, titled Heavy Metal. We already know that Unseen ‘Mechs are lurking in this expansion, although we don’t know which ones. But judging by the name, we’re guessing they’re heavy ‘Mechs like the Marauder, Warhammer, or even the Archer.

Did Microsoft Announce MechAssault At This Year’s E3?

Nope. Guess the rumors were false. Moving on.

MechWarrior Online Might Be Dying

At the end of May, PGI President Russ Bullock went on No Guts No Galaxy TV to provide an update on MechWarrior Online, MechWarrior 5, and Mech_Con. While there was plenty discussed on all three topics (which you can read a summary of here), the big bombshell Bullock dropped happened roughly 17 minutes into the broadcast when he basically just came out and admitted that new ‘Mech packs in MechWarrior Online weren’t paying the bills anymore.

“We have something like 1,000 different ‘Mechs between all the variants and everything. Frankly, it’s a lot,” Bullock said. “It’s been quite a while now–I would suggest maybe even a year-ish–since the last time a ‘Mech really was a good return on investment for us.”

Watch Developer Update w/ Russ Bullock from NGNGtv on www.twitch.tv

Before May of this year, MechWarrior Online stuck to a schedule which saw the release of a brand new ‘Mech every month. It was the cornerstone of MWO’s monetization model: a new ‘Mech every month to spend money on and keep the game afloat. While this model has seen a lot of rare and esoteric designs finally find their way into a MechWarrior game (where else can you get inside a Vulcan or a Dervish?!), it hasn’t been worth PGI’s time to create these new designs for some time.

If people aren’t buying ‘Mech packs, then MechWarrior Online isn’t generating money. If MWO isn’t generation money, then PGI’s survival now depends entirely on the success of MechWarrior 5. Even when asked point blank on how MWO would make money going forward, Bullock replied: “I think you can put two and two together.”

First, let me say this isn’t exactly a big surprise. MechWarrior Online has been in decline for years. Steamcharts reports an average of 1,122 players in January of 2018. By January 2019, that number had fallen to 818 players. In the last 30 days, that number declined to just 635 players.

You can pick and choose whatever reason you want for MWO’s slide, but ultimately the game is just old. MWO first arrived in open beta in 2012, and very few games last 7 years at all, let alone make enough money to fund the development of a completely new single-player, campaign-based MechWarrior game.

As for all the eggs being put into the MechWarrior 5 basket, that’s how most game studios do it, so why should PGI be any different? They’ll take out a loan or team up with a publisher if things get tight between now and September, but then the game will come out and they’ll be rolling on dough again. Probably.

Also, it should be noted that people are still buying new ‘Mechs, just not in volumes that make it worth PGI’s time to make. To turn that around, PGI will release fewer ‘Mech packs but choose popular designs that haven’t already made it into MechWarrior Online (might I suggest the Crusader, Wraith, or Stone Rhino?)

via Reddit

This is fake, but imagine if it weren’t!

Bullock said that MechWarrior 5 got an exceptional number of pre-orders given the current climate against pre-ordering anything in PC gaming, so we’ll have to wait and see how this shakes out. MechWarrior 5 is out September 10th, with pre-orders available now (EDIT: actually pre-orders are over! Don’t ask me why, I thought that developers liked getting money).

As for MechWarrior Online, if it does die, well, then it had a good run. It leaves a complicated legacy filled with missteps, but it also brought about an incredible revolution in ‘Mech simulation, phenomenal art design and assets used in other ‘Mech games, and created a community of loyal ‘Mech fans from around the world. You can’t really ask for much more than that. 

But before we start singing MechWarrior Online’s dirge, I just want to point out that PGI is still hiring a writer for MWO’s Faction Play, so they’re not planning on closing up shop anytime soon. Heck, I might even apply.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

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

MechAssault

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MechAssault Phantom War

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

So yeah. Woo MechAssault.

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

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

 

BattleTech: Urban Warfare Confirmed For June 4th Release

BattleTech’s second expansion, Urban Warfare, arrives on June 4th.

Development of BattleTech continues over at Harebrained Schemes with the recently announced Urban Warfare expansion. We knew this one was coming when the whole season pass thing was announced, but now we know when it’s coming and what we’re all in store for.

As the name suggests, the first thing we should get used to is the idea of fighting in an urban environment. That’s right: ‘Mechs are going to brawl in a city, and suddenly the UrbanMech isn’t looking half bad.

The important thing to note here is that every building–EVERY. SINGLE. ONE.–is fully destructible. This means that you can either go around a building or, as is my preference, through the building to get at the enemy. However, it should be noted that not every building will leave a convenient ‘Mech-sized hole to walk through. Some high rises will just flat-out collapse and leave a building-sized pile of rubble that you can’t just smash or shoot your way through.

On top of that, there’s going to be gas and transformer stations that can really change the face of combat. At the very least, there will be a lot more tactical options to consider in every engagement.

Along with the new urban biome comes a bunch of new tech. In this case, Lostech. ECM and Active Probes are coming to BattleTech, and they’ll arrive in the first new ‘Mech we get to discuss: the RVN-1X Raven.

Urban Warfare

The RVN-1X was the very first Liao prototype pushed into service in 3024 to beat back the invading Federated Suns armies. It was equipped with a prototype Electronic Warfare system that combined the ECM and Active Probe into a single 7.5-ton device, which really cut into the Raven’s available tonnage. This meant that either weapons or engine would have to be sacrificed in the name of this EW suite, and the 1X chose engine. It can wobble at 86 kph, which puts it on the slow side for a light ‘Mech, but not as slow as the UrbanMech.

We’re not 100% clear on how ECM is going to work, but we do know it will disrupt enemy targeting and provide immunity to indirect fire. This likely means that ‘Mechs covered in an ECM umbrella will simply be harder to hit in combat.

The Active Probe is described as being able to “reveal, locate, and target enemy units that would otherwise be hidden.” That’s a little vague, but we’re hoping it also increases overall sensor range, and might even add something to indirect fire targeting (ie. LRMs).

Our next ‘Mech is the beautiful Javelin. We’re not given the exact designation of which Javelin, but I’m thinking it’s at least going to be the classic JVN-10N with its twin SRM-6 packs. There are a lot of other Javelin variants that could be added here as well, but we’ll have to wait and see what Harebrained says about it.

Three new enemy tanks join the fray, including the Gallant, the Packrat, and the Rotunda. The Gallant is particularly noteworthy for being an incredibly old design! Circa 2551, to be precise, but it’s still equipped with a potent arsenal that MechWarriors cannot take for granted.

The Packrat is described in our beautiful Wiki as having an SRM-6 and a Flamer, but Harebrained seems to have made a bit of an alteration to give the Packrat ECM. The Rotunda scout car has also been switched up by having an Active Probe added to its arsenal. It seems doubtful with an Active Probe on board that the Rotunda would still have room for a Large Laser and an SRM-2.

Urban Warfare will also expand BattleTech’s Flashpoint system with more possible encounters, special events, critical choices, and Lostech loot. There will also be a new mission type called Attack and Defend where the objective is to “destroy an enemy’s base to stop a steady stream of attackers before they can overcome your forces and knock out your employer’s base.” Which sounds hard.

Urban Warfare drops June 4th. After that comes Heavy Metal, and Harebrained has already said that some Unseen ‘Mechs will come along with it. Judging by the name, I’m gonna guess that we’re going to see the Warhammer, Rifleman, and Marauder. We’ll see how accurate that prediction is later.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy