Your BattleTech News Roundup For June, 2021

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

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

Latest Tex Talks BattleTech Dives Deep Into The Marauder

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An Update On That MechWarrior 2 Unity Port

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clan Wolf, Move Out! 

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

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

Let's get things started ... | PC Gaming Show E3 2021
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If you were watching E3 as closely as I was, then you likely noticed how MechWarrior 5 featured quite prominently in the PC Gaming Show. In fact, Day9 was in the cockpit of a dropship, while Frankie was in the cockpit of a 65-ton CPLT-C1 Catapult. The hosts frequently swapped back and forth between various set pieces from MechWarrior 5, and the big interview during the show was with PGI’s community manager, Daeron Katz (who wore a stylish hat for the occasion).

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

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

Lego Mad Dog? Lego Mad Dog

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is America About To Make Real ‘Mechs?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Community Outreach – The Cauldron’s Bear_cl4w and Krasnopesky Talk MechWarrior Online

courtesy of EldoniousRex

Welcome back to Community Outreach, the ongoing column where we learn more about the people that help keep BattleTech alive and swinging. To get the lowdown on MechWarrior Online’s renaissance (which you can read all about in my last piece), I sat down with the Cauldron’s Bear_cl4w and Krasnopesky to talk about where the group came from, how it’s evolved, and how they plan to take the reigns of a failing game and bring the fun back to MechWarrior Online.

This interview was conducted last month, so many of the things we’ve discussed have already come to pass. That said, you can get an idea of what’s to come in MechWarrior Online by reading what Bear_cl4w and Krasnopesky have to say. Enjoy.

Continue reading

MechWarrior Online’s Renaissance Is All Thanks To The Developers Putting Players In Charge

courtesy of EldoniousRex

Something pretty remarkable is happening in MechWarrior Online. After years of falling player counts and being basically put on life support as developer PGI diverted funds and resources into developing MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries, MechWarrior Online players are returning to this once nearly-dead game. 

There are a number of reasons for this unexpected renaissance. To start, PGI began providing MechWarrior Online with updates at the end of last year. PGI also hired a new community manager--a well-known figure in the MechWarrior and BattleTech community--to help reach out to players and convince them that MechWarrior Online was worth another shot. 

But I’d argue that the biggest reason why players are returning to MechWarrior Online is that PGI has done the unthinkable: they’ve put the players in charge of MechWarrior Online.

Not all of them, of course. Even an almost dead game still has thousands of players and most of them couldn’t be bothered to dive into the spreadsheets of data necessary for a game as large and complex as MechWarrior Online. But a small group of players plucked from all levels of play have coalesced into a governing body that has largely been given the authority to determine MechWarrior Online’s future.

Those players call themselves the Cauldron--a name chosen to represent their melting pot of opinions. Like many online PvP games, MechWarrior Online has a diverse group of players of differing skill levels, and like BattleTech itself, they all love different aspects of the game. However, this group of players has been able to do something that PGI has struggled with over its many years of MechWarrior Online development.

The Cauldron is bringing fun back to MechWarrior Online.

MechWarrior Online’s Many Missteps

MechWarrior Online is a textbook example of what happens to an online service game when it expands faster than its developers can keep up. You can hardly blame PGI for wanting to monetize MWO as best they could, but the way they decided to do that was to keep throwing more and more ‘Mechs and weapons into the game until it became too overwhelming for their dev team to keep up with both balancing the game and also creating the next big thing.

Those big things often became sweeping changes to MechWarrior Online‘s mechanics that nobody really asked for. Perhaps the best example of this is MechWarrior Online‘s absolutely byzantine skill tree--resoundingly panned for being both overly complicated and ludicrously expensive at launch, and that opinion hasn’t changed much in the years since. 

Throw on engine desync, overly quirked Hero ‘Mechs, pay-to-win airstrikes and artillery strikes, and the still-infamous golden ‘Mech cash grab, and at times it seemed almost like PGI was deliberately trying to alienate MechWarrior Online‘s audience.

It certainly alienated me. Until recently, I hadn’t even touched the game since sometime back in 2017. And although we don’t have a complete report on MechWarrior Online’s total player count, we can assume based on the game’s Steamcharts performance that it also alienated plenty of other players over the years.

