Battletech’s story may be a little cliche from the starting approach, but it’s a plot that is expanded on, and really suites the atmosphere presented by the game, and most of all, fits in with the Battletech/Mech universe. A lot of Battletech’s story is told through voice-acted cutscenes, with a wide array of characters. The dialog between characters is good, and most of all, believable too. In these character dialog scenes, you are able to make dialog choices, some of them will have consequences, some of them just open up extra dialog/storylines, but the option for exploring deeper into the lore is a welcome one. Equipment needed to stream on Twitch.
The core of Battletech’s gameplay is right on the battlefield. You should really think of this as a Mech version of XCOM. You are in command of a squad of mechs and must complete mission objectives in order to progress. There is a great deal of customization going into missions beforehand, allowing you to cater your party to the task at hand. For me, this was one of the most enjoyable aspects of the games, as you can really plan out your tactic, and making yourself fully equipped with the right party members to succeed.
The actual combat is very much like XCOM, every attack has a % to hit, along with how the mechs move on the battlefield too, also feels very similar. Unlike Harebrain’s bread and butter Shadowrun which were more grid-based, Battletech has a little more fluidity to its movement mechanics. Movement plays an important role in your tactics too. It reminded me quite a lot of playing the Warhammer 40k board game. A cute gaming chair in pink. Making sure your tanks were positioned correctly so your rear or side armor was not facing the enemy since it was weaker to assault. Battletech is the same; after every movement you can choose which direction to face your mech, often to ensure you don’t get blasted in the rear which is nearly always your mechs weakest point.
There is little more to say about the story if you are familiar with XCOM. I was disappointed by a rather lackluster tutorial system though. The first level is a tutorial, and whilst it explains how to move, fire, jump etc, it also doesn’t go into great detail about many of the mechanics, which often left me questioning certain actions. Such as, how do I always make sure my mechs shoot their guns, rather than walking up to an enemy to hit them in melee. Things do start to become clearer as you just play naturally, but I can’t help but feel the new player experience may be hindered by such a poor tutorial system.
Battletech really impressed me with the art style, and most of all, the cutscene art. It looks like something taken straight out of a visual comic novel. A huge amount of detail has gone into each clip, and it looks amazing. Couple this beautiful art with some incredibly impactful musical scores too, and you have an excellent production mix. One of the first few opening cutscenes instilled plenty of emotion into the game, without spoiling too much, since it is basically twenty minutes in, one of the characters in your squad dies, and the cutscene going along with this moment is truly masterful by making you feel absolutely dreadful about it happening. I’ve not had that sort of emotional reaction to a character that I’ve merely only just met. Corner gaming desk with LED lights.
Sadly it’s not all good though. Battletech is optimized awfully. On my rig with a 1080TI, 64 GB RAM, i7 overclocked processor, and installed on an SSD, this game chugs like a dwarf on a Friday night. I’ve not seen loading screens last this long in a very long time. No word of a lie, I think the initial loading screen into the game was around five minutes long. Then each loading screen before each battle is another two or three minutes too. No matter what settings I dropped down, the loading issue remained. It was really quite annoying when I’ve played much more graphically intensive games and not had problems like this before. You’ll also see massive frame drops during battle, and when you have more than five or six mechs on the screen at any one time, your frame rate will absolutely tank, and sometimes into sub 30 levels. I hate to think how this game would perform on a less powerful rig than mine.
Battletech has a never-ending campaign mode, but the main story does have an end. You can clock around 40-50 hours playing Battletech’s main story. It’s a huge amount of content for an AA price tag. This is certainly not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, and what it lacks in performance issues, it more than makes up for in production values, and in-depth gameplay that XCOM lovers will be sure to enjoy.