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MechAssault is a third-person battlemech game set in the BattleTech wargaming universe. It was one of the first 100 Platinum Hit games in the history of Microsoft Game Studios.

Description[]

MechAssault is a third-person shooter based off of a pen-and-paper game in the BattleTech universe, and the MechWarrior series created by FASA studios. The game itself was developed by Day 1 Studios and published by Microsoft Game Studios for the Xbox video game console. MechAssault was released in November 2002 as part of the Xbox LIVE launch line-up, a series of games that supported the Xbox LIVE Multiplayer service. The original release of MechAssault has included a demo of Quantum Redshift. MechAssault was then later released as an Xbox Platinum Hit game. This version did not include the Quantum Redshift demo. The sequel, MechAssault 2: Lone Wolf, was released in December 2004.

Plot[]

MechAssault starts with the MechWarrior looking out a window in the common lounge of the DropShip Icarus. Major Natalia talks to the MechWarrior, who then follows her in to the loading bay. While doing so, the Major tells the MechWarrior their orders. They are to covertly land on the planet Helios, and prepare the planet for invasion. Their primary objective is to destroy a set of orbital guns. When the MechWarrior and the Major enter the 'Mech bay, there are several battle 'Mechs seen that are ready for action.

While the Icarus is landing, it is scanned and fired upon, forcing it to perform a hard-landing. While doing so, two lances of 'Mechs hot-drop out of the Icarus, landing somewhere else on the planet. However, the MechWarrior does not make it out of the DropShip before the other lances do, and is forced to carry out his mission alone while also protecting the Icarus.

Downloadable Content[]

Microsoft announced in December of 2002 that it would start to release downloadable content for MechAssault the following January, however the release was delayed until February due to the need for additional testing.

Round 1[]

The first round of DLC included the multiplayer maps "Hell's Kitchen" and "Stone Cold" which supported all 5 original multiplayer game types. The first DLC also introduced two new 'Mechs, the Raven and the Corvus.

Round 2[]

In May of 2003, the second round of DLC was released which included the Loki and Hellbringer 'Mechs, and incorporated the "Capture The Flag" gametype as well as two new multiplayer maps built for CTF. The second round also included interface enhancements that indicate which players are talking in the game, as well as a rematch option that becomes available at the end of every match - both features that are now considered standard in all online games.

Round 3[]

In June of 2003, the third round of DLC was released that added 5 new multiplayer gameplay modes including "Skirmish", "Team Skirmish", "Scout match", "Team Scout Match", and "Giant Killers". The premise of Giant Killers was created by the player base of MechAssault themselves, with the concept having been noticed by Microsoft and officially incorporated into the game. The third round also included 3 new multiplayer maps: "Demolition Town", "Rock Solid", and a capture-the-flag map named "Jotenheim".

Round 4[]

In November of 2003, the fourth and final round of DLC was released that included two new multiplayer game types and three new multiplayer maps. While the first three rounds of DLC were downloadable as fee content, this was the first DLC that Microsoft monetized, charging $4.99 for the download. This is believed to have been one of - if not the very first time - paid DLC had ever been incorporated into a videogame.

Legacy[]

MechAssault was one of the very first Battlemech games ever produced for console play, bringing what was previously a slow paced simulation style genre into the action packed mainstream of gaming. Many Battlemech games enjoyed on console today emulate the spirit of MechAssault and other early games of its sort that redefined the Mech genre. In addition, MechAssault is among many classic Xbox Live games credited for pioneering the core features and principals of online gaming in the form that it is enjoyed in today.

Best of Platinum Hits[]

In March of 2006, Microsoft announced that MechAssault would be one of 16 games included in the first round of the Best of Platinum Hits program, in which popular games for the original Xbox gaming console would have their lifespans extended, even after the new Xbox 360 had been released, by reducing the pricing models of the older games in order to incentivize players to buy them. However, the Best of Platinum Hits program made little difference in keeping previous generation games such as MechAssault relevant, and many platinum hits from the original Xbox found themselves in bargain bins until being taken out of circulation.

DLC Controversy[]

MechAssault was one of the first games - if not the very first - which used the DLC business model: commercial content updates via download distribution; smaller in price and scope than traditional add-ons. Within only a few years of MechAssault's release, almost every major videogame produced had DLCs available for purchase, with the practice becoming deeply embedded into the gaming industry as a whole by the early 2010's. The practice of paid DLCs has grown controversial in the two decades since MechAssault's release, with consumers often decrying game publishers for purposefully stripping content from a product in order to release it later on for an extra layer of monetization.

Digital Comeback[]

Although the original Xbox live service went offline in 2010, online competitive MechAssault continues to thrive to this day through the usage of original hardware and emulation programs, and extensive use of XLink Kai and other services of the sort. Nearly two decades since the release of the original title, MechAssault and its sequel Lone Wolf continue to be played online and enjoyed by people around the world. In addition, all of the downloadable content released for MechAssault can now be shared digitally so that the complete MechAssault experience may continue to be enjoyed for years to come.

Reboot Possibility[]

In 2019 during the lead up to the annual E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) event, rumors began circulating online that Microsoft would make some mention of a possible MechAssault revival after an industry insider leaked projections for the event. While much of what was included in the leak was in time proven to be correct, thus reinforcing the credibility of the report, in the end no mention was made of MechAssault at E3 2019. At the time, Microsoft was promoting MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries, another BattleTech game which would be released on PC in December of that year. Though this in conjecture, it was surmised that individuals inside of Microsoft may have considered a MechAssault revival in the wake of MechWarrior 5's release while BattleTech was still fresh in the consumer base's minds.

In April of 2020, the rumors that someone inside of Microsoft was indeed entertaining thoughts of MechAssault were evidently proven correct when on a podcast with IGN, the CEO of Gaming at Microsoft and head of the Xbox brand Phil Spencer himself explicitly mentioned MechAssault among the classic Xbox franchises he would like to see revived. Spencer's statement during the podcast was: "Mech. That’s easy. ...Mech from a rights standpoint, is a little bit messy since there are some other people working on games. But when I think about MechAssault, and the IP that Jordan [Weisman] created with FASA like Crimson Skies, Shadowrun, Mech, and any more, it just has really deep and really rich stories and characters to go play in. I think it would be really cool, at some point, if we could do something with Mech."

(In this statement, Spencer is citing that due to the franchise changing hands several times and licensing for various BattleTech properties being somewhat convoluted as a result, procuring the legal rights to revive the MechAssault franchise or even port the games to modern consoles would be a complicated process)

Gallery[]

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