SPE1 - The Storms

Story Episodes: Singleplayer Warfare

Heavy Gear fans asked for singleplayer — and we listened. In addition to a robust multiplayer suite, the base game of Heavy Gear Assault will include singleplayer story episodes that take the player back to famous battles in Heavy Gear history. These offline episodes will draw upon the rich lore of the series' universe and drop players in challenging situations that put their mech piloting skills and battlefield strategies to the ultimate test. Our first episode to release is Mission 1 - The Storms - TN1913.

Mission 1 - The Storms - TN1913

Sortie 1: Last of the Sandstorm Strikes

Quick Blurb:
A northern Crazy 08's squad move southwest from a patrol in the Westridge range to investigate increased southern recon drone activity in the area near a WFP supply depot in the Barrington Basin. The southern recon activity was a precursor to a strike mission by the southern 99th Skyhawks who are just landing a few hundred KM out from the supply depot as the Crazy 08's force is making its own final approach to the supply depot. Both sides are engaged by CEF hovertanks during a sandstorm. The base is eventually lost to the CEF. Survivors retreat to a WFP base in the westridge range.

Part 1: Prelude to a Storm

Your new CO, Ranger Alonso Fonseca has one of his squads line up ready to head out of the westridge mountain range near Fort James. Your routine patrol has ended. He's received some reports from CNCS command about increased southern drone activity in the area to the west of your current position, near a WFP resupply base in the Barrington Basin.

A sandstorm is coming in, and you're the nearest squad to the base but even if you leave right now though the sandstorm will hit at least an hour before your arrival. Rumours of a landship in the area, recent rear area raids by southern forces during sandstorms and the offer by CNCS to freely resupply and repair the squads long-patrolling gears for responding to what may be nothing has persuaded the Ranger to take your squad of relative rookies into this situation in spite of the other parts of the section being too far north to link up with. The other two of his squads are ordered to rendezvous at the depot later.

Force Composition
Section: Ranger Fonseca Alonso: Headhunter, MAC, LRP/24, APGL(6), HG(3), Vibroblade
Squad: Senior Corporal Ibarra Dania: Headhunter, LAC, LRP/24, APGL(6), HG(3), Vibroblade
Corporals: "Player1, Player2, Player3, Player4": Hunter, LAC, LRP/24, APGL(6), HG(3), Vibroblade

Recently transferred from other units into the 99th Skyhawks, the CO suspiciously eyes her new team. She briefs you on the plan - a simple, standard three pronged rear area raid mission against a poorly defended WFP supply depot in the Barrington Basin. Your squad (Sierra 1) will strike first and spearhead the operation with her along to monitor your performance and ensure your teams selection for the Skyhawks was not a mistake - based on your service histories she's not certain the Sous-Lieutenants selection of you was correct. You will engage the facility, then fall back when counterattacked. Sierra 2 will launch an attack on the base from the flank shortly after Sierra 1 withdraws. Sierra 3 carries artillery and will provide fire support for Sierra 1's withdrawal if they are pursued, or support Sierra 2's advance if they are not while Sierra 1 wheels around to re-engage from another direction based on troop reports from Sierra 2. You prep to board aircraft.

Force Composition
Regiment: Lieutenant Sabine Allard: Black Mamba, MAC, LRP/32, 2xAPGL(6), HG(3), Vibroblade OR Jager Paratrooper, Paratroop Rifle (LAC with underslung LGL), 2xAPGL(6), HG(3), Chassis Reinforcement (more fist damage)
Squad: Caporal Jerome Cloutier: Jager Paratrooper, Paratroop Rifle (LAC with underslung LGL), Comms Gear, Chassis Reinforcement (more fist damage)
Sous-Caporals "Player1, Player2, Player3, Player4": Jager Paratrooper, Paratroop Rifle (LAC with underslung LGL), 2xAPGL(6), HG(3), Chassis Reinforcement (more fist damage)

Behind the Scenes
The CEF has arrived in the system and is waiting for its orbital bombardment craft to get into place. Sites are chosen in various places in the barrington basin and western desert for a first strike due to close proximity to cities with large clusters of industrial facilities (the ESE and the UMF). The drop zone the players are in has what appears to be a small sandstorm brewing, but its potential ferocity is greatly underestimated.

