Gen Con is a convention that is host to thousands of games and events, many of which are crowdfunded. The focus is on tabletop gaming, but occasionally a video game gets shown off to attendees. This year, Harebrained Schemes brought a “super pre-alpha demo” for BattleTech to the convention floor. I took the time to sit down and get a feel for the game, and I enjoyed every moment of it.
Before diving into the demo itself, the developers took the time to go over the control basics. We learned how to control the pre-selected mech and what all the on-screen indicators meant, so that someone new to both the setting and system could understand how to play the game. After answering a few questions, they finally sat us down at the stations running the demo.
For a turn-based strategy game, BattleTech is surprisingly fast paced.
During my time playing the mission selected, I found myself enthralled by the intense action. For a turn-based strategy game, BattleTech is surprisingly fast paced. Each class of Mech goes off on its own turn, followed by the enemy in the same class. Rinse and repeat.
I’m not really a fan of mecha combat, nor am I really dedicated to knowing the BattleTech setting, but I really enjoyed my time with what they currently have available. I found myself dedicated to keeping my team alive until the developers pulled us away. I’d cringe whenever one of my men got hit, and cry victory whenever I managed to down one of the enemy. Just for an early build I was immersed in the fight.
I was surprised by how polished BattleTech looks in its current shape. In just a year of development, it felt like it could be shipped as is. There is still a lot of functionality to be implemented, such as the single player campaign and mercenary resource management. It played smoothly and without any real hiccups.
I went into the demo expecting a lot less polish. Not only were all of the mechanics implemented, but the look and sound of what I played was amazing. You really could hear all of the shots from each weapon, as well as the ambient sounds on the map. Quite unexpected was that voice acting is already included. For a game scheduled for release in roughly a year, BattleTech is already shaping up to be a great game.
BattleTech is already shaping up to be a great game.
Harebrained Schemes have already proven themselves with their Shadowrun games, so I’m sure the final product is going to be worth picking up for any BattleTech fan. For a luddite like myself, it’s still fun to play even if you’re unfamiliar with the lore. The information presented on the screen is intuitive enough that anyone should be able to pick it up quickly.
The aspect of trying out this slice of the game that impressed me most was that every developer was very passionate about BattleTech. Every question was answered with enthusiasm and a dedication to their craft.
When asked about an estimated release date, I was given a window of Spring or Summer 2017. With roughly a year left, they still have a lot to put into BattleTech. From what I’ve seen at Gen Con it’ll be worth the wait.