MechWarrior Online beta impressions: Free to play, but paying players have the upper hand

MechWarrior Online

By on November 1, 2012 at 8:00 pm

I’ve never really found the ability to truly appreciate games that involve mechs. Even Xenogears, hands down one of the best RPGs I’ve ever played, found me lost when it came to appreciating the lumbering beasts, always putting them second fiddle to the interesting, albeit suicidal, people who chose to pilot them. It’s not for a lack of trying however, as the original MechWarrior was first of its kind back in 1989 to keep me distracted at my uncle’s house during the many boring games of bridge my parents chose to play. From there, my pilgrimage took me from MechCommander to Armoured Core, followed by a sail across the pond to Mobile Suit Gundam. I even imported the original Neon Genesis Evangelion title thanks to an eternal addiction to the series. But nothing hooked me.

The recent resurgence of action orientated (rather than story based) online mech shooters in the forms of Hawken and the aforementioned MechWarrior has many fans a flutter. Why not? The combination of missiles, chunky steel and tactical urgency would find itself perfectly placed within an online community, particularly one obsessed with finding the perfect load-out. MWO draws on the success of the franchise’s various multiplayer options and stretches them out with an expanding slew of available mechs, equipment, weapons, pilot abilities before slapping it all between a delicious CryEngine 3 sandwich for good measure. Even more interestingly, the developers in their infinite wisdom have decided to make the whole kit and caboodle F2P, threatening to enter a World Of Tanks scenario where pay to win becomes a dangerous option.

Unfortunately, most beta access comes with its fair share of restrictions, and in this case it’s an almost complete lack of configuration, experience or choice outside of a few “trial” mechs. Those lucky punters who registered early or paid for it have access to customised bots, meaning there is a genuine gap between players who are stuck using weaker units and those with access to stronger mechs. At first, it’s difficult to see the difference between trial and paid mechs, as you’re generally pretty awful at piloting and it takes a while to get used to how the weapons work. Depending on the distance between you and your target, your weapons will automatically change between short and long range, which is important since certain primary weapons may not work at certain distances.

Damage is contextual, meaning that targeting a mech’s main window is likely to disable it more quickly (by cooking the pilot) than simply sweeping the legs or the back. At long distances, this can be difficult to pull off, and experienced players will find themselves in strong, newbie busting, positions. Coupled with a lack of clever matchmaking (there isn’t currently much in the way of custom games or level matching), games are completely random, both on map and game mode. There isn’t currently a VOIP system running in game, so coordination of your team is non-existent, so in most cases you’re usually on your own to survive, unless a couple of mates are lucky enough to join your game and everyone’s on Vent.

In fact, MWO is so barely functional at the moment that its very difficult to see what the final product will look like

In fact, MWO is so barely functional at the moment that its very difficult to see what the final product will look like. The developers promise deeper functionality around factions, clans and what not, but there are no plans for expansion outside of the traditional single match system. If you were hoping for long term, PlanetSide 2 conquest style play, then this is not your game. MWO is much more similar to Tribes: Ascend, where load-outs and abilities are chosen prior to matchmaking before being dropped onto a battlefield.

Kill everyone, get experience, rinse and repeat. It’s not a particularly deep system, nor does it expand on the sheer number of possibilities for a “World of MechWarrior” scenario, but it ticks the boxes for those looking for quick and nasty bot killing.

It also looks, sounds and plays beautifully, taking full advantage of the access to a keyboard, decent audio systems and utilising the very underrated CryEngine 3 to generate detailed environments. Lasers shudder and splutter with power, missiles pulsate and puncture the air as they fly towards their targets. You can hear the gears slowly turning and the gas compression releasing pressure as you trudge through the cities, snow covered vistas and desert oil fields, seeking out your enemy. The feeling of claustrophobia is cleverly developed through the limited view from your cockpit seat, assisted only by your targeting system and mini-map, where clever adversaries will take advantage of low mobility to sneak up behind you to unleash hell.

