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Old 04-30-2018, 01:41 AM   #486
Blastoise
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Join Date: May 2007
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Getting up to some Wolf's Dragoons plot bullshit: Battletech (41 hours)

As anyone who's watched me streaming already knows, if said streams didn't make you reevaluate ever liking any of my posts to begin with.

-Instead of a gender option, the game lets you select a pronoun (he/she/they): this has made r/kotakuinaction very mad, but then to no one's great surprise anyone who still has a deathgrip on their identity as a Gamergater in TYOOL 2018 is an irredeemable fucknugget.

-Also, most of the principal characters are a collection of minorities, so a lot of people are also coming out of the woodwork to share their thoughts on "white genocide" because the collective level of discourse could always go lower.

-In the interests of ethnics ethics in games journalism, I should probably mention that I Kickstarted this, both because I've enjoyed HBS' previous work and because I am broken enough to embrace a franchise whose fanbase is so fucking grognardy that they threw a fit over your space ship/base technically being illegal under Aerotech construction rules.

-Mercenaries in Battletech are what adventuring parties are to D&D: a plausible reason to be running around with deadly weapons while not being beholden to actual authority. This is probably the first Battletech/Mechwarrior "mercenaries" title that lives up to the ideal of randomly flying around the ass end of the Inner Sphere taking odd jobs and killing people for money, rather than being a linearish campaign where you could replay the same missions in a slightly different order. You're technically beholden to the main plot because Princess Protagonist paid off your Space Loan Sharks, but once you get your space ship/base unlocked early on there's nothing to stop you from puttering around and assembling your Steiner scout lance before continuing the story.

-Negotiations: each mission offers varying levels of payment/salvage rights, and you can choose to forgo some of one to get more of the other. Salvage is the only practical way to build up your stable of 'mechs, and it's cheaper (in terms of opportunity cost) to pull weapons/equipment from the battlefield versus buying them at a space gun store. However, sell prices are low and you can't pay your space bills with PPCs, so you have to learn to make an educated guess which missions are more worthwhile for cash than parts. This wrinkle gives the strategic layer a bit more heft than it would have otherwise.

-HBS looked at the contradiction in terms that is "Battletech balance" and made some decent decisions to iron things out. Weapons have been rebalanced compared to tabletop, so the AC/2 is now "merely bad" and not "why the fuck would I take this when the LRM 5 exists". An early pilot skill allows you to split fire between multiple targets, which tends to work best on a lot of stock 'mech "bracket builds" and makes the early game (when you're short on cash and parts to customize your rides) a lot more tolerable because you can make almost any hand you're dealt work.

-The tactical layer is fun, but can be slower paced than X-COM's rocket tag because 1)'mechs track damage to each location separately, and if you boat medium lasers/missiles damage will go all over the place 2)the game takes place at the low point of the setting's technological curve, so one hit KOs are rare unless one combatant wildly outweighs their target and 3)if you're trying to salvage shit you'll spend a lot of time knocking over the target to force pilot injuries like you're Talon's mom and you've been drinking again.

-Unfortunately, there are definitely signs that HBS' reach exceeded their grasp at points. Performance issues like hanging is noticeable at the strategic layer, to the point where I don't even bother customizing my 'mechs camo patterns because the game reacts like I asked it to calculate the 10^8675309 digit of pi. Sometimes you get fun things like reinforcements spawning almost immediately in missions, which turns the difficulty up to 11 because you're suddenly outnumbered in both units and sheer weight and if there is no chokepoint to exploit you are probably fucked.

-Like all Mechwarrior games, there's a baseline assumption of your familiarity with the franchise that may not hold: the game helpfully lets you hover over certain highlighted terms in character dialogue in case you're trying to remember why you give a fuck about the Magistracy of Canopus, but if you've ever felt like working in the Mechlab was akin to slamming your dick in the car door this game isn't going to change that.

But on the bright side, with your comparative lack of knowledge you will get to have a Chryssalid moment when you park one of your 'mechs too close to a Demolisher. If you do not know know what a Demolisher is, please do not read the previous sentence.

-But that's okay, because the loosey-gooseyness extends to a tutorial that feels overly long but simultaneously incomplete in teaching critical gameplay mechanics. Enjoy staring at 3-4 unit bars and not knowing what they represent until one of your 'mechs gets knocked down and shot to pieces by every enemy unit on the map!
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Last edited by Blastoise; 04-30-2018 at 01:48 AM.
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