BattleTech: Flashpoint PC Review

BattleTech: Flashpoint gives you more reasons to travel across the galaxy and over 25 hours' of tactical battles that inevitably lead to blowing ‘Mechs up in spectacular fashion.

By Woozie, Posted 27 Nov 2018

Although I had my gripes with it originally, BattleTech left me with enough good memories to be eager to return when and if an eventual expansion would come out. There are few things quite like tensely following a flurry of rockets travel across the surface of a moon, wondering for a few seconds just how much damage it’ll end up doing to the opposing metal behemoth. Will that called shot targeting the head be blocked by armor or will the MechWarrior inside be instantly turned to bloody, unseen mush?

Returning to my mercenary company in BattleTech: Flashpoint and being back on the Argo feels instantly familiar. A voice blares an announcement in the hallway speakers. Yang, the ‘Mech Tech, waits by a console in the Mech Bay, ready to repair or refit my fairly numerous collection of bipedal warmachines. I find Rubber Duck spending her free time arguing with a fellow MechWarrior until I send them both to training. Dekker, unsurprisingly, is still dead. Then, as the Argo sets off towards a contract that pays handsomely, a message I almost miss pops up letting me know that a Flashpoint was available. I immediately change course.

BattleTech: Flashpoint, PC, Review

There’s no fanfare introducing BattleTech: Flashpoint’s main feature. Announced by messages in the lower right of your screen, the titulary Flashpoints appear on the star map – as flashing points, appropriately enough – and can send you well across the galaxy for a varied array of jobs. You’re given an estimate of their length alongside potential tonnage restrictions before you take them on, although the latter never really came into play for me. They’re different beasts than regular contracts, which saw you going through just one encounter, requiring multiple battles to complete. Not only that, but some of them include consecutive deployments, which means you have to go through battles without getting the opportunity of repairing/refitting damaged ‘Mechs. What you can do, however, is replace them and any injured MechWarriors with others on the Argo.

As you don’t always know what composition to expect from the enemy, there’s plenty of opportunity to mix, match and try your luck with different Lance setups. While this might sound potentially punishing on paper, a bay filled with ‘Mechs and barracks that aren’t exacly ghost towns guarantee that consecutive deployments won’t be that big of a nuisance. Sure, there’s the need to adjust to ‘Mechs with a different weapon loadout and MechWarriors with different skills when heavy damage does occur, but I can’t say that I felt an enormous amount of pressure going into these consecutive deployments, nor did the repair costs ever send me anywhere close to bankruptcy.

BattleTech: Flashpoint, PC, Review, Screenshot

Flashpoints run the gamut of available mission types and come with their own self-contained stories. Told through text, as with the main game, they’re gripping scenarios that manage to provide a decent amount of background and motivation for what you’re asked to do. The cast of characters you talk to in BattleTech: Flashpoint is varied in both attitude and temperament. From drunken or legendary MechWarriors to pragmatic leaders or those who look at you from above, it does go to show that it’s not just the good and pleasant ones that lead factions. Flashpoint also reinforces your position as a mercenary since, that employer you just finished a job for might be the one you’re going up against next.

Furthermore, Flashpoints also bring up significant choices that can change the outcome of contracts. As I was securing a facility for one employer, one of my crew informs me that a Star League-era ‘Mech was lying dormant in an unmapped vault they just opened. Now, my agreement with the employer never talked about a vault containing a ‘Mech, so, naturally, it’s brought to my attention that there’s a choice to be made. Do I leave the ‘Mech untouched and avoid angering my employer, or do I attempt to take it? Since extra hardware never hurts, I naturally choose the latter. That swiftly leads to my employer’s forces turning against me. The mission itself also involved defending buildings – they always go hand in hand with the narrative context – and in the end, I got myself a half-decent Star League-era ‘Mech alongside the regular Flashpoint rewards at the cost of taking a reputation hit. I say “regular” rewards, although it’s definitely worth knowing that, although finite in number, Flashpoints are an excellent source for currency, rare gear and, sometimes, entire ‘Mechs.

BattleTech: Flashpoint, PC, Review, Screenshot

The employer whose troops I just murdered didn’t take too kindly to my transgression and it goes without saying that the promised increase in standing with them plummeted towards them hating me a bit more. Reputation means more than it originally did, courtesy of patch 1.2. Working for one faction, and seeing the mission through, will naturally make them like you more. But you’ll more often than not go against another faction in the galaxy, as you help settle political fights and personal grudges. This makes Flashpoints another source of increasing reputation, if you’re looking to become an ally of one faction and get access to the special items on its Store.

I only bumped into the new Target Acquisition mission type once and didn’t find myself being too impressed. The mission required sending ‘Mechs to several different areas and holding them for two turns in order to mark a target with beacons for an artillery strike. Naturally, the buildings’ owners weren’t too keen on my strolling about and two Lances worth of ‘Mechs of their own came in to stop me. It was one of the few missions where I actually had help from allied AI, a thing which I still find to happen far too rarely in BattleTech: Flashpoint, but the mission itself felt largely like a regular battle.

BattleTech: Flashpoint, PC, Review, Screenshot

Sure, it required splitting up the force and putting one of my ‘Mechs in an especially vulnerable position, as they were holding the areas, but the wheel wasn’t exactly reinvented in any shape or form. Thankfully, it took place in a tropical biome map, also freshly introduced in BattleTech: Flashpoint, and, while it’s still not as visually striking as a desert at dusk, the heavy rains and thick jungle do create a fair bit of different environment for a fight to the death between giant robots. Tropical maps also have the occasional Spore Cloud patches on the ground, but they remain as inconsequential as most terrain with modifier tends to be in BattleTech.

Fiddling with the three new ‘Mechs unveils a handful of adequate new additions to the roster. The Cyclops is a versatile Heavy ‘Mech with two variants, one of which is balanced in terms of hardpoints and another which leans more towards using rockets. While the Crab didn’t stand out for me in any way, the Hatchetman is the addition that steals the show, as long as you control it. A 45T ‘Mech that’s very efficient in melee, running up to enemies and unleashing devastating melee strikes with it is quite satisfying. Being a lighter ‘Mech also means that it’s not very durable. Not one enemy Hatchetman managed to survive focused fire from its heavier cousins in my Lance.

BattleTech: Flashpoint, PC, Review

It’s difficult to talk about BattleTech: Flashpoint in a vacuum, as it feeds off the improvements BattleTech has seen since release. It runs smoother, there’s an option to speed up actions during fights and, overall, just feels better to play. These changes came in with the free patches it received, the third of which launches with the expansion. As for Flashpoint itself, it successfully fleshes out the galaxy some more while providing a new type of encounter that’s both different and familiar. Instead of just one battle you’re going through a string of them, all with mini-narratives that do involve making significant choices. It’s true that choices dissonant to your established ethos get brushed aside a little too easily back on the Argo, despite members of your crew protesting them; but if you spend time reading quest text, you’re in for stories that fit well with the game’s theme. At its core, BattleTech: Flashpoint is more BattleTech. It ultimately won’t win you over if even after the patches you’re not too keen on the game, but otherwise, whether you’re going at it during or after the campaign, Flashpoint gives you more reasons to travel across BattleTech’s galaxy and over 25 hours' worth of tactical battles that inevitably lead to blowing ‘Mechs up in spectacular fashion.

Bogdan Robert, NoobFeed

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General Information

Platform(s): PC
Publisher(s): Paradox Interactive
Developer(s): Harebrained Schemes
Genres: Turn-based Strategy, Tactics
Themes: Sci-fi, 'Mechs, MechWarriors
Release Date: 2018-11-27

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