Hands On: Mechwarrior Online

The Mechwarrior Online closed beta has been stomping around in the back of my mind for a while now. It’s perhaps rude of me to admit it, but there have been even bigger games blasting away at the heavy armour of my limited attention. The past couple of days, though, I gave it my full focus, and found myself pleasantly surprised. The Mechs, it seems, are quite good.

I realise that I’ve been starting my feature-length articles with disclaimers recently and look, here comes one now: Mechwarrior Online’s closed beta is still a little rough round the edges, despite there being a fairly mature robot combat game in there, and the reason for this is that the full game has hugely ambitious in scope. There’s a planet-grabbing metagame and near endless robo-garage mech-tuning to be had by committed players, as well as the whole cash-shop currency thing, and all of it needs a little work. The beta is already highly engaging, with lots to learn about multiplayer mechfoolery, but I think there’s also still a great deal to come. What we’ve had from the beta so far is just a taste.

What it’s mostly a taste of is teams of mechs stomping around devastated landscapes, thumping each other with missiles and poking each others’ heat-sinks out with great beams of energy. Having dropped into the lobby-hangar thing, you can jump right into one of a number of pre-set mechs and go. It’s on with seconds, and entertaining each time. Hell, I got the final blow in my last match, and that felt pretty good. I’m getting better at it, and that’s a great sign.

Of course the customisation side of the game is going to be pretty extensive, and there’s a mech lab for you to mess around in within the game’s launcher. Experience earned by robot-whacking provides a system that allows you to unlock perks to better your mechboots. That’s going to do stuff like improve weapon performance and help you with that all-encompassing additional factor in Mechwarrior games: heat.

Heat is dealt with admirably, and gives you something think about and manage constantly. Just letting go with the trigger will end up putting your out, temporarily, as the mech simply shuts down to vent energy. You can override this, of course, but at the risk of damage to your systems. And since there’s already a number of robots on the field who want to damage you, doing it to yourself is not wise.

Anyway, you know all that. Going back to that currency thing: C-bills are the game’s currency, and they’re the bit where the free-to-play aspect is going to help Pirhana actually make money. They’re slow to accrue if you’re paying nothing, and so buying in will give you access to a wider range of mechs. That’s not to say you won’t be competitive with the free mechs (you definitely will) but just that some people – you know who you are – will want that fatter, shinier Atlas. Folks are already buying the “founder’s packages” that give access to all this sort of stuff. Is it worth the money? Frankly, I don’t know, and I expect it’ll change anyway before the beta is up. Conclusions on that front will take some time to be drawn.

Anyway, to date I’ve stomped my way through several dozens games, and I am well pleased with both the controls and the balance of the game. An intuitive variant of the kinds of controls we had back with the older Mech games and immediately comprehensible. And once the fight is on things are ferocious. Whilst any mech is a tough creature on its own, exposure to a broadside from multiple enemies will put you down like a wind-up toy under a baseball bat. Learning the lay of the land, keeping under cover, and working with fellow pilots all become instinctive behaviours thanks to this tough learning curve. I can see this is going to be a game that a few people are going to master, and that many more are going to revel in as they struggle to best those masters. It’s just that kind of gig.

In short: it’s promising.

And the package it comes in is lovely too. The environments tend to be a little murky, but the CryEngine tech renders them with gusto – smooth, detailed – and those mechs themselves are beautifully alive, in a mechanical sort of way. Their carcasses glow evocatively as they are scorched by hi-tech weaponry.

The other thing that the lavish CryEngine-architected environments reminded me of is the odd sparseness of so many mech games. In so many other games the ecosystem of any given battlefield is generally fairly broad and busy: little dudes running around, large dudes roaring around, and perhaps even things whizzing overhead. Mech games, however, tend to just feature mechs. And so it is here. No infantry scurrying around your feet, no Aerospace horrors picking you off from the air. That’s fine, probably, but it just occurred to me what an oddly sterile world that is. The mechs might as well be infantry. If it weren’t for the scaling of the buildings, cars, and trees, these might just be men with awkward gaits.

