Hairbrained’s BATTLETECH is still a masterpiece and I recommend anyone with a personal computer purchase it. My recent playthrough of the game has convinced me of that more than ever. But what if you wanted to experience BATTLETECH’s story without playing the game? Maybe you just don’t have the time, or maybe you just don’t have a gaming computer. Well, you could just watch a Let’s Play on YouTube or something, or you could play the entire game on tabletop.
Riley Centrella, or Magistrex Centrella as she’s also known, has painstakingly translated every main campaign mission from HBS’s BATTLETECH and turned it into a sequence of 16 tabletop BattleTech maps that can be played in MegaMek, Roll20, MegaMekLab, or your preferred digital tabletop of choice. And best of all, it’s free to download over on the Magistrex’s Patreon.
To get the lowdown on this massive conversion project, I reached out to Lady Centrella for the scoop.
Hey! We made it to February [Ed. well, Technically March, but we were a little late getting the news out for February]! I honestly didn’t think we’d make it this far. But we’re here and we’re all makin’ the best of it in these cold winter months.
As always, I’ve got some lovely BattleTech news to keep us warm. Well, relatively warm. Look, warmth is in the mind, okay? Let’s see what’s going on in the world of big stompy robots.
There are a lot of artists out there doing BattleTech stuff, and while a lot of them are associated with commercial BattleTech creators like PGI and Harebrained Schemes, a lot of ‘em are just doing it for free. But what if the community could come together to support those artists and encourage them to produce more free artwork for the community to enjoy?
Best of all, “those works will be openly available for the public to enjoy and use as they wish,” so long as the original artist approves.
“This fund will also allow the exploration of brand new talent with a fresh, innovative vision,” adds RenegadeHPG. “What would a top Magic: The Gathering or LucasFilm artist come up with if they were let loose on BattleTech? A Marvel Studios concept artist? Will we discover BattleTech‘s Ralph McQuarrie with a project like this?”
I’ve just signed on for the low price of $2 per month (a $10 level allows Patrons to participate in regular Live Q&As with creators), and I see DC Bruins is working on an animation project that looks pretty cool. There’s also this fantastic piece from Dmitriy Leonovich (the ‘Mech is an original design of his, in case you were wondering).
The more people that sign up, the more great art I expect to see come out of Gallery 3025.
MechWarrior Online Gets February Patch, And There’s More On The Way
MechWarrior Online has received the occasional update to change what ‘Mechs are on sale, but it’s been well over a year since MWO has received a patch with any meaningful changes to the game. That’s changed as of February 11 with update 18.104.22.168, with a 38MB patch that promises to be just the first of MWO’s 2021 roadmap.
As discussed in previous web vlogs, February’s update is full of quick, simple QOL changes that MechWarrior Online fans have been requesting for quite some time. The reconnection time limit and early leaver punishment threshold have both increased from 2 minutes to 4 minutes, which will encourage players to rejoin a match if they get disconnected and also punishes players for leaving a match early. Unit recruitment costs have also been reduced to 10% of their former prices, while the cadet bonuses have been increased to better reward new players and give them a fighting chance against MWO‘s sea of veterans.
Several maps have had their dynamic time-of-day timer set to a specific time to better improve visibility, and bolt-on cosmetics are now truly bolted on and will not get shot off in the first 30 seconds of a firefight. The patch notes do say that PGI is looking for feedback on which bolt-ons actually should have the ability to be shot off as they might give players the wrong impression of a ‘Mech’s hitbox outline. Go check the MWO forums for that specific thread.
We’ve also got a roadmap for what to expect in future patches. March should include new player video tutorials, lower volume on the intro movie (a long-requested change), and a balance pass on weapons. There’s also going to be new ‘Mech packages and a brand new free ‘Mech available as part of a monthly event.
Honestly, the free giveaways are probably the best idea I’ve seen yet. My problem with MechWarrior Online has always been the awful price-to-content ratio, but free ‘Mechs (plus tons of other free stuff as part of the monthly event) does a lot to solve that problem. Plus, all these QOL changes are showing the players some real love. I might just give this game another chance.
Check out the latest vlog to see what’s coming in March, such as lighting fixes to Caustic Valley, spawn changes on Tourmaline Dessert, and a long-requested weapons balance update.
An Atlas, A Battlemaster, A Wyvern, And An Urbanmech Travel To A Galaxy Far Far Away
Reddit user aa-ron-dakota gives us this fabulous CG image that reimagines the cover of Exodus Road. It’s a landscape rather than a portrait, but that’s fine since now you can use it as a desktop background.
Clan Invasion Wave Two Set To Arrive In Late Spring
CGL just sent out a Clan Invasion Kickstarter update that confirmed the Wave 2 stuff won’t leave China until after Chinese New Year, which actually puts them right on track for my estimate of a spring delivery. Since that was my expectation all along, I’m not really mad or disappointed. Then again, I don’t remember what the original timeline was supposed to be like so I had no idea they were actually missing it.
Also, quarantine has sort of removed whatever sense of time I had, so it might be August right now and the only way I’d tell is if I went outside in my snow jacket and just fucking died of heatstroke.
From the description Loren gave to us in the update, it sounds like CGL was doing whatever they could to keep to their original schedule. There’s a lot of cursing, a lot of exclamation points, and a lot of dates for when gears turn or are expected to spin wildly. Bottom line is that Wave 2 should start shipping to backers “by the end of May for a mostly-June delivery.”
That’s not technically summer, but it might turn out to be summer. Fingers crossed and all that.
MechWarrior Living Legends Releases Update To Fix Lag Warping
The MechWarrior: Living Legends dev team is back after a much-deserved holiday break, and they bring with them update 0.13.4. The big deal with this update is that it incorporates jedi95’s Crysis Wars Lag Fix code, which greatly improves performance for players with a bad connection.
Crysis Wars has always had some pretty janky netcode according to the MWLL devs, who described it as “a thorn in our side for years!” Modern games have vastly improved netcode that can smooth out the bumps in a poor internet connection, but Crysis Wars’ netcode predates those improvements.
Now Crysis Wars has a modernized netcode that smooths the gameplay for low ping players, with jedi95 even helping the MWLL folks ensure that his code was properly implemented in the latest update. MWLL players are already reporting improvements to gameplay, so it sounds like this patch is a big success.
