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Battletech's latest Kickstarter update showcases hot mech melee combat

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Giant robots traditionally carry giant guns, but every now and then a situation gets a little more up-close-and-personal than usual, and those massive space-bazookas just get in the way. In moments like that, what's really called for is a giant robotic punch upside the head. Fortunately for fans of assault-class fisticuffs, Battletech developer Harebrained Studios very much has you covered. 

The developer seems to have the right attitude about mech melee, based on the latest update to the Battletech Kickstarter. "Once you’re close enough to punch someone, punching should usually be the right thing to do (or at the very least, it shouldn’t ever be the wrong thing to do)," design lead Kiva Maginn explained. "There are a few reasons for this, mostly having to do with the speed and intensity of battles. When battles get in close, it’s not all that much fun to spin in circles around each other, trying to get a good back-shot but otherwise standing mostly in one place. I wanted the final stage of a battle, when ‘Mechs are in spitting distance of each other, to be brutal and decisive. Once you’re that close, the fight’s about to be over one way or another." 

Maginn digs deep into the process of developing Battlemech's melee combat, which involves balancing the complexity of melee attacks, the frequency of head shots (which are especially devastating), and how it all looks—because if it doesn't look good, there's really no point, is there? The result is a system that automatically takes into account things like mech type, tonnage, relative positioning, and upgrades like melee-focused actuators when melee attacks are performed. All mechs can melee, and damage will be very high; mechs can also be knocked over, which will injure, or even kill, the pilot. 

And yes, jumpjet-equipped mechs will be able to perform Death From Above attacks. "We knew from the start that we’d be including the Death From Above attack as a special and deliberate action. It’s too iconic a moment to not let you choose it yourself," Maginn wrote. "It’s powerful, does a ridiculous amount of damage, smashes your legs up something fierce, and it looks really damn cool." 

The update also touches on the overall progress of development, which is "tracking well towards our Kickstarter Backer Beta target." The combat component has reached an alpha state (the campaign and multiplayer aren't quite there yet), and the studio is "rapidly expanding from that foundation, with development of the Mercenary sim-game, story campaign, cinematics, and multiplayer." The Kickstarter beta is expected to get underway sometime next year.

Now enjoy show.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.