By early 2020, MechWarrior Online had reached its lowest point. With few players still left actually playing the game, it made far more financial sense for PGI to focus on creating MechWarrior 5 than it did to waste resources in a game that nobody was playing. Although the servers remained online, few players meant extra-long wait times for MechWarrior Online’s matches to start, and so PGI declared official updates for the game would end in January of 2020.

At that point, the writing was on the wall. MechWarrior Online was on life support, and it seemed only a matter of time before it became more profitable to turn the MWO servers off rather than keep them online.

Then 2020 happened, and the whole fucking world changed.

A Pandemic Makes Fools Of Us All

In February 2020, there were as few as 577 players on MechWarrior Online via Steam. Then the pandemic hit, and despite the fact nothing in the game had changed, government-imposed lockdowns meant that lots of people were stuck at home with nothing to do. A free-to-play game like MechWarrior Online was a worthy diversion for BattleTech fans worried about an apocalyptic new virus, so by March, MechWarrior Online‘s population had jumped by nearly 25%. 

By July, MechWarrior Online‘s player count was nearly double what it was a few months before without the game receiving a single update. I don’t really know what was going through the minds of PGI’s upper management during this time, but from their actions, you get a sense that they weren’t entirely ready to give up on MechWarrior Online

First, PGI hired a brand new community manager in October. Daeron “Bombadil” Katz is a well-known figure amongst the entire BattleTech community for his time as co-host for No Guts No Galaxy, and especially well-known in the MechWarrior Online community. There was basically no better person to reach out to MWO players and ask them just what could be done to revive the game.

Second, PGI was purchased by Swedish games publisher EG7. Unlike many publishers, EG7 seems to be a very hands-off sort of company, content to simply fund studios to develop their games and then reap the rewards. With EG7 paying the bills, PGI could now afford to take even the tiniest financial risk in setting up a small team to once again begin updating MechWarrior Online

But it was a very small team, and both Bombadil and PGI marketing head Matt Newman made it clear in the early months of 2021 that they just couldn’t make the sweeping changes to MechWarrior Online that some players had hoped for (chief among those was porting the game from CryEngine to Unreal Engine 5, a heroic task even for a much larger developer). 

Matt and Daeron promised small fixes, some new events, and perhaps a new ‘Mech pack or two. Game balance--which by this point was hopelessly out of control thanks to high-tech-era weapons and over 1,300 different ‘Mechs--was mentioned, but never really highlighted. The effort required to rebalance MechWarrior Online simply cost more than PGI would get in return. Or so they thought. 

Welcome To The Gulag

Before we can talk about the Cauldron, we have to talk about the Gulag, a name chosen for several reasons but chief among them was the idea that they were providing PGI with free labor. The group first formed in early 2018 after several updates took MechWarrior Online‘s balance in a decidedly un-fun direction, nerfing certain weapons and ‘Mechs to the point where they became basically unusable for no particular reason.

The Gulag was by all accounts a reactive movement, but one with the best intentions. The group created spreadsheets of game data and made reasonable arguments to revert the changes or institute entirely new ones for the overall health of the game. MechWarrior Online‘s developers, however, weren’t a receptive audience.

“The attitude that PGI had at the time [was] sort of the ‘we don’t want your help, we can do it ourselves’ type,” Bear_cl4w tells me in an interview. The group operates mostly as a collective, but Bear_cl4w serves as the de-facto leader. 

“When we had finished our work and showed it to the community the feedback was generally positive. But again, the response from PGI… They saw it and told us, ‘yeah we’ve discussed it internally,’ and then nothing,” Bear_cl4w recounts. “Little did we know that at the time they were working on MechWarrior 5, which led to maintenance mode for MWO.”

Things changed over the course of 2020. Maintenance mode reverted back to active--if somewhat tentative--development. With PGI’s resources mostly diverted to MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries, the free labor offered by the Gulag suddenly seemed like a far more attractive proposition. 

But once spurned, twice shy. PGI needed to make amends, and that job fell to MWO‘s brand new community manager. 