Perhaps that’s irrelevant. I’d rather play this than World Of Tanks, thanks to my deep propensity towards admiration of anthropomorphic battle machines. And the thumping violence of the mechs has been brilliantly portrayed so that they are big hulks, and they feel like giant war machines. That’s a decent accomplishment.

For all that has been accomplished already, though, I suspect there’s still a long way to go. MWO might launch this year, but it will be filling out in 2013.

With both this and Hawken going the multiplayer route, there is, of course, a single-player demographic who will be found wanting of a mech game with missions and NPCs and so on. That’s still on the horizon, I suppose, but with Mechwarrior Online looking to strike a vein of riches, a single-player game seems further away than ever. Perhaps Mechwarrior Tactics will cheer us up in the meantime.


  1. Trithne says:

    “Mech games, however, tend to just feature mechs. And so it is here. No infantry scurrying around your feet, no Aerospace horrors picking you off from the air.”

    It’s a shame, since Battletech itself makes heavy use of standard armour and aerospace assets, which are often enough to turn the tide of a match. But Mechwarrior isn’t Battletech, so eh

    • jonfitt says:

      That’s something that has become less and less acceptable as technology has improved. When one was stomping around in the old Mechwarrior games we were happy to see a polygon hill, or a moving cockpit. But there’s no excuse to not have battalions of troops flee before you, desperately rallying around a gun emplacement or a heavy weapon. They could even be largely irrelevant to gameplay, but they would give everything a sense of scale.

    • seniorgato says:

      I remember Mechwarrior 2 Mercenaries had little tanks and even helicopters. Basically canon fodder, but still annoying and there.

      • Slurpy says:

        Also MechCommander. Tanks, hovercraft, Elementals, mobile LRM launchers. . . if you weren’t careful, you could end up in deep crap.

  2. Arona Daal says:

    How does it compare to Mechwarrior Living Legends? Is there a Point in getting into this if i already have MWLL ?

    • Carbonated Dan says:

      MWO is a vastly superior experience than MWLL, unless you’re a canon neckbeard who can’t grok that customising your mech is cooler than adhering to the lore of the sacred 80s game that ripped off macross

      • DarkFenix says:

        I don’t know, MWO’s lack of diversity is a bit jarring after MWLL. I loved the ability to use vehicles of other sorts in MWLL; as Jim says, the combatants in MWO could well be men with awkwards gaits.

      • Cinek says:

        ROTFL. I’d say something completely opposite – MWLL is VASTLY superior to MWO in all fronts but graphics. Yea, MWO has better animations and bit more modern arts, but anything else? MWLL rules.
        – Better units balance.
        – Better UI
        – Far more deep gameplay
        – Far more extensive and realistic modeling of electronic warfare (actually: MWO doesn’t have it at all, lol)
        – Far greater choice of Mechs
        – Enormously greater choice of units in general
        – Far larger maps with much more varied environments
        – Environment has greater impact on battles then in MWO
        – Medium mechs actually play role designed for them – in MWO they are just cannon fodder
        – Free to play vs Free to pay
        – MWLL gives you control over picking the game – in MWO it’s 99% random.
        – Competitive gameplays vs PUGs raping in MWO.
        ….and so on, and so on….

    • mrmalodor says:

      Stick with MWLL. MWO will be dead on arrival due to Hawken.

      • ilves says:

        I’m in Hawken and MWO beta, thats the stupidest thing Ive heard said in a long time. First they’re not even close to the same type of game play, one is small level FPS with twitch shooting, while the other is a slow tactical game that requires teamplay and coordination. One has huge amount of lore behind it and a planned out metagame while the other does not.

        And honestly, the Hawken beta is ok, but I wasn’t super impressed, it didn’t feel much more than an FPS with dashing. I’m not saying its bad, but it has a ways to go to grab me.

        • haradaya says:

          Saved me the trouble of explaining. The only thing the two have in common is battle mechs.

