BattleTech is absolutely flooded with content. You can kit up over a dozen different kinds of steel-scraping ‘Mechs with an insane variety of weapons and gadgets and upgrades and then take them out on a wide variety of missions to duke it out in harsh deserts, rich forests or frigid tundras. There’s a wide assortment of factions and enemies and vehicles to form partnerships and rivalries with across the galaxy. Yet, for how much BattleTech is bursting at the seams, there’s been one glaring omission since launch: freakin’ cities.
When you think of iconic mecha media and unforgettable robot anime action, you’re most likely picturing a handful of giant bots having at it in the middle of a huge metropolis. It really puts their scale into perspective as they stride down city streets and pass skyscrapers that blot out the sky for people stood at their base. Having these metal titans battling it out in the cities has been missing from the mecha strategy of BattleTech. Thankfully, that hole has been filled with the release of the most recent DLC expansion, Urban Warfare.
As the name implies, the heavy focus of this DLC is on a new terrain type for missions that sees you dropping into massive metropolitan environments. Skyscrapers and office buildings fill the map and flank you at every turn, while streets are littered with abandoned cars that have been caught in the chaos as battle breaks out. BattleTech sometimes struggled to have a truly jaw-dropping aesthetic in battle, but night-time city missions consistently left me wide-eyed at how beautiful the environment I was busily destroying could look.
The great part of these metropolis terrains is how interactive the environment is, and how many new avenues they open up for strategising. Buildings can be used as vital cover during harsh firefights, or as platforms to jet-jump onto in order to flank opponents or scan the battlefield for intel. Nothing good lasts forever, though, and that includes the buildings littering these maps. Every inch of the city terrain is fully destructible, leading to plenty of scorched earth tactics and environmental uh-oh’s. On one occasion, a mech of mine was comfortably perched atop a 20 story building scouting out the enemy, when a cluster of well-aimed rockets took the entire structure down, sending my beautiful bot crashing to its demise. It’s a really fun environment to play around in, and is now easily my favourite terrain type in the game.
Beyond a new biome, Urban Warfare also adds electronic weaponry into the mix with an array of new equipment types that serve to shake up the way you play. Electronic Countermeasures jam long-range targeting systems by obscuring anyone who has them equipped, which definitely led to some frustration the first time I encountered it. Thankfully, the Active Probe tool counters this and lets you reveal units that would otherwise be hidden by tech like the Electronic Countermeasure. It’s a simple set of tools, but it adds an extra layer of thinking to mission-prep that helps diversify the action a bit more.
That diversity also arrives in the form of a new mission type: Attack and Defend. Each team in these missions has a home base, and it’s up to you to attack the enemy base while, surprise surprise, defending your own. The enemy base throws out a constant stream of AI reinforcements during these missions, so if you aren’t steadily eliminating the enemy you’ll very quickly get into some deep, deep trouble. Again, it’s not a mind-blowing addition compared to the metropolis maps, but more variety in missions is always welcome.
Anyone looking to add some more action to their BattleTech experience absolutely needs to pick up Urban Warfare, if only for the new city environments it adds. These maps add an incredible new layer of fun and strategy to the game, and they’ve very quickly come to be my favourite part of not just the expansion, but the game as a whole. Everything else in Urban Warfare, while not as earth-shattering, is still some additional spice that helps add variety to an already bustling package.