So about that MechWarrior announcement thing

After roughly some two years of silence, followed by some activity on twitter, we’ve finally gotten our announcement about where the new MechWarrior game is headed. The full title is (as some clever people on mektek puzzled out) MechWarrior ONLINE, and it will be taking the form of a free to play team-based multiplayer game. And… I’m not entirely sure what I think about that, yet.

While this might sound like a strange position to take for someone who’s making a webcomic based on an MMO, I typically don’t think that the addition of random people straight off the internet is something that will instantly improve my gaming experience. Often it’s far more towards the opposite – it becomes something of an obstacle I have to overcome to find my happy gaming fun times. So the announcement strikes me as new MechWarrior – awesome. They want to make it very MechWarrior-y, great. Happy dance. They want to hold it close to the original setting, fantastic. Lead me to victory, Hanse Davion! They want to make information warfare a key aspect, great – I always loved the ability to go passive sensors and be all sneaky, and I have fond memories of using C3 networks to great effect in MechWarrior 3. But it can only played with random internet people. Well, drat.

Okay, okay, it’s a bit early to make all that many assumptions on just how it’ll play, and I admit that I still really want this game to be good.

So what do we actually know so far? Well, it’s a MechWarrior game (behold my fantastic research!), also it’s team-based multiplayer. And free to play. And set for release 2012.

Well okay. We’ve got three confirmed ‘mechs so far – the 100 ton Atlas, the 50 ton Hunchback and the 35 ton Jenner. (images courtesy of PC Gamer) Also they claim they intend to make the outcome of battles persistent in the world (ie, a great house conquers a planet, that planet remains with that house unless conquered back), and they intend to run it with time advancing in real time as people play, and starting at the in-universe year of 3049. Meaning it’s only one year away from 3050. Meaning CLAN INVASION, GO! Also lostech.

Oh and hey, they’ve stated they’ll be doing their best to support all types of joysticks and flight systems. Yes, joystick support? In a modern game? Shock!

So yeah, I’m not entirely sure what to expect of this. On one hand, it sounds a bit like they want to make this – on a mechanical level – into every bit of the MechWarrior game I’ve been wanting for quite a few years. On the other hand, online multiplayer only. And it’s far too early with far too little data to make anything but amazing conjecture about how it will be like at this point. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on it, but we’ll just have to see what it actually turns out like.


15 Responses to “So about that MechWarrior announcement thing”

  1. 1 Xel
    October 31, 2011 at 23:50

    This announcement is exciting, but whether or not I’ll even play it relies heavily on the influence that Star Wars: The Old Republic has on my free time. I am glad to see it won’t be coming out until 2012, since that gives me plenty of time to feel out SWTOR. Hm, I may have to make time if I can get my hands on a clan Timber Wolf or Vulture, however… Damn my asian-influenced soft spot for giant mechanized walking tanks!

    Ugh, and then there’s the whole issue with Microsoft dropping support for XP next year. Hopefully I get enough $$$ to upgrade to Win7 and still have cash enough to invest in all the great new titles coming out. Years of good game starvation, and now I’m drowning in them! Talk about yer feast or famine…

    • 2 Nhani
      November 1, 2011 at 12:01

      Microsoft dropping support really isn’t the biggest problem with Windows XP – the part where it only supports up to DirectX 9.0c is. Especially with games like the would-be-excellent-if-it-didn’t-have-some-utterly-broken-performance-issues Renegade Ops being DX10-only.

  2. 3 LolDrood
    November 1, 2011 at 03:05

    -_- oh IS your game ONLINE?! My WORD, what novel frolicking! Pray do tell, will yonder game also include fully-voiced narrations and customizable controls? How droll!

