It’s been an eventful September. We had the hottest summer in human history, Hollywood writers secured a historic contract that prevents them from losing their jobs to AI, and best of all, we’ve got a DropShip-load of BattleTech news to cover. So let’s skip all this historic garbage and get straight to the news that matters!
MechWarrior 5 Clans Announced
Looks like the speculation is over a lot sooner than I thought. The next MechWarrior game is not MechWarrior 6 but is instead being called MechWarrior 5: Clans.
The news first broke through a leaked version of the article coming in the next issue of PC Gamer. We’re only discussing it here since most of what we learn in the article is also available to peruse on MechWarrior 5: Clan‘s Steam store listing, which went live a few days later (presumably because of the leak).
We’ve got a lot to unpack here, so we’ll start with the article. It’s intended to explain the universe to non-BattleTech players, so we’ll skip a lot of the general stuff and get right to the specifics. We’re playing as Clan Smoke Jaguar during the invasion of the Inner Sphere. One early mission--perhaps even the introductory mission--is confirmed to take place on the pirate-controlled world of Santander V. This earliest known battle between the Smoke Jaguars and the Inner Sphere involved saKhan Sarah Weaver bidding against Clan Ghost Bear to destroy the pirate band Santander’s Killers, and would place the player as a MechWarrior in either the Shroud Keshik or the 362nd Assault Cluster.
There are several confirmed ‘Mechs in the article, including the Timber Wolf, Mad Dog, Summoner, and Dire Wolf, although fighting against pirates and the Draconis Combine presumably means we’ll see a lot of Inner Sphere designs too. I think it’s safe to say we’ll see a bunch of Clan ‘Mech models that are already represented in MechWarrior Online and are era/faction-appropriate, such as the Mist Lynx, Nova, Stormcrow, Ebon Jaguar, Warhawk, and more.
Emil has already talked at length about what MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries does right and what it does wrong, so I’ll be brief when I say Mercenaries‘ biggest shortcoming is storytelling. Too many missions said that we were trying to save the noble from an invading force, but what we actually did was fend off waves of randomly spawned ‘Mechs on a randomly generated map. We never saw the nobles, the invaders never acted like they were trying to complete their own objective, and the mission felt like every other mission--a festival of destruction that ends with you atop a pile of wrecked ‘Mechs.
It sounds like PGI is taking a different direction with MW5: Clans. The terms “handcrafted,” “bespoke,” and “visual storytelling” all got bandied around in the article, with levels being designed to produce evocative visuals as well as memorable encounters. We can also expect a different audio experience. Where Mercenaries was all about chunky metal guitars evoking a similar soundscape to MechWarrior 2: Mercenaries, MW5: Clans will try to emulate the synthesized ambiance of the original MechWarrior 2: 31st Century Combat.
Head over to the Steam store listing and we find out MW5: Clans will have an “expansive campaign” with “well-crafted characters and moral quandaries.” There’s also going to be a “revamped MechLab” with a new “hardpoint and OmniPod system.”
I gotta give kudos to PGI on this one. The first MechWarrior 2 covered Clans Wolf, Jade Falcon, and Ghost Bear (with the expansion). We’ve never had a MechWarrior game where the Smoke Jaguars were anything but the villain. There’s lots of room for storytelling here alongside some classic ‘Mech versus ‘Mech action.
There are a few other things worth noting. The teaser video you see above was created by the same folks who made Hired Steel, which explains its incredible quality. They’ve even released a behind-the-scenes video on how they made the teaser. For more analysis on where the campaign could go and what ‘Mechs to expect, I’ll direct you to Stormwolf’s excellent breakdown on the subject here. We know MechWarrior 5’s game engine is being upgraded from Unreal 4 to Unreal 5 (here’s hoping my current rig can keep up). And we’re getting MechWarrior 5: Clans way sooner than I expected. The game drops sometime in 2024.
There’s more in PC Gamer’s article, so do pick up their next issue whenever it arrives. I don’t really follow print magazines, but I assume they’re still on a monthly schedule.
OPINION – ‘Mechs That Need To Be In MechWarrior 5: Clans
Stormwolf has given us a list of ‘Mechs already modeled in MechWarrior Online that we could see in MechWarrior 5: Clans. However, I think it’d be a huge waste for PGI to release a new game without any new ‘Mechs that fans haven’t seen before (or at least, not in a long time).
