Posted on 10 Jul 2019 by Jay Shaw

Battletech: Urban Warfare

The Defence

Developer: Harebrained Schemes
Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Genre: Strategy, Turn-Based
Platform: Mac, PC
Review copy: Yes
Release date: 24 Apr 2018

The Prosecution

OS: Linux, Windows
CPU: Intel Core i3 3.2 GHz
AMD FX 3.8 GHz
VGA: Nvidia GeForce 660
AMD Radeon HD 7850
HDD: 11 GB
DirectX: 11
Controller: None
Mod Support: Possible
VR: No
FOV Slider: No
FPS Lock: 120+
OS: Linux, Windows
CPU: Intel Core i5 3.1 GHz
AMD FX 3.5 GHz
VGA: Nvidia GeForce 950
AMD Radeon HD 7970
RAM: 16 GB
HDD: 15 GB
DirectX: 11
Controller: None
Mod Support: Possible
VR: No
FOV Slider: No
FPS Lock: 120+

The Case

Urban Warfare is the second expansion for Harebrained Schemes Battletech. As the name suggests it focuses mainly on adding in more urban warfare settings including more dense city areas, new bases to assault, and new battlemechs to take into combat against your enemies. Does it add up to more satisfying stompy mech action? Keep reading to find out.

The Trial

The two new mechs are first on the chopping block; Urban Warfare introduces the Javelin and Raven 1X. The Javelin is a fairly mobile mech with decent close-range firepower but struggles to find its place in the large selection of mechs already on offer. Unless you have no other choice, it doesn’t ever really make sense to put a Javelin in your lance. The Raven 1X meanwhile has its trademark ECM suite and introduces a whole new level of tactics to play.

ECM produces a dome of sensor jamming around the Raven 1X which allows you to effectively hide your mechs in plain sight, advancing on an enemy lance without detection until they’re literally right in your face. Against real players, the ECM is quickly countered by closing to melee range but the AI struggles to handle it, it’s all too easy to wander around just a few tiles from an enemy mech shooting it in the back while it flails about trying to find you. Dealing with an AI equipped with an ECM of its own does make for a tense encounter though, you can never be sure what’s hiding in the dome so making contact with the enemy becomes a kind of cat and mouse game where you try to gather info before choosing how to dive in. This is aided by the other new addition, the Active Probe, which can reveal units that are normally hidden.

There are some pretty awesome explosions to be had with the new hazards.

The new urban environments are pretty fun to battle in. Though we only found a single urban skirmish map, there are plenty of enemy bases and outposts scattered through the campaign/career map for you to make use of. With fully destructible buildings it’s possible to create new sight lines and cover from the rubble. Shooting out a coolant building or electrical transformer will produce new hazards to hamper your enemies and have a surprisingly large area of effect, making them quite useful if you can lure your opponents into range.

Last expansion’s flashpoints are also expanded with new stories and missions ranging from the small crew conversations and decisions up to whole missions and events. More spice to the campaign and career modes is very much a welcome addition, even if there’s only a random chance of experiencing one of the new events.

ECM: It's a visual mess but it basically breaks the AI and lets you go on a rampage.

A new mission type, Attack and Defend, introduces a new tactical hurdle too. As the name suggests you have to attack an enemy base while defending your own. Splitting your lance in these missions is a huge gamble. You can’t go all-in on either attack or defence and so you have to choose which mechs will stand and fight, and which will push into the unknown to engage what may be a heavily defended enemy stronghold. Mad scrambles to retreat a heavy mech to bolster defence, or rush a fragile mech away from hostile base defences can force you to re-evaluate your decisions and come up with new plans on the fly. Attack and Defend is easily one of the best modes in Battletech.

The Verdict

Urban Warfare adds a decent amount of new content to the game but for a £15.49 price tag it feels a little stingy. The random nature of the new flashpoints and story portions means you’re not very likely to experience them and the new mechs struggle to find a place in your line-up over more proven machines. Only a single urban skirmish map is a huge disappointment but this is tempered somewhat by the excellent destruction of walls and buildings. At full-price we can’t recommend Urban Warfare, but if it were a little cheaper, say £8-ish, then it’d be a worthwhile purchase.

Case Review

  • Demolition: Breaking buildings and base walls is pretty satisfying and tactically rewarding.

  • Events: Some of the new events are some of Harebrained’s best writing.

  • Tactical: Attack and Defend is a blast to play and really shows Battletech at its best.

  • So Raven: The Raven’s ECM is great fun, but the AI doesn’t know how to counter it well.

  • Javelin: It’s no one’s favourite mech and while not terrible it just feels pointless.

  • One Map: One urban map for skirmish! Seriously?

3 Score: 3/5
Doesn't add enough of worth to justify the price.

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