Besides the sweet netcode improvements, patch 0.13.4 brings a few balance tweaks to the AC/10, Clan ER PPC, Sniper Artillery, and Stealth Armor. For the full details, check out the patch notes over on the MWLL wiki here.
Check Out The Raven In Wolves Wave 2 Mini Showcase
UPDATE: I have since been informed that the ‘Mech showcased in the above video is in fact the Raptor II and not the Raven as I initially thought. Friggin’ chicken-walking ‘Mechs all lookin’ the same. Pajama Boy will give me some Raven footage to add later. Original story follows.
There’s also the Cougar and Mad Cat Mk II to consider, but who cares about them? It’s the little Raven that steals the show in this short trailer previewing the upcoming Wave 2 update in Wolves, the fan-made MechAssault game.
The cool shit is that Raven is apparently just a prototype. PajamaBoy has since redone the Raven model to be, well, probably the best-looking Raven I’ve ever seen.
Now, I know that on paper, the Raven was never really that good. It got cut a lot of slack for being the first dedicated electronic warfare platform in the Inner Sphere (or should I say the first new EW platform in the Inner Sphere, since y’all remember the Spector), but compared to other scout ‘Mechs, the Raven was slow, poorly armed, and poorly armored, making too many sacrifices in order to stuff all those high-tech gizmos onto a light ‘Mech chassis.
That said, there’s no denying that for most of us the Raven is the first ‘Mech that actually looked sexy. Those smooth lines and pointed beak almost made it appear to belong in a different giant robot franchise entirely. It’s no surprise that the Raven has found its way into pretty much every MechWarrior game since MW2: Mercenaries.
Still no word on when Wave 2 will ship, but here’s hoping it’s soon.
Real-Life Myomer Fibers Anyone?
Yes, we see this headline from time to time because scientists are always trying to find a way to make synthetic muscles. It’s just a mechanism that’d work better for a range of applications than something like micromotors, pneumatic pumps, or simple wheels would. And every time we hear about some research group making a breakthrough, we think that this is finally when myomer muscles will get invented.
This time might be different. A research group in Italy made a synthetic muscle that’s not only capable of lifting up to 70 times its own weight but also capable of being made on the cheap.
You can read all about it in the journal Science and Robotics. Researchers from TeCIP Institute’s mechanical engineering program made an “electrostatic bellow muscle (EBM),” which can act as an actuator, a pump, and also as its own generator.
It’s that last bit that’s very interesting since it means that these muscles can convert some of their own mechanical energy back into electricity and store it for use later.
“The EBM could be promising for robotic systems due to its lightness, scalability, and adaptability to different tasks,” writes the researchers. “The added ability to harvest energy could also be an advantageous feature for autonomous battery-powered robots.”
These muscles don’t quite look like myomer strands (actually it looks more like folded pastrami, if I’m being honest), but that’s fine. They don’t need to look like myomers so long as they act like ‘em. You can see EBM in action over on Inverse.
BattleTech Extended Gets Even More Extended In Latest Update
BattleTech Extended, along with RogueTech and BattleTechAdvanced, are the three biggest mods out there for BATTLETECH. Where BattleTech Advanced focuses more on additional units and RogueTech turns the game into a roguelike, BattleTech Extended adds a ton of all-new systems to the game, like pilot fatigue, expanded skills, ‘Mech quirks, and even the Clan Invasion.
And now it’s getting even more stuff in update 22.214.171.124. A massive map rework, improvements to the Clan Invasion (now with 100% more Clan Diamond Shark), and over 300 faction and mercenary units have been added to the game, along with a large rework to shops and progression. Look, there’s a ton more added in this update and I don’t want to become a patch notes regurgitator, so go read the full notes over on Nexus Mods or Reddit. It’s a lot, and well worth your time if you’re looking for a new way to experience BATTLETECH.
And that’s it for February! Hopefully next month is warmer, drier, and still lets me get a decent burrito.
Welcome to 2021! It’s a new year, and that means new beginnings. There’s a new president, there’s a new sense of calm and orderliness that--ah, sorry, I’m being told that only one of those things is true and that we’re still in the middle of a global pandemic that’s killing thousands on the daily. Well, great, off to a good start then.
On the plus side, BattleTech is still here, and it’s still great. Here’s all the news worth knowing for January.
MechCommander Gold: Prometheus Gets Beta Release
We start off the January news with a piece of news I missed from last December because it came out over Christmas and I was knee-deep in the nog, if you know what I mean.
RizZen, the guy responsible for the fantastic Darkest Hours expansion of MechCommander Gold, has once again returned with a new expansion: Prometheus. This time he’s straying away from the Inner Sphere and goes fully into Clan Wolf territory with a brand new Wolf-themed expansion.
What started as a passion project due to COVID-19, RizZen describes Prometheus as the version of MechCommander Gold “I would like to have done in the first place while starting to mod MechCommander wayback 2016.” It will eventually contain an absolutely astonishing 200 missions, but so far the beta release just has 33 of the planned Wolf campaign. It’s also got all eight Darkest Hours campaigns, for a total of 89 missions.
There’s also new voice packages planned for various new MechWarrriors, although the current beta release only has one of them recorded so far. RizZen also needs to finish the story writing and full briefings for each of the missions, which are planned for future updates.
You can download the whole thing over on ModDB and take a look at the differences between Prometheus and Darkest Hourson this comparison post here. Best of all, there’s no need to have the original game. Just like Darkest Hours, everything is downloadable as a standalone game.
Speaking Of MechCommander, MechCommander Mercenaries Update Delayed Until MechWarrior 5 Spring Release
As we’re all aware, PGI has recently been acquired by EG7 and that led to a delay on the release of Heroes of the Inner Sphere, the first major update to MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries, as well as a delay on the Steam release. On the plus side, MechWarrior 5 is also getting an Xbox Series X version that’ll bring MechWarrior back to consoles for the first time since MechAssault.
This means expected editor updates have also been delayed which means work on MechCommander Mercenaries has stalled (that’s the mod that turns MechWarrior 5 into an RTS styled after the classic MechCommander games).
But not all work has ceased on MechCommander Mercenaries. Redditor yrrot gave us an update a few weeks ago that showed a brand new drop pod model ready for game integration as well as a new repair vehicle that’ll let you do battlefield repairs while your ‘Mechs are on deployment.
