Mechwarrior: Tactics announced, internet goes into shock from 'mech overdose

This morning, I recieved an e-mail titled "Commander Aerothorn, The Time Has Come." Best press release ever?

At 11:00 AM PST, the timer on the Mechwarrior: Tactics Teaser Site hit zero, revealing a press release detailing exactly what the mysterious title would be all about.

MechWarrior Tactics is a brand-new MechWarrior game set in the BattleTech® universe and includes everything you love about MechWarrior,” the announcement began. “MechWarrior Tactics is the latest evolution of turn-based strategy and blends tactical gameplay, deep collectability, and unique online features, and is set against visually stunning environments for the supreme MechWarrior battle experience. Players earn, collect, and purchase combat and aesthetic resources to outfit each Mech and prepare for the next online battle.”

A short features list confirmed that each player would have access to a full “‘Mech bay” of customizable BattleMechs, and that the game would feature a leveling progression system that allows the player to unlock more ‘mechs, parts, and (unconfirmed) hats. The game will be Free to Play, meaning that players will presumably be able to buy enhancements rather than earning them through gameplay. No word yet on how developers Roadhouse Interactive and A.C.R.O.N.Y.M. Games plan on addressing the usual “play to win” concerns.

This marks the fourth upcoming free-to-play ‘Mech title, joining co-licensee Mechwarrior Online along with spiritual MechAssault sequel Reign of Thunder and the MechWarrior-inspired Hawken. Hawken and Mechwarrior Online seem to be competing for the Mechwarrior successor title, as they’re both aiming to really “simulate” the experience of piloting a 100-ton war machine in a way not seen since 2002’s Mechwarrior 4: Mercenaries. Reign of Thunder is inspired by the newer, more arcadey MechAssault series, but is still competing in similar action territory.

So while it may seem like a certain form of madness to enter such a crowded market, Mechwarrior Tactics seems to at least be offering a distinct experience. After all, “MechWarrior” was originally just a pen-and-paper adaptation of the BattleTech miniatures game, before becoming the video game series that arguably overshadowed its source material. By re-entering the strategy arena, Tactics seems to be trying to capture not only the old BattleTech fans (as well as its successor, the Mechwarrior: Dark Age “Clix” miniatures game), but those who wondered why Microsoft never followed up on their charming MechCommander titles. And, of course, they need a whole new generation of players. Whether Mechwarrior: Tactics can please all these disparate audiences remains to be seen; but at least us ‘Mech fans can’t complain about a lack of titles.