BattleTech: Heavy Metal expansion cranks it up to 11

When BattleTech launched back in April 2018, it was already a promising strategy game full of content and customisation, but it’s grown since then through updates and a DLC Season Pass that brought even more action to the experience. We’ve had new biomes, new mission types, stories and gameplay mechanics, but for the third and final expansion, Harebrained Schemes have flipped the script.

Instead of introducing a brand new massive campaign or environment to explore, Heavy Metal drops a whopping 10 new titanic robots into the game alongside some interesting new weapon systems and a humble new story campaign to experience them in.

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I love having as much variety as possible when picking characters in a strategy game. I’m the type of person who would collect all of the units in Fire Emblem or Final Fantasy Tactics, so when a DLC expansion like Heavy Metal drops a huge amount of new bots into BattleTech is a dream come true for me.

The variety on display here is incredible, offering new options for any kind of playstyle. The Flea is a tiny 2-ton mech with high speed and a surprising amount of firepower. The apptly named Annihilator, meanwhile, is a hulking 100-ton titan kitted out with a variety of impressive ballistics. All of these mechs will be familiar to diehard fans of the franchise, especially the Rifleman suit that’s known for being featured on the cover of the original Mech Warrior tabletop RPGs rulebook guide.

One of the most notable members of the lineup is the Bull Shark, though. This is the one mech of the entire squad of additions that isn’t a classic MechWarrior favourite, but rather an entirely new design cooked up by the team at Harebrained Schemes.

All of that said, it does feel a little bit too late to be dropping a mech-focused expansion like this. For die-hard fans, if you’ve already completed most of the content in the game, it might be hard to justify hopping back in to experience these new mechs. There are plenty of constantly-rotating side adventures available in a mercenary career to take these new mechs out on a spin in, but I imagine brand new players grabbing the game and season pass together will get the most out of this stimulus package of additional robots.

Still, existing players won’t be entirely starved of new story content to test their new mechs out in. Heavy Metal introduces a new Flashpoint campaign that has players encounter the iconic Bounty Hunter and Black Widow of the Wolf’s Dragoons. Your team and will skirmish with them over a mysterious cargo ship that drifted into the Periphery out of deep space. It’s a brisk, but satisfying campaign, and I’m glad it was included so that I had a bit more incentive to dive back in and try out the brand new mechs.

It also gave me a chance to try out some of the new weapon systems introduced in Heavy Metal. There are eight brand new weapon types introduced in the DLC that add a nice amount of variety to your toolkit. The ‘Mech Mortar, for example, is a destructive AoE weapon that can destroy multiple units at once. The COIL beam, meanwhile, is an addictive new gun that deals more damage the further the attacker moves, charging up kinetic energy before firing it at the end of their turn. Mech variety is already well appreciated, but the added suite of weapons is icing on the cake.

Overall, Heavy Metal is an impressive DLC update. It might be hard to justify if you’ve already stripped the game clean of everything to do, but if you’re a new player or still have some stories to conquer, then dropping ten new mechs and eight new devastating weapons to your arsenal is just what the doctor ordered.

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