Part 2: The Gathering Storm

This is where you're introduced to the characters, the feeling is very different for the northern and southern teams.

Your CO is in good spirits in spite of driving in SMS through a sandstorm, excited that the worst condition gears in his section (that were assigned to you rookies by default) will be given a good set of maintenance outside of his normal budget. He's just finished talking about his hopes for the mission. He sees it as a win-win: he's not expecting any trouble, and if there is a raid then he's not expecting to get there before it happens anyway (in which case command would issue a maintenance request for the squad that's been ordered into a sandstorm, again outside of his budgetary concerns). He's just asking if you went to one of the recent Norlight Mahmoud rallies when you start to hear gunfire in the distance.

Your team is somewhat sober and somber compared with the high spirits of the northerners - your Lieutenant expects that if there's an ambush at least one of you will die based on your prior service histories. The storm is worsening much faster than was expected, and the pilot calls to say you're going to have to be dropped significantly off course so the aircraft has time to escape the sandstorm without having to fly over it and reveal themselves or risk crashing. The Lieutenant points out that this means the other squads who were due to drop 15 minutes later are likely to not even get this close, which means that for the next few hours you're likely to be on your own. The green light goes, and you can't see anything but sandstorm out of the back. You watch the lieutenant drop first and quickly disappear into the sand. Everyone rendezvous at some rocky outcroppings and begins to head north when they start to hear gunfire in the distance.

Behind the Scenes
The CEF Commander in charge of this drop has been watching the rapidly deteriorating conditions at his assigned dropsite with dismay. He's ordered the GRELs to re-equip for more appropriate gear, and ordered the HPCs and Hovertanks fitted quickly with sand filters. Timing of the joint strike is critical to the CEF plan to knock out supply lines and communications, so the first wave has to consist of barely a dozen hovertanks striking directly at the supply depot to knock out communications while the remainder of the strike force is fitted and the HPCs fitted. (this attack and the base defenders response is the gunfire the player(s) hear).

Part 3: When Fronts Collide

This part plays very similarly for both sides - you start to see glimpses of metal in the sky passing overhead as CEF troops try to form a perimeter around the supply depot to cut off anyone trying to retreat.

Hovertanks break off from the perimeter and try to engage you through the dust (particle beams heating the sand to sparkly glass dust as they fire at you) - but their accuracy is very poor if they're not in visual range of you - your sensors can pick them out much more easily being better designed for this kind of weather. You have a few encounters with scattered unknown hostiles before you reach anything interesting (in the confusion they're not a serious threat unless you close on them enough to take a look at this point).

Pushing forwards towards the supply depot you'll encounter a few small sensor facilities just beginning to be set up, the longer you take the better set up they become (and the more reinforcements arrive). If the portable sensors get online, you lose your sensor advantage and they start to be able to properly target you in the sand - this makes the section very difficult. Every area you hit calls for reinforcements which take a few minutes to arrive, so if you don't hit hard and move on then this is very difficult (running is possible after destroying portable sensors as the tanks will lose you in the sand).

Both sides believe the hovertanks to be some new secret weapon of the other side, and push on to the depot. The northerners believe the base likely overrun, and the southerners believe the base hostile, but because the tanks are so much faster in a straight line and appear to be able to fly both teams head for the cover of the base to use the gears to their best advantage and (re)capture a base comms system to warn their home leagues of what may be a sudden push.

Behind the Scenes
The CEF commander has ordered deployment of a sensor perimeter to catch potentially retreating units after early reports of a decisive victory and the sandstorm interfering with sensors. This has left the few refitted units already deployed spread thin and not expecting much further resistance. The GRELs and the first HPCs are ready for deployment when some very strange reports of heavy attacks from multiple sides start coming in from the surface.

Part 4: Shelter from the Storm

Both teams find themselves approaching the edge of the depot defenses, but they're not firing. Getting closer reveals them to have been destroyed apparently by the same unfamiliar weaponry that the hovertanks have been using. Once they cross the perimeter they meet with the first fight that's always difficult - Hovertanks with a portable sensor already set up in the depot. The gears have the advantage with grenades and rockets in the tight quarters as they move around using the buildings as cover.

