'BattleTech: Heavy Metal' Is Great Because it Keeps You on Your Back Foot

Think your new huge 'Mechs are unbeatable? Guess again.
BattleTech Heavy Metal Key Art. Large Mechs are moving through a dusty environment, a city skyline behind them.
Image courtesy of Paradox

If there's one thing that 2018's BattleTech was good at, it was giving you a real sense of being a "scrappy group of mercenaries," making not just tactical decisions in the field, but monetary ones in which jobs you take, how you handle repairs, and even sometimes which 'mechs you're willing to sacrifice. BattleTech's newest expansion, Heavy Metal, just dropped and adds new 'Mech abilities, a new flashpoint mini-campaign, and new weapons for your 'Mech loadouts. And while you've got new powers and stronger weapons to use, Harebrained Schemes has managed to keep missions harrowing, where even with all your upgrades the simplest milk run can go sideways. Rob and Austin both checked out the expansion, and Rob interviewed Harebrained Schemes' Mitch Gitelman on this episode of Waypoint Radio. You can listen to the full episode and read an excerpt below.


Austin: When you see the Rifleman for the first time, which has a system called the rangefinder suite which reduces long range attack penalties and extends its view distance, you're like "That mech is a sniper, I'm gonna put long range attack stuff on this thing." In a [purely hypothetical] BattleTech 2, I almost wish some of that stuff would be, if not built into every mech, at least be like "oh, this would be a place where you would put the rangefinder suite. This is a great mech for a Coil M" or whatever it is.

And I know that this stuff already says like "Skirmisher/Brawler," it already gives you a breakdown of the way the mech is supposed to be used, but these specific mechanical abilities help you conceptualize what those mechs could do on the field for you so well, I really, really liked that stuff. I contain multitudes too. But most of my multitudes are like "Yeah, that rules, put more mechs in it."

Rob: I think something else as I come back to [ BattleTech] and there's this new stuff. A non-trivial thing: There is a lot more BattleTech in this game than there was the last time I spent serious time with it. There are a lot more maps. It seems like it's pulling from different scenario setups that I've seen before. For instance, just before we recorded I had a Milk Run ––

Austin: Uh huh?

Rob: –– go so fucking sideways for the dumbest reasons. So I had a mission where the Free World League was like "go kill this diplomat" and I was just ––


Austin: Shoutouts to the "Free Worlds" League! [Laughter] Ohhhh this world is fucked! Anyway, continue.

Rob: Look, we love sovereignty, but, not for everyone.

Austin: Skip, you know how I feel about autonomous nations. BUT!

Rob: So I take this assassination mission This is literally right after you've done the pirate Queen shit and this time they gave me two heavies out of the gate. They gave me a Centurion like right away. I don't remember this being scripted, but it was Yang telling me that "oh yeah aboard the Argo we found this Centurion" and I was like ––

Austin: That's interesting!

Rob: –– "Did I just get a Centurion randomly last time I have no memory of it? I don't think so." They gave me a basically stripped down Centurion chassis, no weapons, and then I got the pirate queen's Quickdraw, so your first heavy.

And I'm like, "Cool, all I've got is this easy mission to go kill this diplomat. Light escorts, I'm just gonna wreck house here." I set up my squad, roll out, and it's a mountainous jungle map. So far, so good. And then I see a Firestarter. Okay. And then another Firestarter, and then another and it's all like, the way I'm positioned, I can't get any range.

Austin: That's so good.

Rob: I've got this like sharpshooter build for all my units. And we are fighting over these little ridges covered in freaking foliage. And it's hot and the lasers are not efficient in this scenario. And so it just becomes this nightmare of watching my brand new Quickdraw just wade in there like "I am just going to wreck house among these among these light Mechs" and I just got worked. Like they just all just set me on fire, heat spike through the roof, and then they just started punching me!


Austin: That's so funny.

Rob: And so I watched my new Quickdraw, literally had just finished being refurbed, just like arms being flung off, components going down, like watch all the jump jets like go away. I'm like, "Oh, this is not good!"

Austin: This is not what I wanted!

Rob: No! If you looked at the two Lance compositions, it was my four mediums and heavies versus like six lights. This should have been a milk run. But instead it was all these firestarters just going ham. And then they were getting spotting data for two Panthers that just stood at a distance and just plinked PPC shots into my guys consistently and I kept trying to get away I was like "okay, disengage, run, pull back!" But as long as they had line of sight, apparently PPC can hit you from effectively anywhere.

Austin: Jesus Christ

Rob: It was so good! I'm so angry. The first mission with the new shit and my mercenary company is basically broke and two of my pilots can't work for the next three months.

This transcript was edited for length and readability.

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