Our Favorite Games of 2018: 'BattleTech'

Welcome to Waypoint's End of Year celebration! This year, we're digging deep into our favorite games with dedicated podcasts, interviewing each other about our personal top 10 lists, and reflecting on the year with essays from the staff and some of our favorite freelance contributors. Check out the entire package right here!


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/8xp7vp/our-favorite-games-of-2018-battletech
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I actually was reminded of my introduction to MechWarrior/BattleTech earlier this week when I was clearing out my bookshelf because while I never played any of the games (tabletop or video) but I did have a eight or nine MechWarrior: Dark Age novelizations. I remember them being really good but also I was like 14 or 15 at the time so who knows.

Also the talk about how BattleTech is a different sort of tactics game that kind of forces you to play in an imperfect way and to take damage made me think about the Long War mod for XCOM (specifically for EU/EW, I’ve never played the Long War mode for XCOM 2). Even though it still had the same XCOM at its core, I think a lot of the mechanics that it added helped to move it closer towards that imperfect play tactics game. I don’t think it gets all the way to what playing BattleTech is like, but it does a pretty good job of shifting the game in that direction.

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It is my contention that BATTLETECH is, in fact, Good.

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I’m not holding my breath but every time I hear people rave about this game I wish it would get a console port.

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I’m racking my brain trying to think of the third game mech Austin’s talking about.

It’s gotta be the most overused sentiment of 2018, but I certainly wouldn’t mind if Battletech moseyed on over to a particular Nintendo platform.

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Yeah, I loved their discussion about how the game forces you to accept losses as opposed to encouraging doing perfect runs. Skirmishes are tense and deadly, making them all the more exciting. The game is also just so good at making combat roll into consequences in the meta game, and I haven’t even played Flashpoint yet which sounds like it has even more of it.

One that pops to mind is Heaven Will Be Mine.

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I feel like Battletech would make my GOTY list if I played more of it because I love the start of it.

It’s just Breath of the Wild again.

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Yeah I can’t think of any others beyond Battletech, Into The Breach and Heaven Will Be Mine.

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Buh. I was so focused on mech tactics and mech piloting games that I forgot one of my own favorite games of the year.

I love rob’s story about losing glitch to a hunchback getting a lucky ac/20 hit especially because the hunchback is the perfect example of what they talk about later when something loses a weapon system and is basically dead weight. The only thing more satisfying then blowing up a hunchie’s ac20 is also taking out it’s leg so it can’t even close to melee range.

I do have to say, I disagree heavily with them hoping it takes them a while to get to the clans. There’s a reason roguetech and the extra variants mod are the most downloaded mods. The base game actually has a fairly small pool of mechs and weapons all things considered and while HBS have made great strides in making more of that small pool less garbage than tabletop there aren’t a hell of a lot of toys to play with. Battletech still has a fundamental issue that a lot of the stock designs and variants are irredeemably bad and not worth using. They even already did some balancing of double heat sinks so that the Star league mechs you get don’t completely wreck the heat curve so hopefully the clans won’t be quite as overbearing.

I was wary of Battletech when it first got announced just because I was extremely fond of MechWarrior 2 and 3 as a kid, but listening to Waypoint podcasts all through this year (and watching some Tactical Tuesdays episodes) got me to finally buckle down and pick it up this fall. With Into the Breach, it’s probably my favourite game of the year, but… it’s still very crash-prone on my machine. So I think overall I prefer Into the Breach, if only because it runs more smoothly (for now).

That said, this was a fun listen, and it’s interesting to hear from people who were a bit older and (like Rob) also got into the franchise through MechWarrior 2. That lore stuck in my head for years, and some of it’s still there, so I’ve always been kind of fond of the Clans storylines. But I also really appreciate that Battletech now, as a game, takes a more critical approach to the universe that they created back in the 1980s. It opens things up a lot, story-wise, and makes it feel less “heroic fantasy with giant mechs” and more “lived-in”, as a world.

I hope we do, eventually, see the Clans in Battletech - either an expansion or a sequel - but I’d also happily play through the Fourth Succession War for quite a while longer.

In response to what people would maybe want to see next from future Battletech games:

I’ve been playing some Hearts of Iron 4 recently, and one cool thing about that game is you can see exactly what equipment a division has down to the individual weapon. So, while playing as France, my troops fighting the Germans in Europe all had the best new equipment. But the handful of troops I had in South East Asia were less fortunate .The supply lines were long, and any shipments coming in were at the risk of being destroyed by the Japanese navy. They had to largely fend for themselves. In one division, half the soldiers had guns which were 6 years out of date. Each infantry division was also supposed to have 100 trucks as support. This one had 37, with 12 of those being stolen from the Japanese. Things were pretty rough. It’s not enough to even be called emergent narrative, but being able to zoom in and look and look at the scrappy state of those otherwise nameless, faceless, soldiers did make me feel a surprisingly strong connection with them.

I know next to nothing about Battletech as a broader media franchise, but I’d love to see a game built on this engine with the feeling of being that one division, whose circumstances are more tied to specific places instead of the player having the freedom to hop around the galaxy at will. Although now that I read that back, I guess I just want 08th MS Team: The Game.

I’d also kinda like to see incentives for running a bigger crew, like affinity between individual mechs and pilots, and having pilot skills that are more tied to specific combat scenarios and tactical situations.

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Ah yes, I would like one of those please!

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There’s also EXTREME MEATPUNKS FOREVER.

just bought it on the sale, should i just jump in or do yall recommend i start with flashpoint, too?

I started with the base campaign, haven’t bought Flashpoint yet. A lot of the balance changes and other tweaks of Flashpoint got rolled into the main game - you just don’t get Flashpoints or the Hatchetman mech without the expansion.

I’d recommend just playing around in the base game to see whether you want to spend more money on it. I’m leaning that way after ~20 hours of play, but it’s gonna be an individual thing, so try it and see.

Flashpoints in campaign mode are post game content and i’d recommend playing the campaign at least once before hopping into career mode so you aren’t losing much on holding off. The only things that would show up during a normal play through are the 3 (4 if you count variants) new mechs, which are mostly meh aside from the Cyclops-Z but that’s an assault mech that would start showing up at the end of the game anyway if you bought flashpoint.

Flashpoints don’t pop up until you beat the main campaign so I’d just go ahead and get it. The extra three 'Mechs will be woven in as any other 'Mechs will be, so there’s no downside.