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Heavy Metal: MechWarrior's Not-So-Smooth Moves

No, no, it's fine! Overheating is just a myth.

Believe it or not, colossal 50-ton steel monstrosities that have to be careful they don’t accidentally crush poor, helpless rhinos aren’t nature’s most graceful creatures. They do not prance or saunter or gallivant or float from place to place as though held aloft by the wings of angels. They lumber. That is the thing that mechs do. As you might expect, this leads to a fair deal of complexity where movement is concerned. As MechWarrior Online developer Piranha says, it’s “kind of like piloting a giant walking tank.” And I concur, only replace “kind of” with “exactly.”

So, in short, MechWarrior’s a sim. It definitely doesn’t control like a garden variety FPS, because it isn’t one. So you’re not walking forward and backward so much as you are accelerating and decelerating – like, well, a tank. Similarly, the top of your mech’s body swivels independently from its legs. As you might imagine, it takes some getting used to.

There’s also a new two-part aiming system, which allows the reticle for your arm weapon sets to reach targets more quickly than others when, say, turning. And then you also have to pay close attention to heat management – lest your mech suddenly transform into a sitting duck the size of a million normal sitting ducks – lending all sorts of moment-to-moment strategy to the proceedings.

So basically, it sounds exactly how you’d expect controlling a giant tank-on-legs to feel. I’m pretty excited about it, too. And if that’s not your thing, Hawken’s pretty much the polar opposite – with lightning-quick mechs that feel ballerinas (except, you know, with guns) who are also hobbyist Olympic gymnasts – so there’s something for everyone on the horizon. Well, except you, Steve. But then, there’s a reason for that. You know what you did.

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Nathan Grayson

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