“Daeron I would say is a big part in why it has happened,” fellow Cauldron member Krasnopesky tells me. “I agree,” adds Bear_cl4w. “Daeron is a familiar face in the community due to his ties with No Guts No Galaxy and his recent hiring with PGI, but it was less about the individual and more about the message: they were asking us for help.”

This first step to mending fences meant that the Gulag was back on board. Only, they couldn’t be called the Gulag anymore. To avoid all the negative historical connotations, and to represent their new partnership with PGI, the Gulag “had to lose the edgy name.” 

The Cauldron, as the group calls themselves now, got straight to work fixing all of MechWarrior Online‘s many ailments. “The Cauldron has been sort of set to high gear,” Bear_cl4w says. “Rather than tackling one part of the game, we intend to re-balance as much as we are able to. Or as much as PGI currently can do.”

Made Better By Real MechWarriors

Mechwarrior Online May 2021 Patch Review
Watch this video on YouTube.

Certain aspects of MWO are just beyond the Cauldron’s abilities to change. Fundamental aspects of the game--such as the team deathmatch format, the 12v12 matches, and user interface--require engineers on PGI’s end to alter, which are in terribly short supply given the company’s focus on MechWarrior 5. But anything that can basically be boiled down to a number on a spreadsheet is fair game, and the Cauldron loves its numbers.

They’ve also got a plan. “The Cauldron is going about it as strategically as possible,” adds Bear_cl4w. “For example, our April patch was the big weapons pass and some light quirk changes, and for May, there is a map rework coming from the recently added map guy PGI hired, Francois. But after every big step, there will be an iteration on the previous step. So for May, it’s a big mobility step, small weapon iteration, and some more light quirk work.”

May’s recent patch notes make Bear_cl4w a man of his words. April’s weapon changes get slight adjustments, but there are also some big developments when it comes to ‘Mech mobility. Old, outdated designs like the Centurion, Hunchback, and Firestarter have all received massive agility enhancements, while designs like the Jagermech, Jenner, and Cicada have all received armor and structure buffs.

It’s no exaggeration that these changes make all these old ‘Mechs feel like new again. I’m actually excited to take these old gals out for a spin, and I’m not the only one. Feedback on both Reddit and the MechWarrior Online forums has been universally positive, not just for the ‘Mech reworks but for the reworked Canyon map as well.

What’s next for the Cauldron and MechWarrior Online? Once again, Bear_cl4w lays out the near-term plan. “We are getting some significant stuff this year and we’ll push for as much as we ourselves and PGI can do. Our intended path is weapons, agility, quirks, rescale, skill tree.”

Not everything will come at once, but rescaling certain ‘Mechs to be smaller or larger than others (the Shadow Hawk has been annoyingly tall in MechWarrior Online for some time now), as well as a simplified skill tree will only help to bring more players back to the game and maybe even get new players to give MechWarrior Online a try. 

Courtesy of PGI

Before I heap all the credit for MechWarrior Online‘s revival entirely on the Cauldron, it should be noted that PGI has been uncharacteristically generous with its events recently. Last month, they gave away the Mad Cat Mk II-B, a powerhouse of the old meta with its twin UAC/5 and twin UAC/10s. For May, PGI is giving away the Timber Wolf-C, a laser-vomit specialist and one of the ‘Mechs that benefited greatly from the recent mobility pass. And even if you don’t play enough to get the free ‘Mechs (which honestly doesn’t take too many matches even if you’re of average skill), there’s still tons of free C-bills, skill points, MC, and Premium Time up for grabs.

But just by the very nature of the game, players wouldn’t come back to acquire these new ‘Mechs if they didn’t think there’d be anyone to use them against. The Cauldron has changed the perception of MechWarrior Online as a dead game without a future into something much brighter. 

For the past seven months, MechWarrior Online’s player count has only gone up. In my own experience, the time spent waiting for the matchmaker to find players for a game has gone down. And when those games actually start, I’m far more likely to see new and interesting custom loadouts that nobody has ever seen before. it honestly feels like a whole new game.

MechWarrior 5’s release on Steam in the coming days is sure to bring renewed interest to MechWarrior Online. When those players come, they’ll be met with a game being made better by the very same MechWarriors they’re facing online. Just as it should be.

