MechWarrior Online – Back to the 31st Century – The Basics


Greetings MechWarriors! If you are among the die hard MechWarrior fans that have been waiting for a decade to return to the 31st century, your wait is almost over. MechWarrior Online, or MWO, brings a fresh view to our old favorite giant robots. For those of you unfamiliar with the genre, imagine walking tanks between 20 and 100 tons in weight with enough firepower to level a small city. Currently in closed BETA, with the NDA freshly lifted on October 3rd, 2012, you can finally peek behind the curtain to a players point of view, at the basics.

This Is The Inner Sphere

For players more familiar with MechWarrior 2 through MechWarrior 4, prepare for a change. MechWarrior Online takes place before the Clan Invasion, currently in 3049. This means no Mad Cats (Timber Wolves), no Thors (Summoners), and no other clan technology. We are in the Inner Sphere, and therefore the technology and warfare is not the same style of personal glory that Clan Warriors are familiar with.

Mechs in this era include the Atlas, Catapult, Centurion, Hunchback, Jenner, Cicada, Dragon, and a bunch more. Currently there are 16 Mechs announced, with more announced on a regular basis. Currently, in the BETA there are 9 Mechs with between 2 and 6 variants of each. The variants are critical to planning, but that is covered later.

The time line is advancing, however, on a day to day basis. This means the Clans are coming, and soon. The Inner Sphere first became aware of the Clan Invasion in early 3050. This is currently a big source of discussion. We know the Clans are coming… but we don’t know how it will impact the game.

There is no I in Company or Lance

One of the biggest changes to hit the MechWarrior scene with MWO is that the game does not revolve around individual glory. In MechWarrior Online, you work as a team, or you lose. Currently focusing on 8 v 8 combat, and expected to go to full company level (12 v 12), teams are critical.

The game does offer in game communication, for free, after you have grouped up. And like many MMOs in the market today, several of the different guilds have their own Team Speak or Ventrilo servers. The game also offers typing to friends and foes, but voice chat will be paramount to success.

Although not in game yet, the game will revolve around combat from the various Inner Sphere houses. This means faction warfare among 5-6 groups, all fighting to control entire planets. Working as a team brings a whole new meaning when your “team” is over a thousand people working together.


 

Mech Customization – Making it Stronger, Faster, Better

 

Long before MechWarrior existed as a computer game, Battletech fans were modifying mechs to fit their own personal belief of perfection. I remember, nearly 25 years ago, working non-stop on new mech designs over a 14 hour flight. MechWarrior Online (like MechWarrior 2, 3, and 4) has customization, but with it’s own twist.

Each mech variant has different capabilities. This includes the ability to use jump jets or number of anti-missile systems (AMS). More importantly, however, it determines how many and where you can place energy, ballistic, or missile weapons.

For example, the Catapult is a work horse heavy mech, weighing in at 65 tons. It has four variants, five if you include the founders variant. They are different as follows:

 

Catapult-A1, 6 missile hardpoints (3 in each arm), jump capable

 

Catapult-C1, 2 missile hardpoints (1 in each arm), 4 energy hardpoints in the torsos, jump capable

Founder’s Catapult-C1, identical but with the Founder paint scheme and increased income

 

Catapult-C4, 4 missile hardpoints (2 in each arm), 2 energy hardpoints in the center torso, jump capable

 

Catapult-K2, 4 energy hardpoints (1 in each arm, 1 in each side torso), 2 ballistic hardpoints (side torsos), not jump capable.

 

This brings several different styles of play preferring different variants. The powerful “Gauss Cat” is a K2 variety which packs a pair of Gauss Rifles. SRM boats can have some or no energy back up, depending on the variant and preference of the pilot. LRM boats range in power and fury similarly.

 

Summary

MechWarrior Online is a fresh approach to a loved genre. By returning to the battlefields before the Clan Invasion, there is plenty of combat available in a galaxy waiting to be controlled. MWO focuses more on the teamwork aspects of what combat would be like in the Inner Sphere in 3049 than personal glory. Mech customization is currently based on Inner Sphere technology prior to Clan Invasion and the Omni-Mechs. These are just a few of the basic features, with much more analysis to come. Buckle up, Mechwarriors, and prepare to get back to the 31st Century with MechWarrior Online!

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