Battletech's Character Creator Is About More Than Just Looks

Battletech's character creator isn't really about how your character looks; it's about who they are, where they're from, and what they believe.

Battletech is a long established property and mainstay of tabletop wargaming. The original game came out in 1984, and there's been a swath of spin off games such as the MechWarrior series, lore sourcebooks, and over 100 novels set in the universe.

Battletech's intricate timeline has been around longer than I have. Leaping into this world as a newcomer is daunting, but the character creator helps players connect with the setting with a series of choices that define their past.

Throughout the creation process, the player is asked to determine where they are from, what happened to their family, and the life they have lead until the start of the game.

If an NPC simply monologues to me about the Magistracy of Canopus and its matriarchal society, I might tune it out. Instead, I made the choice to be from there and think about what that meant for me as a character.

I looked at each option carefully - the Taurian Concordat, the Federated Suns and others - before deciding I would be from a world known for tacticians and progressivism. I later weighed options between whether I'd lived life as a pirate, gladiator or merchant guard.

Battletech's character creator offers plenty of visual customisation as well as other personalised touches. You can change hair colour, add scars, change your makeup, and even set your pronouns. With some time and tinkering, you'll end up with a cool looking-pilot.

But the character creator's emphasis on narrative choices means that I was also weaving a story together, and intensely engaging with the setting's lore before I'd ever taken a single step in my mech. I agonised over my professional background much longer than I did my hair colour.

Depending on the game, narrative choices in character creators can be in-depth or superficial.

Obsidian Entertainment's RPG Tyranny has an extended narrative prologue where players, taking the role of a high ranking soldier in the villain's army, make strategic decisions throughout a miniature conquest. These choices can affect how certain characters or factions perceive the player. For instance, if they answered a rebel leader's call for an honourable battle, his disciples will treat you with a grudging respect in main campaign.

Mass Effect isn't as detailed, but it does help the player establish their background as well. Commander Shepard can be a military brat or a street scoundrel; they can be the lone survivor of botched mission or a war hero who repelled alien forces attacking a human colony.

Defining a character's background helps players invest in their future decisions when the game starts, and Battletech's character creator is a great example of how helping players create context leads to even more excitement once the giant robots start punching each other.


Comments

    And there is dialogue options during the game based on your characters history you picked at creation.

    Too bad there seems to have been a disconnect between the beta players and the devs. Issues that plagued the beta are still in the game and some new frustrating problems have arisen.

      The only issue I've seen so far is missiles being OP because they changed them to roll location per missile instead of per barrage like the tabletop game. Sure, they reduced the head hit chance from 2.77% to 1%, but even with a five missile barrage that's still a 4.9% chance at least one missile will hit the head, and any head hit is a pilot injury.

      Aside from that I haven't really encountered any problems. What are the new and old issues you've heard about?

        There are common hitches that occur during kills and crits, ctds, tedious map design (walking legged heavies and assaults across story mission maps because it doesn't auto resolve after everyone is dead is cancer), mission triggers not having contingencies for if you are pushed up causing close spawns of enemies that alpha down mechs, ai cheating, long load times even on ssds and excessive amounts of wasted time between actions.

        There are so many QoL issues that should have been fixed, I know of at least five other people that messaged the devs about the same three issues during the beta (load times, ai cheating and time wasting between actions).

          Hmm, I suppose I did almost have an issue when the pirate lady spawned in during the Argo retrieval mission, didn't expect her to be inside the compound so I had my mechs faced the wrong way and ended up with my main tank in the infirmary for 40 days.

          I haven't really encountered the other issues so far though so I guess I'm lucky, my load times have all been fine, no hitches that I can really recall, and I found if you turn off the action camera you don't get some of the little pauses that happen after a strike.

          I'd like to see them fix ultrawide support sooner rather than later because the broken UI scaling has forced me into letterboxed 16:9, but I can live with that.

            On the Argo retrieval map I was actually about four dots from the first mech as the quickdraw spawned on my first attempt, my Blackjack instantly got volley fired down by both mechs. This is bad design and it only gets worse in the randomly generated missions where entire squads of reinforcements can be spawn without any sort of queue of where there are going to come from.

            There are just tonnes of QoL choices that annoy me and I really hope they change how the ai works, the amount of times I have been shot through city walls or watch 0 structure enemies just casually keep firing is pretty frustrating.

              Bad design or bad luck?

              I was lucky. All my mechs were on the far side of the big rock in the centre of the compound, so we were able to burn down her wingman while we kept her in the shadow of the spire then churned through my morale to precision strike her out in a round.

              Mind you, that's where I was expecting her to appear, since that's where all the other baddies appeared.

                I ended up there as my early rng had denied me anything above Lrm 2, so my kits were all brawler.

                A little column A, a little column B. The two turns rolled around after my BJ, but before my scout and the AI targetting is hard to predict and worse yet cannot be distracted.

                  They REALLY like picking on the little guy.

                  I still had my starting mechs when I played this one. The PPC on the Vindicator did a lot of hard yards.

                  By the end of it I had some light repairs on my Vindicator, had to replace an arm on my Spider and had two pilots slacking off in medbay.

                They really do pick on the little guy. I've had them place themselves in suicide positions just for the slim chance to take out one of my mechs with 35% armour left on the front. The odds of them actually taking him out were negligible, but they did it anyway.

    I think something that is missed by a lot of reviews is that the developers were quite in tune with society and allowed the players to not be bound to binary male and female genders but also offered nonbinary.

    But then refused to allow any discussion on that on Steam. Giving warnings to anyone that tried, and deleted all threads.

    Not very democratic.

      Not very democratic.

      I don't know what the type of government of a country has anything to do with how a private company acts.

      Why do you have to discuss it on steam? The rest of the internet is open to you.

      A single word that you have the option to not engage with in any way and has zero impact on the function of the game doesn't need discussion. Especially when the discussion is sometimes going to be a ranting platform for people to be shitty to other people.

      They are under no obligation to be democratic. They made a thing and it's good. If you don't want to buy it because of a single word that doesn't make any difference to your experience, that's the weird hill you've decided to die on.

    The character creation background process was very enjoyable, and it brought a wider sense of scale than just typically having them be from the five factions or other. Being a long term fan of the games (going back to Crescent Hawks Inception / Revenge back when they could still use the Macross Valkyrie designs) I still learnt a lot of the setting. Of course, my pilot was from the Draconis Combine. :3 That'll never change!

    I was also really impressed by the portrait generator, which I had fun with. I couldn't quite make my usual custom character, but I'm happy with what I was able to do with it. There is some odd disconnect between some of the voices and portraits in the premades, but that could just be some very masculine appearing women.

    Pretty pumped for Battletech. Played the table top a lot in the 80s and it was always great fun. If they can capture the table top feel I’ll be happy.

    I'm really enjoying it, and running around with a 50 ton Centurion armed with an AC20 is awesome fun... ka-BOOM

      I put myself in a similarly modified Centurion. Up close and personal, and even if I get my head blown off I'll survive (but spend the next 3-4 months in the infirmary).

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