A new game means new ‘Mechs, and I’m going to throw out a few names for ‘Mechs that absolutely should be in MechWarrior 5: Clans. First and foremost, the Firemoth, Inner Sphere reporting name Dasher. This ‘Mech was deemed too fast to put into MechWarrior Online as a potential top speed of over 200 kph would outrun the game’s polling rate, making accurate prediction of shots utterly impossible. But that problem doesn’t exist in a PvE co-op game with at most five players.
We haven’t seen the Firemoth since MechWarrior 2. It’s time to bring this fast boy home.
Next on the list is the Kingfisher. Although more commonly found in Clan Ghost Bear’s touman, it’s still conceivable to find them in second-line Smoke Jaguar units. The Kingfisher is a personal fav since it’s one of the few Clan OmniMechs that doesn’t have an XL engine, making it an extremely tough ‘Mech to bring down.
And finally, the Black Python, Inner Sphere reporting name Viper. No, it’s not an OmniMech, but it is still a powerful 75-ton machine with all the bells and whistles the Clans are famous for, plus a targeting computer to turn those Large Pulse Lasers into crit-seeking snipers. It’s a wonder this ‘Mech even exists in-universe, but it’d be amazing to see it in a new MechWarrior title.
A few more names to drop: Conjurer, Horned Owl, Bane, Glass Spider, and the unsung IICs. There are over a dozen ‘Mechs that haven’t been made in MechWarrior Online that are easily appropriate for the Smoke Jaguar invasion. List off any I’ve forgotten in the comments below.
This EIGHT HOUR Video Comprehensively Tells The Story Of The Amaris Civil War
Sven van der Plank has been producing long-form BattleTech videos on YouTube for some time now, with deep dives into some of BattleTech‘s most lore-heavy topics. However, none of them compare to the massive eight-hour video he produced for the Star League Civil War, with the help of many notable individuals from the BattleTech community.
Each subject is accompanied by in-universe art or custom animations created to explain everything from the force dispositions of the Inner Sphere nations to the massive body count the war eventually generated. Occasionally, you’ll get the likes of Tex or BigRed40 jumping in to lend their voice when Sven needs a well-deserved break, but then he just gets back to explaining every facet of the subject in meticulously well-sourced detail. And it’s all set to music you’ll recognize from past BattleTech games.
I’ve been leaving this video on in the background when I don’t necessarily need my language centers online, and I’m still only halfway through. This is an all-day lecture, but it’s so well done that it’s worth the investment unless you’re already well-versed in every aspect of the BattleTech timeline between the years 2700 and 2800.
As impressive as this video is, I think I prefer his more recent series which divides the First Succession War into more manageable 30-minute chunks. I’ll get through this video eventually, and you all should definitely subscribe to Sven’s channel for more.
Another MW5: Mercs DLC Is On The Way Alongside A New MechWarrior Game In 2027
Enad Global 7, the parent company of MechWarrior 5 developer PGI, released a video showcasing the company’s future plans, and MechWarrior is a big part of them. We already know about MechWarrior 5: Clans coming sometime in 2024, but I was surprised to see the presentation reveal yet more MechWarrior is on the way.
MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries won’t be finished after The Dragon’s Gambit. Another DLC is planned for sometime in the first quarter of 2024. There’s no info on what the DLC will entail, but given it’ll arrive before MechWarrior 5: Clans, I’m guessing it’ll link the two games by pitting our favorite lug-head mercenary against the Clans in the early years of the Clan Invasion. There are really no notable events after the War of ’39 until the Clans invade, and it’d make sense to join the two MechWarrior 5s narratively.
There’s also another MechWarrior game currently in the “ideation phase” that is targeting a release sometime in 2027. We again have little info as this phase is typically just folks spitballing ideas to see what sticks. It’ll be along the same lines as MechWarrior 5; a small-scale co-op game with an initial price tag and DLC released every few months. However, the future of this game is entirely dependent on whether Microsoft agrees to extend the MechWarrior license beyond 2025.