        • HeziBaer says:

          Your reply is much more stupid, then the comment you do it on. First, Hawken is ALPHA, not Beta, so comparing it is a bit unfair but still it does much more better than MWO. It has a Tutorial Training Ground and 3 Game modes even in Alpha.
          Yes, its a FPS in Mechstyle but MWO will have a big problem when Hawken goes live. MWO is not bad at all but the thing that brings me to stop playing: it will be unplayable with joystick and i dont think they can do miracles the next 3 months. I could live with a little disadvantage by going old style joystick mecha riding, but not with senselessness.
          I will play not the one nor the other, i decide to give MWLL a try, although server(s) often empty if its true what ive heared about it.

    • Eldragon says:

      MW:O and MW:LL are apples and Oranges. Both are mech games, both are a lot of fun, but for very different reasons. Its like the difference between the Battlefield 3 and ArmA2

    • Ginga121 says:

      Well, both are free to play… MWLL was great fun and I do love playing it. But something about MWO gripped me more. The controls are more refined, easier to pick up, and though some features in MWLL aren’t in MWO (like flushing to get rid of heat) it’s still all well balanced.

      I used to get frustrated in MWLL when my team was being battered because the other side just got better and better mechs and my side got worse and worse. In MWO you only have 1 life and people are much more tactical and aware of what they are doing because once they are dead, they are dead for that game. If I get smashed in a game I admire the teamwork used to take me down (I currently pilot 3 different atlases) and I don’t get frustrated. I’ve played hundreds of games and though at times I find myself pulling my hair out over my team mates stupidity, I never get angry that someone on the other side has an unfair advantage. The mechs aren’t unbalanced, if you get decimated it’s because that pilot is better/more experienced than you and you learn from the mistakes you made. I die a lot less now than I did when I started playing. The matchmaking also makes sure that both sides are evenly balanced on tonnage. You will never end up in a team of light mechs vs a team of assault mechs.

      I could go on for ages. Lets just say that I played MWO for a while and decided to fork out for Elite Founders status. Got a bigger mech, loved that so much I then forked out again for Legendary Founder. Though I love it still, I wouldn’t see myself paying money to MWLL if I could.

      They are both good, they are both free. Try them both and decide which you prefer. You won’t have paid anything so you needn’t worry about abandoning one. Personally, as I’m sure you can tell, MWO hooked me much more than MWLL did.

      NOTE: On MWO, I would advise at least saving up to buy one mech of your own and look at all the customisation before deciding if you like the game or not. If you quit before you get to equip your own mech how you want it you are missing one of the best parts of MWO. I had about 5 different loadouts per atlas (all 3 of them) before I found the loadouts that I liked and I thoroughly enjoyed the trial and error aspect of it.

      • Cinek says:

        MWO isn’t free to play right now. It’s either regular game where you need to pay first (founders packs) or hope for luck in getting beta key.

        • Ginga121 says:

          Thank you captain obvious -.- I’m more than aware it’s in Beta and I’m more than aware it’s hard to get keys. But then if he is happy with MWLL then I was kinda assuming he’d play that until MWO was released.

  3. mrmalodor says:

    They still haven’t managed to properly optimize the game, it’s unplayable at this point unless you like having constant stuttering and random framerate drops. What’s ironic is that Crysis 2 runs without a hitch on my PC with very high settings, DX11 and HD textures. How did Piranha manage to break the engine like that?

    • aepervius says:

      One word possible answer : netcode. Depending on how it is done, it could be that the graphical frame rate is locked to the netcode frame.

      • Capt. Eduardo del Mango says:

        Well, it’s still in beta. I’m not in but people who are have reported their frame rate changing drastically (for better or worse) with new updates, so it sounds like they’re still in the process of sorting it all out.

    • mrmalodor says:

      Sorry, bud, but no. My PC can’t be shit, since it runs Crysis 2, BF3 and Witcher 2 at either high or maximum settings with good framerate and no stuttering and those games have way better graphics and bigger maps than MWO. The only logical answer is that Pirhana has screwed up. The MWO forum is practically filled with complaints about bad performance. The simple truth is that Pirhana can’t code for shit.

      • dE says:

        The even more simple truth is: THIS IS A BETA YOU STALE DONKEY PASTED COOKIE BLOB.
        You got into the Beta – as a Beta Tester. You were warned several times during installation and registration that it is in fact a Beta and you’ve signed up to help detect the bugs. Oh, turns out the game has bugs. My, if only there had been a Beta-Test… oh wait.

