MechWarrior Tactics opens its Founders Program and invites players to contribute thoughts, money
MechWarrior Online is a first-person take on the world of BattleTech, but MechWarrior Tactics is a digital take on the board game. The free-to-play game gives you a selection of Mechs and equipment when you create an account, and then you have the ability to buy booster packs filled with random items, called STACS, using scrap you earn by playing, or C-bills purchased with real-world currency.
There is an open beta coming later, but a closed beta has just launched this week, and you can get in by purchasing one of the game’s Founder’s Packages. You get a suite of equipment, in-game currency, and instant access to the beta. The lowest tier will cost you $20, and the highest tier runs $120.
It’s not just a matter of buying your way in and getting some equipment to start playing, it’s about helping to shape the game.
Contributing to the cause
The team at Roadhouse Interactive has long described Tactics as a game that allows you to “collect, customize, and conquer,” but the Founder’s Program adds yet another layer to the alliteration: You can now Contribute.
“BattleTech has been around 25 plus years now, we want all those fans to have an opportunity via Founders to join our beta community and voice their desires, their concerns, anything that they want to say, they have that opportunity,” Chris Cleroux, the game director at Roadhouse Interactive, told the Report.
The “friends and family” beta has been going on for quite some time, and they’ve discovered just how passionate the fan base can be. “They have a fairly aligned voice about what they want to see. They provide awesome feedback,” Cleroux said.
The feedback, and the team’s action on it, has been surprisingly granular. Cleroux described fan ideas on how to show destroyed weapons systems on individual Mechs, and the question of how many clicks it should take to move a Mech in each round.
In fact, many players in the early rounds of the closed beta were able to hit the level cap in a shockingly short amount of time.
“We were really surprised, they just blasted through it. It wasn’t so much that it was easy to do, but they were so dedicated and played so many games, and afterwards they wrote fairly detailed reports of their experience and gave us feedback,” Cleroux remembered. “We have a very, very dedicated community. They’re very interested in providing very detailed feedback. We might have some engineers from other industries kicking around, or people with previous QA experience, because we have some pro guys in there!”
Upgrading your lance
The Founder’s Program allows you to buy specific equipment in the packages, but that’s the last time you’ll be able to call your shots with your purchases. The STACs keep everything random, although the higher-priced STACs will have a set amount of rare or more powerful upgrades or items.
“It’s something we’re purposefully avoiding. Allowing players to purchase specific in-game content that has a game play impact. We want to avoid that whole thing, because we’re a collectible game, we don’t want to give the impression of a pay-to-win system,” Cleroux explained. You’ll be able to purchase paint or patterns for your Mechs, but all the content will be purchased through STACs, and will be random.
On the other hand, everyone will be given the same starting equipment when you sign up for an account during an open beta or when the game launches.
“It’s really important for starter players to have the same toys to play with. In free-to-play, we want to avoid the trap of giving players different randomized assets, because if they don’t like what they get they’ll just open a new account and try to go for what they consider to be the best equipment,” Cleroux said. “When you sign up for an account you’ll get the same starter set. Then it’s up to [the player] to invest time, money, or hopefully the Founders packages to get new assets and new toys to play with.”
MechWarrior Tactics will also feature expansions and in-game events that lead to themed STACs, and the game will be able to dig deep into the in-game lore.
“There are 25 plus years of content for us to pull from, and I work closely with Randall Bills over at Catalyst Game Labs who is a storyteller within the community, and he’s a well-respected gentleman who knows just about everything there is to know about the entire universe,” Cleroux said. “I rely on his brainpower to fuel some of those elements in the game.”
The Founder’s Club is a good value, if you’re interested in playing a turn-based tactical version of MechWarrior; I’ve already purchased the $20 package in order to play before they allow press into the beta, although I’m bound by the NDA so I can’t share images or talk about the game. While some people may be annoyed by the random nature of the game’s item collection mechanic, I’m excited by it.
It’s exciting to purchase a STAC, open it up, and see what’s inside. It’s like a scratch-off lottery ticket, but you’re always guaranteed something, and you can use those items to kill your enemies. I’m in.