Given MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries sold over a million units over the course of three years, I can’t imagine Microsoft saying no to an extension.
The presentation also gave us a tiny insight into the financial performance of MechWarrior. The development budget for this new MechWarrior title coming in 2027 is around $20 million. Given the presentation said that it expects the financial performance of this game to be the same as MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries, that means Mercs probably had a budget of around $20 million too. And since we know it sold a million copies priced at $40 bucks each, that’s at least $40 million in revenue, not counting DLC. Not exactly GTA money, but certainly a healthy profit.
PGI president Russ Bullock was in Stockholm to discuss the future of MechWarrior with his Swedish overlords last week. And judging by the fact there weren’t any follow-up tweets, I assume what we see in the presentation is what’s happening. I’ll be sure to keep my eyes peeled for news on this future MechWarrior game, which I’ll now start referring to as the new MechWarrior 6.
MW5: Mercs The Dragon’s Gambit DLC Has Arrived
Speaking of MechWarrior 5 DLC, The Dragon’s Gambit is here, and I haven’t had a chance to play it yet. I do own it, but it’s been a crazy month and I’m burning the midnight oil getting this news blast out. You can watch the launch trailer to get an idea of what we’re in for. I’m not sure why Arcturus is being showcased in the trailer as that planet wasn’t a battleground in the War of 3039, but I will find out just as soon as I get a chance to take the Bad ‘Mechs (that’s the name of my mercenary company of course) into the new campaign.
We do have some new information to go over courtesy of a recent news post on the MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries site. Custom difficult options are now available under the Gameplay tab in the Options menu. These custom options allow players to adjust things like the storage cost of ‘Mechs and ‘Mech upkeep as well as the penalties applied to contract payouts for going over tonnage. You can even set these penalties to zero to effectively have no tonnage limit to any mission.
There are also the new “Otomo” ‘Mechs, which are upgraded versions of ‘Mechs typically found in the DCMS. For example, the DRG-1G-S Grand Dragon has near-maximum armor, an array of formerly LosTech lasers and enough heat sinks to use them. The HTM-26T-S Hatamoto-Chi carries a standard weapons complement but is slightly faster and more heat efficient than your typical Hatamoto. Conversely, the CLPT-K2-S Catapult is slightly slower than a typical K2 but replaces the machine guns with AC/2s. For more all the Otomo ‘Mechs and the customizable difficulty options, check out the news post here.
There’s also a huge sale going on where you can get MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries and most of its DLC 50% off. If you haven’t given this game a try, now’s a pretty good time.
Jason Youngblood’s Phoenix Hawk LAM
It’s been a minute since we’ve heard from Gallery 3025, but I’m glad we have a new spectacle to share. Here we have Jason Youngblood‘s Phoenix Hawk LAM by Víctor Yáñez. As Travis states in the post, there’s very little LAM art out there that isn’t just Macross. It’s good to see this very unique ‘Mech in its prime.
But also, I’m glad that BattleTech‘s design went more toward ‘Mechs “as tanks with legs” rather than “fighter jets with legs.” Still, great art here. Sign up to Gallery 3025 to help produce more great art like this.
Wolves Previews Multiplayer Update
MechAssault fans should already know all about Wolves, the MechAssault fan game from Pajama Boy and New Day Fiction. Previously, the game’s only mode pitted you against waves of enemies until your ‘Mech finally gave out. However, that will soon change with update 0.5.8 and Wave 3. Wolves is getting multiplayer.
The trailer above showcases three players in a free-for-all. I don’t know if that’s the maximum number of players possible, but I’m hoping Wolves will be able to add a few more for a real Grand Melee experience.
Wave 3 will also add new ‘Mechs, new skins, and better graphics, including 4K and HDR. You can download the current build here, and expect more previews to be coming soon.
My Lil Mechwarrior: Hell’s Horses Ride at Dawn
I can’t take credit for that title. That belongs to Captain_Vlad, while the art belongs to Zemerpone. I love seeing BattleTech through the lens of different art styles. I was never a brony, but I can still appreciate good art when I see it. And a good joke.