        My post was in response to that guy that didn’t get the concept of Betatests (mrmalodor). For some reason the whole post-chain ended up splattered all across the comment section, for whatever reason.

      • mckertis says:

        >since it runs Crysis 2
        console port

        console port

        >Witcher 2
        console port

        • mrmalodor says:

          Witcher 2 is a console port? So they made the console version first, then went forward in time in their DeLorean to release the console version in the future, then went back in time again to release the PC version so that is would be chronologically first, but technically second? Yeah, makes sense.

      • ilves says:

        it only has DX9 support currently, DX11 is coming in a week, I’d recommend giving it a shot then

        • Jengaman says:

          Did they say that? i hope so

          Im getting 40 fps tops, which is strange. I Still love the way the game looks though.

    • hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

      I’m running 6gb RAM, e8400 and an nvidia 9800 GTX, and while that’s not exactly incredible hardware these days, it should be more than enough to run the game at 2-6 fps with everything lowest of off. I know it’s still beta, so I won’t gripe -too- much, but the environments are honestly not even remotely detailed to justify this kind of performance. The game doesn’t look significantly better than HL2 EP2, where I can crank out an east 100 fps. I did manage to get it playable at 20-30 fps with a custom config, but it looks like Morrowind.

      • Lolmasaurus says:

        I have a fairly modest machine, (560-ti and 8g ram, with an i5 2500) and can report that on whatever the game decided to look like automagically, I had no framerate issues whatsoever. I think I might reinstall this one, I didn’t give it a fair go last time, but the launcher is like gibberish to me as a person who has never played a MW game before, or any mech game for that matter.

    • ilves says:

      It only has DX9 support now, DX11 I believe is coming Tuesday so that should alleviate some stuff. But yea there’s still some netcode bugs, but its CLOSED BETA

    • HothMonster says:

      I have not had a similar experience.

    • Asurmen says:

      Maybe for you. I’m running this fine on my 3 year old machine.

    • Gurrah says:

      That’s just not true, I am running it with all the bells & whistles activated and have a rock solid 60fps. There is some server-based lag but that’s because they’re in the US and I am in Europe.

  4. Flakfizer says:

    I found the beta to be very disappointing.

    The mechs just seem to float around, they don’t feel stompy enough.

    The customisation is severely limited because weapons are limited by location. If a mech comes with lasers in arms and SRMs in the chest then you will only ever be able to fit lasers in the arms and SRMs in the chest.

    If they can fix those things then i’ll try it once it releases but i get the impression that stuff is designed in rather than just being features they haven’t polished yet.

    • Mordsung says:

      They’re trying to stick to a more fluff appropriate mech set up, which is why the hard points have specific weapon type restrictions.

      So if there was never, say, a Catapult with missile pods in its body, there won’t be a variant with missile hardpoints in the body.

      That’s why some mech types are much more energy based while some are ballistic based, to actually diversify the mech selection and stay closer to the lore of Battletech.

    • Carbonated Dan says:

      NB: there are nearly a dozen different weapons that can fit into each of the three hardpoints (Laser, Ballistic and Missile)

      as for floating around, I just, I don’t even, he’s wrong

    • Amun says:

      The above two replies have only half the story. PGI decided to keep the game close to the table top game design for mechs. That means the variants have X number of hard points, X amount of slots, and so and so tons. Great. No problems. EXCEPT that the best mech in the game right now is one that’s running dual gauss cannons in spaces where machine guns should be on the default mech! You can’t have it both ways.

      And the mechs didn’t feel stompy enough for a while because there was a bug with footstep noises on some surfaces. It should be fixed now though.

  5. haradaya says:

    I like it a lot, very immersive. Whether it holds up for long, I don’t know, the beta only gives you assault game mode.

    But I do miss infantry and other vehicles roaming the land for me to dominate, that’s when you feel you’re in an awesome machine of war. It’s the one thing I liked better about MW4 compared to MW3, you engaged a lot of non-mech hostility, everything else though, MW3 won.