Another planned feature is a Mechlab overhaul that adds more MechWarrior 4 elements over what we have in MechWarrior 5. It’ll be “a little more complicated than just MW4‘s mechlab,” writes yrrot, mentioning that they want to deal with certain issues like hardpoint inflation.
Since mods like MercTech And MechWarrior 5: Reloaded are so popular, the MechCommander Mercenaries team wants to release MCM as a standalone mod so that it can play nice with other mods. That might take a while even if PGI releases the editor update on time in the spring. In the meantime, the mod is in a holding pattern until we see Heroes of the Inner Sphere.
Catalyst January Products And Clan Invasion Update
Clan Invasion Kickstarter backers also got their first look at the Marauder II and Marauder IIC, which should be coming out in the second wave of Kickstarter orders. I get a lot of Phoenix redesign aesthetic from the Marauder II, especially in the cockpit and torso-mounted autocannon. The Marauder IIC has a more streamlined, deadly appearance, which totally fits the ‘Mechs amazing firepower thanks to three ER PPCs.
Speaking of Wave 2, Catalyst should have all the Wave 2 orders squared away by now, so we’re just waiting for the manufacturer to complete the order and get things sent back overseas. By all accounts, I should have my ‘Mechs by the spring, and maybe even sooner [editors’ note: Sean has no idea when Wave 2 will ship and should not be counted on to provide an accurate guesstimate of when eager BattleTech fans will get their minis].
What’s a monthly update without some great art? I spotted this Shadow Hawk battling a Wolverinefrom Reddit user meltdonw14 and felt that it really captures that classic art style you really don’t get with the redesigns and MechWarrior 5-style art. I can appreciate the classics too sometimes.
A few days later, meltdonw14 gave us another great image of a more modern-looking Thunderbolt. This one seems to have seen some battle, and I’m very appreciative of the shell craters and laser scars on this ‘Mechs armor. Lovely attention to detail.
MechWarrior Online Delivers January Development Update
It’s January, and as promised, PGI has given us their preliminary plans for MechWarrior Online. Bombadil and Matt sat down to deliver a January update on the state of the game, noting that MechWarrior Online had some good player counts and sales numbers throughout the holiday season. That’s good news for heading into 2021, with plans for more content and updates coming together.
In the update video, the two describe patches coming in Q1 2021 as being dedicated to “low-hanging fruit.” These are quick, fast, easy changes that will directly improve the quality of life for players and will be delivered in an upcoming patch tentatively planned for February (but no promises there).
On the docket are lowering or removing unit C-bill membership costs to make it easier to join units for faction play, as well as doubling the reconnection penalty time from two to four minutes. This will punish players that deliberately disconnect from a match before completion.
Also planned for the patch are keeping the match time-of-day static as well as making it so bolt-on cosmetics stay on your ‘Mechs permanently and can’t just be shot off at the beginning of a match. This should hopefully make them a bit more relevant as they typically got destroyed in the first five seconds of fighting, making them mostly irrelevant since nobody could see how badass your ‘Mechs mohawk looked.
The second quarter will see PGI looking at new ‘Mech bundles to give players a better deal on some new toys, fixing Solaris maps in private matches, moving spawn points around, and maybe even adding new ‘Mech variants.
Q3 will be about new content and features, but neither Matt nor Daeron are even willing to hazard a guess as to what that might look like as of yet. They stress that a lot of resources are being poured into MechWarrior 5‘s coming Steam release and expansions, but they are hiring some dedicated devs to work on MechWarrior Online. If you’re still playing MWO after all this time, you’ve probably already learned how to be patient with this game, and that skill will serve you well.
Here’s Some Sweet Covers Of The MechWarrior 3 Soundtrack
MechWarrior 3 certainly wasn’t my favorite MechWarrior soundtrack, but maybe Joey Cramsey’s covers will change my mind. He recently posted a few covers of MechWarrior 3‘s main theme to the MechWarrior subreddit, and they’re pretty good! You can check ’em out over on his Bandcamp, and even pay for them if you want.
“Please excuse the silence. We at #TMC are working hours every day on Ep1 and pushed through >100 tasks since Christmas,” wrote the 3D artist. “I can’t share much without spoiling too much. I think [this] image is OK though. Bear with us please.”
I feel like we’re very close to a release date, although specifics were never provided. We did get a pretty nice screengrab from a work-in-progress, so hopefully that’ll tide us over for a bit.
Aces Wild To Host To Host Inner Sphere Coalition MechWarrior Online Tournament Starting February 1
Even as we await MechWarrior Online‘s February patch, The Inner Sphere Coalition is barreling straight to its third-ever community tournament.
Hosted by Aces Wild, you can head on over to their website to register your team. Exhibition games take place throughout January, with official games scheduled to start on February 1. Teams will be seeded based on their individual members’ Jarls’ List rankings to make sure that initial games aren’t complete blowouts.
Games are 6v6 and as the name suggests are limited to Inner Sphere ‘Mechs and technology only (sorry, Clanners, you’ll have to sit this one out). Each match will include five drops of escalating tonnage so that you’ll get the full range of MechWarrior Online games, from highly mobile light and medium ‘Mech fights to assault and heavy ‘Mech-anchored brawls.
Interestingly, you can only use a particular chassis three times over the course of those five drops, and since matches are 6v6, each team will need a variety of ‘Mechs to compete.
Winners are awarded 1000 MC per drop win, but the real incentive to compete is to not have to worry about queue times thanks to the scheduled matches.
And some of these times must have been set with folks running around in Fire Moths, ’cause they are FAST. ProxInDaBox is blowing through the Wolf campaign’s “Pyre Light” in a blistering 1 minute and 2 seconds, while jangler throws down the gauntlet on the third mission of the Jade Falcon campaign, “Mirror Cage,” at an eye-watering 43 seconds!
That time was established in jangler’s world record run, which you can watch in the video above. Their ride is not in fact a Fire Moth but is instead either a custom Jenner IIC or a Stormcrow, both equipped with jump jets and making frequent use of a glitch that maintains forward momentum from jump jetting after shutting down.
Since When Did HBS’s BATTLETECH Become An RPG?
I’ll be honest, I sort of put Hairbrained’s BATTLETECH down for a little bit. I certainly think it was great and I put about 100 hours into BATTLETECH, playing through the main campaign twice, but I never did get to experience the three DLC that HBS put out over the course of 2019.
