This Sunday, I’ll be providing a look into the relaunch of one of the most awesome games of the 90’s in the way of giant fighting robots. MechWarrior was an awesome title when it was the work of Activision. When Microsoft bought the rights to it, it went downhill. Today however, it holds promise again as MechWarrior Online is from a new publisher, Piranha Games. I had been invited as a closed BETA tester so while I wanted to share this, I couldn’t before because of an NDA (non-disclosure agreement). Now that that has been lifted, here goes:
So what it is
MechWarrior Online is an 8-vs-8 battle where you win by eliminating all mechs in the opposing team or by capturing their base. The game is free to play but you can purchase optional credits with real money to get quicker access to mechs, items, and other perks.
The maps are different settings where you have open mountain ranges, snow cities, and forest jungles. The maps play an environmental factor where cold maps dissipates heat of your mech faster and hot maps make heat go down slower. Beautiful isn’t it. In-game graphics differ based on your graphic cards, etc, etc…
There is also alot of customization options in the Mech Bay. This is your garage where instead of cars, you keep giant robots of death and destruction. You can customize a mech by modifying its weapons, armor, and support equipment. How you plan your mech will allow many playstyles and is as important as your skills on the battlefield. Just like a racecar, a good driver will need a good mechanic. In this case, that’s both you.
Your mech will have areas/hardpoints that will let you mount weapons and equipment. Its pretty fun to make your own weapon of doom.
Besides customizing your mech, it also allows performance improvements via Pilot Lab. Pilot Lab is where you can spend XP you gain during combat. You can use this to improve a particular mech’s speed, torso twist angles, heat dissipation, etc. The XP you gain is on a per mech basis and there is also GXP that is on the whole. The idea is the more you use a particular mech, your pilot becomes better at it and that is what XP is about. GXP (general XP) is based on your overall play across all mechs and is used to purchases modules for the pilot. Modules abilities like better targetting, faster base capture and more.
Now the gameplay itself is buggy at the moment and that’s why its in BETA. Assuming they fix all the performance bugs and balance issues, this game can be pretty amazing. Just look at this cockpit screen as this is a first-person view game. There is no third person (and I hope there never will) and its pretty amazing. You can even move your head to look around in your own cockpit for graphic flavor.
The gameplay is mainly about combat and it takes into consideration where you actually hit your opponents and they you. This is not your typical shooter of just 100% life. While the game makes it easier for you to identify damage with a percentage and visually peeling armor as mechs get more damaged, true pilots look at the readout. If you shoot of one of the mech’s legs, it will be crippled. Shoot off both legs and the mech is destroyed. Shoot the center core where the mech’s engine are and its destroyed also. You can also get headshots by targetting the small cockpit and kill the pilot. Say shooting off the arms where a particular weapon is mounted will also destroy that weapon.
So you see, this is where your skills and planning in the mechlab comes to play. Where you place your weapons, armor, and ammo. The game is very in-depth with mechanics like overheating can “cook” your ammo and blow yourself up.
Combat in Mechwarrior Online is also very visceral, melting armor lights up when hit by lasers, the cockpit shakes when hit by ballistic impact, and you can feel the intensity in your cockpit when in combat. Its kill or be killed. See in screens above where the enemy mech has his right hand blown up. This poor guy has no more weapons as all his weapons was mounted in that arm (see upper left all the A/C2 is in red meaning its out of commission).
The game also features heat vision and night vision modes you can toggle. As they add more maps in, this should get really interesting.
The game is fun and is really a must play for fans of the Mechwarrior universe. For new players, there will be more things to get familiar to but this is a good title to get into. Its fun and the game type lets you play a long career and build up your mech lab or just play casually whenever you feel like destroying something to relieve stress.
The game has not yet officially launched so watch out for it. You can signup now though to reserve your pilot name by clicking here. Or you can also get into early access by becoming a founder. Piranha Games offers a “Founders Program” where you can pay to get perks as one of the founding members of the game. This is a limited time offer only and will expire by the time game launches. Founders will get perks like bonus mechs, in-game currency, recognition and early game access. Check out this table for its details:
So this is a long post and I hope I was able to give you great information about the game. There is far more to go in terms of game depth and mechanics but rest assured its very easy and very fun to play. Maybe I’ll see you in-game. =) As always, feel free to drop me a comment to let me know what you think.