    • DogKiller says:

      Mechwarrior 3 was the best. It’s my favourite in the series and it also has one of the greatest intro movies ever. Interesting missions\story, good atmosphere excellent ‘Mech battles. I still look the intro up on Youtube sometimes, how sad is that?

      • raptorak says:

        I just looked up the intro because of your comment, how sad is that?

  6. Loyal_Viggo says:

    Tried the closed beta….

    Nothing special to report, was rather meh.

    Obviously some will love IT…


  7. Carbonated Dan says:

    If you’ve read this far you’ve seen me replying quite defensively to a bunch of posters so I should add that I haven’t played MWO in nearly a month; it needs more content and balance adjustments

    • mrmalodor says:

      Defending a game like a stubborn retard yet admitting that you don’t even play it — priceless.

  8. Mr. Mister says:

    I just realised how sad I feel everytime the path of an offensive laser is drawed as solid light.

    • Danny252 says:

      You’re offended that it’s scientifically accurate?

      (About the only hole I can find in the MW laser logic is that every laser is inside the visible spectrum, but even then, I can see some scientific backing for that)

      • mckertis says:

        “scientifically accurate”

        Scientific spoiler : real life lasers are invisible to the naked eye.
        And really, how “scientifically accurate” Battletech ever was ? Neurohelmets, jumpjets that allow smooth propulsion with infinite fuel, light sails, FTL jumps, tiny-tiny dropships that can launch into orbit under their own power…accurate indeed.

        • Apolloin says:

          Note that whilst a real damage dealing laser would probably be up in the invisible bands of the EMS, if I was building a weapon for the military I would make that sucker visible so my grunts didn’t wind up wandering into the line of fire.

          It’s scientifically accurate to say that bullets in travel are invisible, but guess what? Tracers!

        • theallmightybob says:

          to be fair real life lasers in the visiable spectrum above a certain power level in atmosphear will casue blooming that you can see as they blast an ionized tunnle through the air.

          I still just like to think that the battle mechs hud just draws them on for you so you can see them and have a chance in battle; sort of “virtual” laser fire to give the pilot something to focus on. i dont know if thats cannon though, but it works for me.

        • Danny252 says:

          A laser in a vacuum would be invisible, yes – all your light is beaming down in one direction.

          However, Mechwarrior takes place on planets and, going by the fact there’s weather and vegetation on those, they have atmospheres. Atmospheres are not entirely transparent to lasers, and will absorb and scatter light – even a suitably powerful laser pointer’s beam will be visible. I invite you to take a look at the pictures on Wikipedia’s “Laser” article, several of which show visible laser beams: link to en.wikipedia.org

          In fact, the fact that the atmosphere has an annoying habit of scattering/absorbing light is one reason that lasers aren’t easily used as armour-melty weapons. The other reason is that, for a laser that powerful, you need to drag around quite a lot of heavy equipment, which gives off a lot of heat – MW got that right too.

          (Plus what the chaps said about blooming, which would probably show up as spectral line emission, for something as low density as Earth’s atmosphere)

          • DarkFenix says:

            You can’t see a laser through air either, there isn’t enough scattering. If you want a visible laser you fill the air with something denser.

            Lasers aren’t used as weapons because the means to create the absurd amount of power required just isn’t portable, or practical for that matter.

          • Danny252 says:

            I’d enjoy your explanation as to what the cause of the visible beam of light in the 3rd image of this article is if it isn’t due to atmospheric scattering, then: link to en.wikipedia.org

            Next you’ll be saying the atmosphere is too thin to scatter sunlight, too!

            (Also, I know, I’m quoting Wikipedia – world’s most reliable source. But it does have pictures, at the very least)

          • DarkFenix says:

            Hmm ok so you can see a laser beam of the optimal scattering/visibility wavelength, so long as it’s dark and you’re looking along the beam to brighten it and I’m sure it’ll help if there’s something other than air in the air (used to have great fun in the smoky atmosphere at night on 5th November as a kid, pretending a torch was a lightsaber and all that jazz).

