The sci-fi universe created by FASA Corporation already spans nearly four decades. Piloting giants mechs’ and leading them into battles still manages to captivate new generations of gamers. Today let’s take a look at the BATTLETECH universe and two of its most prominent video games.

The creation of the cult board game

You could say that the 1980s were a great time for figurine war games. Not only did the Warhammer franchise from Games Workshop emerge back then. In 1984 a Chicago-based company called FASA Corporation released a tactical board game featuring powerful humanoid war machines. The title of this product was initially supposed to be “BattleDroids”. Yet, due to the legal disputes (the name “droids” remains heavily connected to the Star Wars franchise), its creators settled for BattleTech.

The rules of the mentioned game, as well as its unique setting, came from the minds of Jordan Weisman and L. Ross Babcock III. Especially that first name should ring some bells if the topic of tabletop games remains close to your heart. Weisman codeveloped concepts for such cult RPGs as Shadowrun and Earthdawn. It’s no wonder that in 1986 the BattleTech board game received a spin-off in the form of a tabletop RPG titled Mechwarrior. This split is worth mentioning here because it left a visible mark in the video game world. But before we get to that, let’s take a look at the interesting BattleTech universe.

The Inner Sphere

The world of BattleTech has a strong sci-fi flavor mixed with feudalistic elements. For seven centuries (2005-2780) mankind enjoyed a long time of prosperity under the banner of an all-mighty Star League. Its rulers, so-called First Lords, led mankind to explore numerous galaxies. After the unification, they formed a circular shape that became known as the Inner Sphere. The Golden Age of Mankind came to an abrupt end, when the last First Lord, Richard Cameron, was killed in a coup launched by Stefan Amaris. 

For the next 250 years, the Inner Sphere became an arena of bloody Succession Wars (2781-3049). The latter were waged by great houses (e.g. Kurita, Steiner, Liao, or Davion), who craved the throne after the fallen Cameron dynasty. The powerful instruments of this conflict have proved to be humanoid BattleMechs (reaching 40 ft in height) piloted by brave individuals called “mechwarriors”. Over time, the great houses’ armies have been severely weakened. Their leaders were forced to rely on mercenary bands consisting of such pilots and their machines. And this, fellow gamer, is usually the role you are tasked to fill in. 

Of course, the Succession Wars haven’t finished the BattleTech universe timeline. Since 1984, over 70 novels set in this interesting world have been published, largely expanding the lore. One of the most prominent BattleTech writers, Michael A. Stackpole, even went on to become a creator of the popular post-apo game Wasteland. Yet, we leave the task of discovering more about events like the Clan Invasion or characters such as Natasha Kerensky up to you. Instead, we would like to focus on telling more about two exceptional video games set in the BattleTech universe.

BATTLETECH

The first title available on GOG is deeply rooted in the original tactical version of the board games from FASA Corporation. It was developed by Harebrained Schemes, a company co-founded by Jordan Weisman we already mentioned. The development of the game started thanks to the crowdfunding campaign. The latter began in September 2015 and reached its funding goal of 250,000 USD within an hour.

BATTLETECH revolves around the adventures of a mercenary squad of mechwarriors. Their commander, apart from taking on a series of side contracts, takes part in a brutal civil war between the noble houses of Arano and Espinoza.

During the turn-based tactical battles, you can command a lance of up to 4 BattleMechs. When composing your strike force you can buy or salvage over 30 BattleMech types. The latter include light machines like Locust (20 tons) and heavy assault ‘Mechs such as Atlas (100 tons). On the battlefield, your ‘Mechs can use different weapons, like rocket launchers, cannons, and flamethrowers of all sorts. One of the biggest threats to your machines, apart from powerful opponents, is their heat level. Once we cross that line – goodbye to your ‘Mech.

Fans of the classic board game received it well, comparing it to the classic MechCommander game from 1999. To this day 3 major DLCs for BATLLTETECH have seen the light of day, further expanding the number of available ‘Mechs and battlegrounds.

MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries

This game, on the other hand, draws more from the RPG tradition of the BattleTech games. A mixture of RPG, strategy, and simulation is not something new in the franchise. The original MechWarrior game had it’s premiere in 1989, yet the entire series encountered some bumps on the way. For example, fans had to wait entire 19 years for its comeback after MechWarrior 4: Vengence’s release in the year 2000. 

Their patience was rewarded in a form of a game with an engaging story, stunning 3D visuals, and great heavy metal OST from Sean Kolton. In Mechwarrior 5: Mercenaries you take the role of Commander Mason, a leader of the ‘Mech mercenary squad in search of his father’s murderers. In order to take his revenge, Mason must create a powerful Battlemech lance formed from the best pilots and machines in the Inner Sphere.

Unlike in BATTLETECH, here the battles take place from the pilot’s perspective, as a typical simulation game. The tactical options on the battlefield are present but cut to a minimum. This leaves you with the pleasure of piloting the ‘Mechs you commended from afar in BATTLETECH and destroying everything in your path. Between the campaign missions, you travel across galaxies taking on lucrative contracts and managing your machine park. Modifying and repairing owned ‘Mechs is crucial here, as it lets you win battles earn more money, and buy even more powerful machines and weapons.

Mission accomplished

As you can see, it doesn’t matter if you prefer a more strategic, managerial approach or like to jump straight into the action. Games from the BattleTech universe can give you a lot of fun either way. So, visit GOG and check out both BATTLETECH and MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries. The dangerous and exciting realm of the Inner Sphere awaits the bold!

Looking for more games based on board and tabletop games? Read our articles about Warhammer and Forgotten Realms.