After over a decade without a true MechWarrior game, Piranha Games is weeks away from bringing the franchise back. As early as next month first-time players and longtime series fans will finally be able to jump forward to the year 3049 in the Battletech universe with MechWarrior Online, and before you do, there are a few things you should know.
It was back in March when we got our very first look at MechWarrior Online gameplay and since that time, developer Piranha Games has been updating the official MWO site with blog entries, detailing on the game’s unique variety of warfare, and what really excites us, listing mechs one-by-one that will be shipping with the game at launch. With the game releasing next month, we thought we’d share the latest and play a little catch-up.
First, a little background on when MechWarrior Online takes place with the Battletech canon:
Set in the year 3049 during the early stages of a massive interstellar war, MechWarrior Online puts you in command of the most powerful war machine to ever walk the field of battle, the mighty BattleMech. Pilot your Mech and customize it to suit your preferred battlefield role; upgrade systems, weapons, and armor with endless options giving you creative control over your battle strategy as you face your next opponent. MechWarrior Online delivers a rich online experience, rewarding everything a player does with experience points, C-Bills, unlocks, and recognition. Upgrade skills and refine your role in gameplay using an all-new leveling system, and up-to-the minute detailed player statistics allow you to compare, track and share your progress with other players.
The last time we delved into the development of the game, we looked at some new screenshots and examined the details of the Mech Lab – a place where players purchase and customize their mechs, from weapons and armor to paint colors, heat sinks, and everything in between. Today we’re going to look at the latest series of videos from MechWarrior Online, detailing two the game’s featured Battletech units: the Jenner and the Centurion (concept art below). We’re also going to look at two vastly different and harsh terrains players will battle each other, and last but not least, we’re going to let Piranha Games’ head honcho detail the four pillars of MechWarrior Online gameplay.
The Jenner JR7 is a Light, 35 ton ‘Mech with a max speed of 118 km/h. Quick, agile, and with an impressive weapons loadout of four medium lasers and a short range missile 4, the Jenner can make quick work of larger opponents. The jumpjets merely add to the flexibility of this ‘Mech.
The fast-moving Jenner (moves at 118 km/h) is deadly in packs and is optimally used as a fast-moving, quick-jumping backstabber. It has very little armor so if you plan on tanking, the Jenner is not for you.
The Centurion is a humanoid, medium weight class, 50 ton ‘Mech with a max speed of 64 kilometers an hour. It is the epitome of a balanced ‘Mech. Good speed, good armor, excellent weapons load out. If you’re unsure of which ‘Mech best suits you, it is an excellent choice.
The Centurion might be a great beginner mech since it’s strong in all situations and at all ranges. Featuring a variety of weapon types, including missiles, autocannons and lasers, and a fair amount of armor, the Centurion also comes in different variants and is highly customizable.
The Caustic Valley offers gameplay-affecting terrain thanks to the heat the acidic environment gives off. To succeed in battle on the mineral-rich planet, players must be very cautious about watching heat levels, especially with heavier mechs. The surface temperatures will also cause problems for thermal optics, giving sneaky players better opportunities to hide their mechs. Weapons heat up quickly and take more time to cool down, so ballistic weapons are recommended.
Much like the Caustic Valley, the Frozen City map offers another dynamic environment with practically the opposite effects on gameplay. Get lost in a blizzard, run through a glacier tunnel, and let your weapons run wild without worry about quickly overheating. Players will need to rely on team communications via information warfare, thermal imagine and sensor data to stand a chance in this frozen hell.
Developer Diary #1
Now that you’ve had a brief tease of MechWarrior Online gameplay, let Piranha Games’ Russ Bullock run you through the details and four pillars of gameplay that players need to understand to get into the full MechWarrior experience.
If these mechs and environments have piqued your interested, head over to the official MechWarrior Online website http://mwomercs.com/ for more information, to pick your pilot name. You can also now buy into the Founder’s Program via one of three packages which offer early access (on August 7th) and a limited chance for players to get a founder’s tag, in-game bonuses (including more mechs), in-game credits and a 1-3 month premium account with additional rewards – read the details here.
Are you going to give this free-to-play PC MMO a chance?
MechWarrior Online launches later this summer.
Follow me on Twitter @rob_keyes.