Welcome to 2021! It’s a new year, and that means new beginnings. There’s a new president, there’s a new sense of calm and orderliness that--ah, sorry, I’m being told that only one of those things is true and that we’re still in the middle of a global pandemic that’s killing thousands on the daily. Well, great, off to a good start then.
On the plus side, BattleTech is still here, and it’s still great. Here’s all the news worth knowing for January.
MechCommander Gold: Prometheus Gets Beta Release
We start off the January news with a piece of news I missed from last December because it came out over Christmas and I was knee-deep in the nog, if you know what I mean.
RizZen, the guy responsible for the fantastic Darkest Hours expansion of MechCommander Gold, has once again returned with a new expansion: Prometheus. This time he’s straying away from the Inner Sphere and goes fully into Clan Wolf territory with a brand new Wolf-themed expansion.
What started as a passion project due to COVID-19, RizZen describes Prometheus as the version of MechCommander Gold “I would like to have done in the first place while starting to mod MechCommander wayback 2016.” It will eventually contain an absolutely astonishing 200 missions, but so far the beta release just has 33 of the planned Wolf campaign. It’s also got all eight Darkest Hours campaigns, for a total of 89 missions.
There’s also new voice packages planned for various new MechWarrriors, although the current beta release only has one of them recorded so far. RizZen also needs to finish the story writing and full briefings for each of the missions, which are planned for future updates.
You can download the whole thing over on ModDB and take a look at the differences between Prometheus and Darkest 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
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
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.
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!
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.
A few days later, meltdonw14 gave us another great image of a more modern-looking Thunderbolt. This one seems to have seen some battle, and I’m very appreciative of the shell craters and laser scars on this ‘Mechs armor. Lovely attention to detail.
MechWarrior Online Delivers January Development Update
It’s January, and as promised, PGI has given us their preliminary plans for MechWarrior Online. Bombadil and Matt sat down to deliver a January update on the state of the game, noting that MechWarrior Online had some good player counts and sales numbers throughout the holiday season. That’s good news for heading into 2021, with plans for more content and updates coming together.
In the update video, the two describe patches coming in Q1 2021 as being dedicated to “low-hanging fruit.” These are quick, fast, easy changes that will directly improve the quality of life for players and will be delivered in an upcoming patch tentatively planned for February (but no promises there).
On the docket are lowering or removing unit C-bill membership costs to make it easier to join units for faction play, as well as doubling the reconnection penalty time from two to four minutes. This will punish players that deliberately disconnect from a match before completion.
Also planned for the patch are keeping the match time-of-day static as well as making it so bolt-on cosmetics stay on your ‘Mechs permanently and can’t just be shot off at the beginning of a match. This should hopefully make them a bit more relevant as they typically got destroyed in the first five seconds of fighting, making them mostly irrelevant since nobody could see how badass your ‘Mechs mohawk looked.
The second quarter will see PGI looking at new ‘Mech bundles to give players a better deal on some new toys, fixing Solaris maps in private matches, moving spawn points around, and maybe even adding new ‘Mech variants.
Q3 will be about new content and features, but neither Matt nor Daeron are even willing to hazard a guess as to what that might look like as of yet. They stress that a lot of resources are being poured into MechWarrior 5‘s coming Steam release and expansions, but they are hiring some dedicated devs to work on MechWarrior Online. If you’re still playing MWO after all this time, you’ve probably already learned how to be patient with this game, and that skill will serve you well.
Here’s Some Sweet Covers Of The MechWarrior 3 Soundtrack
MechWarrior 3 certainly wasn’t my favorite MechWarrior soundtrack, but maybe Joey Cramsey’s covers will change my mind. He recently posted a few covers of MechWarrior 3‘s main theme to the MechWarrior subreddit, and they’re pretty good! You can check ’em out over on his Bandcamp, and even pay for them if you want.
Hired Steel Is Still Coming
Dear #HiredSteel Followers:
Please excuse the silence. We at #TMC are working hours every day on Ep1 and pushed through >100 tasks since christmas.
— Ck (aka Iqfish) (@C4K96) January 20, 2021
“Please excuse the silence. We at #TMC are working hours every day on Ep1 and pushed through >100 tasks since Christmas,” wrote the 3D artist. “I can’t share much without spoiling too much. I think [this] image is OK though. Bear with us please.”
I feel like we’re very close to a release date, although specifics were never provided. We did get a pretty nice screengrab from a work-in-progress, so hopefully that’ll tide us over for a bit.
Aces Wild To Host To Host Inner Sphere Coalition MechWarrior Online Tournament Starting February 1
Even as we await MechWarrior Online‘s February patch, The Inner Sphere Coalition is barreling straight to its third-ever community tournament.
Hosted by Aces Wild, you can head on over to their website to register your team. Exhibition games take place throughout January, with official games scheduled to start on February 1. Teams will be seeded based on their individual members’ Jarls’ List rankings to make sure that initial games aren’t complete blowouts.
Games are 6v6 and as the name suggests are limited to Inner Sphere ‘Mechs and technology only (sorry, Clanners, you’ll have to sit this one out). Each match will include five drops of escalating tonnage so that you’ll get the full range of MechWarrior Online games, from highly mobile light and medium ‘Mech fights to assault and heavy ‘Mech-anchored brawls.
Interestingly, you can only use a particular chassis three times over the course of those five drops, and since matches are 6v6, each team will need a variety of ‘Mechs to compete.
Winners are awarded 1000 MC per drop win, but the real incentive to compete is to not have to worry about queue times thanks to the scheduled matches.
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
MechWarrior 2 Speedrun Page Now Has An Individual Level Leaderboard
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?
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.