If you like giant robots blasting away at each other in futuristic feudal warfare as much as we do, hang onto your autocannons: Battletech is coming back in a big way as a turn-based, tactical video game.
The original Battletech is a cornerstone of growing up a gamer in the ‘80s—saving up for the lead miniatures, painting them poorly, carefully reading complicated rulebooks, riding your bike to the library to photocopy the mech damage charts. I still cherish my copy of Technical Readout 3025.
Since it was first published in 1984, Battletech has had a complicated history both as a tabletop game and as a video game. It’s been more than 10 years since the last video game was released—you can try 1998’s MechCommander for free —so the franchise seems overdue for an update. It looks like the folks at Harebrained Schemes (including original Battletech co-author Jordan Weisman) have the rights issues sorted out, so they’ve launched a Kickstarter. It’s already cleared $1 million.
There are a lot of reasons to get excited about this game. Let’s start with the calm, level-headed reasons: Harebrained Schemes has a track record of setting attainable Kickstarter goals and delivering on them. The string of Shadowrun games they put out the last few years are solid, fun games that absolutely do what they promised they’d do. The weak point in those games was the investigation aspect, which sometimes felt like linear busywork. But there’s none of that in the Battletech world—you’ll be managing your stable of mercs and mechs instead, and that sounds way more fun.
Ok, now let’s get to the giddy Mech-fan freakout and dance reasons: first, holy crap yes giant robots in a turn-based tactical game like XCOM. About damn time. It’s set in the classic 3025 Battletech era, which means you’re in the midst of a weird sort of “War of the Roses” between the great houses of the Inner Sphere. You control a mercenary company that has to choose which houses to be loyal to. The stretch goals Harebrained has already met means we’ll get a deep single-player campaign, and the open-ended campaign seems likely as well.
A lot of what they’ve got planned sounds amazing to Battletech fans. You’ll be able to modify your mechs, of course, but internal components like gyros and computers will have a much bigger effect than they’ve had in the past, so it isn’t just all about missiles and armor. Your mechwarriors will have their own skill trees, and permadeath means each battle is for keeps. I just hope we can customize our mechs with different logos and color schemes (to be honest, if there was a game that was basically just doing graphic design on giant robots, I’d probably buy that).
The only real downer here is that expected release date isn’t until 2017. That’s like halfway to 3025, man!
Update: It’s definitely worth mentioning that tabletop Battletech is still going strong under the stewardship of Catalyst Game Labs. We’re basically living in a golden age of Battletech.