So on Ze Discord people kept asking me about “What are the best expansions/mods to get for Battletech” and since Discord is a terrible platform made for dumb people with short attention spans, information is easily lost. So here’s a forum topic instead.
If you haven’t finished the vanilla campaign yet, finish the vanilla campaign first. All the expansion packs for the game add content to the post-campaign freeroam mode or the career mode (which is a “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” freeroam mode without the campaign). You don’t need the DLC to get the “full experience”, and if you didn’t enjoy the base campaign game the mods and DLC won’t magically make your experience better. If you haven’t played the game since 1.0, you’ll also find that there have been a lot of extra auto-generated mission profiles, several mech variants and vehicle variants, and even a couple of gameplay mechanics so there’s a quite a bit more variety in the “in-between” sections of the campaign as well.
Career mode was added mainly as a vehicle for all the stuff the DLC adds: It’s a free-roam experience where you just start with the argo and a couple of mechs, free to go where you please. Without the DLC it’ll be pretty barebones, but the DLC and practically all the mods are built around this mode.
I personally would recommend all the DLC, but if you’re budget strapped I’d recommend getting them in the order they were released:
The Flashpoints DLC is built around the then-introduced career mode: Rather then a succession of auto-generated missions, the Flashpoints DLC adds lots of “mini-campaigns” to freeroam play. These mini-campaigns play with stuff like tonnage limits, consecutive missions, and branching paths. Furthermore, having this DLC allows mods to install their own flashpoint campaigns, thus greatly increasing longevity. If you don’t have this DLC, a lot of the career mode will feel barebones. It also adds a lovely jungle enviroment (added to any applicable planet) and a couple of mechs and equipment, but the main focus is on giving you more stuff to play with after you finished the campaign.
The Urban Warfare DLC adds a couple more flashpoints focused around light mechs and the excellent Urban enviroment (also added to any applicable planet), which does exactly what it says on the tin. Expect lots of jumpjet action to break sightlines, missed shots slamming into nearby buildings knocking them down and even the introduction of an ECM mech. It’s quite neat!
The Heavy Metal DLC adds a variety of mechs and equipment to the game, as well as a flashpoint campaign. Unlike the other DLCs this doesn’t really have a big selling point like the flashpoints or the urban enviroments: It simply gives you more battlemechs and equipment to play with as well as an IMO quite intruiging flashpoint campaign.
This equipment is also very, very good and is considered OP by a lot of people. It’s fun equipment, I like the flashpoint campaign, but this DLC is probably the “least neccessary” of all of them, and a lot of the equipment doesn’t show up in the enemies’ hands (although the 1.9 patch mitigates this somewhat).
DLC’s relation to mods
All mods make use of the DLC even if they do not always require it. In all the flexible mods, expect to see more special equipment, more battlemechs and custom flashpoint campaigns based on their respective DLC. As such, the DLC is recommended when you get into modding. In particular, a lot of mods add the “Arano Restoration” campaign back into the career mode through the flashpoint system, which is quite a lot of content.
The mods themselves.
There’s a variety of “Comprehensive overhaul” mods for Battletech. I’ve picked out 5 that are considered intersting and sorted them in ascending order of gameplay complexity.
The Hyades Rim
Requires all DLC.
The Hyades Rim doesn’t change any gameplay aspects, it simply adds far more mech and vehicle variants that utilize the stuff that’s already there (thus adressing the major complaint about the Heavy Metal DLC in particular). It also adds a bigger map, more factions and a lot more flashpoints and auto-generated mission profiles to the game. Expect a heavy focus on the Periphery of Battletech: The pirates, the minor factions and the unknown. It’s less of a mod and more of a full-blown expansion to the game.
No DLC required.
Battletech Revised takes the vanilla game and polishes it up. Of all the mods it’s the least adherent to Battletech and Tabletop restrictions and it’s not about massive changes to gameplay: This is about optimizing what’s there first and foremost. This is the most recent big battletech mod, and as such I haven’t personally tried it yet. I will update this post when I do!
Battletech Extended 3025
No DLC required. The only mod that lets you play the vanilla campaign as-is.
This is when we get into the bigger mods: BTE is a tabletop-adherent mod that adds an entire inner-sphere map for you to roam around, fully “historically accurate” factions and perhaps most importantly: The Clan Invasion (if you choose to start at a later start date or play the game for 25 ingame years). It’s very scalable in difficulty, where Normal is similar to vanilla, Hard touches some of the difficulty curve (in particular late game difficulty) and Simulation making the game more complex in a variety of ways. As far as mods go, this was one of the first ones. If you play at the later start dates, Mechwarrior 2, 3 and MechCommander players may encounter some familiar equipment and situations.
Battletech Advanced 3062
No DLC required
If you enjoyed Mechwarrior 4 and/or Mechcommander 2, this mod is the one for you. It bumps Battletech into the FedCom civil war, the setting of all the Microsoft Battletech games. It’s also a lot more complex: BTA includes MechEngineer, a mod that allows you to entirely overhaul mechs including engine upgrades and downgrades, switching between various armour types and all manner of fun stuff. It’s quite resource intensive and pushes the poor BTech engine to various limits. It’s very comprehensive and rather difficult, but if you want that added complexity then this is the mod for you.
As a bonus, it includes a lovely installer and as such actually has the least complex installation of all the mods here. You can choose to enable the clan tech, which gives the game the full inner sphere map. If you don’t, you just get the tidy vanilla map instead.
No DLC required
Roguetech is the original mod, and also the most gargantuan and complex one. A full adherence to the most difficult tabletop rules out there, including the “double blind” tabletop rules that place a big emphasis on the electronic warfare component of Battletech proper. The installer is highly customizable, but even the base game includes basically all the 'mechs and variants that exist in BT lore up to 3061, including a lot of mechs for which the mod community doesn’t have models yet. Expect 'mechs like the “cattlemaster” an agricultural 'mech originally designed for herding cattle that has been given a couple of weapons. Expect a focus on the weirdness of pirate factions and a whole big “Make do with what you got” attitude. Expect a fully dynamic map of the entire inner sphere where each faction is trying to steal territory from the other. Also expect gameplay that is balanced around each mech’s costs rather then tonnage, with a particular emphasis on manoeuvrability rather then firepower. Expect the same MechLab as BTA with a far larger variety in equipment. Also expect lots of rough edges, you’re playing a constant beta version that stretches itself beyond the limits of the engine. Also expect playable vehicles to be added at some point in the future.
Despite all this complexity, RogueTech includes the same installer that BTA uses, just with a lot more options, but you will end up having to read a wiki to get yourself acquinted with the more difficult aspects. Even in it’s default setup it’s unapologetically hard. Do yourself a favour and don’t enable the nuclear weapons.