[PODCAST] 'BattleTech: Heavy Metal' Is Great Because it Keeps You on Your Back Foot

If there's one thing that 2018's BattleTech was good at, it was giving you a real sense of being a "scrappy group of mercenaries," making not just tactical decisions in the field, but monetary ones in which jobs you take, how you handle repairs, and even sometimes which 'mechs you're willing to sacrifice. BattleTech's newest expansion, Heavy Metal, just dropped and adds new 'Mech abilities, a new flashpoint mini-campaign, and new weapons for your 'Mech loadouts. And while you've got new powers and stronger weapons to use, Harebrained Schemes has managed to keep missions harrowing, where even with all your upgrades the simplest milk run can go sideways. Rob and Austin both checked out the expansion, and Rob interviewed Harebrained Schemes' Mitch Gitelman on this episode of Waypoint Radio. You can listen to the full episode and read an excerpt below.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/gyzaab/battletech-heavy-metal-is-great-because-it-keeps-you-on-your-back-foot

Is BattleTech ever coming to consoles? The way Austin and Rob obsess over it makes me really want to play it, but I know my shitty PC couldn’t run this game.

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It’s worth giving it 90 minutes to see how it runs on medium within the refund window on Steam I think.

Side note: it is 66% off the base game right now and the first two expansions are 50% off each on Steam.

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I really envy y’all’s ability to create narrative from emergent game mechanics, I really do.

I can’t. Not, like, at all. But it’s really fun hearing you talk about them.

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Is there controller support for Battletech? That’s the only thing keeping me from purchasing.

It doesn’t… Well I think the controller can spin the camera. And you can use the emulated mouse controls in Stream Big Picture.

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Finally got a computer that could play this a few months back and was astounded that Dekker is the only one who made it through alive on my ship. All the horror stories had me assuming he’d be the most in danger but it was everyone else I had to worry about. He ended up getting hired away by the Gray Death Legion in the event Austin mentioned (I sent him away with a parting bonus)

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I gotta say, even as someone who’s been playing along with each expansion (I play arguably too much Battletech) I’ve loved it. Some of the additional equipment, events, and mission types mentioned on the podcast came in during previous expansions or free updates so it’s been a gradual improvement to the space we’re at.

Having finished the storyline in Heavy Metal, it seems to me more like they’re playing in the space of Battletech lore than necessarily foreshadowing that the next game will be about the Clan Invasion. The flashpoints that unlock when you ally with one of the great houses basically all have to do with them building up to the Fourth Succession War, so it’s not clear from what’s in the game now what the next game will be about. (Personally, I’d love to see a game set in the Chaos March, like the Rimward Periphery it’s one of those underutilized areas in the Battletech lore that they could tell a great story in.)

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The thing with Dekker is that he’s extremely likely to die on the first mission where he appears just due to the way that mission is set up. If you get him out of there (I think I ejected him? Not because of memes but because his mech was critically damaged to the point of being useless.), then he’s no more or less likely to die than other pilots.

There is an achievement for !keeping him alive until the end of the campaign, though.

Also the Spider itself is basically a walking deathtrap, so much so that in the Technical Readout it first appeared in for the board game had a note about how (ironically) the Spider doesn’t even have an ejector seat so pilots trapped in a disabled Spider had to climb down out of it through a hatch in its butt (which the game’s model actually has on it, which is a really nice touch)

Since Dekker’s initial stats make him a natural fit to be a pilot and thus a natural fit for lighter mechs, he’s way more likely to die in the early game when your only light options are a Spider and a Locust.

Related: one of the funniest images on the internet

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Please do not take this as a defense of Harmony Gold generally, but do be aware that Macross, Southern Cross, and Mospeada (and their “corresponding” Robotech eps) are all available to stream on Amazon Prime.

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So tempted to grab all the expansions in the current sale. I had a blast with Vanilla and I could see myself going back fresh for a career run. Except I picked up the 3 month ultimate game pass and so feel compelled to focus on the titles there while I can, and the only other games I was thinking of buying was something on PS4 to sit back and play on the TV.

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[Image: A quote poster in front of wet autumn leaves on pavement reading “Ah, see, I think it’s still fun when it happens to me. It sucks. I love it. - Austin Walker, on getting absolutely decimated”]

This is one of the most Austin Walker quotes ever

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