This time will be different for me, however. I’m not going to play the main campaign, and I’ve embarked on the new “Career” mode that was added in the Flashpoints expansion. This will help me get to the Flashpoints as quickly as possible and allow me to access all the new ‘Mechs that were added with each of the DLC.
I’ve played through a few missions and gotten my little starter merc company a fancy new Javelin-10F and an Enforcer, and then it really hit me--with all the new random events, Flashpoints, and additional mission-types and dialog, BATTLETECH went from being a pretty standard turn-based tactical wargame into a fully-fledged RPG.
I’m digging it, is all I’m saying. I may be late to the party, but y’all should really be playing BATTLETECH if you haven’t already downloaded it. It’s still the best BattleTech game out there.
I knew there’d be more news before October was done, and I wasn’t disappointed. Here’s all you need to know before November hits and our COVID quarantine turns into shelter in place due to armed insurrections.
Perhaps more interesting is his advice for potential novelists. He goes over how he got into BattleTech and how you too could do the same, plus become a famous freelance novelist for some of the biggest franchises in science-fiction and fantasy.
Mobile BattleTech Phone App Under Development
Here’s an interesting little development. Someone’s making a BattleTech app. Not just a mobile repository of ‘Mech information, not just a handy way to look up the rules, but an all-in-one app that lets you play a virtual game of BattleTech on your phone.
It’s from Maik Rehorst, who goes by TheDeathCrepeer on Reddit. They’re using a mobile app prototyping site called MarvelApp to get an idea of what the final product will look like and let BattleTech fans like you and me futz around. It has a ‘Mech database similar to Mech Factory (which is a great resource I encourage you all to download), but it goes beyond by adding voice chat, virtual dice rolls, and a virtual game board.
It’s important to note that this is just a prototype currently. It’s mostly a series of connected menus that provide structure but aren’t really all that functional. The ‘Mech database page goes to an image of the BattleMaster, but notes indicate that the plan is to automatically grab the relevant Sarna.net article in the finished product.
A recently concluded survey hopefully provided helpful feedback to make this idea into a reality.
RogueTech Got A Massive Update That Lets You Salvage Tanks
RogueTech, the total conversion mod that changes Hairbrained’s BATTLETECH into a roguelite, just got a massive update.
It’s called Operation Treadnaught, mostly because the big feature here is tanks. You can now salvage and deploy tanks in your company, which brings you up to 12 units (8 ‘Mechs, 4 tanks). Those tanks have all been retrofitted inline with classic BattleTech rules, so expect a few differences when you’re both fighting with and against armored vehicles.
To check out both your ‘Mechs and vehicles, there’s a new toggle that lets you switch between the ‘Mechbay and Vehicle Bay.
Although tanks are nice, they’re hardly all that’s new in Operation Treadnaught. The entire skill system has been overhauled along with the pilot background system. You can choose between two abilities at levels 5 and 8, with level 8 skills being so powerful they have an active cooldown.
There’s also a complete shop overhaul where your reputation with local factions will get you access to better stuff. Commander quirks, improved melee attacks, and a host of performance improvements round out Operation Treadnaught’s offerings. Get the latest version over on Nexus Mods.
Everyone Is Getting Their Clan Invasion Kickstarter Packages Except Me
I’m not really mad or anything--I live in Canada, the mail isn’t particularly fast, and I frankly don’t have time to paint a bunch of minis anyways. I plan on pawning that job off to my brother over the Christmas break. But I do want it, especially since there’s so many people posting their unboxing videos online over the past few weeks.
I’m sure I’ll get it in the next few days. Or something. Maybe I should call Fed-Ex…
And that’s it! I don’t expect a lot of news to arrive in November, but December is already shaping up to be another big month for BattleTech. Let’s all hope we survive that long.
Welcome to your BattleTech News Roundup for the month of June, 2020. Now we’ve got protests against police brutality and massive civil unrest to go along with the global pandemic, so that’s cool. Who had race riots on their Apocalypse: 2020 Bingo card? Someone’s gotta be close to winning by this point. I’m still waiting on “volcanic eruption” and “meteorite impact” to complete my set, although I’m eyeing “alien invasion” with more and more suspicion.
MechWarrior 5 Adds Mod Support To Microsoft Store-Bought Games
While MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries has remained an Epic exclusive, it’s not 100% exclusive to Epic. If you’re really against Epic, you could always buy the game on the Microsoft Store for the same price.
But there was a problem in that the Microsoft version of MechWarrior 5 didn’t have mod support, which was one of the key features of the game. That’s changed as of earlier this month with a brand new patch that brought mod support to the Microsoft Store and Xbox GamePass versions of MechWarrior 5.
There was a bit of a hiccup as PGI also changed the save data location to make things a little more accessible, but this caused players to lose their save files and campaign progression if they had the game installed anywhere other than their C drives. Players had to go digging around for their save files to put them in the new location in order to get their campaign back.
Minor bug aside, this is a welcome change for Microsoft Store players since mods can greatly enhance your experience in MechWarrior 5. Welcome to the fold, Microsoft Store and Xbox GamePass MechWarriors!
Shrapnel, The Official BattleTech Magazine, Has Officially Arrived
Kickstarter backers got their inaugural issue of Shrapnel a few weeks ago, but now The Official BattleTech Magazine is available for everyone via Amazon.
Shrapnel represents a return to more serialized BattleTech fiction, filling the void left by BattleCorps when it shut down in 2017. It’s definitely a tome, clocking in at 172 digital pages when you include the index (the magazine portion itself is more like 150 pages). Within this digital magazine, you’ll find short stories from recognizable authors like Blaine Lee Pardoe and Kevin Killany, a forward from editor Philip A. Lee, and some more technical pieces about sniper rifles and the Eridani Light Horse.
They’re also publishing Michael A. Stackpole’s recent Kell Hounds novella If Auld Acquaintances Be Forgot. Which sort of explains why this thing is about the size of a small novel, and why it’s being priced at $5.95 on Amazon. That’s good value, considering the amount of text you’re getting.
