Tuesday, April 24, 2018

BATTLETECH Gameplay Review

I'm playing BATTLETECH, a turn-based mech strategy game by Harebrained Schemes and Paradox Interactive.

The game features a potentially compelling campaign mode where semi-random missions are accepted; the loot and cash earned from each encounter is then used to repair and upgrade your mechs and hire new crew. Unfortunately, the campaign routinely features unbalanced missions with double (or more) the number of mechs on the enemy side, making sustained success very difficult. More fair are skirmish games online and against the AI. The interface is slick with useful information always displayed, once you learn what the icons and bars mean. Each mission is limited to four mechs, a good number to limit tedious micromanagement while still giving tactical options. Maps are hex-based but without obvious hexes and look great. Mechs take turns in phases (lighter mechs go first) and can move, sprint, jump, change facing, defend, and attack. Additional special abilities allow for sensor locking enemies or targeting multiple foes at once. Units that sprint can earn evasive points that make them more difficult to hit (a way to abstract real-time movement in a turn-based game). The game displays clear hit percentages for each weapon and possible target; each part of the mech is given individual armor and structure points, so parts can be shot off (for example, destroying the torso also removes the attached arm and all of the weapons on it). You can target specific parts of an enemy once they are knocked down, and using weapons too often may cause structural damage when the mech overheats. Cover (usually trees) can be used to lower hit chances, and line of sight to the enemy must be maintained for direct fire. The varied abilities of each pilot and mech open up different avenues to success, and the AI is a fine opponent, which makes the decision to give more units to the opposition in the campaign even more baffling. BATTLETECH is a well-executed turn-based strategy game with tactical variety and a slick presentation, but it is hindered by the unfair difficulty of the campaign.