MechWarrior Online -- First Look Preview -- When You Have The Entire Inner Sphere Of Planets Anything GoesBy Nikole Zivalich - Posted Dec 21, 2011
If you need more mechs and/or warriors in your life, Piranha Games has a treat for you with MechWarrior Online. The MechWarrior series has been around for 30 years; not too shabby for a table top game. Piranha sees a bright future for the MechWarrior series as it enters the digital realm as a free-to-play game. MechWarrior Online is true to the series and the depth of the franchise. Key pieces of the IP’s history remain intact as a pledge to MechWarrior fans: This game is for you.
Let’s be real. Let me break it down. Let’s rap. I’m new to MechWarrior. I’m not that familiar with its history nor the impact it has made on gamers in the past. This is why the first thing I asked the team behind the game was “What efforts are being made to help gamers who are new to the MechWarrior series understand the game?” Their answer was nothing short of refreshing confidence.
I was assured that in MechWarrior Online I could go as deep as I wanted to go. If the only type of entertainment I craved was superficial, nothing more than big robots shooting each other, I could have that. I would get my epic explosions, awesome robot noises and slick combat and could call it a day. But man, what a waste because if I wanted to, I could immerse myself in the Inner Sphere and Faction Warfare. MechWarrior will stand out because it's true to what it is. Alright, I’m in.
MechWarrior Online supports team based gameplay as well ways for gamers to lone-wolf their entire experience. Lone-wolfing is ideal for someone who doesn’t have loyalty to a faction, someone who wants to play as a mercenary by joining the Mercenary Corporation, or just a “pick up player.” Gamers can chose a faction to pledge their loyalty to, and when your actions benefit your faction, you earn loyalty points. You can use these points to earn rank titles like Sergeant and Corporal. These ranks will earn you sweet skins and other rewards. MechWarrior Online has a reward system in place that benefits gamers for being good, rather than punishing gamers who play poorly. Working as a team earns gamers xp, currency, and loyalty points.
Matches can last anywhere from ten to twenty minutes, depending on the skill of those playing. If I didn’t make it clear already, you control a giant mech, or robot. Combat promises to be fluid with moves like torso twisting, aiming, weapons firing, group firing, jump jet, jump in gear, and throttle, just to name a bunch. You’ll be able to access these moves through many different devices. Piranha Games plans on supporting as many PC input devices as they can, including a full key-board and joystick support.
One day in real life equates to an entire day in MechWarrior Online. Each day you log in the world will have changed based on the outcomes of battles. These are just a few of the efforts that were made to make sure this game stands out in the sea of free-to-play games in 2012. Piranha Games didn’t stop there though. High fidelity graphics and new gameplay scenarios are designed to engage modern gamers. These upgraded graphics allow environment design to excel and offer another level of “strategery.”
MechWarrior Online might sound modern but don’t expect the modern shooter colors in this game. It’s not another brown game but it’s not a kaleidoscope either. It promises to have a gritty feel but be varied in its design choices. One of the team members said it best, “When you have the entire Inner Sphere of planets anything goes." There are no rules they have to follow when it comes to the planets. There’s a junglescape with shrubbery and a city world with rivers, bridges, upper levels. There's a desert planet and an ice planet, and there will be anything else they think of. While nothing was confirmed, they even mentioned the endless possibilities for post-launch support. Drop ships and asteroids were tossed around as possible future arenas.
Melee combat will be absent from this incarnation of the game. While melee played a role in the table top game, it just didn’t make sense for MechWarrior Online, at least for now. There were major hints suggesting an unnamed planet would be perfect for melee combat. My guess is it’s something Piranha will tackle post-launch.
Now for the important stuff. Will I get to make a hot pink Mech Warrior? Yes I will. As of now, gamers will get to customize their mechs’ appearance, but that’s all. You’ll have patterns, colors, and skins, but attachments won’t be an option. Piranha is still toying with the idea of allowing custom emblems, especially for guilds and factions. Of course there are legalities involved when you allow gamers to upload their own images or create their own. I can already foresee a Hello Kitty penis hybrid on my mech.
This title is digital but that doesn’t mean the future of the series won’t return to a disc format. If the series continues, it’s possible we’ll see more story based, single player extensions of the universe. Post-launch PVE modes are a possibility Piranha is already exploring. I guess we’ll have to wait and see how the MechWarrior series continues to evolve.