As Blaine points out, the first issue of Shrapnel is very wordy without a lot of visual aids. Shrapnel is taking submissions for future issues, but so far the submission guidelines are all about word limits and preferred subject material (which is to say character-focused BattleTech stories). There’s nothing about fanart submissions, but reach out anyway. I’m sure Catalyst would love to spruce things up with a bit of fanart.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Sean, you’re a writer, why don’t you submit something to Shrapnel?” Well, I did have this idea about a gay romance between star-crossed Elementals from different Clans, but I don’t think anyone wants to read that. Plus I’d have to edit out the sex scenes to meet the PG-13 requirement and trust me, that’d be A LOT of work.
Catalyst Sends C&D’s To Thingiverse Accounts Over BattleTech Copyrights
courtesy of Fried Eggs on Discord
Well, this was a long time coming. Catalyst has finally taken action against the burgeoning 3D printing community to remove all copyrighted materials from Thingiverse, perhaps the largest 3D printing design site on the internet. This has resulted in many ‘Mech designs being removed at their request.
Takedown requests started getting sent out at the beginning of June, and according to a copy of the request posted by Reddit user AceTimberwolf, those requests are coming directly from BattleTech line developer Ray Arrastia.
You can’t blame Catalyst for protecting their copyrighted ‘Mechs, but it looks like this was a takedown of anything that was tagged “BattleTech” on Thingiverse. This meant things that aren’t technically copyrighted also got taken down, including stuff like buildings, trees, and other hex-based terrains. Custom designs that were based on copyrighted ‘Mechs also got the ax.
It was all a little heavy-handed, and it has left a bad taste in the mouths of the 3D-printing community. The BattleTech International 3D Printing Facebook group has taken to taggingtheirdesigns “America Mecha Game” to both protest the mass removal and also avoid future takedown notices, with various pirate memes dominating the recent postings (kudos to Fried Eggs on the Everything BattleTech Discord server for coming up with this delightful UrbieCop meme).
My take? Catalyst is staring down an existential threat. Printing minis at home means they lose their market, which means they lose some pretty essential revenue. They’d rather BattleTech fans buy minis they make instead. That’s how their business works, how it’s always worked.
But there’s really no putting this genie back in the bottle. Just as how music had to transform decades ago thanks to the advent of MP3s, so too will gaming miniature providers have to change how they do things thanks to 3D printers. C&D’s and takedown requests might slow things down for now, but they won’t stop it. The technology is out there, and it’ll only get harder and harder to police as 3D printers get cheaper and 3D designs get easier to make.
I won’t link them here, but I can tell you that certain Facebook groups are already throwing Dropbox links around with all those removed Thinigverse designs inside them. This fight is only going to get spicier in the coming months as the Clan Invasion Kickstarter shipments start later this year.
Reddit user Maaxxim posted this one and I really like it. Javelins don’t get enough love (even though you’re basically given one for free in MechWarrior 5), so I’m glad to see someone else is giving the Javelin some long-overdue attention.
BattleTech Recognition Guide: IlClan Volume One Now Available
People have been wondering when we’ll see IlClan. Well, here’s our first good taste. The IlClan TRO is being handed out piece by piece as it’s being created in the form of the BattleTech Recognition Guide: IlClan.
What will eventually span 22 PDF files, these Recognition Guides will include at least one all-new ‘Mech per volume and also redesigns on classic ‘Mechs rebuilt using Dark Age tech. They’ll also include “in-universe development notes, battle histories, notable pilots, and record sheets for each ‘Mech.”
After all 22 PDFs are published, they’ll be combined into a single print volume. If this doesn’t eventually become the IlClan TRO, I don’t know what will.
Back in March, we heard about a “crack commando team” that was looking to rebalance everything in BATTLETECH, from ‘Mech hardpoints to weapon stats. We were promised an update later, and it seems that time has come.
BATTLETECH Revised is now available on Nexus Mods and it brings with it a totally new BATTLETECH experience. ‘Mechs now have quirks based on their lore that gives them… well, quirks. Strong ‘Mechs were given debuff quirks, while weaker designs got helpful quirks.
Although the mod description states that the quirks are designed to respect a ‘Mech’s lore, the example provided isn’t exactly doing that. Apparently the Commando is considered a “sniper” ‘Mech that now has 50% more firepower for weapons mounted in the right arm. Although the COM-1B has a large laser that might make it slightly sniper-y, the vast majority of Commando variants have short-range missiles and are more harassers and reconnaissance machines than snipers. [Ed. It has been brought to my attention that the prototype and early model Commandos were actually snipers armed with large lasers and AC/2, notably the COM-1A, COM-1B, and COM1-C. So this is more in keeping with BattleTech than previously indicated. My bad!]
On the plus side, weapons have been rebalanced so that some of the more maligned weapon systems such as the AC/2 are now much more of a threat. On top of that, there are big changes to the game’s economy, story, and pilot abilities, with pilots now receiving special bonuses if they’re sent into combat in their personal rides.
It sounds like a much-expanded experience, even if the designers aren’t quite aware of the full BattleTech lore, so if you’re looking to change up your game, try BATTLETECH Revised.
MechWarrior Destiny, Dice Sets, And Puzzles Now Available
June is a big month for Catalyst! They’ve already taken up most of this recap, but we still have a few more newsworthy updates to make with new BattleTech products.
Starting with MechWarrior: Destiny, the new RPG based on the Cue system. I have not played anything using the Cue system, but it certainly sounds interesting. Rather than having a GM, the Cue system gives each player a turn at being the Lead Narrator using “cues” on their character sheet to move each scene forward. It’s designed to be easy to learn, so it shouldn’t add too much of a complicating layer to regular BattleTech tabletop gameplay.
And finally, we got some brand new jigsaw puzzles. Each puzzle is 500 pieces, 18×24-inches, and features box and cover art from some of the most iconic BattleTech products out today. Only 1,000 puzzles of each design will be made, and they’ll be foil-printed too. Combine this with the coloring books from last month and you got yourself the perfect way to keep the kids entertained during social distancing.
Reddit user u/juodasvarnas is back with another 3D design, this time the Hornet. It looks sort of like half an UrbanMech with jet engines strapped to the back, which I’m sure is perfectly safe. We need more Hornets out there hopping along and shooting their LRM-5s at nothing in particular–much like how a yellow jacket is inclined to sting for no particular reason.
And that’s it! Join us next month where we talk about all the stuff that happened in the next few weeks, barring an even greater global catastrophe that makes this whole giant robot stuff seem kinda trivial. Unless that global catastrophe IS giant robots. Then I guess we’ll talk about that.