 

Your BattleTech News Roundup For May, 2021

It’s May, and I’m finally vaccinated! It hurt like hell and I was feeling like hot garbage for several days, but it’s a small price to pay for life to get back to some semblance of normal. A normal that probably won’t come for at least several more months as more people need to be vaccinated. And then we’ll all have to get boosters as we accept COVID as a seasonal disease like influenza. 

But whatever. As far as I’m concerned, May is full of good news, and that includes BattleTech. So let’s get to it!

MechWarrior 5 Steam Release Includes Full Crossplay On May 27

MW5 Announce Trailer
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There are two big news beats for May, those being Catalyst and the imminent shipping of Wave 2 of the Clan Invasion Kickstarter, and MechWarrior 5 releasing on Steam. We’ll start with MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries because it’s just days away from arriving. 

All the deets recently got published on the MechWarrior 5 and MechWarrior Online websites. The base game will clock in at $29.99, while the Heroes of the Inner Sphere DLC will hit you for another $19.99. Not a bad price for those who’ve been willing to wait for the game to release on Steam.

Ahh, but MechWarrior 5 isn’t just getting a Steam release! The game is also coming to the Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S, making it the first console MechWarrior game since MechAssault 2. And if you’re a PC snob, you can even get it on GoG too.

Even better, MechWarrior 5 will have full crossplay across all platforms. For co-op play, only the host will need to have purchased the DLC to give access to everyone playing, so if you’ve got your lancemates already arranged you can save a few bucks with only one of you purchasing Heroes of the Inner Sphere.

A massive free game update is also coming with the Steam release, which includes a revamped intro sequence, the ability to skip the tutorial, rebalanced difficulty and economy, and greater variety in missions and maps. There’s even going to be infantry running around so the levels will feel more like an actual planet and not just some ‘Mech-sized set-piece.

We’ve already gone over most of what Heroes of the Inner Sphere will get you (such as a new career start option, seven new ‘Mechs, new missions, biomes, and equipment), but you’ll also get an expanded Inner Sphere map with 18 more warzones and 11 more side quests. 

MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries and Heroes of the Inner Sphere releases on May 27 for Steam, GoG, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S. Wishlist now and you can get 1,250 MC in MechWarrior Online by posting to this forum thread

Clan Invasion Wave 2 Shipping Soon And IlCan Coming In June

And now for the news you’ve all been waiting for: Clan Wave 2 shipping is imminent! I just got an email warning me to update my shipping address if anything’s changed between now and Wave 1 (if your address is the same listed in the email, then there’s no further action required). Catalyst is still waiting on one last container shipment as of May 20, and I have no idea how long it takes for a box to cross the Pacific ocean (or even if it necessarily is arriving via the Pacific), but I’d say a June delivery is likely. 

Catalyst also treated us to a State of the Game update earlier in May that revealed an equally momentous occasion: The IClan sourcebook arrives in June too! Get the full story for the Battle of Terra, including tactical maps, new ‘Mechs, and insights into how the other Great Houses reacted to this momentous conflict. 

There’s a whole list of things coming in the next few months! Recognition Guide: IlClan gets its fourth cycle from August to November, Rock and a Hard Place brings the first new Gray Death Legion story in years in July, and Tamar Rising takes a look at the Tamar region of Lyran space during the Battle for Terra in September. 

Check out Catalyst’s website for the full rundown on what’s coming in the latter half of 2021. 

This Guy Added A ‘Mech Bay To His Computer

My computer hasn’t had a disk drive in some time, and even the days of my solid-state drives requiring a bay are numbered. When I eventually swap to NVMe drives, I’ll have nothing to put in the front of my case. 

Nothing, except for a bad-ass ‘Mech bay. 

Toukejin, thank you for creating this articulated Timber Wolf model and then throwing it on Thingiverse for me. Now I just need to find a 3D printer to make one of these for my next build.

MechWarrior Online’s May Patch Brings Phase 1 Mobility Pass And A New Canyon Map

Mechwarrior Online May 2021 Patch Review
Watch this video on YouTube.

We covered a lot of what’s going on in the May patch in my recent interview with the Cauldron’s Bear_cl4w, but a quick recap never hurts!

