In a year jam-packed with Game of the Year caliber releases, it can be easy to forget about the low-key release of Battletech. After a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign, the creators of Shadowrun Returns were able to bring their tactical RPG genius to the realm of giant robots and space operas with a reboot of the Battletech series. This was a game already jam-packed with content from day 1, with a huge main story campaign and impressively customizable mechs. Flashpoint, the first of three planned DLC expansions for the game, aims to bring even more action to an already beefy package.
Flashpoint adds a handful of new items under every category, but the biggest addition are the titular Flashpoint missions. There weren’t many reasons to go exploring the rest of the galactic map after beating the main campaign, but Flashpoint gives you some. Whether using an endgame save or starting the new Career Mode, you’ll be able to find multi-part contracts on the Starmap and take them on for lengthy battles and plenty of spoils. These missions often see you fulfilling multiple objectives and requests in a row, with no time to heal up or redeploy in-between. They’re long missions and can be a hell of a challenge if you aren’t well prepared. Even the “short” Flashpoint deployments can easily run over an hour in length, so these are hardly quick and dirty side-quests.
What I appreciated a lot about these Flashpoints were the stories and writing attached to each of them. The narratives are little side-stories that see you embroiled in House turf wars or secret tech escort missions, and the multi-mission nature of these deployments means they can toss plenty of interesting character developments or plot twists at you mid-mission, always giving you a command decision to make. While a convoy escort mission sounds boring on paper, the narrative that drove it forward kept me engaged the entire time.
Another minor mission expansion sees a brand new type of contract added to the game, in the form of Target Acquisitions. These see you dropping onto a map with three key bases, and an enemy compound triangulated within them. Your goal is to capture the three compounds and then destroy the enemy base before time runs out. It isn’t a mind-blowing style of mission, but as you spend more and more time with Battletech, the mission objectives do start to get a little repetitive, so even just one added encounter type is appreciated.
You can only access Flashpoints if you have a post-campaign save, and some players might not be at that point yet. Thankfully, the new Career Mode introduced in the recent 1.3 patch lets you dive into them a bit more quickly. In this rogue-like style mode, you skip past all of the main story content, and are simply given a random outfit of mechs and warriors, and free reign over where to go, what to do, and who to work for. It can be overwhelming at first, and you will have to grind your way up to be able to take on a Flashpoint, but the freedom to build your own adventure and seek out your own goals regardless of the warring federations in the main story feels really good.
I’m always a sucker for mechs, and Flashpoint adds three new ones for me to drool over. The Hatchetman is a personal favorite of mine, and not because I’m an undercover Juggalo. It sports some serious close-quarters armor-shredding skills that are a blast to use once you figure out the ideal ways to close the distance with your enemy. The lightweight Crab mech and versatile Cyclops round out the list of new additions, and each offers something different to help expand and diversify your squad.
Flashpoint is a promising expansion that adds a wealth of variety to the Battletech package. It won’t occupy you for nearly as long as the base game did, but it definitely adds enough to justify dipping back in for a while. With two more expansions to come for Battletech, I’m excited to see just how beefy this game ends up being when all is said and done.