Preview: MechWarrior Tactics

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Get your Mech sorted out you dirty Clanner, the battlefield has been laid bare and is thick with the smoke left behind by long range missile systems and husks of destroyed lancemates.  On the heels of the success of MechWarrior Online, Roadhouse Interactive has hit us with a closed beta for the browser based MechWarrior Tactics.  A free to play turn based tactics game, players build their lances (units of about four mechs) out of collectable pilots, robots, and weapons.  The system takes a lot of inspiration from the BattleTech Collectible Card Game and tabletop role playing game, and there is a large emphasis on collecting and trading, as well as customization (partially through the future cash shop).
Pilots and Mechs are collected like cards, and you can build your lance like building a deck in a card battle game.

Pilots and Mechs are collected like cards, and you can build your lance like building a deck in a card battle game.

The gameplay proper takes place on a hex grid adorned map powered by the flexible Unity game engine, with various bits of uneven terrain both causing obstructions and creating opportunities to gain advantages such as higher ground.  Turns are taken simultaneously, first selecting attacks and then movement (a reverse of tactical RPG norms).  When both players are ready, the action plays out with both movements and damage affecting accuracy and heat out put on all of the mechs in play.

Gameplay both encapsulates the deep strategic parts of MechWarrior while still making combat  feel raw and chaotic.

Gameplay both encapsulates the deep strategic parts of MechWarrior while still making combat feel raw and chaotic.

An interesting mechanic introduced allows for players to wait up to twenty-four hours before taking their turn if desired, and allowing up to three lances to play three separate games at once.   This means you could have a turn by turn match lasting over a few days with a friend who is busy, while having another more frantic ranked match with a separate set of mechs.

Browser based gaming has come a long way from being mostly shovelware trash to, what could be, the first new AAA entry on the platform.  Can it succeed?  Reactions to the closed beta have so far been positive, with a heated match between internet personalities Angry Joe and Total Biscuit streamed live seeing massive views and generating a lot of buzz around the game.  Is the MechWarrior franchise ready for its long awaited comeback?  We will know soon as the game is set to launch later this year.