    “Oh and hey, they’ve stated they’ll be doing their best to support all types of joysticks and flight systems. Yes, joystick support? In a modern game? Shock!”
    Ooooor I can plug in my 360 controller, and do the same thing? Look, I have TWO joysticks! That’s twice the joy, right there in the title.

    now, granted, I have paid no attention to the dev of this game, but my gamers skills have been finely honed over the past two decades, and my “Well intentioned but missing the point” buzzer is flashing on this one. i suppose if it has an amazing and intuitive customization scheme, that isn’t just a MW2 perk clone, but rewards intensive understanding of mech design and balance, along with team composition and playing to your clan’s strengths, it could work. I’d rather see large-scale co-op missions and a compelling story.
    But the biggest red flag I see: when was the last time you played a game with “Online” in the title, and it wasn’t a train wreck? The thinking goes something like this: “WoW is phenomenally successful. We want to be phenomenally successful. WoW is online. We must be online. Ipso post ergo proctor hoc, if we tell everyone we are online, success will follow, QED vis a vis telemundo.” And everything else is an afterthought.
    Also, “competitive online free-to-play” reeks of “I hope you enjoy buying the best gear with real money”.
    Mechwarrior is one of the most iconic PC games of all time, and there’s been no buzz for this.

    And to balance out my bitterness, I submit for all y’alls enjoyments:
    Here’s hoping those links don’t throw up the giant players in the comments. 😡

    • 4 Nhani
      November 1, 2011 at 11:51

      Well sure, you could probably use one of those piddly little things if that suits you and you do some pick and choosing about which controls you regard as essential and non-essential. You know what you could also use? One of these.

      Don’t get me wrong, I find my own 360 controller an indispensable tool for games such as Assassin’s Creed or Batman: Arkham Asylum or the like. But there are really some types of games where it should just gracefully step aside for its more specialized betters.

      Of course, this is all sort of moot because I typically tend to use the mouse/keyboard combination for MechWarrior games anyway under the justification that what I’ll be doing usually involves some degree of attempting to hit targets with pinpoint accuracy from about a kilometer away.

      The Online bit actually came around in a rather odd way with the new MechWarrior – they’d originally wanted to make a story-driven singleplayer game that was mixed over both PC and console releases, but because they weren’t allowed to release it on any other consoles than the 360 (Microsoft owns the rights to games based on BattleTech, so licensees only get to put it out on their platforms), no publisher really wanted to pick it up. Since they still wanted to actually make that proper MechWarrior game, the Online bit was less “oodles of money!” and more “only potentially profitable compromise”. The Free to Play bit? We’ll see – the creative director was pretty adamant to point out that “Anything that would affect or give you a tactical advantage, you can’t purchase with real cash. You have to earn that by playing the game,”, so I’m feeling fairly hopeful they won’t muck up that part, at least.

      I’d much rather see a single-player experience, of course. Though to a point I’m sort of having this wishful thinking going that their claim on the FAQ that they want to add some co-op too (but will focus on the multiplayer first) might combine with the CLAN INVASION of 3050 for some co-op clan busting about a year in after release, provided it actually becomes successful enough.

      As an aside, massive shame for using MW2 to refer to that call of duty thing. Around these here parts, that acronym is reserved for the much nobler MechWarrior 2, a fond (and largely untextured) memory of a time when Activision didn’t suck.

      • 5 LolDrood
        November 2, 2011 at 00:06

        The problem I’ve always had with joysticks that are not bolted to the table is that they tend to flop around, shift alignment, or just flip over. Plus these days, it’s tough to find one at all, much less one that feels right in your hands.

        I dunno, I haven’t seen a F2P game with an item shop that doesn’t at the very least bend gameplay in exchange for money. The MW0 forum was alight with a thread about this, and everyone brought up World of Tanks as a counter example, but that only works if you ignore the camo nets, binocs, and HEAT rounds in the cash shop. They may not be insurmountable God-sticks, but they’re there and they give people willing to throw money at the game an advantage.

        I may be a little broad in my rantings about “Online” in the titles of games, but it just so broadcasts lazy thought, or a lack of creativity. Grab a thesaurus and come up with a dozen subtitles that are more interesting then “online.”

        Seems to me that that expac bringing in large-scale co-op missions would be an easy step, if the PVP only thing gets the game in the door with players. Even if they never get to make a real solo/story experience, it would be a cinch to make ‘raids’ for players. Grabs some friends, play our game, blast the ever lovin blue eyed crap outa some mech fools.

        I kinda like Modern Warfare. Sure, the multiplayer is a big bowl of so what, but the campaign is fun, and at least it tries to do new things with the mechanics.