Wow, April has been a drag, right? With most of the world still locked down due to the coronavirus, most of us have been given a bunch of free time to play our favorite BattleTech products. Unfortunately, only the virtual kinds can be played with people who don’t already live with you. You’d think that would leave you with just video games like MechWarrior 5 or BATTLETECH, but don’t forget about the BattleTech Tabletop Simulator if you’ve got a VR headset! It’s always safe to play with big stompy robots in digital space.
And just because there’s a pandemic doesn’t mean the BattleTech news stops. Strap yourselves in for the April news roundup!
DiscreetProteus Has Been Posting Original BattleMech Sketches On Reddit
What’s fascinating here is how these original sketches morphed into the ‘Mechs we know and love. Some of them are basically unchanged from the original sketch, such as the Horned Owl/Peregrine here, but some of them are wildly different.
They also all have a very distinct feel to them–especially the Victor Music Industries ‘Mechs which all seem to be heavily inspired by anime. That’s apparently due to VMI being based in Japan and being staffed by veteran designers that worked in the animation industry. I mean, the Incubus/Vixen looks basically the same as a Gundam, and it wouldn’t be the first time that FASA and a Japanese animation studio created some accidental crossover work.
According to u/DiscreetProteus, these old drawings just came up during a bit of spring cleaning and they were kind enough to post them on social media for us nerds to gawk at. Hopefully, a few of these get archived for safe-keeping.
Reddit User u/juodasvarnas Posted Some Amazing 3D Renderings
Some of us are taking the COVID-19 lockdown better than others. Reddit user u/juodasvarnas has decided to use his downtime to take up 3D-modeling and recreated some of BattleTech‘s more obscure designs. I mean, who’s ever seen fan art of a Thorn? Or a Brigand? I love it.
I was able to get in touch with juodasvarnas to get the lowdown. “It’s just something i’ve always wanted to try, as I don’t really have much experience in modeling,” he told me in an email interview, “but you won’t ever get any experience if you never try!”
For modeling, he uses SketchUp, a relatively easy program to get into that’s good for clean, straight lines. SketchUp was originally intended for architecture, according to juodasvarnas, but it seems to do a fine job at making giant robots.
So why these obscure designs? “Bit of a spur of a moment kind of thing, whatever pops into my mind,” explains juodasvarnas. “Sometimes it’s a ‘Mech which I really like how they look, like the previously mentioned Brigand, or the Heliopolis and Goliath. Other times, it’s a ‘Mech I like conceptually, but find the art for it to be… Awkward to put it lightly?”
The Yeoman stays fairly true to the original, but the Thorn and Brigand are almost total redesigns worthy of MechWarrior 5. U/juodasvarnas doesn’t know what ‘Mech they’ll do next (although he’s leaning towards the Argus), but if you want to use the models for personal use, you can find them on the Battletech Art Society Discord Channel.
Did You Know That There’s A Community-Run Game Of BATTLETECH On Twitch?
This just recently grabbed my attention over on Twitch and I thought it was a pretty neat idea. Someone is playing a campaign in Hairbrained’s BATTLETECH where the company is being played co-op style. Viewers build and manage their own ‘Mechs in a persistent world while roleplaying in the chat.
The campaign is using Roguetech, the wildly popular mod for BATTLETECH that adds roguelike elements, and is a bit of a work in progress. It’s not quite as chaotic as Twitch Plays; there are a few basic commands that anyone can type in the chat (such as joining the game with !join), but each turn of combat is played by handing over the mouse controls to their respective player.
After typing !join in the chat, you’ll be given a random starter ‘Mech and the game master will create the pilot (which you can request to look like whatever you want). You then get into your first contract but be patient since the more players there are, the longer it will take for your character to go on a mission.
It’s super neat and a great way to spend some time with other BattleTech fans. You can check it out here.
MechCommander Gets Updated For Modern Hardware In MechCommander Gold: Darkest Hours Version 4.2
MechCommander originally came out in 1998 as the first real-time strategy game set in the BattleTech universe. Although it took some liberties with the BattleTech canon (why the hell was the JagerMech suddenly 70 tons?) it was still a great game that took the franchise in a fresh and new direction.
It’s also been a genre that BattleTech has never returned to. BATTLETECH brings the series to its turn-based roots, but real-time strategy enthusiasts are out of luck.
Oh right, I forgot to mention: the whole game is free. It’s been freeware since 2006. And since the game is a bajillion years old, it’ll basically run on a potato. Just mount the .ISO file and click on the resolution version of the game you want to install. That’s it.
Not only does this version contain both the original and Desperate Measures expansion campaign, but it also includes an enormous collection of fan-made custom levels and campaigns.
According to RizZen, this is the most bug-free and complete edition of MechCommander ever made, so you might as well download it to save for a rainy day. Lord knows we got a lot of those lately.
Want To Make A Lego Uziel? This Guy Made Instructions
Credits to Kevin Hansen for not only making this incredible Lego Uziel, but also posting the instructions so that anyone can buy the parts and make it at home. Now, you too can make your own Lego ‘Mech because we finally have some step-by-step instructions to guide us!
Kevin’s also got a Lego Ryoken/Storm Crow on his personal page with similar instructions and a component list. If you don’t have the parts, order them directly from Lego here.
BATTLETECH Advanced 3062 Has Released The Clan Invasion
You’ve probably played through BATTLETECH a few times by now and are looking for something new. You could try RogueTech, but if you hate roguelikes like me, then maybe give BATTLETECH Advanced 3062 a try.
BATTLETECH Advanced 3062 is a full overhaul of BATTLETECH that brings the technological level of the Inner Sphere to just before the FedCom Civil War. It adds more than 500 new ‘Mechs, dozens of weapons, and changes many of the game’s core mechanics like the turn-based combat and ‘Mechbay customization.
PGI Has Revealed More Details On MechWarrior 5’s DLC
Although originally targeting April to release MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries‘ first DLC, that all got up-ended thanks to COVID-19. But we do have some new details on what to expect for the first DLC pack thanks to a recent update from PGI.
Called Heroes of the Inner Sphere, the DLC will add a new career mode that will have you start from scratch with any of the Great Houses or you can import your progress from the original campaign. The DLC will also add a new quirking system that MechWarrior Online fans will be familiar with, as well as blueprints to get those quirks installed.
