MechWarrior Online PAX Prime 2012 Gameplay Preview -- Specialized Mech WarfareBy Leah Jackson - Posted Sep 07, 2012
MechWarrior Online allows fans of the 30-year-old series to jump in to cockpit of real BattleMechs and duke it out for glory and gear. The free-to-play title was at PAX Prime 2012, and we had the opportunity to check out the gameplay as well as some of the features in MechWarrior Online's latest beta build, including the Mech Lab and Pilot Lab.
Before you're ready for all out Mech Warfare, you'll have to customize your Mechs in the Mech Lab. The Mech Lab is where you'll be able to equip your Mechs with weapons and armor upgrades. When you load in to the Mech Lab, all of your Mechs are on display and you can click through each one to customize all of its different parts. The mech we were using had seven customizable parts in the front and three in the back.
In total, at least at launch, there will be eight different BattleMechs in MWO, and they all have 3-4 variants. The mechs are broken down in to light, medium, heavy, and assault mechs, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. For example, light mechs are great for scouting but can't take much damage, while heavy mechs can withstand a lot of attacks but can't get around that fast.
Once you set up your Mechs, you can jump in to a match against other people. We used the Dragon-5N mech in our game, a mech that's great at long range combat thanks to its lasers. Controlling your mech in MW Online comes with a learning curve, but once you realize how to move the machine, it's a breeze. Basically you've got to think of your mech as a huge tank, where the upper body is a turret and the lower body is the feet.
Each Mech also has its own heat sink mechanic that players need to take in to account. Everything you do in your mech generates heat, including firing weapons and using your jet packs. If your mech gets too hot it will shut down for a few seconds, so it's important to think before you shoot and to pace your heat output so you don't shut down in a bad place.
We played on the Frozen City map in an 8v8 match. MWO is round-based and there are two ways to win: destroy everyone on the other team or capture the opposing team's base. The freezing map was pretty big and had tons of debris for us to cover behind while we made our way to the other team's base. If you're taken out by other mechs, you can choose to watch the rest of the game or quit out and start another game with one of your remaining mechs left in the Mech Lab.
When the game's over, you'll earn money and experience based on how you did. You spend your money to buy new mechs and repair your old ones in the Mech Lab, and you can use your experience points in the Pilot Lab. The Pilot Lab is where you can purchase account-wide buffs for your Mechs. One upgrade for our Dragon was called Arm Reflex, which increased our Mech's arm movement and allowed us to aim quicker.
MechWarrior Online's beta is heating up fast thanks to its unique gameplay and constant developer support. If you want to get in on all of MechWarrior Online's latest additions, check out the MW Online Founders Packages. The Founders Packages grants priority access to MechWarrior Online's beta along with a Founder's Mechs, in-game currency, and more based on the tier you purchase.