Sadly, like Tim’s experiences with Hawken earlier this week, MWO’s success in Australia is going to rely exclusively on access to local servers, as my 250ms ping failed to do me any favours in battle. The lack of twitch in MWO due to the nature of low moving machines, does allow for a generous amount of latency but fails to compensate completely during chaotic scenes. It’s next to impossible to get the jump on anyone when you are a quarter second behind them, and that quick draw of a surprise attack is spoiled by distance. While this is a common problem, it’s one that’s become increasingly obvious to developers, with other F2P FPS games like Tribes, Blacklight: Retribution and PlanetSide 2 offering local servers either on or closely after launch.

MWO is a bit of a mixed platter in this current beta form. The lack of choice and the obvious advantages in regards to custom units for paying players has provided a dangerous precedent for final play. While it’s not impossible to win against experienced and better armed players, the inability to select anything other than underpowered units without putting down cash does not bode well for the future. Stay tuned, however, as we’ll have a full review for you once the game has launched.

29 comments (Leave your own)

just so everyone knows, some one that pays for MC (gold) and / or premium time doesnt get anything a free player cant

but yes at the moment founders do have the upper hand cos they already have cusomiseable mechs unlike the free players stuck using trial mechs till they can save enuf credits .

the bigger problem right now tho is the total imbalance ofthe games where most games end up 8 – 0 or 8 – 1 (8 per team)

 

paid players vs free players isn’t fun.

 

It doesn’t take too long to leave your trial Mech’s for a decent medium (ignore the Commando and go the Hunchback 4SP), but right now the trial mechs are just no good for someone terrible, like myself.

 

“If you were hoping for long term, PlanetSide 2 conquest style play”

I want to go to there. I hadn’t even considered that possibility. Maybe someday.

 

2 things however…

MWO currently suffers from a VERY BAD interpolation…

something in their last patch screwed it up ROYALLY, and by royally i mean ABSOLUTELY FUBAR. This problem did not existed at this scale prior to the patch deployed at 25th october.

if this review is made AFTER 25th october gameplay experience then it’s most likely affected by the problem… it doesn’t mean that prior to that our latency did not affect the game of course, because it did… it made AC targeting in particular quite challenging as you must calculate the delay the latency causes and coupled with the projectile speed, estimate the lead needed to hit someone that’s moving.

But prior to 25th october patch, this was possible still, and we still were competitive even with latency as high as 300ms. After the patch however, everything went fubar.

Incidentally…

TRIAL MECH ARE NOT WEAKER IN ANY WAY THAN CUSTOM MECH… the stock variant are not the easiest mech to use, but it has the SAME weight tonnage limit as any mech and you CANNOT buy anything with MC (money currency) or Cbills (in game credit) that can give you an advantage that doesn’t come with it’s own disadvantage.

To give an illustration of what Trial mech can do with no premade team (i lone wolf all the time)
http://i.imgur.com/UB8EL.jpg

 

That was with a trial centurion…

a 50ton medium mech, armed with just 1 Large laser, 2 Med laser, 1 LRM 10, and 1 Small laser (that are never used).

and i essentially produced the same damage as a custom Atlas Assault mech (the person above me on the scoreboard) carrying Gauss rifles (currently the most unbalanced weapon in the game BEFORE the patch that screwed the interpolation), and double Large laser + streak SRM2s

 
James Pinnell

yurtles:
“If you were hoping for long term, PlanetSide 2 conquest style play”

I want to go to there. I hadn’t even considered that possibility. Maybe someday.

We can only dream.

 

I would argue that custom mechs are generally better than the trials simply because they can be tailored to the peculiarities of the game. Player skill can overcome this, but in an even skill battle the custom mech will generally win.
One simple example: otherwise identical mechs, I have double heat sinks and you don’t. I can fire my weapons more often therefore am more likely to win.