Welcome to your March news roundup in the wide world of BattleTech! As the coronavirus pandemic rages on, I’m self-isolating at home and scouring the internet for the latest in BattleTech news. Believe it or not, just because the world is shutting down due to a viral outbreak doesn’t mean BattleTech‘s gears stop churning.
Anyway, we’re not going to dwell on all the awful stuff that’s going on since you’ve got lesser news organizations for that. Instead, we’re going to get caught up on what’s happened this March in BattleTech. Let’s get to it!
Wolves, the fan-made MechAssault remake that we previewed a few months ago, now has the Summoner (or Thor, if you’re a Spheroid) as a pilotable ‘Mech. I really like how they redid the Summoner, from the more angular cockpit to the torso-mounted lasers. They even posted a gameplay video of the Summoner in action and it definitely looks like a 70-ton ‘Mech lumbering around.
Summoner Gameplay Demo! | Wolves, The Fan-made Mechassault Game
This actually happened last month, but it definitely bears mentioning. Bombadil announced that he was leaving No Guts No Galaxy and the gaming industry in general to pursue other interests. Everything has now been handed over to Phil, including the Twitch channel, podcast, and Twitter account.
Hey everyone, it's been an epic 10 years, but I am parting ways with the gaming industry and streaming. @NoGutsNoGalaxy is now fully owned and operated by Phil, and I wish him much success and happiness with it. Peace and love to all! pic.twitter.com/Xpub7iGaQ9
We don’t know what those other interests are, but we definitely wish Bombadil luck in whatever he chooses to pursue.
Clan Invasion Character Site Is Live
At the Star Colonel level of backing and above, Clan Invasion Kickstarter backers were rewarded with having their names added to the official BattleTech canon. This guarantees that their name will appear somewhere in sourcebooks or fiction, although the precise details of that were to be discussed at a later date.
In order to get everyone to provide their info, Catalyst has set up a website where backers can add their personal (or online persona’s) info. I see Tex has already added his “Randolph P. Checkers” character to the database, and there are plenty of other colorful characters for you to peruse there as well even if you haven’t backed at the $300 level.
If you’re a backer, head to the website now to get your name added to the list of soon-to-be canon characters.
Since Catalyst Games is a mostly virtual company, its operations are continuing as per normal. It’s everything else that’s coming to a screeching halt, and there’s not much that can be done about it other than wait it out.
Catalyst says the delay will be “several weeks” for production and shipment, and that they’re “exploring alternative options to mitigate delays, including domestic U.S. printing.” We’ll keep everyone up to date on this one.
In the meantime, Catalyst has a 20% off sale on everything in their online store, with an additional 20% off for non-BattleTech, non-Shadowrun products. I’m not sure what those are, but you can head on over to Catalyst’s website to check out the deals.
According to the earlier Reddit post, a “crack commando team” plans on taking BATTLETECH and rebalancing everything to be less in-line with the tabletop game and more interesting from the strict video game perspective. This means that hardpoints might be changed, damage values will be tweaked, heat will be toned down or turned up (depending on the laser/PPC), and new, non-canon variants of ‘Mechs might be added.
This sounds like a pretty ambitious project and one to keep an eye out for. I can honestly say that certain weapons in BATTLETECH definitely feel underpowered due to adhering too closely to the tabletop rules, so this might be a way of changing things up to make more ‘Mechs and builds viable at higher difficulties.
No news on when BATTLETECH Revised will release, but expect more details “soon.”
Someone Has Finally Figured Out The Actual Damage Numbers In MechWarrior 2
MechWarrior 2: 31st Century Combat originally released with a manual that pretty much copied the weapon damage values from the tabletop game. However, anyone who actually played the game can tell you that they were utter BS. PPCs and LRMs did WAY more damage than they should, while Small Lasers were like shooting someone with a squirt gun.
Someone has finally gone through each and every weapon in MechWarrior 2 and figured out what the REAL damage values are. Kudos to you, Pixelmusement, for taking the time to go through every weapon and see what’s what.
I thought this was really neat and well worth a look.
Toy Galaxy Takes A Look At BattleTech: The Animated Series
The Wild History of Battletech: The Animated Series - Yes, It's Real
Finally, YouTube channel Toy Galaxy did an interesting dive into BattleTech: The Animated Series. The video specifically looks at the cartoon and the toys that it generated, as well as the rival cartoon from Harmony Gold and the ludicrous legal battle that ensued. It’s an angle on the Harmony Gold thing that rarely gets coverage thanks to the Unseen ‘Mechs, and is again, well worth a look.
One Last Thing: Catalyst Made A BattleTech Coloring Book
Some of you might be bored because of this whole coronavirus thing. Others might have children at home due to school closures. Or maybe you just like pictures of big stompy robots. But for whatever reason, Catalyst has created a BattleTech coloring book.
It’s pay-what-you-want, which of course means “free” in my lexicon, but you do you. The BattleTech Activity Book is 56 pages and contains line art from the upcoming Clan Invasion as well as the previous Inner Sphere BattleTech Box Sets. Currently, you can only print it out in PDF form, but soon there should be a physical copy that you can order. It will likely cost more than $0, though.
That’s it for March! Join us next month for another BattleTech news roundup.
If you’re new to BattleTech, you might not know much about Robert N. Charrette. I hesitate to call him one of the founding fathers of BattleTech as that makes it seem like there’s some sort of sacred text out there, but maybe “formative” father would do just as well. Robert penned some of the earliest BattleTech fiction, including Wolves on the Border, Wolf Pack, and Heir to the Dragon, and he was perhaps the third BattleTech author I’d ever read. All those stories introduced iconic characters that would define an era in BattleTech history.
But turns out that fiction isn’t even half Charrette’s contribution to BattleTech.
During his endeavor to get to the heart of the Unseen era of FASA history, Michael met Robert and struck up a friendship. Then when Robert needed to downsize his enormous BattleTech collection, Michael reached out to me to get the word out.
That’s when I found out that Robert is the guy who made the vast majority of the original sculpts for the BattleTech (or Battledroids, as it was called back then) tabletop game. Those ancient metal minis? Robert’s the guy who made them.