The biggest change with MechWarrior Online’s May patch is the reworked Canyon Network map. Spawn points and differences in cover have been fixed along with newly added ramps, bridges, and other terrain fixes that will make it a little easier to get around if you’re a non-jump-capable ‘Mech, but still provides a benefit for bringing a ‘Mech with jump jets.

April’s weapon pass has been fine-tuned with additional tweaks to various over-performing weapons, such as the Snub-Nose PPC, Clan Micro Pulse Laser, and Light Gauss Rifle. These adjustments hardly remove these weapons from viability, so all the cool new builds that came out of April’s patch will still work just fine. As always, the Cauldron is keeping a watchful eye on weapon performance for next month’s patch.

May also brought phase one of the ‘Mech agility pass. The Centurion, Hunchback, Hunchback IIC, Firestarter, Night Gyr, Timber Wolf, Atlas, and Kodiak are all more nimble to varying degrees to bring them into line with other ‘Mechs in their class. The Centurion and Hunchback IIC in particular were both extremely cumbersome chassis despite being medium-class machines, often getting outmaneuvered by ‘Mechs much heavier. 

A few ‘Mechs also received armor and structure quirk alterations, namely the Stalker, Jagermech, Cicada, Jenner, and Jenner IIC. Generally, this involved providing more base armor to these fragile ‘Mechs while also redistributing their structure values somewhat so that they’re all tougher and hopefully more viable to bring into a pug. 

I’ve tried the new Hunchback and Jenner, and both feel a lot better. I’m looking forward to my Nova getting the same treatment eventually. 

Sean Lang Interviews Iqfish, Creative Director For Hired Steel

Hired Steel: A Mech Machinima – Episode One
Watch this video on YouTube.

So I somehow missed Hired Steel‘s debut episode on Sarna’s April news blast, which is an unforgivable offense given how this is quite possibly the most amazing fan-made BattleTech machinima ever made. For those that missed it (including myself), I’ll embed the video above. 

Now that you’ve seen it, here’s No Guts No Galaxy’s Sean Lang’s interview Constantin “Iqfish,” Hired Steel’s creative director over at TMC. Apparently, this whole thing got started as a COVID project since Germany had a bunch of lockdowns that resulted in reduced work hours for most of the population. With more free time, TMC came up with this amazing new video series. 

Podcast 223 - Hired Steel - Constantin 'Iqfish'
Watch this video on YouTube.

Now that vaccines are rolling out and lockdowns are easing, I certainly hope TMC finds the time to continue this project to what will almost certainly be a thrilling conclusion.

Wolves Wave 2 ‘Mechs Are Here!

Wolves Wave 2 Launch Trailer | MechAssault Fangame Available Now For Free!
Watch this video on YouTube.

Earlier this month, Wolves got its Wave 2 update, including the Raven, Raptor II, Hellbringer, and Mad Cat Mk II. And to celebrate the occasion, New Day Fiction gave us this sweet new trailer. The maps are all still fairly basic-looking, but they’re working on it. 

Oh, and Wave 3 is currently in development. No word on what ‘Mechs that will include, but there’s a hint on the Wolves Twitter suggesting that the Puma will be in it. The Puma isn’t as cool as the Cougar, but it’s still a worthy addition and a ‘Mech we don’t see all that often in MechWarrior games. 

As always, you can download Wolves and play for free from their website. If you’re a fan of MechAssault, then you’ll love Wolves. 

How About Some Ostsol Love?

Ostol OTL-4D – Redesign Concept Sketch: take a derpy mech and try to make it look threatening… and facing to the right! from battletech

The Ostsol is a ‘Mech that doesn’t get nearly enough love. Especially the bizarre, spindly-limbed original drawings by Duane Loose. So when I saw SU-SMD‘s take on the Ostsol on the BattleTech subreddit, I just had to share it.

What I love about this drawing is how it combines the abstract and “rough” style of the original BattleTech card game with the more hyper-realistic style of modern BattleTech artists.  

Tex Got Married!