 

the simple solution in which you then AVOID close quarter brawl and instead fire in salvo burst and return back to cover in between the shots… effectively negating your sustained dps advantage since each time one comes out and open fire, you can only fire one or two volley (depending on weapon) before line of sight is broken again.

the exception to this rule is if you close with the enemy and put him in a position where he cannot avoid engaging you in a close quarter.

This is why maintaining close formation with the team is vital. If someone tries to do this (closing the distance) without sufficient backup then the mech you target will have his team tear you to pieces.

If you instead gear for long range engagement (say ER PPCs or ER large lasers) you do have the capability to maintain fire longer in long range duel, but at the same time the longer you remain in the open line of sight to fire your direct fire weapon, the more likely you are to be targeted and slammed with return fire (especially LRM).

The biggest problem with Trial mech is the simple fact that their weapon suites are often tailored for EVERY range, the key to be effective with them is to know how to COVER all range and utilize every single potential weapon the mech has, and how to mitigate it’s weakness.

Case in point: Trial centurion has the LRM10 for long range engagement, and a large laser for medium range, with double med for close range. One then open up the fight with LRM (staying close to his team), then once it enters the large laser range add that to the mix, but STAY AWAY from close range fight, stick close to your team and maintain distance.

Only approach into close quarter battle (to use the med laser effectively) AFTER the LRM is exhausted. The LRM on the trial centurion is MEANT to be exhausted if possible because the trial centurion (AL model) has no CASE which means critical hit on the LRM ammo is likely FATAL.

Once the LRM ammo is expended, the trial centurion is capable of remaining operational and a threat even after losing all arms, and both side torso… making it a great zombie mech.

 

Incidentally, DHS (double heat sinks), XL engine, FF armor (Ferro Fibrous) all have it’s own drawback.

The first drawback they all share is that they cost more to repair and replace than standard variant though this is not that much of a drawback all things considered since u gain more than u’d spent for repair and rearm, but it DOES cut into your profit margin significantly.

The second drawback is that they cost crit slots, granted however that most mech usually have spare crit slots so typically one would like to use one of the upgrade or two if they happen to have lots of spare crit slot (this naturally means you take a hit on profit). The commonly considered good one is endo steel since it’s VERY RARE for a mech to be destroyed so totally that the endo steel structure had to be replaced, unfortunately it also give minimal return in weight saving save for the heaviest mech.

Incidentally, DHS are only 1.5 times as effective as single heatsinks. It’s a bug currently with the game, but the dev is considering having DHS function in this manner since it seems to balance out nicely with the single heatsinks.

 

bronzed is absolutely correct in what he’s saying. Just because they’re trial, it doesn’t make them inferior, it just comes down to using your brains.

That said, I’ve got a choice between playing World of Tanks with 120ms ping (When fishermen aren’t busy ripping up cabling) or playing Mechwarrior Online.

Both genres I adore so it all comes down to fun level. At this point I have to go with WoT simply because I enjoy being able to aim and lead properly in WoT whereas having to guesstimate where the damn enemy mech MIGHT be as apposed to where I should be able to lead and shoot properly makes all the difference to me.

I value both games highly, I’d just like to have a closer server to me when playing Mechwarrior online. I understand that MW:O is still in beta and it took WoT a full year of service before getting a South East Asian server, so I’m happy to wait. I’ll still take my founders mechs out every now and then, but overall you’ll find me in WoT.

 

The complaint is valid however in a different form…

it’s not that Trial mech is weaker than a custom mech… but the fact that their weapon suite is arrayed for all range means it requires a player capable of handling ALL range of combat using EVERY SINGLE one of the weapon mounted on the mech effectively in order to succeed with Trial mech in general, with the exception of some variant tailored specifically for certain approach.

This in itself is not the problem…

the problem is that new players do not have the knowledge and capability to utilize them…

and even bigger problem is that there is NO WAY for the new player to learn these things that he needs to know to use the Trial mech effectively.