        Also, Sword of the Stars II, please be good. :3

        • 6 IS_Wolf
          November 2, 2011 at 07:46

          Last time I checked neither the camo or the binocs were gold items, but rather credit items.
          Same credits which you use to buy your tanks. Granted they’re expensive, but grinding is a viable option.

        • 7 Nhani
          November 2, 2011 at 14:59

          Well yeah, I’ve seen the F2P shriek shriek omg terrible doom threads. Or well, glanced at them. From behind cover. They’re only one of many brand of threads of people trying to spell out absolute doom, counteracted by the people who spell out absolute joy.

          Finding an actual balanced account is a tad harder, doubly so with very little information available to us at this point. About the only thing the threads about F2P has actually pointed out to me is that with a bit of will, anything can be called a “tactical advantage” in some form, and most people would rather enforce their own interpretation than see the possibility for alternate ones.

          I’m not too fussed about Mechwarrior being called “Online” – there’s been quite a few MechWarrior games in the past, and while they could probably have called this something like “MechWarrior: Clan Invasion” or “MechWarrior: Fourth Succession War” or any of the sort… they’re all quite a bit more nonsaying, and calling it MechWarrior Galaxy makes it sound like clan warfare (it’s a clan organizational term), and Universe is every bit as overused as Online is, and Online at least sells what the game is primarily going to be about.

          I am somewhat fussed about the whole have to play with random internet people bit though, so we’ll just have to see where it lands. I mean sure, in spite of random internet people, it might still be great to grab a lance of people I know and go shoot up some capellans or whatever.

          As for Modern Warfare… eh. The first one actually did surprisingly well on the story department, but the sequel was just a total mess of shoes for a hat, in my opinion. And though I recognize that the series is amazingly popular and all, the actual mechanics kind of aren’t really my thing – with shooters that demand the player to continuously advance, I prefer there to be some form of cover system so you have a few more options to advance tactically. For shooters without cover, I prefer it when I can approach a problem at my own pace rather than having to rush madly onward all the time because of infinite enemy spawns.

          • 8 LoLDrood
            November 5, 2011 at 02:48

            Mechwarrior: Mech Battles are Magic? I’d buy three copies.

            It will be interesting to see how they handle player interaction/clan/whatever aspect of it. They’ll need a pretty robust social network system, I think, to appeal to the modern online gamer. The days of “group up with random people and play” are dying out. This may cause some drag in recruiting new players, if it comes down to “play MW by yourself, or Game X with your friends”.
            They may be saving the Buzz funds for post-release, when I expect many upon many ads across the internet gaming spectrum.

            Hmm, i never had any issues with cover in ModWar2, with a few notable exceptions (Whiskey Hotel, I’m looking at you). I will agree that infinite respawns are a cardinal sin of shooters, but it never really killed this one for me. Now, Call of Duty 2, THAT was a load of respawn bullshit.

            @IS Okay, two bad examples, but I stand by my point, esp. with HEAT rounds.
            A few of those are dancing on the head of a bullshit needle.

            • 9 Nhani
              November 5, 2011 at 11:13

              It might just be my preferences, really – let’s face it, my shooting tendencies typically carry influence from games like Thief, System Shock 2, Deus Ex or Splinter Cell or whatever, so I’ll often prefer to approach objectives somewhat more deliberately, rather than charge blindly on like the Modern Warfare series wants you to do. If I’m going to do mad charging, I prefer Serious Sam.

              Also, I thought the plot was just a total mess trying desperately to capitalize on what made the first successful without really understanding what actually was responsible for that. The constant annihilation of player characters just threw me out of it too, nevermind the part about when the game would have us possess characters that had previously been NPCs and suddenly they went from badasses to weaklings due to mechanics. In my opinion, mechanics should try to inform aesthetics (and by extension, character) rather than undermine them.

              Of course, saying all this I also realize that the Modern Warfare franchise is almost as popular as breathing and even if they decided to call the inevitable third one “Supreme Infinite Respawn Action” it’d still sell like a two-for-the-price-of-one money sale.

