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News: Interview with New MechWarrior Developers

Posted on : 16-09-2009 | By : | In : News

Hardware: , ,

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btech_main1

IGN has an enlightening interview up with some of the people behind the upcoming new entry in the MechWarrior series. After the announcement trailer was released, after a bit of “ooh” and “ahh”ing at the pretty robot graphics, I was left with a lot of questions about what direction they were attempting to take the new MechWarrior, and the interview is uncharacteristically insightful. Not only do these guys really seem to care about what they’re doing, but they sound like they’re capable of doing it, too.

One of the first things that bugged me about the trailer was the launching of the scout drones. The game is listed as taking place in a year that, for BattleTech canon, is extremely backward technologically, and seeing some high-tech looking drones jumped right out at me as untrue to the fictional time period, where technology is rare and most of it is looted from the battlefield. The devs explain the thinking behind it as a tweak to the gameplay, though, as one part of a strategy in making scouting and battlefield awareness important. The older MechWarrior titles were very lenient with their targeting, you either saw a target or you didn’t, and once you saw him, you could see him through mountains, buildings, and the like and this is just one way to make the game feel a bit more tactical.

Another change related to promoting a more “tactical” feel are the urban environments. With sensors not working magically through buildings anymore, the lighter Mechs grow more important as scouts, which will go a long way towards solving another problem with the earlier games. While there was always some compromise between speed and power, you were almost always better off with the heaviest Mechs available, with lighter Mechs mainly being used until access to the heavies became available. It looks like they’re balancing the game such that a team of four heavies will be at a disadvantage against a team of mixed weights, and it’s a change I’ll welcome.

As far as the canon is concerned, other than the changes they’ve made for gameplay reasons, I’m pleased with their respect to it as they seem to really want to emphasize how rare and important Mechs are, pieces of technology whose secrets have mostly been forgotten over centuries of warfare, rather than expendable and common implements of war. Later in the interview they talk a bit about trying to emphasize this in the multiplayer as well, rewarding players who use a certain model of Mech over others, to keep that “special” feel of singularity to the game’s technology. When I was reading the BattleTech novels, it always felt strange that characters tended to stay with a specific unit while the player in MechWarrior games was expected to go through Mechs like popcorn, so if the balancing of this feature works out alright, and I can take down Mechs in a pimped-out Highlander or Hatamoto-Chi against players using only the massive Atlas, that’s something worth looking forward to.

The six-page interview goes into a lot of other details, so if you’re a vet of MechWarrior or just curious, give it a read. I’ll admit to being somewhat scared about their talk of trying to make the game essentially the same for the Xbox 360 (I’m guessing no spamming of the “o” key when your fusion reactor is about to blow) but their disparaging of MechAssault means they have the right idea, at least.

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Comments (1)

More than any other possible upcoming game, this is the most exciting.
I hope this lives up to all expectations when it does see the light of day

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