As a result the new players come face first into veteran players who already know the game inside out, and regardless of what mech the veteran use, he will likely prevail simply because he knows how to use his assets effectively, while the new player are confused as all hell as to why his LRM didn’t do any damage at close range, or that he is not supposed to fire all his energy weapon especially PPC in very short range, or that overheating is NEVER WORTH IT unless you kill the target with the salvo.

in short, the game’s REAL problem is that it has nearly non existent information database for new players to learn from (and their tutorial vid which was made AFTER so many requested it barely scratched the BASICS of the game), nor is there any method for new players to train and learn these things without getting themselves smashed to pieces in competitive PvP against other players including veterans.

 

Some of the points made are fair, but for the most part I was disappointed with the review as it seems your experience and knowledge is different to mine. Things such as
“In fact, MWO is so barely functional at the moment that its very difficult to see what the final product will look like. The developers promise deeper functionality around factions, clans and what not, but there are no plans for expansion outside of the traditional single match system. If you were hoping for long term, PlanetSide 2 conquest style play, then this is not your game.”
The information given by the devs shows a clear path of thier plan towards changing things. Community warfare when it comes in will give players exactly the experience you say they wont of having their battles count towards a goal.
I find it interesting that players look for something more than what the game offers currently. The devs have stated that they know the game has a lot of work and have laid out for the most part the dates on when things will change or be incorporated, but people still think that it must be a nearly complete product. =(

 

I would have preferred a single player MechWarrior game with a multiplayer option, not an MMO :/

 
James Pinnell

polarice:
Some of the points made are fair, but for the most part I was disappointed with the review as it seems your experience and knowledge is different to mine. Things such as“In fact, MWO is so barely functional at the moment that its very difficult to see what the final product will look like. The developers promise deeper functionality around factions, clans and what not, but there are no plans for expansion outside of the traditional single match system. If you were hoping for long term, PlanetSide 2 conquest style play, then this is not your game.”
The information given by the devs shows a clear path of thier plan towards changing things. Community warfare when it comes in will give players exactly the experience you say they wont of having their battles count towards a goal.
I find it interesting that players look for something more than what the game offers currently.The devs have stated that they know the game has a lot of work and have laid out for the most part the dates on when things will change or be incorporated, but people still think that it must be a nearly complete product. =(

I must stress again that I’m well aware that this is a beta and I’ve been clear that I was looking at it purely in its current form. I’m sure that when I review the final launch version it will be a very different beast entirely, especially once all of the features have been switched on.

Community Warfare is still not a Planetside 2 system based on what I read – it seems that it will be an instanced map, ala Global Agenda, where your battles will simply count towards a temporary holding. It’s definitely a welcome addition but it still seems like a limited scope in regards to the potential of an online system.

But I will reserve my complaints, and I look forward to playing the final product.

 

Also doesn’t help in a long range LRM dual that the custom will likely have AMS and more ammo.
If custom mechs weren’t better, why would anyone bother? More efficient usage of tonnage is why.
Skill can overcome the deficiencies of the trial mechs but please describe the situation wherein two equally skilled players face off and the custom mech does not win more often. “He has higher repair bills” matters exactly zero when facing them on a battlefield.

 

I believe the paid v free argument is being overstated.

The trial mechs do suck, but you do not have to pay to repair them, which as has been mentioned, is a significant chunk of your earnings (win or lose) in an owned mech.

I bought my way into the closed beta, however I know multiple players who grinded the trial mechs, and are now in their own mech, with their own loadout. The game has only been into open beta as of Tuesday morning.

So the many posts of discussion regarding paid v free relates to less than a week of playtime? Is it that big a deal?

 

discolt:
I would have preferred a single player MechWarrior game with a multiplayer option, not an MMO :/

It’s not an MMO.

 

True,

but a few things to consider:
“If custom mechs weren’t better, why would anyone bother?”
Why? because custom mech gives the player the ability to have the mech tailored to THEIR preference.

this includes the weapon suite they like, the engagement range they like, the style they like etc.

