Friday, 7 February 2014

Mechwarrior Online - UI 2.0 and a new hope?


UI 2.0 has finally launched for Mechwarrior Online and if you look around you will see a general consensus that it's a mixed bag.  It does some things well like finally being fullscreen, allowing you to see your 'mech more clearly, giving you more information on the weapons and equipment you have equipped and so on.  However it does all of this while also being more difficult to navigate generally for the first couple of sessions anyway and it certainly needs a new layout for it's battlemech customisation since that flat out sucks.  I like how weapons and equipment have unique colours to better highlight them in the bay, it just isn't easy to use and the sooner they add smurfy the better.

But the most important aspect of this new user interface isn't how it works or doesn't work, it's the fact that this supposed roadblock to PGI has been passed and now we can expect more content sooner.  Community Warfare is the next logical step, even if it's just private match functionality it would be something the MWO community would welcome with open arms.  The ability to pick your map, choose who you play against and get some actual clan competitive play going is hopefully only a month or so away now, which may seem like a long time for some but consider we waited near 18 months for this UI update and another couple of months isn't that bad.

Now I am being optimistic here and I am likely one of the few founders who doesn't want PGI to be burnt down left out there, but I am willing to take them on their word.  They so far have hit two of their goals from last years project update in the form of cockpit glass and now this UI change.  Cockpit glass isn't anything major but given PGI's tendency to miss dates it's encouraging to see them achieve these goals in a timeframe they set themselves.  UI 2.0 launched with some bugs granted but I guess if they missed that February 4th date the forums would have exploded in a nerd rage so big it could be seen from space, so they didn't risk it and they got a hotfix out the next day so it wasn't all bad.

I am willing to believe PGI going forward that they will get phase 1 of community warfare out in the next couple of months, if nothing else then at least private matches.  Now many out there will laugh at this and they may well be right but I don't see the point in being so down and glum about the game and expecting PGI to fail.  I don't see people pointing at DICE and it's colossal failure with Battlefield 4, or Creative Assembly and it's bug ridden mess that was and still is Total War Rome II or even Egosoft and it's watered down piss weak attempt at rebooting X.  Apparently only PGI make mistakes in the gaming world for some people and this is a game that is completely free to play, they only ask for money instead of demanding it.  Outside of missed dates which where vague at best, Mechwarrior Online has run well for a majority of it's time, it's not perfect for every user and the HUD bug was the biggest issue they had but point me to the PC title in the last 5 years that hasn't launched with some issues out of the box.

Now someone out there will likely use the "I am founder, I paid my money and they didn't live up to their promises" argument.  This is wrong because Mechwarrior Online wasn't a Kickstarter game, it didn't need the money from the founders to launch because it was already fully funded by IGP.  This belief that it was the founders (of which I am one of) who stumped up the cash to launch MWO is hilarious.  The founders pack was a great way to offer players in game items, not too dissimilar to a preorder, in return for some money.  Money that will go toward the game for things like salaries, server upkeep and the likes, but it's just extra cash on top of their initial funds.  Here are a few games that offer these packs:

Star Citizen
Marvel Heroes
War Thunder

Each one is hugely popular right now and much like MWO has a growing playerbase.  Star Citizen alone has made it's funding goal and now makes more packs to sell to further increase their funding.  War Thunder is selling slots in it's tanks beta and Marvel heroes is essentially giving early access to their players to new heroes before they launch for general purchase. 

But I digress horribly here.  The main point is that UI 2.0 is here, it was long believed a myth, something that could never be and it finally happened.  It's got some teething issues and by no means is it perfect, but it's a stepping stone to greater things.  Things which I think will come this year and make MWO one of the best free to play online games out there.  Cheer up people, PGI finally look to be doing things right now, so throw off your grumpy signatures and enjoy the 'mech blasting fun on offer, it won't cost you a penny.

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