BattleTech for PC review: A fantastic game buried beneath a blanket of bugs
BattleTech for PC has strong gameplay and a surprisingly impressive story, but it is held back by numerous performance flaws.
BattleTech is one of the oldest franchises in gaming, with its roots in the original BattleTech tabletop role-playing game (RPG). Titles like MechWarrior and MechAssault have adapted the universe to the shooter genres, but none of the franchise's video games have been similar to the tabletop version. With the latest game on PC, BattleTech, that changes.
Featuring turn-based, tactical gameplay, and a strong narrative, BattleTech ticks all the boxes for it to be a strong addition to the franchise it shares a name with. However, it's plagued with performance problems, and getting the game to run smoothly is impossible.
Story: Lead your faction across a war-torn galaxy
Set in 2035, BattleTech sees you play as the leader of a mercenary faction that fights for one of the warlords vying for control across the universe. Your group's ultimate motivation — honor, profit, or power — is completely up to you to decide, and your crew will follow you through anything and everything to see your goals accomplished. The crew members themselves are the best part of this story; each one genuinely feels like a person, and interacting with them in dialogue is a treat.
Seeing a narrative worth anything in a strategy game is a huge positive, considering in most cases, whatever writing is there is just a simplistic and lazy justification for you to blow things up. This story isn't amazing, but it's good, and BattleTech should be commended for its efforts in this regard.
Gameplay: So, four mechs walk into a battlefield...
In BattleTech, you engage in two different modes of play. Primarily, you control a lance of four mechs in a war zone in order to destroy enemy units. Secondarily, you manage your faction, using the money you earn in missions to pay maintenance costs and to upgrade things. The management part of the game is rather superficial and there's not much depth to it, but that's OK considering the majority of your time will be spent in combat scenarios.
That is where BattleTech becomes truly engaging. Every turn, you have to position your mechs, acquire a firing solution on enemies, and choose which weapon to use against them. There are plenty of different weapons and armors to put on your mechs (you can obtain them prior to battle) and each one has advantages and disadvantages to things like damage, accuracy, and more. The terrain is a large factor; units that are barely peeking above a hill will be protected by the natural cover.
This is only the tip of the iceberg of different things that influence combat; everything from heat generation to damage done to mech "body parts" can have massive effects. Learning how to keep track of all of this and use that understanding to your advantage is where BattleTech is at its best.
Performance: Unacceptable by today's standards
As excellent as the rest of the game is, BattleTech largely fails when it comes to how the game runs. My game crashed a total of three times during my playthrough, and almost every action I took led to the game either dropping frames or freezing for several seconds. Loading screens also can go on for minutes, and it's incredibly frustrating to want to play the game so badly but struggle to do so.
BattleTech for PC conclusion
BattleTech's actual content is superb, but it's impossible to ignore the fact that trying to make it play well on my high-end PC was an absolute chore. If the game was more polished, I would give BattleTech a full point higher in my score. You may want to wait for some patches to come out before picking it up.
- Excellent gameplay.
- Surprisingly great story.
- Solid presentation.
- Incredibly disappointing performance issues.
BattleTech is available now on Steam for $39.99.
This review was conducted on a PC, using a copy provided by the publisher.
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Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.
Let's be honest. In gaming today you basically have to expect alot of bugs at launch. It just depends on how quickly they patch them is the difference. I feel like a review should be done atleast a month after release because what game recently hasn't launched without any bugs?
I'm only a few missions in and have not had the performance issues you're describing. Have you tried contacting the developer with the crash logs? My performance drops come with large scene changes and mechs blinking in and out of view while walking on the edge of observable (loading issues I'm use to with my my old laptop and modern rendering techniques.) I'm running on a Windows 8.1, MSI GX60 Destroyer-280 15" AMD A10-5750 laptop (something truly ancient in terms of gaming.) I turn motion blur and depth of field off with the rest default at 1080p. I was really surprised it is running as well as it is. (Also my vga driver is several years old due to AMD dropping support for it.) I haven't tried recording any fps data. Just going off perceived drops.
I got a couple hours of playtime in and stuttering got worse over time. Felt like my laptop was letting the gpu clock down and not recovering in time for even simple animations.
It is a Paradox game, they are great but need a couple of rounds of bug fixes and DLC to iron out things.
Nah, it's a Harebrained Schemes game, Paradox only published. Agree on the bug fixes though, already at patch 1.0.2 the game runs better for me than it did a week ago.
Won't work on a surface book 2 either. Tried campaign mode and was able to make a character, but then it just got stuck on a black screen