This is the whole point why customizing mech is fun, aside of making a good mech design of course (and this apply in any mech game where one can do so)
note: FEW custom mech design is in fact GOOD, usually the good ones are copied based on known setup that is popular.

“two equally skilled players face off and the custom mech does not win more often.” How does a trial mech win against a custom mech in that particular scenario?

consider this, for most ppl, custom mech are tailored specifically for a SINGLE engagement range in general, simply because most ppl find it easier to focus in one range and then try and get into that range.

Thus you end up with things like:
LRM Atlas: 2 LRM20 2LargeLas, or 2 LRM20 1 LRM15 1LargeLas + 1MedLas
or alternatively he packs an XL engine and cram 2 LRM20 1 LRM15 and 2 LargeLas.
They naturally get vaporized in close range by most trial mech short of the Trial Awesome

Streak Cat: 6 StreakSRM2 (end)
This originally was an annoying build but can still be killed, obvious weakness is obvious of course since Streak range is limited.

However, the recent patch that made interpolation fubar means that Streak Cat is now one of the ONLY viable design in close range as they are armed with weapons immune to lag shield. Streak also currently only home on CT, which is planned to become dispersed instead in the future patch.

No one knows yet how ECM will affect Streak but logically that will affect it the most so we hold judgement till the ECM enters the fray before deciding on Streak fate.

Another popular close range build:
6 PulseMedLas Awesome…
Lethal obviously in short range, but naturally deficient in everything else. A Trial Awesome will literally win if it can catch the PulseLas Awesome EVERYTIME if it can catch it with at least 600m range starting point between each other with clear line of sight. And the PulseLas Awesome will win everytime if it can AVOID getting shot until it gets to 200m range against a Trial Awesome.

There’s ONE DESIGN however that is universally known as OP, partly because of the weapon location (side torso that are difficult to hit) and the rest because the WEAPON ITSELF is OP.

ie: Double Gauss Cat. Since Gauss is lethal in any range up to it’s maximum (and more since projectile falloff range is triple the effective range), and do excellent alpha, good dps, low heat the weapon is essentially OP from the start. Double Gauss Cat mount two of these and the result is predictable.

Lately it’s not popular because broken interpolation means aiming with projectile weapon (even Gauss projectile) is incredibly hard and unreliable.

Either way however, we know the Gauss Cat design will be nerfed, first by the Cat design itself (it won’t be able to mount the Gauss in the ballistic slot for Catapult on that location anymore) and a rebalance of the Gauss in all likelihood.

 

slazza,

Huh really? how so? Many people logging into one server and playing against smaller groups of players out of that pool. Sounds like a massively multiplayer online game to me.

 
Leave a comment

You can use the following bbCode
[i], [b], [img], [quote], [url href="http://www.google.com/"]Google[/url]

Leave a Reply

PC Gaming Calendar 2014

Follow Games.on.net

YouTube

Steam Group

Upcoming Games

Community Soapbox

Recent Features
Destiny

Destiny continues to impress in beta: Our thoughts as Bungie’s new juggernaut rolls on

It's clear that Bungie are putting their best foot forward with Destiny, but as James discovers, playing on your own can be strangely empty.

Screencheat

Five Australian Indie Games We’d Hand Arbitrary Awards To: AVCon 2014

From a split-screen shooter where everyone is invisible to an abandoned space station, Australian indies are killing it at this year's AVCon.

Mass Effect 3 580x300

Here are 10 things BioWare absolutely must NOT do in Mass Effect 4

The hard truths that BioWare don't want to hear.

Survarium

Survarium Beta (PVP): Hopeless landscape, hopeless hit registration

James picks up where STALKER left off, but finds that the PVP part of this game may not have been the best way to go public.

Heroes of the Storm

Heroes of the Storm makes other MOBAs look like crap: My scientific analysis

Five highly objective examples of why other MOBA games can just get lost, thanks.

Streaming Radio
Radio Streams are restricted to iiNet group customers.

GreenManGaming MREC

Facebook Like Box