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Game Info:

BATTLETECH Heavy Metal
Developed By: Harebrained Schemes
Published By: Paradox Interactive
Release Date: November 21, 2019
Available On: Windows, macOS, Linux
ESRB Rating: N/A
Genre: Turn-based Strategy
Mode: Primarily single player, with a multiplayer mode also
Requires BATTLETECH in order to be usable (MSRP: $39.99)
MSRP: $19.99 ($39.99 Season Pass which includes all 3 expansion packs including this one)
(Humble Store Link)

Thank you Paradox Interactive for sending us this game and expansion to review!

Every time I return to BATTLETECH, I end up playing it more than I intended to. It's a great game, and it's been very engaging. I've got over 130 hours into it now, and honestly I would like to play it some more! I've even played multiplayer with friends, and I know that one of my brothers is the guy to beat. He's tough!

As a result, I'm always happy to get another excuse to get back into this game. I'm almost sad that this is the last announced expansion pack, because I don't know when I'll be able to get back into playing this game again! (Writing reviews allows me to play games I otherwise wouldn't, but it also means I rarely get time to play games again that I want to.)

Like my last BATTLETECH expansion pack review, Urban Warfare, I am going to assume from here on out that you played the game, or read my other reviews: Battletech, Flashpoint, and Urban Warfare. While I won't go out of my way to spoil anything, I can't help but talk about some of the changes.

Rather than focus on the new story elements with Flashpoint, or adding a new biome like Urban Warfare did, this expansion pack focuses on a major expansion to the mech roster, and the economy. There are eight new mechs, as well as some more substantial additions in the form of new weapons. Once I started testing them, I was surprised how much of an addition these would make; the new weapons are quite nice and fill significant holes in the existing weapon types. There is also a new Flashpoint mini-campaign that is not to be missed.

BATTLETECH Heavy Metal
Highlights:

Strong Points: More of an already good thing (more BATTLETECH is great!); a very interesting new Flashpoint that tells an interesting story and expands the lore; extensive new equipment (and mechs) that really shakes up the economy
Weak Points: A little pricey
Moral Warnings: Everything that applies to BATTLETECH applies here, so that includes curse words, violence, etc.

The new mechs vary in size from 20 tons all the way up to 100. The new Flea is a tiny 20T mech that can move very quickly, to the amazing Annihilator, that is simply an autocannon fortress. While it has far less armor than its 100T buddies the Atlas and King Crab, man does it carry a lot of auto cannons! I love mine, as it can one-shot tons of smaller mechs very easily. Each of them has at least one piece of unique equipment that makes them especially powerful in their own way. I really love how the Annihilator gets the BSC (Ballistic Siege Compensators) system, which grants it 20% more damage with ballistic weapons. Man does that add up!

There are not only eight new mechs, but also eight new weapons. Each is unique and fun - I burnt through nearly eighteen million credits trying to buy them all to check them out! The first and most unique is the COIL system, which increases damage and heat generation based on how far and fast you move. The practical effect of this is that those tiny, 20-30 ton mechs now have a purpose in life! If you are able to move at full throttle, a single shot can do well over one hundred points of damage - enough to blow off limbs or even destroy many mechs outright. But in order to do this, you need to plan strategically enough, and take advantage of the terrain to make this work. Not to mention, you are piloting a tiny mech with next to no armor!

Other new weapons include the shotgun-style ones. We have the LB-X autocannons, which are quite powerful autocannons that shoot in a close, shotgun-like spread. What this means is that when it hits, it does more aggregate damage than a normal autocannon, but it hits more regions, so while it may not hit critical systems as hard, it instead peels off armor quite quickly. The same can be said about the extremely neat looking SNUB PPC - this is more or less an energy weapon equivalent of the LB-X cannon. It also does just a bit more damage than a PPC (Particle Projector Cannon), but it also hits multiple regions on the target. It looks extremely cool, which helps.

Other notable new weapons are the UAC (Ultra Auto Cannons), the TAG and NARC beacon, as well as the Infernos and last but not least, the Mortar. UACs are literally two autocannons in one - it uses two ammo per shot, and the second shot is often less accurate because of recoil. But with a skilled enough pilot, they are quite deadly. They also weigh just a single ton more. I imagine many builds replacing most if not all ACs with these!

BATTLETECH Heavy Metal
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 88%
Gameplay - 16/20
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 9/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 73%
Violence - 6/10
Language - 6.5/10
Sexual Content - 8/10
Occult/Supernatural - 8/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 8/10

The TAG and NARC Beacon are two sides of the same coin. They both increase damage if they first tag the target. The TAG increases damage of energy and ballistic weapons (aka autocannons), while the NARC increases damage of missile weapons. Both can be quite handy, if you are willing to spend the hardpoint on it.

Infernos are heat-generating missiles. Not unlike a flamer, they hit the enemy and increase their heat. The range is much better than a flamer, and they increase heat twice - once on impact, and again after their turn. Very handy. Mortars are single-use, area of effect missiles. While they can be only used once, they can really turn the tide of battle. They do cost quite a few tons and hardpoint space, so it costs a lot, and mechs can only have one - but things go boom as every region of every mech, friend or foe, takes damage within the hit radius. Well, except for the head, as that would kill pretty much everyone, and no one wants that.

Each of the expansions have added new Flashpoints, starting with the first expansion pack. This one is no exception. Rather including a bunch of smaller ones, this pack includes several, long, interconnected Flashpoints. This ends up becoming a type of mini-campaign, as each Flashpoint follows the previous one. It's a neat campaign from what I have seen of it so far that fills in both the past and future in the lore. I like what I have seen quite a bit.

When it comes to the graphics, sound, and moral concerns, these are exactly the same as the base game. Please refer to the BATTLETECH review for more information. The only thing I would note is that the game has been patched a whole bunch of times, so things generally run better than before, though level loading still takes far too long even on a 12-core CPU with NVMe storage.

BATTLETECH Heavy Metal surprised me with how much I liked it. All of the expansions have added something useful, but this one might be at least tied for first place (with Flashpoint) or perhaps even beat it in my mind. The massively increased mech count, and especially the weapon and technology count, has had a really large impact on the game's economy and variety of play styles. If you are already a fan of BATTLETECH, this is an excellent expansion pack, and a great reason to dive back into your favorite hulking metal machines.

About the Author

Jason Gress

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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