(In)Completed Battletech

When Battletech was announced via Kickstarter, and released in April 2018, I was rather hyped and (of course) pre-ordered the game in its Deluxe Edition; Harebrained Schemes should get all the money they deserve!

When starting the game on release day, I thought – damn, I cannot remember anything! Yes, there were these five houses, but who were they? What about the Battlemechs and their different weaponry? What was that with heat management? I felt so disconnected to the world of Battletech, and so… I immediatly stopped playing.

But why should I actually remember anything about Battletech; how comes?

Well, when I was young, like teenage-young, I bought the Battletech books, when they were released by Heyne end of 80′ and beginning of 90′. I also bought the board game then, which was rather tricky to play, and my brother and I never really managed to get into it, despite our already intense roleplaying. I thought I still remeber the lore and world pretty well after all these decades, but of course nothing remained.

So, obviously, I forgot about the Battletech (computer) game again and put it on my pile, but it passively bothered me so much for a year, that I thought: Ok. In order to get back into the game lore, I will start reading the books again, so I can connect better with the whole story and get a better feel for the combat and systematics, characters and overall drama in the Battletech universe.

And damn, did that pay off!

I have already read five books, and am currently in the sixth, and really enjoy them so much! They are rough, full of cheap adjectives, plastered with tropes from the 80′ and very much targeted at male teenagers. Nevertheless, the time-travel back into my teenage days with these books is still so awesome, that I do not bother much at all. Almost thirty years later, 180 books have been published in the Battletech universe, but I will for sure not read them all and better stick to the glorious beginnings.

Back to the game. So, after I have read the first three books (Gray Death Trilogy) the game made so much fun again and my kids also started to become very interested and engaged in backseat playing together with me, discussing loadouts, and reading together through the games’ story. We breezed through the game in around 60 hours.

In all honesty: I am normally not that super-hyped on round based strategy games, but after playing Shadowrun Returns (also by Harebrained Schemes), I at least knew what to expect from their turn-based system. Battletech is expanding on this rather rough combat system, and delivers a very enjoyable, 20 minutes bite-sized experience, of missions, which are sometimes really difficult to complete, without your pilots waking up in hospital (or dying). I played on standard settings, and often even did not modify my Mechs that much, simply because I did not care and it was not necessary. The standard tour, so to say. And again in all honesty: The game is out-of-the-box not really motivating me to continue after the main story ended (main story is rather nice btw!). After the credits rolled, you have your heavy mechs with upgraded weapons and blast through almost all opponents without thinking too much about strategy.

After purchasing the season pass, flashpoints were added in their first DLC (Paradox-style), and they increased and updated lots of mechanics and further added nice lore-based additions. For example we played a Flashpoint circling around Liao’s new Raven-class mech (also mentioned in the books), which was greatly delivered and told, also limiting my mech lance to max 55 tons and challenging us a lot – really nice and motivating!

Up to today, my kids are still asking me to play Battletech again, and I still have to admit, that I almost always respond: “Sure, let’s play a mission!” We have tons of fun playing together, especially when my boys can identify all Battlemechs and know all about their weaponry way better than I do!

Thinking back at my own teenage days and my involvement with the Battletech universe, I will definatly continue to play – especially and only – together with my kids – hopefully passing the torch of Battletech excitement to them.

And that … would be really awesome.

Completed the main story, but started to enjoy the game only after re-entering the lore and reading the books. This makes the game so much better – you may even trust me on this!

Incompleted in a way, that I will continue to play the game with my kids, and we look forward to the last DLC this fall.

The Incompletionist

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