Preview: MechWarrior Online arms itself for some explosive multiplayer

There is nothing in video games that makes me feel as arrogant as when I pick up a weapon and have the opportunity to run into battle against my closest friends. Nor do I rage more, when this opportunity arises, and I ultimately end up face first in the dirt with my opponent trolling me in whatever way he or she pleases. So, you can only imagine what happens when I’m given a 100-ton mech with a flurry of different weaponry at my disposal and march into war. THINGS GET REAL.

That’s right. I recently participated in the closed online beta for free-to-play MechWarrior Online. First off, it’s been awhile since I’ve played a MechWarrior game. So, the rust was enough to cause a little frustration for my overly competitive nature. However, once I dusted off the rust and brushed off the frustration, MechWarrior Online could be something really awesome for new and old players of MechWarrior.


Pew pew pew!

Players will start with trial mechs and as time progresses, start to fill their bank accounts with virtual money and have the option to purchase more mechs and customize them with different types of weaponry.  Yes, players will have the option to add all kinds of toys to their mech. From long-range missiles to in-your-face autocannons, there are multiple high-tech ways to absolutely annihilate your enemy.

Unfortunately, MechWarrior Online is a little lacking in ways you can destroy your opponents on the battlefield. As far as I’ve seen, players are paired into two groups of eight with the mission objective to either destroy all your enemies or destroy their base. This is where a little more love needs to happen for MechWarrior Online. Adding more modes and missions to complete will have to happen if MechWarrior Online wants to shine and attract more players to the MechWarrior universe.


Initially, players will take control of light, medium and large mechs, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages to learn. Light, medium and large mechs all have their duties within the team environment that MechWarrior Online is trying to accomplish. Each mech will have its responsibility based on its classification. Playing as a larger mech such as the Atlas, players will move slower than light and medium mechs, but can pack a much more powerful punch up close. Since the light mechs are much more agile and quicker, it is easier for them to get ahead of the rest of the team and scout out the area. Therefore, the medium and larger mechs can make their way into battle knowing full well where their opponents are thanks to the light mechs. You can see how the sense of strategy and team environment plays a large role in MechWarrior Online.

Looking closer at the mechs, each has an array of weaponry that is displayed on the right, lower-hand side of the screen. Weapons can be assigned to different groups as firing them all at the same time will overheat the mech and shutdown overall control making you extremely vulnerable to opponent mechs in the area. Heat management plays a HUGE role in how players will handle their mech. It can be the difference in staying alive in the ever-hostile world of MechWarrior Online.


MWO gives the player tons of options to customize their mechs

In addition, you have forward and backward thrusters in which you point in a certain direction while you can pivot the upper body of the mech to look around in any direction.  It takes skill to control, but it’s a very fluid control scheme. I like the realism Piranha Games has implemented in piloting these armored behemoths.  If you are piloting a larger mech, you can feel how sluggish it is compared to the quicker, lighter mechs. With that said, the controls for the mechs work really well considering the amount of multi-tasking you have to do when piloting. The way the thrusters react to what mech you pilot to the ease of grouping your weapons really shows the amount of work that Piranha put into the controls of this game.

With this game still in its beta stage, it is safe to say I’d like to see more from MechWarrior Online. It’s definitely on the right track. More modes for multiplayer play would do wonders in getting this from the beta stage to release, but let’s not take away from what Piranha has accomplished in this game thus far. Great controls, awesome mechs, and solid online play are already there. With a few more additions, I have a feeling that MechWarrior Online is going to be something special to new and old MechWarrior fans alike.