Here's why you should be excited about BattleTech's Urban Warfare Expansion

By Ian Boudreau 29 Apr 2019 1

Harebrained Schemes has revealed the Urban Warfare expansion coming to BattleTech in June, and it’s shaping up to be an exciting addition to a game that’s gotten significantly bigger since it launched about a year ago. Urban Warfare is digging into the old FASA BattleTech lore to find some game mechanics that will genuinely shake up the way the game is played - especially if the new environment type manages to feel meaningfully different. Let’s dig into what we know so far.

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First off, the Urban Warfare expansion naturally features a new kind of biome to fight in, the dense cityscape. It’s a network of major thoroughfares criss-crossing each other between massive skyscrapers, creating long, straight lines of sight and plenty of opportunities to duck away and break line of sight. But this is BattleTech, and you’re piloting a lance of Battlemechs that are armed to the teeth with heavy ordnance, and that means you can change the lay of the land by knocking those buildings down when they get in the way. While that sounds pretty compelling, I’m not 100 percent convinced it’ll change the game up as much as it initially might seem to. However, I’m willing to reserve judgement on that front - it’s possible a destructible cityscape is just what the doctor ordered.

The expansion will also include new Flashpoints, which are BattleTech’s multi-mission mini-stories that you can trigger after a certain point in the campaign. The Flashpoints we’ve seen already have been interesting as well as extremely punishing. Narratively, I’m interested in where Harebrained pushes the story, but I’m also keen on seeing how they’ve integrated the new urban environments into the overall plot.

Likely, it’ll have to do with uncovering electronic warfare technology, which is another banner feature of the Urban Warfare expansion. There are two new technologies to equip your ‘Mechs with, and those are Electronic Countermeasures (ECM) and Active Probe. ECM acts something like stealth, protecting a ‘Mech and nearby friendly units from enemy targeting systems and rendering them immune from indirect fire attacks. Active Probe is a counter to this, and allows you to spot ‘Mechs that would otherwise be obscured from sensor detection.

Ubran Warfare 1

Because of how easy it’s going to be to hide in the urban maps coming with the expansion, these two technologies are going to prove crucial in planning and avoiding ambushes and making sure you’re opening fights with some kind of advantage. If I have a concern, it’s that they might prove too crucial. Indirect fire is going to be far more important in cities than it already is, and the fact that ECM can completely protect a lance from it means that you will absolutely have to bring a ‘Mech with Active Probe. Otherwise you’ll be dead as soon as you step off the dropship.

Thematically, the two new ‘Mech chassis are interesting as well. Urban Warfare is adding the Raven 1X and the Javelin, both of which are tied to the re-emergence of technological advancement following the Succession Wars period in the BattleTech universe. In the game’s current setting, warfare has been going on for so long that humanity has regressed technologically, and as the game’s story begins, humans are no longer capable of producing new BattleMechs. That’s why salvage is so important in the game - these parts aren’t made anywhere any more. In the lore, the Raven was one of the first new ‘Mechs produced in centuries, and it was designed around an electronic warfare package designed to try to recapture the advancements of eras past. However, the electronic warfare suite proved too large for existing designs, and thus the Raven was born - a ‘Mech design specifically meant to carry these modules into battle.

Urban Warfare 3

That comes at a cost of tonnage, however. Carrying the electronic warfare package means the prototype Ravens were never able to carry a lot of weapons or armor, and so when we see them appear in BattleTech, expect them to stay hidden in the back ranks, hiding behind buildings and using their Electronic Warfare abilities from the flanks and rear. The appearance of the Raven in game means we’re moving ahead in time from sometime after 3025 to at least 3048, which is when the first of these ‘Mechs were ever produced.

The Javelin is a scout ‘Mech meant primarily for reconnaissance, but also capable as a quick-strike ambusher if the situation calls for it. There are seven canonical Javelin variants in the FASA back catalogue, but what we’re likely to see is either the 10N or 10F model - or perhaps both. The Javelin 10N is equipped with two SRM-6 launchers in the left and right torso units, and… that’s it. That’ll make this ‘Mech good for popping out and firing salvos from around buildings and vulnerable to critical hits on its ammunition stores. The 10F also would make sense in the digital version of BattleTech, as it’s known to have been used during the Succession Wars. This one ditches the missile launchers in exchange for four medium lasers. That solves the ammo problem, but of course adds the constant concern of overheating.

Ubran Warfare 2

The last major feature coming to BattleTech with the Urban Warfare expansion is a new encounter type, Attack and Defend. It sounds like a challenge: You’ll have to defend your employer’s base from a constant stream of enemy units, while at the same time pushing forward to knock out their base. It’s not exactly clear what this will look like, but I’m excited to try it out. Will it mean constantly-spawning “creep” type enemies, sort of like a MOBA? Or will full new ‘Mech lances keep showing up the longer you stay in the mission? Either way, I’m interested in seeing what Harebrained has planned, particularly when mixed with the new urban environments.

BattleTech: Urban Warfare will launch June 4th, and it’s currently available for pre-order for $19.99 USD. Of course, it’s included if you’ve purchased the BattleTech season pass, which has one more big expansion planned, dubbed Heavy Metal, after Urban Warfare debuts.

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