It was well over two years ago when we got our first look at the long-awaited return of the MechWarrior franchise through a trailer released online, a trailer that was followed up with notching but silence for the next 25 months. Then, out of nowhere, Piranha Games started revealing pieces of what became the logo for MechWarrior Online which we quickly learned was a PC exclusive free-to-play MMO.

Most importantly, it was confirmed that despite being an MMO of sorts, the game plays just like MechWarrior 2, 3 & 4, the way it should play. The game will be a return to detailed, highly customizable mechs and tactical team-based warfare and nothing like the shoddy MechAssault games on the original Xbox. Details on gameplay and how faction warfare have remained sketchy and all we know about the story is that it happens in a real-time persistant world where every day in real life is one day in 3049, beginning next summer. Today, On December 8th, 3048, Piranha Games have released their first developer blog entry to explain in detail how factional warfare works.

MechWarrior Online takes place, one day at a time, within the Inner Sphere. This is before the infamous Clan Invasion but that will play into the universe later, when the game reaches the date in the canon story when that occurs. So, when the game launches, there will factions who fight over territory (planets) within the Inner Sphere and almost anything is up for grabs, with the exception of “Core Worlds” which are controlled by the developers since they are key to the unfolding story and history already laid out in the Battletech universe.

Click to enlarge and go here for the super, mega high-res version.

Inner Sphere 3048 Galactic Map

Every faction battles over regions and is always at war with at least one other faction. This gives the players some options as to how they participate in the greater war. They can ally with one of the faction, moving up the ranks, or they can join a mercenary corporation. They can remain neutral and go the lone wolf path.

  • Core Worlds — Are managed by the dev team.  These are worlds that necessary for future planning and part of major historical events.
  • Faction Worlds — Are fought over by Faction players.  These planets buffer core and border worlds, and do not play a significant role in major historical events.  Rewards for controlling these planets are directly linked to global bonuses and abilities associated with a player’s Faction.
  • Border Worlds — Are fought over via a contract bidding system by player run Mercenary Corporations.  These planets change hands on a regular basis, and have no impact on historical events.  Rewards for controlling a boarder world are significant and go directly to the occupying Merc Corp.

Players move up (and down) the ranks of a faction, should they choose so, by earning Loyalty Points. These are earned by killing enemy units and completing other objectives for a faction. The incentive is to keep players actively fighting for and helping their cause, since inactivity will result in Loyalty Points decreasing and therefore, demotions.

Mercenary Corps are a little more interesting and Loyalty Points earned by members go to a shared Corp pool which – when large enough – can be used to bid on contracts for factions. Like Factions, Corps have a ranking system but the names of these ranks can be entirely unique to that faction – it’s up to the Mercenary Corp leader to decide. This is how we expect guilds of players to form and make their own unique in-game “clan” of sorts. In order for a Corp to fight for a faction, they must earn and maintain a certain amount of Loyalty for them.

The last option is for Lone Wolf players – they can earn LP on their own by playing matches but do not gain any benefits from doing so as they would for faction. Hint: join a cause, don’t be a loner.

This certainly answers our questions on how guilds and the overall MMO war will play out and it seems as if it’s going to be one shared, persistent universe, not unlike EVE Online. What we’re hearing about the structure and overarching story is awesome.

The next big question for us at Game Rant is what the game will look like. The concept art released so far differs greatly from the aesthetic and style shown in the concept trailer and we’ve not seen a screenshot or example of actual gameplay as of yet. Hopefully the upcoming dev diaries will shed light on this matter.

MechWarrior Online launches summer 2012.

Follow me on Twitter @rob_keyes.

Source: Piranha Games

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