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Thursday, 09 May 2013 17:25

MechWarrior: Online Impressions

Written by  Jón Haukur Pétursson

 

MechWarrior: Online is a free to play first person shooter from developer Piranha Games. Set a thousand years into the future, players assume control of the colossal war machines known as battlemechs as they take part in an interstellar war.

 

The game currently has two game modes, assault and conquest. Assault is a team deathmatch at its core, but each of the two teams has a base that can be captured to secure victory. Conquest mode revolves around capturing and holding bases scattered around the map, as each base controlled drains points from the enemy team with the first to reach zero being defeated.



These battles are fought on varied maps, each having its own unique environment, which has an effect on battle. In a scorching desert your mech will be more prone to overheating, shutting them down, and in a frozen tundra your mech will have a harder time burning itself out leading to more intense firefights. Also featured are urban and mountainous maps that offer a lot of tactical options in regards to cover and maneuvering.

Currently in open beta, the game already has an impressive amount of content to offer. Players have at their disposal a varied selection of mechs to choose from, divided into four groups. Light mechs are the scouts and skirmishers, offering agility and speed whilst sacrificing durability and firepower. Medium mechs are the rank and file; giving players a balance between firepower, survivability and mobility. Heavy mechs are a step above the mediums, having greatly increased weapons and armor capabilities whilst also retaining some mobility. Then there are the assault mechs. Which are gigantic in stature, and able to fit the heaviest of weapons. These lumbering giants have unmatched firepower but in return they have extremely limited mobility, falling easily to groups of smaller mechs if left unprotected.

Each of these mech classes has an impressive amount of armaments to choose from. Lasers, flamethrowers, cannons, heavy artillery and missile launchers give players excellent customization options in how they want to play their mechs.

You control your mech from a first person perspective, with your weapons assigned to the mouse and keyboard, as each mech tends to have a lot of them. MechWarrior sets itself apart from other first person shooters in one regard as movement is independent of what you are looking at. Much like a tank, the legs of the mech serve as the chassis whilst the upper body, which houses all the weapons, is controlled by the mouse. This can be quite confusing at first but quickly becomes natural.


The game has more in common with a simulator than a game, being very unforgiving and not very accessible to new players.  If your mech is destroyed in a match, that’s it, there’s no respawning and trying again. You can exit the match and grab another mech and start playing again but the mech that was destroyed cannot be used again until the match it is in is over. This can become quite tedious as learning the ins and outs of each mech can take more than a few matches before you find your groove.

That being said, once you have an understanding of the gameplay the game is extremely rewarding. Combat is visceral and gorgeous rendered with CryEngine 3, and seeing your target go down is very satisfying. The game’s steep learning curve can be unappealing to some but if you want a deeply tactical and hardcore team-based shooter, give MechWarrior: Online a spin. 

 

 

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