            Show me photo of a side-on view of a brightly visible laser in a clear environment in broad daylight and I’ll certainly concede the point though ;)

          • dE says:

            Realism in games discussions missing the point since… well ever.
            Point being: Gameplay > Realism.

            Rarely does “Realism” augment gameplay. More often than not, realism limits games in unfun ways. Seriously, how much fun would a fastpaced multiplayer title be where you had no idea you were even under attack from a Laser to begin with? Because… can’t see it, can’t feel it.
            And on the attackers side, oh the joy to be had in a completely unmoving cockpit with the only indication of the weapon having fired being one arbitrary bar jumping up a bit.

          • Danny252 says:

            Well, kind-of daylight: link to i.ytimg.com

            I had hard luck finding much else (turns out “laser beam day” in google image search just gives lots of lasers at night… pfft) – at a guess, any laser powerful enough to be visible in daylight is probably getting on for Class 4 (“mmm, burny skin”), which are probably quite difficult get hold of. Of course, MW’s beamy deff guns are supposedly a lot more powerful than a 50mW laser pointer!

          • Cuddlefish says:

            The other important distinction between the wiki pictures of clearly visible lasers and the lasers on a Battlemech is pretty simple. A handheld laser pointer is about five milliwatts, going by a quick amazon check. By comparison, I just can’t buy a serious vehicle laser being any less than multiple kilowatts, even for the light stuff. So that’s a difference of a good six orders of magnitude. I have the sneaking suspicion that a laser with that much more power will be EXTREMELY visible – particularly as back scatter when it hits the target, but along the beam as well both from ordinary scattering, cooking any dust particles in the beam path, and direct ionization.

            Also, laser beams are awesome.

  9. Zyrxil says:

    I’ve been playing a little bit and in my experience, the F2P system is rather badly designed and abusive.

    1. The statement “That’s not to say you won’t be competitive with the free mechs” isn’t true. The trial mechs are terrible and players rate the likely hood of winning a match based on which team has fewer trial mechs

    2. You earn 25% of normal C-Bills in a trial mech and 0% of XP. While in a normal Mech you have to pay repair and resupply bills, 25% is still far far less.

    3. Mechs are priced based on weight class, which is just stupid, tactically speaking. It will take around 24 matches where you perform mediocrely to earn enough to buy the cheapest standard variant of a light Mech using a trial Mech. Heavy mechs are about 5x as expensive.

    • PodX140 says:

      Except you can buy mechs with in game cash? It’ll take 4 hours or so in a trial mech, but then your hunchback or heavy mech can easily be purchased. You make it sound like you’re restricted to trial mechs unless you buy cash.

      • Cinek says:

        You aren’t restricted, but you need to play like crazy in order to get anything decent.

    • DarkFenix says:

      Um, it seems to me the F2P system is inconveniencing you when you aren’t paying; this is what F2P systems are supposed to do. Given that you’re complaining here I’d say they’ve designed it quite well.

    • Dominic White says:

      You have to run approximately 18 rounds in a trial mech before you can buy into the real big leagues. And there’s four trial mechs, covering light, medium, heavy and assault types. Just consider it an extended tutorial.

      • sidhellfire says:

        So basically – you earn 25% of regular money… without investing a coin! You just gain more and more, slowly without even worrying if your balance on the end of the match will be positive, because it will be.

        Note, that trial mechs do switch each week if I recall correctly. So you have opportunity to test each design, learn how weapons do perform, and then have basic knowledge needed to not waste millions of C-bills into investing into a poor custom build.

        • AngrySasquatch says:

          Also, it’s 80% of normal money now, and without rearm and repair costs, making it easier to earn money in a trial ‘mech than your own ‘mech.

    • AngrySasquatch says:

      I agree trial ‘mechs should be made more competitive, but #2 is wrong. You now earn 80% of normal C-bills, and you don’t have to pay repair and rearm costs. I’d prefer you earn less and make trial ‘mechs better, but they have drastically reduced the grind.

      One of the primary problems with trial ‘mechs is their heat management. With the introduction of double heatsinks soon, if they give most trial mechs double heatsinks, that will reduce their heat output significantly in many cases.