There’s A Reason It’s Called The Executioner
This is but one of a three--part series from Tychorion. The first is of an Executioner getting the first blast on a Crusader, while a pack of Pheonix Hawks and Firestarters finish it off in the second piece. The third involves an Incubus taking on a pair of Blood Asps, which will certainly go just swimmingly for the 30-ton ‘Mech.
These are all clearly inspired by MechWarrior Online, with that third piece being set on Tourmaline. As I said, I love seeing BattleTech in different and unique styles, and this definitely fits the bill. Thanks, Tychorion!
Hover Crab Is The Next Step In Crab Evolution
Pretty Sure That Highlander Just Crushed An Aggro ‘Mech
A piece from Jared Blando that was featured in Shrapnel issue #13 for the story No Rest For The Accursed. This is why you don’t take an AgroMech (or a logger ‘Mech, as in this case) against a Highlander IIC. Stunning ink work here. You can see another of Blando’s pieces in this post.
A New Giant Robot Has Arrived
You might remember Kuratas, the giant Japanese robot that fought Eagle Prime Mk III back in 2018. Afterward, Kuratas seemed to disappear from public view, but a new Japanese robot has arrived that seems to have picked up where Kuratas left off.
It’s called ARCHAX from Tsubame Industries, which plans to actually sell this four-legged robot for 400 million yen each (or roughly $2.7 million USD). ARCHAX is 4.5 meters tall (a little under 15 feet) and weighs in at 3.5 tons. The human pilot sits in ARCHAX’s chest and is propelled along by wheels located on the mech’s four legs. The pilot navigates using nine cameras placed around the exterior, and two joysticks control ARCHAX’s arms.
It’s not exactly fast. With a top speed of just 10 kph, ARCHAX is slower than an UrbanMech. It also has no weapons as guns are illegal in Japan.
This begs the question of who will buy ARCHAX and what it might be used for. The answer to both is “nobody knows.” The articulating hands could theoretically pick up and deposit cargo, but there’s no reason to use ARCHAX over a forklift at present. And it’s so slow that you might as well get on a bike if you want to get someplace. Probably easier to park too.
But hey, we’re not going to look a gift mech in the mouth. Expect to see more of ARCHAX during the Japan Mobility Show later this fall.
The Black Knight Leads The Way
#Battletech commission I finished couple of weeks earlier.
Currently finishing another one I was working for a very long time.
Next week probably would make an announcement looking for some more clients.
Also there's a new sketch for a RAC5 with legs on my Boosty page. pic.twitter.com/Vn2W9cyAjj
— fed0t (@fed0t1) September 14, 2023
This particular Black Knight, courtesy of fed0t, was clearly inspired by MechWarrior 5‘s BL-7-KNT-P. It looks like she’s seen better days, but is still more than capable of leading the fight for a band of less technologically advanced soldiers.
UrbanMech IIC Arrives In MechWarrior Online
MechWarrior 5: Clans sort of sucked all the MechWarrior oxygen out of the room, so we’re just going to quickly hit the highlights for this month’s MechWarrior Online patch.
The biggest that I can see are two new Legendary ‘Mechs that are both UrbanMech IICs. That’s right: now you can put Clan tech on your 30-ton trashcan. The two Legendary ‘Mechs, named “Hashke” and “Abbaddon,” basically just double down on the UrbanMech‘s penchant for having a big cannon supported by tiny lasers. They also have armor, heat, and firepower quirks that put the other Urbies to shame.
Along with the UrbanMech IICs comes a new Legendary Atlas, called “Warlord,” which mounts two LB 20-Xs and waddles somewhat faster than most Atlases. The patch also brings balance adjustments to ‘Mechs and weapons, including quirk passes for the Bushwacker, Orion, Executioner, and Stone Rhino.
There’s a lot more in the patch notes, such as the MWO Champion Series support pack that’s on sale now as teams battle for MWO supremacy. Read all about it on MWO‘s website here.
Phil Spencer Says He’d Love Xbox To Return To MechAssault/MechWarrior Games
I know that one executive merely saying something doesn’t mean it’s going to happen, but it’s still nice to hear Phil Spencer reminisce about MechAssault and MechWarrior. Speaking at the Tokyo Game Show, the Xbox head honcho said, “I always wanted us to go back and revisit MechAssault MechWarrior space, I think there’s a lot we can do. There’s so much about that whole franchise that in some way was ahead of its time, and it would be nice to get to go back and revisit.”