After fighting back or destroying the hovertanks the north reach the sensor system by the command center on the northern side of the depot first, destroy it and bring their systems back online (base defenses are destroyed, but most other systems seem to have simply been disabled for later use by the CEF). The command center sensors pick up another group of gears fighting hovertanks on the southern side of the base and after failing to contact them on the radio head over to rendezvous with what they believe to be the last of the base defenders (the southern strike force).

The southern team immediately realises something is wrong when they encounter destroyed Hunters at the base perimeter after fighting back the hovertanks - the now familiar burns and melted armour on the Hunters indicate they lost an engagement, and the base, to the hovertanks. That and the damage to the base defenses begin to paint the picture that perhaps these hovertanks belong to a third party.

Behind the Scenes
The CEF commander is well into reacting to what he believes is a full scale trap being sprung. For the moment believing the Terra Novans to be aware of at least some of their assault plans, other landing sites cease chasing down stragglers and begin reinforcing locations and consolidating troops while waiting for their own "traps" to be sprung. At this site in particular, forces are reinforced to the west at a temporary firebase while the first wave withdraws pending an airstrike on the depot command center (now more a liability than an asset).

Part 5: Eye of the Storm

The northern team makes visual contact with the southern team and takes cover - the southern team responds by taking cover and a tense communication begins on a civilian frequency (now the northerners know why the other gears weren't responding on their comms). Both COs order their teams to return fire if engaged, but to hold fire otherwise. If a player opens fire, this results in a full firefight to the death (which makes later missions much harder as only one team faces the same enemy forces), but if you let the COs talk then what they've seen indicating the other side is not behind the hovertanks convinces them to work cautiously together to get the main sensors operational again.

2 objectives to complete - if you've got both teams then you get to pick which your team does, then fend off a small recon group of tanks together. If you've fought the other team then you pick which to do first and are attacked during the second.

  • Restore Base Power: The main powerplant has been destroyed in the fighting - get backup generators from the stores and hook it up to the powergrid at the damaged powerplant location.
  • Restore Communications and Sensors: The main C3 terminal in the command center has been destroyed - get the spare from stores and replace the damaged one at the command center.

With the CEF recon team probe repulsed and sensors online you pick up a massive force assembling to the east, and see that your current location is almost completely surrounded. There seems to be teams of hovertanks scouring north and south from the areas where your teams penetrated the perimeter, which leaves the forces blocking pass to the westridge range still relatively quiet and stationary. There's evidence the sandstorm is dying down, and that'll cost your teams the only advantage they've had so far.

Comms seem to be jammed, so the CO's make the decision to destroy and abandon this base and order the squads to rig key facilities with mining explosives from the stores. The CO's and their second in commands remain in the command center while the players leave as a call from someone claiming to be an information broker comes in on the civilian channel, offering to help patch them through to the polar leagues. The officers don't see a choice but to concede to this 'generous' offer (this is 'probably' Nicola Renault, and these conversations were 'probably' recorded).

As the players finish setting explosives (the storm gets a bit lighter with each set of explosives planted) the CO's alert the squads to an incoming high speed aircraft strike not responding to Northern or Southern IFF codes. They evacuate the command center, ordering the team to the west of the base as a transatmospheric fighters hit it hard, taking most of top of the building (and all of the relatively delicate comms and sensor systems with it). From the west of the depot the mountain range is now becoming visible in the distance.

Behind the Scenes
The lack of a full counterattack on his troops, the lack of real resistance at any of the other landing zones and the ability of his recon probe to reach the base perimeter unchallenged has led the CEF commander to realise that the force he's up against is likely much smaller and more contained than he'd expected. This leads him to one of two conclusions - either it's a couple of random patrols from the base which were somehow not indicated in the intelligence report or some kind of strike team looking to retrieve something important from the base. Since either reason absolves him of the current situation, he orders a full assault on the base to prevent the escape of the "important item", just in case there is one. At this point he begins to receive information about comms traffic from the command center before it was destroyed, sensor contacts approaching from the west (the 08's second squad) and some minor skirmishing with unknowns to the south (99th squads Sierra 2 and Sierra 3, still out of radio contact).