      While heavier ‘mechs do cost more, they have done a good job of balancing the strengths and weaknesses of the different weight classes. A light ‘mech can be a terror to an assault ‘mech or a fire support ‘mech. The ‘mech classes do play a bit differently, depending on configuration, so If a new player wants to play an assault ‘mech right away they can either use a trial assault, or they can grind for it, or they can pay real money for one. An assault isn’t necessarily better, so they shouldn’t necessarily cost more, but that’s just a nod to the setting of the game. If you want to play a brawler ‘mech you can pilot a weapons-heavy medium.

    • mrmalodor says:

      This is another reason why I stopped playing and will probably not play again. They have completely made the economy P2W now. You can play for free, but the amount of grinding you would have to do, often battling overpowered wallet warrior mechs, is enough to make the game not fun at all.

  10. Bart Stewart says:

    I saw the top screenshot before I read the headline to this story and thought, “Hey, someone has remade TIE Fighter and it looks great!”


  11. NthDegree256 says:

    I’ve been playing the beta for about a week now and I’m loving it. Learning the heat characteristics of my mechs (and the maps – Caustic Valley is murderously hot, especially in the crater!), chasing after an enemy and waiting so I can land that perfect hit on their unarmored back, TAGging heavies and watching allied LRMs rain down on them like fiery hail, frantically dodging between buildings to keep the enemy mechs distracted while the rest of my team sneaks up behind them – it’s all so much fun.

    Many matches tend to come down to one team overextending itself and getting torn apart in an 8-to-1 steamroller, but I’ve seen teams bounce back from initial early losses by smartly retreating and then picking off enemies one by one, I’ve seen games where one team sneaks entirely past the enemy and captures their base with minimal engagement, and I was part of one particularly brutal and even match that ended with a single one-armed Centurion and a one-legged Jenner flailing away at each other. (The Jenner managed to take off the Centurion’s other arm and win the match. Go team!)

    I got into the beta for free, but I did end up putting some cash down on this game – much like my experience with Tribes: Ascend, I could tell after just a few free matches that I was going to love it. I don’t know if this is the official Piranha intention, but I have no problems thinking of the free version of the game as a demo/trial with no time limit – if you like the gameplay, pay some money (like you would with a non-F2P shooter) and get full access to the mech lab and a handful of mechs.

  12. wodin says:

    Been playing Hawken beta..it’s OK. Nothing spectacular, but good for a quick blast.

  13. Dominic White says:

    The most impressive thing about the game is that they made light mechs not just viable, but absolutely deadly in the right hands. Here’s a gameplay video of a pair of super-light Jenners raising hell, and giving Atlases – mechs weighing five times as much and carrying about four times as many guns – a run for their money:

  14. hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

    The game is really, really fun so far- but it also has some big issues.

    There are a lot of good things that I think will make this game successful. The feeling of being in a huge stompy robot is just perfectly realized. The weapons are satisfying. Everything looks and feels good.

    But the weapon balance is horribly off. The beta forums are just flooded with threads about it, but the devs haven’t really fixed anything yet. About half the weapons are unusably bad. All the values for weapon damage and range etc are based off the tabletop game’s system, but those just don’t translate very well to the video game.

    The f2p system really shafts new players; anyone playing in a trial mech gets 25% less money and no xp. This means you’ll have to grind for 3-4 hours to get the worst mech in the game (Currently a commando) and then another eight or so if you want a mech that will do reasonably well in combat. You also can’t customize trial mechs, and the default weapons loadout on all of them is just bad. The weapon balance for them was fine in the tabletop game, but they all build heat far too fast for how little damage they do in the video game.

    Perhaps the biggest problem right now is the matchmaking system. It frequently pits clans or people who are on Teamspeak in groups of eight against eight players who are just out looking for matches on their own, meaning that more than half of the matches I play end up 8-0 or 8-1. Team communication and having a balanced mech company is absolutely vital in this game, but they’re more than willing to pit people whose only communication method is the text chat in random mechs against a coordinated squad of experienced clan members.

