Monday, 3 March 2014

Mechwarrior Online details it's launch module

So Mechwarrior Online continues to roll forward since the UI 2.0 release.  There are still things that need some work in regards to this updated user interface, chief amongst them is a smurfy style loadout screen for modifying your 'mechs.  That's the chief change required but there are some smaller changes here and there, like an ability to tell the game to restock your consumables after each match like World of Tanks does with ammunition and the like.

But still it works and it will allow features to roll out quicker apparently.  The next step in this process is the ability to play private matches in what PGI are calling the "launch module".  This module will act as the gateway to the long awaited community warfare functions, since it will allow players to setup matches between other organised groups for the purposes of leagues, tournaments and other events run by the community.  The tentative date for this module is April 29th or the week after this going into May and let's face it folks, May seems the more likely month for the launch module.

Now this is all great news obviously since the many organised groups out there in MWO land have been very patiently waiting for this kind of play option.  I myself play in one of these groups and being able to finally run in a more organised unit with real tactics and builds is a really appealing thing for me and many other mechwarriors.  What I am a little confused about is the other changes and a few statistics that PGI have thrown out there recently.

This chart apparently shows the percentage of players dropping either as groups or lone wolf.  Blue is lone wolf, red is 2 man, green 3 man and purple 4 man.  Twelve man drops are missed off the chart since they fall into their own category when queueing for a match.  My complaint with this chart is that a much larger percentage of players drop in groups than what they claim here.  I would add at least 15% to each of the group numbers because the number of organised teams out there playing every day is quite large.

Now yes there will always be more players dropping solo in a free to play game like this.  People come and go all the time and those who enjoy it enough to want to spend money on the game tend to stick around and join a clan or guild.  It's nothing to rage over obviously but I think they have cherry picked a certain time in MWO's operating years to fit their next lot of changes.

The other major announcement in the same launch module post was the changes to public drops.  The main change is the new 3/3/3/3 system which means on each team their will always be three of each weight class.  This is a good thing for those who have experienced the rather unbalanced drops where all of the assault 'mechs are on one team and the other team get a few heavy and medium 'mechs but no assaults.

How this new system will balance the chassis's used though is another question.  For instance one team could have three Atlas assaults while the other team get three Awesomes.  Now yeah both teams have even assault numbers but in terms of weight and weapon options, the Atlas have a 20 ton advantage and way more flexible build options available to them.  The same can be said of the other weight classes, three locusts, against three Ravens is hardly balanced.  I assume this example would be rare anyway but it is still worth addressing the community how exactly the matchermaker will handle this new system.

The most welcome piece of information is the new private match functionality which will work in two forms.  The first is the free private match which will allow you to create a lobby and invite another twelve man team to the lobby.  From their they can discuss match rules and pick what mode they drop on.

The premium private match however will allow far more flexibility when creating a match.  You can pick weight limits, team sizes, map and game mode.  This will require for the early days of this module for both team leaders having an active premium account.  In the future PGI will make it a pay to use system where MC is spent each time you create a premium match.  This covers the expenses for the servers since the premium match will allow you to create one on one matches which isn't very efficient for the server.

Overall it sounds promising and April isn't too far off and when you consider how long we have been waiting already it isn't all that bad.  March will give those who didn't preorder the Sabre package the Wolverine and everyone gets a new assault 'mech this month so place your bets.  Mine is on the Cyclops.


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