Thursday, 4 October 2012

Mechwarrior Online - Not world of tanks with robots

Since the NDA was lifted yesterday many beta players have been free to finally discuss this great game without fear of a ban.  I got into the closed beta a while back when the game had only four mechs.  Since that time they have added the Awesome and Raven.

Now it is impossible to not make comparisons to the hugely popular World of tanks a game I have a love hate relationship with.  Both games focus on playing matches to grind experience to unlock new bonuses for your tank/mech.  You can pay real money to use for purchasing mechs in a similar way to using gold on world of tanks for exclusive tanks. 

Superficially both games are very similar to each other but the difference starts to show with the gameplay.  World of tanks suffers from a situation where realistic ballistics start to make certain tanks useless in higher tier rounds.  Some tanks are horrendously overpowered and if you come up against them you will not live long.  Other issues arise when the job of scouting is near pointless when light tanks are easily destroyed in a single shot from heavier tanks, which although realistic makes the value of light and certain medium tanks go down to near zero.  Mechwarrior online though uses the classic tabletop games stats to keep things balanced.  A light mech can easily run rings around their larger opponents and scout easily without worry of being killed in a single shot.  Light mechs can be a danger to the massive assault mechs simply due to their agility compared.

Every weapon in mechwarrior does the same damage it would do on any other mech, the difference is the tonnage.  Light mechs can only mount so many weapons so their damage potential is low, but they are key for gathering early intel on the enemy team.  In the later stages of a match light mechs are important for either capturing the enemy base or ambushing damaged foes and quickly killing them or at least doing some serious damage before speeding away.  World of tanks light tanks have no chance of damaging larger tanks due to their small gun.

The other weight classes fit crucial roles on the battlefield and when you see them in action its pretty epic.  The current team size is eight which is two lances of mechs, but later builds will increase that number to twelve, making it three lances. 

The maps so far are pretty varied terrain wise, featuring a frozen city, sulphorous volcano, waterfront city and a rocky highlands.  Each map has it owns advantages and disadvantages for different playstyles.  Frozen city is a great map to manage your heat levels because of the low temperature, so you can fire all day long, but the reduced visibility and relative difficulty you have hiding a mech on a white background does mean the combat gets ugly fast.  On the other hand Caustic valley forces teams to manage their heat levels constantly as every laser shot quickly builds up your heat, so every shot has to hit.

I really enjoy this game even in its early state.  There are many mechs yet to be added and each new one added to the game completely changes the dynamic of combat.  An example is when the Awesome was added.  This mech allowed for some serious firepower but also had great heat management allowing it to fire more often than the atlas.  The atlas is still used regularly but with each mech comes new styles of play allowing players to find the right mech for their playstyle.

The official website has plenty of artwork and videos to look at, and see this great game in action.  I urge anyone interested in playing a free online multiplayer team based shooter in giant fucking mechs to buy a founders pack while they are still available.  Getting founders gets you into the beta and playing immediately and the money goes toward helping the developers add more mechs, improve hardware and keep this game running.


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