MechWarrior Tactics preview

Back at GDC, the world got its first look at MechWarrior Tactics, an all-new, free-to-play, turn-based strategy title from Roadhouse Interactive and A.C.R.O.N.Y.M. Games. It runs on the browser-based Unity engine, and features rules based on the classic hex-style gameplay of the popular tabletop game Battletech. It offers players a chance to face each other using customizable mechs, and thanks to its Words with Friends style asynchronous gameplay, take their time in doing so.

Last Thursday, we had the chance to participate in a group Q & A with Tarnie Williams and Chris Cleroux, from Roadhouse and A.C.R.O.N.Y.M. respectively. They answered a bunch of interesting questions on a huge range of topics in the hour we spent with them. Here’s what we found out, accompanied by a few exclusive new screens.

A big part of the game is focused around customizing a “lance” of four mechs to bring into battle. MechWarrior Tactics provides you with countless ways to do this using an interesting booster pack-based system that might seem familiar to anyone who plays a collectable card game. Using in-game currency earned through battle or purchased with real-world money, these booster packs include a random assortment of parts and mech chassis of varying rareness. These will help players create custom loadouts for strategic purposes, as well as offer complex cosmetic appearance options. Players won’t know what they get until after they buy a booster, but the promise of unique items, mechs, and regular and frequent content updates is sure to keep hardcore players coming back for more stacks until the end of time.

Another big talking point during the call had to do with faithfulness to the source material. Chris and Tarnie were quick to reassure us that while MechWarrior Tactics is certainly its own thing, it has a bunch of reverence for both the look and rules of the original tabletop game. There’s a battle value system in place to prevent unbalanced lance match-ups that’s inspired by a similar feature in Battletech, and much of the strategy, especially involving terrain and weapon positioning on the chassis are also carried over. The example we were given had to do with line of sight for a weapon being impacted by which shoulder it’s on, and heat dispersal being doubled when a mech with low enough heat sinks is standing in water on the map. Additionally, while the asynchronous play option sort of makes it impossible for the turn structure from the tabletop game to be fully adhered to, it does use a sort of “double-blind simultaneous declare followed by resolution” version of it, and hardcore players can also be reassured that a much faster-paced “hotseat” style of play will also be available. Either way, there will be a solid social aspect of the game, which will alert you when turns are ready to be made and allow you to upload and share dynamic replays of your favorite matches.

Leaderboards, ranked matches, and matchmaking will all be present at launch, implemented in a pretty standard way, but it is important to note that proficiency in matchmaking will only be governed by player skill, and not the amount of collectibles they have or real money they spend on the game. Also, the game will have a pretty forgiving learning curve, in that there will be increasingly difficult AI matches to complete in order to get your skill up before getting totally destroyed by pros online.

Finally, a large amount of coy “we’ll sees” were thrown around having to do with varied things such as an iOS version of the game, going beyond 1v1 match-ups, crossover content with MechWarrior Online, bonus modes, achievement-style objectives, and some sort of item trading system or marketplace. Of course, none of this is confirmed, but it is exciting to think about.

All in all, MechWarrior Tactics looks like it’s going to be a great game with some serious legs when it launches later this year, and we can’t wait to finally be able to play it. In the meantime, enjoy these dope new screens!