Someone drew a picture of Tex at his wedding to the Elemental. Enjoy. from battletech

Well, not really. But as the story goes, Tex had a VERY strong girlfriend at one point, so the meme is that he’s into big strong ladies, and it doesn’t get any bigger or stronger than an Elemental. Thus, the incredibly talented EldoniousRex created this image of Randolph P. Checkers on his wedding day with one very lucky Ghost Bear woman. 

The lore of Randolph P. Checkers, Tex’s now-canonized character, still needs to be fleshed out with this story on Sarna’s wiki, so somebody hop to it!

And that’s it for May. Join us next month for more BattleTech action.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Your BattleTech News Roundup For April 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MechWarrior: Bulldogs
Watch this video on YouTube.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Harmony Gold, Big West Finally Settle Macross/Robotech Dispute

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Why You Should Actually Trust BattleTech’s Mysteriously Short-Ranged Autocannons

Courtesy of EldoniousRex

So it’s been a few years since I wrote an article that compared BattleTech’s autocannon rounds to high explosive pancakes, and while it was a fun piece to write, something has always bothered me about it. There were a lot of responses, all of them from folks much more knowledgeable than myself about military ballistics I’m sure, and they all seemed to make valid points on why a gun’s bore size doesn’t necessarily mean anything when it comes to effective range.

Notably, none of the comments really went over my math to disprove that BattleTech’s cannon munitions are not actually flat discs, so I’m pretty confident that I can convince CGL to one day accept my article as irrefutable truth.

But the range thing--that’s stuck with me. Of course, writing for Sarna is a busy job what with all the BattleTech news that never seems to end (go read Sarna’s recent March news blast to find out what’s going on with MechWarrior 5 and MechWarrior Online, by the way), so I never got the chance to actually go through all those comments to see just what the heck they were talking about.

Until now. Yes, four years later, I’m taking a dive into the deep end of artillery to see just how a larger gun can shoot a bigger bullet not as far as a smaller gun firing a tinier shell.

And my journey starts with, of all people, Tex of the Black Pants Legion.

From my previous interview and listening to the Black Pants Legion podcast, I knew that Tex was a gun nut and also a military historian, so I figured if anybody knew a thing or two about guns, it’d be him. Sadly, Tex is a busy guy and I wasn’t able to get a full interview, but he was able to point me in the right direction while desperately defending his homestead from COVID zombies.

“Sean, you fuckwit,” I can clearly recall him telling me over a brief Discord call. “Barrel size doesn’t mean jack shit. There’s way more that goes into making a shell go zoom, like stabilization, recoil reduction, heat dissipation, and propellant. Look, you’re a smart guy, just check out this Italian naval cannon and you’ll figure it out.”

Then he hung up after several loud gunshots. I assume he’s fine.

That Italian naval cannon, by the by, was the Oto Melara 76mm autocannon, perhaps one of the best examples you can find today of what an autocannon from the year 3025 might look like. And as I researched the Oto Melara, I was surprised to find that it possessed qualities that seemed to belie its diminutive bore size.

76mm SR
Watch this video on YouTube.

For those unaware, bore size refers to the diameter of the barrel and is often used as a rough measurement to describe a gun’s overall size. However, it is but one measurement of many, and it can often obscure a cannon’s true power.

If you’ll remember from my previous article, the general rule with guns is that the bigger they are the farther they’ll shoot; an M1911 semi-automatic pistol will never be able to shoot as far as an M119 howitzer no matter how much you rearrange the numbers one and nine. But once you get into the artillery range of cannon sizes, things get a lot more… complicated.

The problem with ballistics is that there are way too many factors that’ll determine a gun’s maximum range. That said, we can narrow things down to a few topics and then discuss how those factors could contribute to BattleTech‘s inverse relationship when it comes to bigger guns firing over shorter distances.

The Bigger The Boom, The Bigger The Boomstick

The factors leading to a projectile traveling as far as it can are numerous, but they always start with the same thing: a really big explosion. That explosion then needs to be contained and directed down a barrel that won’t also explode along with the shell that the explosion is pushing. Then there needs to be recoil dampening, exhaust evacuation, and a loading mechanism, all of which need to be appropriately balanced in order to maximize performance.

And that’s what I think Tex was alluding to when he pointed me at that Italian naval cannon. In order for BattleTech’s autocannons to be mounted on a ‘Mech at all, they need to sacrifice some of the factors that allow a cannon to fire with longer range.

