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Mechwarrior Online

By Merc17-11-2012
Leigh Cobb (editor)
StuntmanLT (editor)
Mechwarrior Online

The Defence

Piranha Games
Infinite Games Publishing
Shooter, Action
Release Date:
Q4 2012

The Prosecution

Intel i5-2500
AMD Athlon II X4 650
Nvidia GeForce GTX 285
AMD Radeon HD 5830
8 GB
4 GB

PC gamers and Mech fans are going to be spoiled this year, with two major titles to sink their teeth into. Hawken and Mechwarrior are two games that are based around mech combat, but they feel different from each other in significant ways. If you have played either game it would be apparent what the differences are. Hawken plays more like a Call of Duty mech game and is not as difficult to get involved in the action. Mechwarrior Online is a completely different story, if you have not played a complicated mech sim before, be prepared for a baptism by fire!

As a rookie to mech games in general, playing MWO for the first time made me feel dizzy. There is so much going on at one time it is difficult to know how to do anything. MWO is in open beta so not everything is finished yet, but there are things that need to be added in order to make the game more accessible while maintaining depth. Examining the start menu there is a button that looks like a tutorial lesson. Looks can be deceiving because clicking that button takes players to the main website. The only tutorial is a video! While the video is informative it does not come close to actually piloting a mech.

Have you seen a better looking exploding town?

Have you seen a better looking exploding town?

Before talking about the gameplay, it should be mentioned that MWO is a free to play game. Games that have a free to play model have been a mixed bag and MWO falls under the not so great category. There is not much that is actually free in MWO. There is a rotation of trial mechs that anyone can play until the next cycle. The catch is that you are only given those mechs for free but you cannot customize them in anyway! There is an XP system in place but you can only use that to customize your mech if you own it. Like any free to play game hopefully Piranha Games listens to the community and adjusts payment options. If you do buy one of the mechs you will be able to customize every facet of your walking tank!

MWO uses Cryengine 3 to give you eye popping mech candy! The mechs look cool, and the environments are pretty to behold. Running alongside my teammates I was looking at the beautiful desolate cities or forested areas, the lighting effects are mesmerizing and you will often find yourself staring in awe. When you hit someone with one of your laser beams you can see them visually get hot by the redness of the metal. The cockpit view is restricting, but not in a way that is unfair, since it is a mech sim. The player needs to be aware of their surroundings in order to survive. Lasers are appropriately bright and menacing. If you see them firing out of the trees you can flank them and begin to take them down. Running in face first is certain death! Mechs animate in a mechanical monstrosity sort of way and just look cool. Textures look detailed, but there are no real destructive items in the world. If you shoot a laser through the trees it does not cut them down which is weird considering how realistic everything else reacts.

Through the fire and the flaming mechs.

Through the fire and the flaming mechs.

The sound is immersive, and it sounds like you would want a mech to sound. Laser beams, rockets, gauss rifle, etc sound muffled slightly because you are in a mech suit. The effect is convincing and it feels realistic. As you shake the very earth running into battle, the sounds of the battlefield heighten the experience. It is also difficult to communicate in battle because there is no voip in game. Most PC gamers use a third party service, but it would still be nice to have when playing with random players.

The Mechs in MWO move different than I was expecting, and took some getting used to. You accelerate your tank to move forward while moving your torso and legs separately. This gameplay style was not easy to pull off at first, but after some practice it felt natural. I was still getting my ass handed to me however, but small improvements are beginning to happen. It is very satisfying to get a kill or help your team. The game type in the beta currently has only one respawn per round, and tasks you with capturing the other teams defensive position.

Once the full game is released there will be more game types, such as Community Warfare. This gametype will consist of faction warfare where you can either pledge allegiance to a faction, join a mercenary corporation, or stay neutral. Community Warfare will happen in real world time, so if it is November 12th on Earth, it will be the same time in game only in the year 3048! This is the real meat of the game where players battle over resources and gain loyalty with different factions. It sounds amazing.

Personalise your armoured death machine.

Personalise your armoured death machine.

Mechs feel different from each other, and have different weapon groups. I found enjoyment in the faster moving mechs, but they are more difficult to master. The faster mechs are gonna be in the fight and take the most risks. Playing as the heavier mechs your role can be slightly less chaotic because I just sat back and targeted mechs to shoot rockets at. Every role is important in MWO which makes team cooperation essential. I felt bad when I let my team down more than in most multiplayer games.

I will certainly check back with MWO once it is finally released. Since it is still in a beta phase a lot could change once it is done. More than anything I would like to see the free to play model become more flexible, they should stop calling these types of games free to play because most people that are serious are going to buy stuff. It is nice that PC gamers have two different mech games to choose from and you cannot go wrong trying out either one, now start up your engines and blow some stuff up!

If you are interested in suiting up in a walking tank, then download MWO here.

Comments (6)
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Posts: 351

Exactly Neon. I think these games should be called something different because most people think F2P will be totally free. They should come up with a better name, but I dont know what that is.

Posts: 596

To Snowcrow, ah that doesn't sound so bad. Yeah, no, I can see why that would be a great investment! Any good F2P game is like that, if you really love it and spend 120 bucks on it at start, that can really end up paying off in the long run. Think of it this way, I bought Black Ops 1, costed me 40 British Pounds and I played it for 140 hours total. Then League of Legends, I've put around 50-70 pounds in total into the game however, I have put over 1000 hours into it. So just like for you with Mech Warrior Online, F2P games can really provide by far the greatest value to money in both the dollar per hour and also the enjoyment you get out of the game from minute 1 till your 1000th hour on it.

Posts: 351

I think if you like the MW games it is worth buy stuff anyway. Thats the thing about f2p games. If you like it, you might as well spend the money on it. We pay 50-60 dollars all the time for games. I was unable to buy anything however because I did not buy a mech. I did not see that you could buy anything with in game currency. Maybe they should explain that part better cause I have played F2P games and other regular games for a long time. I never saw that option.

Posts: 5

To NeonAnderson:
As you start the game, you get to choose from 4 trail mechs to use. You cannot costumize them. For that, you need to buy your own mech. And yes you can buy mechs and equipment with in-game currency. You don't have to pay anything, and still be able to experience the full game.
What real money does, is remove the grind, nothing else.

I bought the founders package for 120 dollar back when the game was still in closed beta. And I have to say, I don't regret it at all. I fucking loooove this game.

Posts: 351

Thanks! I agree that LoL, Tribes, DOTA 2 have excellent F2P models. From what I played there is no way to earn anything until you have bought something. Maybe they will change that, and I think they should. It is a tough game for me to get into cause it is just brutal. I also never played any previous MW games so that did not help :) They should stop calling games F2P because it is deceptive. I think if you like MW games expect to pay some money and you should enjoy yourself.

Posts: 596

Great preview Merc! It sounds a lot like the original Mech Warrior games, especially in terms of how the Mechs control and the massive complexity of the game. One thing that does sound disappointing already though is the F2P model, if they keep it this restrictive there is no way the game will be successful. They need to look at League of Legends, DOTA 2 and World of Tanks and see how they do it and figure a way to adopt an equally balanced and open F2P model that will earn them great profits while also allowing players to have great freedom within the model and thus allowing the game to become a popular success. From my experience with F2P games I have learnt it's not the game itself that determines the success (it's important of course, don't get me wrong) but rather the F2P model behind it. A question for you Merc: is there really no way to get Mechs for free (through a freely earned in-game currency)? All Mechs have to be purchased purely with real money?!? That's absurd if it is really that way!?