These days players too often treat additional downloadable content with suspicion. Though not without reasons – too many publishers abuse DLCs, asking too much money for too little experience. Sometimes the question arises if it was even necessary to cut some things due to lack of time for polish or everything was made purely to sell some things twice. With Season Passes there is additional distrust, as you don’t even know what exactly is going to be included.
Well, now for the BattleTech Season Pass you know. Three DLCs: Flashpoint, Urban Warfare, and Heavy Metal. Each adding not only new mechs and equipment but also various missions and even mini-campaigns.
One of the things that I felt to be unnatural in the base game was that contracts never expire. Even if description told about overwhelming assault or any other urging matters – you could wait any amount of time in orbit before taking the job. And the very first large DLC added “flashpoints”… which are not exactly what I had in mind.
The time limit for those “flashpoints” (those that have one) look quite arbitrary. 120 days, 200 days. Which looks especially funny when our mercenary squad arrives in the nick of time, regardless of how many days left.
However, the missions themselves are well written. Both in terms of dialogues that explore political intricacies of the lore (sometimes introducing interesting characters), and challenges that often have far more nuance than ordinary tasks. There are always “unexpected” reinforcements, various special conditions – like in one “flashpoint” you can choose pilots, but mechs are predefined. Or you have restrictions on your troops’ weight. Or you have to fight the next mission right away, without time for repairs.
Yes, most “flashpoints” are actually chains of missions. Even more, many of them have branching choices. Do you give the captured spy to your employer as promised or sell him back? Maybe you decide to side with the folks you’ve just fought because you learned they are not who you thought they are. What if one tactical option puts you against mechs that can be salvaged for better loot than the other?
Though as for the loot, “better” is a relative concept. It all depends on your play style. Certain mechs and tech that you can get as a prize can be particularly valuable for one tactic and not fit others. Also, you shouldn’t forget about the reputation. If you are going to be an ally to one faction, maybe it’s wise to side with it during the “flashpoint”.
Flashpoint DLC also has additional mechs added to the roster. Most notorious of them is Hatchetman. As the name implies, it wields a giant hatchet and inflicts terrifying damage in melee combat.
This DLC adds urban maps with lots of large buildings. Because of them fighting on the city streets is a bit different than in the most other biomes. Not only towering offices provide good cover against direct fire, but some of them are also large enough for your mechs to jump on their rooftops. Taking high ground always improves chances to hit the target.
Though be careful – if someone destroys the building (which is actually relatively easy) your mech will fall and get damaged, proportional to the building’s height. Quite a nice tactical trick for you too, btw.
There are also new “Flashpoints”, including the ones that take place in the urban environment. And a few electronic gadgets for your mechs. They mostly mess with enemy’s targeting systems, reducing chance being hit in melee, or by ranged attacks, or make a mech completely immune to “Sensor Lock” and indirect fire.
One mini-campaign, in particular, allows you to get “Raven” mech. It is equipped with “Electronic counter-measures” that can cloak your whole lance and it’s “Active Probe” makes all enemies in range to become “Sensor locked”. There are limitations, of course – direct combat reduces “cloak charges”, AP generates a lot of heat, but in most situations, you still have quite an edge over the enemy.
However, in regards to new weapons, the last DLC is where you got the most of the new toys.
NARC beacons are implanted on the target mech, increasing a chance to hit for all subsequent missile attacks. Mortar targets an area and hits several targets at once. Snub-PPC has reduced range but is devastating up close. And Inferno missiles burn mechs into shutdown in a couple of turns.
Of course, those are just types and in-game you’ll find a few variations of each. And of course, there will be heavy assault mechs available that could handle those weapons immense heat output and weight. That’s where the “Heavy Metal” name comes from. Though if you want you can still install one of the new guns on a lighter mech.
The last, but not the least is the whole mini-campaign of “flashpoints” that is set around the derelict ship, filled with incredibly advanced tech of unknown (since no one knows about The Clans yet) origin. You will face tough decisions, meet ancient AI, discover some obscure pieces of BattleTech lore, and even go against notorious Black Widow and mysterious Bounty Hunter.
That is if you would like to do so. There is an alternative – take money for not fighting two legendary characters of the Inner Sphere and getting some unique gear from the derelict. Again – your choice.
Everything Has A Price
Honestly, I think the sum of all “flashpoints” easily topples the base game campaign in terms of the story. Especially as “flashpoint” stories are far less moralizing and, more importantly, have multiple choices.
And with the addition of all the new gear, mechs, and iconic characters’ cameo Season Pass is a solid add-on, totally worth the same price as the BattleTech itself. The price, it actually kinda has, since BattleTech: Mercenary Collection does indeed cost twice as the base game.
The problem is, however, if you already own the BattleTech base game. In that case, buying Season Pass costs two times+ more. And it’s definitely frustrating when add-on costs more than the base game. Hence so many negative reviews on Steam and “mixed” rating.
A side note – there is no reason to buy separate DLCs. You will just miss valuable mechs, valuable experience of fighting in unique missions, and of course new weapons that are valuable for experiments with tactics. Thus Season Pass can be considered only as one big add-on and nothing else.
Overall I score the Season Pass high because it significantly enriches the BattleTech game. And considering the amount of content, I totally believe that it all couldn’t be done on launch. Plus developers did good work in tweaking the balance and eliminating bugs. Not perfect work, but good.