Robert’s collection has gotten to the point where it needs to shrink a bit, so he’s looking to off-load some of his more interesting artifacts. I was able to briefly chat about what’s being called the “Charrette Collection” and what Robert’s contribution to BattleTech in general. Enjoy.
via Robert N Charette
Sarna (Sean):Well, first of all, what’s this I hear about you off-loading all your BattleTech stuff? Are you abandoning BattleTech and all of its big-stompy-robot glory?
Robert N. Charrette: Not all, just most. My personal gaming interests have drifted away and I haven’t played with them in years, but BattleTech will always hold a special place in my heart.
Sarna: You’ve been a huge part of the BattleTech universe for decades. I personally have read all of your stories, but I’ve only just recently discovered that you’re the one responsible for most of BattleTech’s first-edition metal miniatures. What’s the story there?
“BattleTech will always hold a special place in my heart.”
Robert: I believe Michael Todd covered that story in his history of BattleTech. In short, Ral Partha pitched doing miniatures to FASA when BattleDroids was released. There was some reluctance to have Ral Partha do them since they were not a specialized producer of mechanical miniatures, so a “proof of capability” model was to be produced and I got the assignment, being the most enthusiastic sculptor regarding – I believe the term of art is – big stompy robots.
Sarna: How does one get the job of creating miniatures for a nascent tabletop game?
Robert: Being in the right place at the right time and having the ability to do the work.
Sarna: Are there any particular favorites from that first set of minis you produced?
Robert: The BattleDroids? Has to be the Wasp/Stinger/Phoenix Hawk family as they all were derived from the “proof of concept” model.
Sarna: But back to the “Charrette Collection,” as it’s being called. What exactly are you offering?
via Robert N.Charette
Robert: Michael has kindly offered to help with the “downsizing” of my gaming collection. Naturally, with his interest in BT, we started there. The first offerings are a mix of items from my gaming collection, which I painted and based myself, and other, now vintage, BattleTech items that I had a hand in or managed to collect in those early days. I’m still looking for that box of BattleTech sourcebooks and such.
Sarna:How can people get in touch to put in a bid or offer for these items?
Sarna: What are you up to these days? Anything else you’d like to share?
Robert: Mostly non-gaming things.
For about 15 years I have been heavily focused on studying Armizare, a resurrected medieval martial art written down in the early 15th century by Fiore Dei Liberi. I wrote a book on the pedagogy of the manuscript I study, give presentations on it to academics and taught classes on it at seminars across the country and in Canada, and have been slowly, laboriously progressing on a series of books relating to the understanding and practical practice of Armizare, in and out of armor.
I am also back at the modern version of what I started out doing before I took up sculpting: graphic layout work. Computers make it both easier and harder than the exacto knives and rubber cement I started with.
via Robert N. Charrette
You can check out The Charrette Collection over on his site here. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to own a piece of BattleTech history, and the miniatures are all beautifully painted too. I totally recommend you check it out.
BattleTech’s Heavy Metal expansion arrives on November 21st, and it is bringing 470 metric tons of new weapons and ‘Mechs.
We got a lot of exciting ground to cover here, so we’re just going to dive right in. The new trailer for BattleTech’s upcoming Heavy Metal expansion just dropped and brought with it the juiciest of new info, starting with a brand new, never-before-seen BattleMech, the Bull Shark.
From the trailer, the Bull Shark is a 95-ton assault ‘Mech armed with a Thumper artillery cannon. That’s all we got. Judging by this beast’s appearance, it seems armed with autocannons above machine guns in the arms, as well as a quartet of lasers mounted across its two burly shoulders.
I’m just speculating here, but judging by the name, we could be looking at a design from the old Rim Worlds Republic. History students will remember that as the home nation of Stefan Amaris, better known as Amaris the Usurper. So that’s pretty cool.
As with MechWarrior Online, this new design’s canonicity is going to be a matter for debate for some time. I dunno how much Catalyst was involved in the Bull Shark’s making or if it will eventually get their seal of approval.
The remaining seven designs will be something we’re all familiar with. Starting from the small, Heavy Metal brings us the Flea, Assassin, Vulcan, Phoenix Hawk, Rifleman, Archer, and Annihilator. All of these appear to be models taken from MechWarrior Online, with many being classic designs that are fan favorites.
Some of you might be wondering about the Warhammer and Marauder, two classic heavy ‘Mechs that were long rumored to be coming in Heavy Metal. They are not part of the expansion. Instead, they’ll be given to everyone FOR FREE as part of the 1.8 update, no Heavy Metal required.
New ‘Mechs leads us to new weapons. As shown briefly in the trailer just before we’re showcased the Bull Shark, a screen tells us each of the new weapons systems that will be added in Heavy Metal. A lot of these technologies normally wouldn’t be seen in the Inner Sphere until well after that Clan Invasion, so we’re playing a bit loose with the timeline here. One wonders just how Harebrained is going to explain their presence in the pre-Fourth Succession War era.
A new ‘Mech-sized mortar will almost certainly be the Thumper Artillery System. Although normally mounted on vehicles, ‘Mech-mounted Thumpers weren’t entirely unheard of.
Finally, COIL Lasers are described by Polygon as having a “charge-up” function. The more you move before firing, the more damage they deal. Their exact function is unknown at this time as they don’t seem to have any classic BattleTech analog.
These weapon additions are really throwing the timeline for a loop and I do not know how to feel about them. One thing I will definitely appreciate is the new Flashpoint mini-campaign that will be added with Heavy Metal. It will feature Wolf’s Dragoons, Natasha Kerensky, The Bounty Hunter, and a mysterious derelict spacecraft. We can likely assume there’s going to be some of this amazing tech on that spaceship, so maybe that will be out explanation.
BATTLETECH: Heavy Metal | Announcement Trailer UNRATED
I also see mentioned on the Paradox forums post that there will be official mod support added for the first time, so everyone playing with RogueTech installed is going to be super excited about that. I can’t find a better source for that though, so this might just be wishful thinking.
Heavy Metal arrives on November 21st for $19.99, or nothing if you already purchased the Season Pass. And remember: you get the Marauder and Warhammer for free even if you don’t buy Heavy Metal, but you should totally buy Heavy Metal. It looks like it’ll be the best expansion for BattleTech yet.
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
Urban Warfare is out, and with it comes a bunch of new things including Flashpoints, a new biome, and new ‘Mechs. The Javelinarrived 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?
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.”
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 Vulcanor 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. Steamchartsreports 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?)
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.