Let’s take the Oto Melara 76 mm as a starting point and compare it to the M119 105 mm howitzer. The Oto Melara has a maximum firing range of 20 km, while the howitzer has a maximum range of 17.5 km. The Howitzer fires a larger shell (105 mm), but the smaller shell of the Oto Melara not only flies further, but it also has a lot of friends with a fire rate of about 80 rounds per minute. The M119, on the other hand, struggles to fire 3 rounds per minute with a well-trained crew.

One is a manned field artillery piece designed to be carried on the back of a truck. The other is installed in a naval turret with an automated loader mechanism and radar-assisted fire control. There’s a lot more going on with the Oto Melara to allow its shells to exceed that of the field howitzer, but the point is that a big shell doesn’t always mean one that’ll go far when the cannon goes boom.

Are you my daddy?

We can see an even better example of this by heading back to the final days of World War 2. The Sturmtiger has a gaping 380 mm barrel that’s barely a few feet long--sort of like how you see on certain ‘Mechs such as the Cauldron Born-B, Thunder, and Emperor. Because the German designers tried to shoehorn an enormous gun onto what was essentially a mobile bunker, enormous sacrifices were made to range and fire rate, such that the rounds fired from the Sturmtiger were more like mortar shots with a range of roughly 5 km.

Compare that to something like the 16-inch (406 mm) naval guns on most US battleships of the same era, which had a range of over 40 km, and you see just how meaningless a gun’s bore size can be.

You Need Space To Shine

So what does a cannon need to lob a round as far as it can? Well, as the guns of the Mighty Mo prove, you need a big-ass barrel, a ton of propellant, and something for that propellant to explode against that won’t shatter into a million pieces (and also probably sink the ship that’s firing the round).

Let’s maintain our comparison between the 16-inch guns of the USS Missouri and the Sturmtiger to further prove this point. To get that 43km range, Mighty Mo used six propellant bags that weighed roughly 100 lbs each. The barrel was about 67 feet long, and the whole gun including the breach weighed roughly 134 tons.

Now the Sturmtiger. To ensure that it didn’t blow up every time it fired, the Sturmtiger’s rounds were technically rockets that were integrated into the 830 lb projectile. The barrel was only about 8-feet long, which wasn’t even that much more than the 5-foot long shell itself. And in order to be mobile at all, the gun itself had to be relatively light in order to fit onto the Sturmtiger’s chassis, which topped out at 75 tons.

The Sturmtiger is just like an AC/20 in BattleTech. It had to sacrifice so much in terms of barrel length and gun mass just to fit onto a mobile chassis like a ‘Mech that it lost all the important bits that let a cannon fire like it was Iwo Jima in 1945.

Expand this concept to the rest of BattleTech‘s autocannon line and it doesn’t sound all that unbelievable that the smaller a gun gets the longer its range. To help drive this concept home, I’ve made a series of charts that compare historical weapons and autocannons. Note that the axes are not to any particular scale.

Here we have historical cannons. Note the trend that as a cannon gets larger its attendant vehicle needs to also get larger to maintain that gun’s performance.

Now check out the same chart I made for ‘Mechs and autocannons. Note that ‘Mechs don’t vary nearly as widely as historical military vehicles, so bigger autocannons sacrifice range to stay viable on the platform.

And there you have it. Big guns need big vehicles, and if you don’t get bigger, then those guns have to lose explosive power resulting in less range. BattleTech’s autocannons are not stupid at all and are in fact a clever recreation of what would actually happen if you tried to stick giant cannons onto a giant robot.

Of course, this completely ignores the fact that not all autocannons have the same caliber, even amongst the same class. An AC/20 could be a rapid-firing 120mm cannon or a giant mortar-style 300mm cannon (or anywhere in between) with damage values merely representing their destructive capacity and nothing else.

But that’s a topic for another time.

And as always MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

 

Your BattleTech News Roundup For March, 2021

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

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

Shrapnel Celebrates Its First Year And Updates On Wave 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

MWO Catapult K2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’ve Always Called This ‘Mech The Murder Turkey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tex Talks BattleTech Returns To Discuss The Marauder Soon™

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

MechWarrior Living Legends 2 Announced

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Mice To Elementals?