No sooner did Spencer make the comment did the official Wolves account offer its assistance in reviving MechAssault. Considering these fine folks have done a great job making a fan game with literally zero budget, I could only imagine the amazing work they’d do with Microsoft’s money.
Spencer added Xbox doesn’t “have a plan today,” but maybe that’ll change with a little help from Wolves. Fingers crossed, guys.
The Mercenaries Kickstarter’s Pledge Manager Has Officially Closed
Catalyst is still hard at work on the wildly successful Mercenaries Kickstarter, which is why we haven’t heard from them in a while. The latest update is that the Pledge Manager has closed and everyone should see the charges appear on the credit cards (or whatever your payment method was) very shortly.
Next will come the actual fulfillment of the orders, which will hopefully be fairly quick. I’d love to get these boxes in before Christmas, but Catalyst has not provided a specific timeline for when everyone will get their packages. Hopefully, we’ll get that timeline for next month’s news.
MechAssault 2 ‘Mechs Now Available For Gmod
Major BioMech has tipped me off to a new collection of ‘Mechs, tanks, and aircraft for everyone’s favorite stand-alone Half-Life sandbox, Gmod. This time, all the MechAssault 2 units are fully functional NPCs, allowing you to fight them in your own ‘Mech or watch them fight amongst themselves. You can even have those same ‘Mechs fight completely non-BattleTech characters to see who’d win.
The mod comes courtesy of Dopey, who also created the original driveable MechAssault ‘Mechs. Thanks for the great work!
The Kit Fox Arrives In MechWarrior 5
Speaking of mods, we have SankaraSamsara (also known as The Art Of BattleTech) and Maxim2016 to thank for the all-new Uller mod for MechWarrior 5. Maxim2016 provided the model, while SankaraSamsara created the animations. Note that it’s not a perfect recreation of the old-school Kit Fox design as MechWarrior 5 requires all ‘Mechs to torso twist, which the original ‘Mech couldn’t really do without having its arms hit its enormous backward-facing knees. The variants also don’t exactly match the canon versions, but they seem plenty powerful at least.
Head on over to Nexus Mods to download the Kit Fox mod.
And Also The Nova
SankaraSamsara also worked with Michael Long to bring the Nova to MechWarrior 5. Again, the same issues apply with the Kit Fox as the Nova shouldn’t be able to torso twist. The solution, much like in MechWarrior 2, is to give the Nova an extremely limited torso yaw value, allowing you to slightly wiggle your torso. Head on over to Steam or Nexus Mods to download this mod, including one compatible with Yet Another Mech Lab.
Always Check Your Six
Meltdonw14 is back with another piece, this time a comic series featuring several AeroSpace fighters. I’ve always loved the Corsair, and it’s great to see one take out a Stingray even if it does get knocked out not a few moments later. The trouble with being an AeroSpace jockey is that you’re in pretty much the most hostile environment imaginable. ‘Mech pilots don’t always have the option of ejecting, but AeroSpace fighters can never just abandon their ship. That makes it all the more important to always check your six.
PixelMek 3-D Imagines MechWarrior As A Boomer Shooter
Let’s consider an interesting hypothetical: what if MechWarrior 2 was made not with full 3D models but instead with Doom-like sprites? Then you’d probably wind up with something that looks a lot like PixelMek 3-D from Mechteric.
We got to check out an early alpha build in the video above posted earlier this month. It’s very clearly not done as there are no sprites representing ‘Mechs that are not facing directly at the player, and there are no explosion animations, the basics are all here. Everything is being made with contributed pixel ‘Mech artwork and free assets, while the game itself is being written in Golang.
You can also check out Mechteric’s older version of PixelMek, which is more of a strategy game rather than a first-person shooter.
Nick Kerensky Was A Furry Confirmed
Good ol' Niki. pic.twitter.com/DNGvEsIH45
— HatchyArt! Commissions Open (@Hatchy86753o9) September 20, 2023
This probably comes as no surprise to a lot of you, but I think this is the most logical explanation for the Clans.
And that’s it for this month! Join us in October for yet more BattleTech action from around the Inner Sphere.
And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.