MechWarrior Online — What’s Coming Between Now and Launch
MechWarrior Online has been in production for some time, and IGN’s written about it several times, as well as done several video commentaries. What we haven’t heard, though, is when it’s being released.
While we still haven’t heard an exact release date, Piranha has informed us that version 1.0 will be released before the end of summer, with hints being dropped that it would likely be at or around PAX Prime.
Since the last time we checked out the game Piranha has added new maps, mechs, and, perhaps most importantly, a lot of usability updates. For instance now you can mouse over a mech in your garage and see how many hardpoints it has at a glance. You can also click on a part of your chassis and see which parts can slot into it at a glance by seeing which are highlighted green and which are red. If you can’t slot it, you’ll get a quick explanation.
You can also lock your torso and arms so that they traverse together — something Piranha knows beginners have wanted. Seasoned players have the option to turn this off, but the goal was to provide an option for people who have a hard time understanding why their arm operates independently of their upper chassis’ movement. The studio has also added the option to have your throttle auto decrease after you release the button, having it operate more like a gas pedal than having it lock in place and force you to manually adjust it at all times (this is still an option for those who prefer the old system).
Easing players in is a huge concern for Piranha, and thus the Testing Grounds were recently added. This map allows you to jump into a map with and walk around without other players, shooting at dummy mechs and getting a better handle on how it moves. Perhaps even better for new players than these other features, MechWarrior Online now features a “Cadet Bonus” for new players, giving them extra in-game currency for their first 25 matches and allowing them to earn enough to permanently purchase a mech.
With the upcoming release of version 1.0, Piranha also knows the studio has a lot of work to do to make it even more approachable for a new generation of gamers. As such the team intends to implement a full-on tutorial of sorts between now and the end of summer, with a step-by-step intro that should walk new players through core systems, the store, and more.
For players who are already throwing down in battles, though, Piranha is upping the player count in matches from 16 to 24. This feature will come to all maps, and is a part of Piranha’s original vision for the game. The plan is to also implement new command structure features for the higher player count, too, allowing team leaders to disseminate orders through squad commanders who are in charge of groups of four mechs.
That command structure will be important, especially since Piranha plans to release the Community Warfare aspect of MechWarrior Online prior to the release of version 1.0. This will allow you to join houses from the MechWarrior lore and fight over territories, or even become mercenaries that fight for whoever you want. The hope is that this will provide a more persistent world to fight over, and give more organized groups of players new goals to chase.
If you’re at all interested in trying it for yourself, MechWarrior Online is in open beta now.
Anthony hasn’t played MechWarrior Online for awhile, and is looking forward with trying the new features when version 1.0 releases. Follow him for the latest PC coverage and random rants on Twitter.