Tuesday, May 8, 2018
There and Back Again: A Battletech Tale
Between the two Crescent Hawk games there was also another game released, a pseudo-sim called Mechwarrior that put the player in the cockpit of one of these towering warmachines. Aside from the first-person viewpoint, Mechwarrior was also innovative in that it allowed the player to take a much more open-world approach. It was, in fact, possible to ignore the storyline entirely and simply travel the Inner Sphere as a mercenary. The game always started with the player only having a lone Jenner to their name. After slowly accumulating C-bills (money) though from mission payments and a cut of the salvage (paid in cash) the player could expand out their roster. One way I used to speed up the early game was to take a base defense mission against a lone enemy mech (the bigger the better). I'd waive the standard payment in lieu of a larger cut of the salvage. Then, during the mission, I'd hide out near where I knew the enemy mech would have to pass through to get to my base. Right after the mech would go by me I'd come out on its tail and blast a leg off. In the original Mechwarrior losing just one leg meant that the mech was out of action. No risk and hundreds of thousands of C-bills in salvage. What's there to complain about? Well...there were only eight mech types available in the game; Locusts, Jenners, Phoenix Hawks, Shadow Hawks, Marauders, Riflemen, Warhammers, and Battlemasters. Sadly, there were no variants or customization options either. Maximum team size was a standard lance of four mechs. The player would have to buy and maintain each machine along with having to hire pilots for each of them. Usually the first real landmark would be getting a buddy in a Locust to help you in missions, but eventually your team would expand and upgrade to the ultimate goal of a Battlemaster quartet.
So which game is my favorite (curious readers of the this blog might ask)? Actually, it's the Kickstarter version by Harebrained Studios. In some ways it feels like the history of Battletech video games has come full circle. We're now back where it all started though not entirely...I will get into the new game in the next post I make, but for the time being I'll simply say this - Like its predecessors, it's a game about 31st century combat, but it has a decidedly 21st century design aesthetic.