Part 6: Occluded Front

The player teams charge at high speed towards a small CEF firebase, the portable sensors there are operational, but by this time the sandstorm is light enough that the tanks can aim at you regardless. This is a tough fight (especially if you're one squad at this point) because of the firepower, speed and accuracy of the tanks, but the prefab firebase can be used as concealment (even if too flimsy for actual cover). This is the only time the tanks are operating near their full potential for this mission and also the only time you're probably outnumbering them.

Once you push past that firebase and have dealt with the tanks, you'll receive a distress call from the Crazy 08's second squad in a hell of a firefight to the north of you. If you're a lone northern squad you must respond (though this is nearly certain death). If you're a lone southern squad you can't respond and continue to the range (near certain death comes when you get closer to WFP territory). If you're both squads working together you can choose whether to help or not (if you choose to help then this is still the hardest fight of this mission).

After helping the northern squad (or not) you approach the Westridge range. This is quite a different experience depending on your current force composition.

Northern Teams

As you reach the rocky foothills at the base of the mountain range the third crazy 08s squad of your section moves out to meet you. Their senior corporal fills you in on bombings that have been happening planet-wide at military industrial centers (not cities yet). The third squad has orders to escort an escaping southern unit (Sierra 2) back to a mountain base in the westridge range for debriefing - a tenuous ceasefire has been called. Both squads fight off a few hovertanks which pursued you to the range.

Southern Team (Near Certain Death)
As you reach the rocky foothills at the base of the mountain range the third 08s support squad open fire on you with heavy weapons (because you didn't stop to help save the 08's second squad you arrived earlier and the ceasefire has not yet been called), keeping you from getting further into the pass. Hovertanks, chasing you from the perimeter defenses, catch up and engage. Once you've dispatched the last of the hovertanks with great difficulty (try to stay behind cover and get shelled by the 08's, move out of cover and get particle beamed by the tanks), the 08's cease fire and radio your CO. They reopen fire if you try to get up the range, but don't expose themselves until the conversation finishes and they agree to a ceasefire with your team. They inform you of orders they've just received that there's a ceasefire, and they're to escort your team and another southern unit (Sierra 2) back to a base in the mountains. Pinned between WFP territory and unknown hostiles, your CO reluctantly agrees.

Both Teams
As you reach the rocky foothills at the base of the mountain range the third crazy 08s squad of your section moves out to meet you. Their senior corporal fills you in on bombings that have been happening planet-wide at military industrial centers (not cities yet) - the 99s CO grumbles as a Territorial Arms facility is mentioned but doesn't say anything (the production site of the Black Mamba the 99th was looking forward to getting more units of). The third squad has orders to escort an escaping southern unit (Sierra 2) back to a mountain base in the westridge range for debriefing - a tenuous ceasefire has been called. All three squads fight off a few hovertanks which pursued you to the range.

After Meeting 08's third squad
The members of the 99th squad Sierra 2 approach, hovertanks hot on their heels. Whatever teams you have with you fight the hovertanks off in the rocky environment. Sous-Lieutenant Raphael St.Clair, commander of the 99th Skyhawks section that came on this mission reports on their losses - Sierra 3 was hit very hard and lost contact before Sierra 2 could reinforce them - their heavy weapons making them a huge target (unluckily for them their weapons were more along the lines of what the CEF commander was expecting to be coming from a major counteroffensive). In spite of Sierra 3 and the depot itself attracting most of the attention they were still so outnumbered they barely managed to retreat, suffering heavy damage in spite of the sandstorm cover most of the way.

Whoever is left at this point retreats up the mountain pass - the weather is clear enough now that you can see the invasion force (the sheer size of even this one small part of it is staggering) advancing on the depot as it detonates.

Behind the Scenes
The CEF commander, now with all threats removed from the area, begins to fortify the CEF beachhead. Combat near the mountain range to the east implies more hostile forces there, but nothing stands to be gained by chasing gears into the mountains half-cocked. Mission combat reports are evaluated, and the poor initial performance of this strike was put down to being the actions of an unusually heavy humanoid combat vehicle piloted by some exceptional opponents, likely an elite recon team. The landing was a success.

End of Mission 1: Sortie 1