Mon Apr 30, 2018 9:27 am
I got this game and played it some over the weekend. I like it a lot.
The presentation of the lore nails the Battletech vibe. It absolutely does! The cutscenes are in a painterly/semi-animated drawing style which also works super well.
Gameplaywise, comparisons with XCOM are inevitable. When I started playing I was worried that the battles would just turn into standing in one place to slug it out, hoping to catch a critical on the other guy. Given that mechs can take a degree of punishment, at first it seems like the battlefield isn't really on a hair trigger, unlike a comparable XCOM mission. But there's something about Battletech mechanics which I think extend from the boardgame: when you attack a mech, really anything is possible in a certain sense. It is possible to get lucky and hit the already damaged part of a mech, or even get a headshot on it. On the other hand, all your shots may contact the other guy but only hit armoured portions of it. So it seems at first sight that RNG plays too much of a role and skill doesn't matter. I saw a reviewer express this with some frustration.
On the other hand, how you use your mechs also really matters. If they keep moving, they gain a bonus that makes them harder to hit. You can orient them so they present only their amoured sides to the enemy. Or you can do a 'hunker down' that makes them take half damage. The skill of the mechwarriors also features, keeping the mechs stable as they move, and accurate as they shoot.
But there's always a risk that your mech goes into battlefield and takes a ppc to the face, killing the pilot. And I actually really like that. It happens rarely enough that it doesn't necessarily affect your strategy, but often enough that... well, that it happens. Along with your mechs taking damage and dealing it themselves as they move around the battlefield, this lends a real slow-burn tension to the match. Things may happen slowly or quickly, and its your job to keep your mechwarriors and mechs safe while dealing damage to the other guy. It happens in slow motion, so things just kinda build up and build up.
You can catastrophically lose a mission, and even in victories I think you're likely to take heaps and heaps of damage, costing lots in money and time to repair. But the overworld mechanics are forgiving in this regard, it's not like XCOM where a single catastrophe on the battlefield can spell your doom.
The role of the RNG on the battlefield I think is one of the most Battletech things about the game. Mechwarriors are competent, and their skills matter, making a material difference on the field, but it's only a glass cockpit standing between them and the other hulking machines out there. All it takes is one unlucky hit... and you just hope it doesn't happen to you this time. And... chances are it won't, if you're lucky and your commander is competent. But it's happened to friends of yours. That's a very Battletech thing.
So yeah, it's not a knife-edge tension like XCOM in the game, but it's still there. It's just distributed differently.
I'm looking forward to playing more of it.
(The soundtrack is decent but anodyne.)