              In the case of MechWarrior, there’s been mentions of at least letting people organize into Lances (=4 ‘Mechs) and it’d surprise me if they didn’t come up with some kind of larger formation like Merc Companies or the like to go with that. So I don’t think they’re going to force you to play only with random people, but to take an example from WoW: If I’m given the choice between PuGging and instance and simply not going there, I’ll typically pick the latter.

              As a random side, Battle Magic is an actual canon merc group in the BattleTech/MechWarrior setting. Or at least were, they were sort of annihilated by 3067 because the Word of Blake are a bunch of Arses. Unfortunately they have nothing to do with all our favorite horsie ‘mech the Balius, but at least they invented a spiffy missile launcher system.

            • 10 IS_Wolf
              November 6, 2011 at 08:06

              Folks who use HEAT rounds are just idiots.

              With the exception of a few machines, the gold ammo isn’t that much better than the regular kind.
              Long as you have the highest tier gun, or second highest depending on the machine in question then you will do fine. (T-34-85 just does better with the 85, than it does with the 100, despite the latter having better damage, the reload speed difference is the bigger killer.)

              Gold should only be used to a) buy premium (because that means more XP and money), b) vehicle slots, c) training your crew, once you get to a reasonably profitable tier like 7 or 8. Higher trained crew = better performance = better chances to win.

              I was part of the Beta, I’ve trounced guys using gold ammo, just with using stock machines.
              And as for the gold tanks, only the RAM II and the Lowe are worth it, rest of the machines vs fully upgraded equal tier machines? They get mauled.

  3. 11 Moltrazahn
    November 1, 2011 at 06:17

    I guess we could’ve expected it to go online sooner or later…. well, im a huge fan of MW… or BT if you will, still… guess there aint much to do but wait and see what they make of it. I mean, it has potential to be great! but equally so, to be bad.

  4. 12 Phearlock
    November 1, 2011 at 11:37

    I’m kind of in the same boat. I love love love a good story/characters/singleplayer game. But still it looks like more mechwarrior and they seem to be taking the gameplay in an ok direction. But yeah just too little info to decide if I should dread it or look forward to it. But certainly a game to keep an eye on.

  5. 13 IS_Wolf
    November 1, 2011 at 20:53

    Everything I’ve read thus far about it, rather reminds me of:

    And I actually played that, was part of the Alpha/Beta group.
    Latency was horrendous, due to it all being on US servers (and my net connection not being all that speedy back in 2001), and it was rather grindy.
    But it was still a blast, no pun intended.

    This time round though, sounds like there will be more customization with the mechs than with MPBT 3025, where you had to buy a variant mech (and those variants were nothing amazing either). As opposed to just stripping out the weapons and installing something more fitting with your playstyle a la MW2: Mercenaries.

    Nothing like taking a Clint, ripping out the AC and replacing it with either a regular PPC or an ER PPC, so it more resembles a CLNT-2-3U. And upgrading the regular mediums to ER mediums. Use the PPC to snipe with and the lasers for the closer combat situations.

  6. 14 Noriam
    November 4, 2011 at 09:24

    I have some fond memories of messing about on a MechWarrior game, actually. 4, I think it was. I was pretty young at the time, so it was more messing about than playing, but I think it has the opportunity to be pretty good online.

    I wouldn’t panic too much about the stupid internet guys you’ll be sat with. I play a plethora of multiplayer online games, Battlefield 3 and Team Fortress 2 being the key ones. The main thing to note is if your team lacks communication, because you’re sat with a bunch of whiny internet dudes, the worst that can happen is that you’ll just lose. It doesn’t, however, mean that you won’t enjoy yourself.

    Unless, in true MechWarrior spirit, they group you up with under 5 of them dudes, in which case the utter absence of familiarity with them or lack of voice comms may well cripple the experience. I also get the feeling that no online game will survive without NPC foes in some regard, and perhaps there will be areas in which they are plentiful enough for you to go apeshit on them. Perhaps, to release you from the pain of the online dudes =p

    My advice, wait for more information, as you already intend to. If things do look grim, gather up as many cronies as you can to play it with. Hell, if it’s free to play I might even give it a shot.

  7. January 6, 2014 at 15:03

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