    Finally, the frame rates are just abysmal, but I’ll let that slide for now given that it’s a closed beta.

    These really are fixable issues. This could be a fantastic game; I just hope that they can fix these problems and bring it out of mediocrity.

    • Iceman346 says:

      Although I can’t really say that I have any problems with the framerate (2500K, 8 Gig Ram, Radeon 7970 runs completely smooth) the rest of your posting is spot on. I’m especially worried about the currency model, in my time in the closed beta they changed it like 4 times.
      At first C-Bills were handed out like candy, each win would put multiple millions in your bank. Then they decreased it so that a loss would net you one million C-Bills and repair costs for a damaged mech ran at about 800k to 1,1 million. So if you won you would make a decent amount of cash, if you were heavily damaged you would at least get a bit left over.

      Then they decreased it even further and wiped the accounts clean. And quite frankly: Grinding money in the trial mechs for beta which will be wiped again was just not fun. Having to play 20 something matches in the trials to even afford the smallest mech will demotivate new players very quickly.

      I really think the game has a lot going for it. The combat is very well done and fun, the mech editor is great and the thing I’m really missing in MW:LL and every mech on the field is valuable regardless of it’s weight. But they need to design a currency system which allows new players to experience a decent amount of gameplay without the need to pay anything. World of Tanks does this very well. At the moment I have the impression that Piranha does not really know how to achieve this.

      • Atrak says:

        I Agree wholeheartedly, f2p games rely upon having as many people trying them out as possible and at least having an experience that keeps them coming back and then convincing them that its worth putting down money.

        My machine is no monster but I can too can run Crysis 2 fine, MWO however in its current state is basically unplayable. (I’ve tried almost every setting and custom configuration I can find). I’m sure at least some of it is due to latency issues, the netcode does need some improvements. They have also stated that they will work on dual core optimization so I do hope I will be able to run it eventually. They just need to keep in mind that the lower the requirements mean the more people they get trying it out which means more paying customers.

        The C-Bill grind as of the current patch is very punishing, (yes I know its beta and isn’t set in stone) I just hope they listen and adjust it. As currently you will spend a very long time running around in a very limited mech which will most definitely turn people away. I am all for supporting f2p games, but forcing people to spend money to enjoy something is a very short sighted model. Convincing them that its a worthy game to spend money on should be the goal.

        While its correct this is a beta, we can only truthfully report on what we experience currently, not what might be. At the moment the game needs a lot of work. It has the potential to be a great game and though I haven’t had the best experience with it I truly hope that the devs overcome these issues and we get the game we hope for.

    • mrmalodor says:

      You know what’s funny? You say that “there are a lot of good things that I think will make this game successful”. But you list many many awful things, all of which I agree with. I think MWO will be a giant flop. Only the most obtuse will stay to rationalize their poor purchase decision. The rest will flock to Hawken, World of Warplanes and other games.

    • AngrySasquatch says:

      Double heat sinks will be implemented soon, so that may fix the heat problems of ‘trial mechs.

      They also doubled the amount you get for being in a trial ‘mech, so I think getting a Commando (lightest ‘mech in the game) will only take about 2 hours. A “drive-by” Commando with 3 SRM6s can do a lot of damage.

      Getting a Jenner or Hunchback, both good ‘mechs, cost twice as much as Commando so that means only 4 hours for one of those.

  15. emotionengine says:

    I was wondering how the combat compares to Perpetuum’s. Not that I’ve actually played, I just enjoyed reading Jim’s account of Clan RPS’ travails in Perpetuum-land.

  16. Arglebargle says:

    I was amused by the ‘intuitive controls’ bit. Maybe if you are a Mech grognard. My experiance, going in cold, was that I couldn’t manage anything except blowing up quickly. Move, fire, look, etc. Not obvious. While tutorials are probably not high on the Beta to-do list, they’ll need to get one up and running eventually if they want to attract more than the usual suspects.

    That’s pretty much all the beta feedback I can manage at this point.

  17. DyvimTvar says:

    The amount of left overs of edited sentences in this article really break my reading immersion.
    How about an editing pass by someone who has not written what is about to be published?