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

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

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

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

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

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

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

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

DriveThruRPG Is Having A Huge Sale On BattleTech Stuff

DriveThruRPG BattleTech sale

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

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

Fall From Glory

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

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

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

Let’s See Some Grizzly Love

Ghost Bear Grizzly – Concept from battletech

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Your BattleTech News Roundup For February, 2021

courtesy of Eldosiousrex

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.

Patreon Springs Up To Make New BattleTech Art

Boys - Process of Creating
Watch this video on YouTube.

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?

That’s the idea behind Gallery 3025, a new Patreon founded by Renegade HPG (you might remember him from the recently-concluded BattleTech Animated Series remaster you can watch on YouTube). “Gallery 3025 is a community fund to support the creation of BattleTech illustrations and animation,” reads the Patreon description, with 100% of the proceeds going towards funding artists.

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 1.4.237.0, 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.

February’s free ‘Mech is the Huntsman Prime, which is a great little machine that I highly recommend. There are still a few days left to earn it, and then March will have a brand new free ‘Mech.

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

This was posted by Matt Stanley over on Twitter. I assume he did it, so all kudos/stones should be thrown at him. Regardless, I thought it was pretty amazing, so I will only throw kudos.

A Great Tribute To Exodus Road’s Cover

Exodus Road from battletech

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

Wolves Wave 2 Mini Showcase (0.1.28)
Watch this video on YouTube.

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 BattleTech Advanced, 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 1.9.2.0. 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.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Your BattleTech News Roundup For January, 2021

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

MechCommander Xmas Edition

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 Hours on 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 

Drop Pods MCM

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

IlClan Vol 11

As always, Catalyst Games keeps on rolling out new products. Recognition Guide: ilClan, Volume 11 is here with yet more classic ‘Mech designs that are fully rebuilt with Dark Age tech, allowing you to use Clan Invasion minis all the way up to the ilClan-era. The Battle of Tukayyid anthology is also here with stories from Jason Schmetzer, Michael J. Ciaravella, Randall N. Bills, Blaine Lee Pardoe, and more.

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

Marauder IIC

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].

Let’s Pad This Thing With Some Great Art!

I drew a Shadow Hawk fighting a Wolverine inspired by the novellas included in there box sets feel free to use this for anything you want. from battletech

What’s a monthly update without some great art? I spotted this Shadow Hawk battling a Wolverine from 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.

How do you like your T-Bolt? Had this already sketched out and decide to finish it. Feel free to use it for anything you want. from battletech

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

MechWarrior Online Dev Vlog Jan 2021
Watch this video on YouTube.

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.

Hired Steel Is Still Coming

Remember Hired Steel? The MechWarrior machinima is still on its way, with CK providing us an update on his Twitter account

“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

ISC Tournament

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. 

Head on over to Aces Wild’s website to sign up and for the full tournament rules.

One More Art Thing That’s Pretty Great

Finished lineart for my custom Rifleman II variant! How’d I do? from battletech

RedCometComight is back with a Rifleman II that is super great and I wanted to share because Gatling guns on a ‘Mech are awesome.

MechWarrior 2 Speedrun Page Now Has An Individual Level Leaderboard

MechWarrior 2: Clan Jade Falcon speedrun in 41:15
Watch this video on YouTube.

MechWarrior 2: 31st Century Combat is on the Speedrun.com leaderboard and has been for a little over a year, but now it’s got a specific level leaderboard so you can see how quickly people can scoot through any of MechWarrior 2‘s 32 levels.

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?

Enforcer

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.

But I’ve decided to dust off BATTLETECH and give it another go. Partially because MechWarrior 5 has been delayed to the spring and I don’t have any other BattleTech video games to play, but mainly because I’ve been watching Tex’s ongoing Let’s Play of Scrombles Slaughter Division on YouTube and it’s given me the itch. 

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. 

That’s it for January! Join me next month for yet more BattleTech action, and check out Sarna’s interview with The Art of BattleTech and Renegade HPG, the two guys who brought the old BattleTech animated series back from the dead.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy. 

stay syrupy