With the beta release for Battletech I thought I would jump right in to a mission and see what kind of trouble I could get into. First things first, they have currently released single player 4v4 skirmishes only right now with multiplayer coming later and the full-on campaign coming at release. Release is still set for later this year.
First thing you do is set a total battle value for the match. For those unfamiliar with Battletech, battle value is a number assigned to each Mech that rates it based on weaponry and equipment so you can get a better idea of which Mechs yours is compatible with. In this case I went with a small clash value of 15M. My lance consisted of 2 medium Mechs, a Centurion and a Hunchback and 2 lights, a Locust and a Commando. I chose random for the enemy, but you can select which Mechs they use if you choose.
For the map, I went with sunset desert in Death Valley. You can choose the mood, time of day and weather, and the map. Now it is time to get the Mechs a little dirty.
The map is nicely detailed as are the Mechs. The Mechs are based on the models from PGI’s MechWarrior Online and look great. The lighting of the map is beautiful and the fog really adds to the ambient atmosphere.
Starting off the mission, movement is done similar to XCOM, one team moves, then the other. This only lasts until first contact. Once in combat, it goes into an initiative based combat with lighter Mechs going first and heavier Mechs in the later stages. There are 5 stages per turn.
First thing I do is send my Locust out to scout the area ahead since he has the best sensors and the pilot is able to sensor lock one enemy Mech eliminating defensive bonuses for the Mech. I keep my Centurion in the back since he has LRMs.
Two turns in and we have first contact.
All we can see is a sensor blip in the distance. As we close in we see that it is a 35-ton Mech. One more turn and we have line of sight, a Jenner sprints up to my front line and takes some pot shots at my Locust.
I pull my Locust back since it has tissue paper for armor, and move my mediums in to deal with it. As the Jenner chases my Locust around a large rock, he runs smack into my Hunchback and gives the Centurion line of sight. The Jenner is quickly dispatched in a hail of lasers and LRMs.
While we dispatch the first Jenner another one runs up from around another rock to help his friend. In his hast though he runs right past my Commando. The Commando is only a 25 ton Mech, but it does pack a large and medium laser, and an SRM 2. One alpha strike at optimal range to the Jenner’s back does the trick.
Two down and two to go
Unfortunately, an enemy Commando gives my Commando a taste of his own medicine and dispatches him with an alpha strike to the back as well.
He doesn’t have long to celebrate his victory though as the Centurion and Hunchback chew him to pieces in short order.
I’m feeling confident as the fight is now 3 on 1, but I still want to take a moment to regroup, cool down, and come up with a plan. As we regroup, my Locust gets another blip; a 50 ton Mech is coming down the pike.
My Locust backs off and works the sensors to reveal that it is a Hunchback.
My Centurion takes position to rain LRMs down on him from afar, while my Hunchback prepares to deal with him once he gets a little closer.
The Centurion continues to chip off armor as he closes to range with his weapons. Luckily my Hunchback is ready and can move out from the cover of the rock and right into his back arc. My Hunchback is sporting 8 medium lasers and a small laser and they quickly make short work of the enemy’s rear armor.
With the last Mech down, my lance can pull back to the nearest pub and have a few rounds in memory of their fallen comrade.
I feel that I got lucky with the enemy coming at me in a spread-out line instead of one combined force. Effective use of rear arc attacks also help solidify our victory. Using terrain to keep yourself blocked from other enemies while attacking the one in the open is a valid tactic, as is using woods for partial cover and water for heat management. From what I have seen in other videos, rushing in to the battles head first does not lead to victories.
I didn’t notice any performance issues while playing and the everything was running very smoothly, though my system can run DCS at consistent FPS’s at high graphics quality. I have played a couple of matches already, and watched a few videos and have not seen any crashes. This seems to be a very stable beta, just stripped down for testing. I can’t wait to see what kind of things get added for the final release.
Harebrained Schemes has announced that the multiplayer version is due out soon and I can’t wait to get into some skirmishes with another human player. If anyone else has the beta let me know.