MechWarrior Online – 12 vs. 12? Bring it!

MWO's recent update brings mech on mech carnage to a whole new level.
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MechWarrior Online is still going strong in its open beta
phase. As more patches continue to come forth, it’s obvious
the development
team at Piranha Games is putting their noses to the grindstone in
anticipation of
the game’s official launch this September. There are a number
of things I think
the game is still missing (mainly a robust faction system but there is
a tab
for it, so I have hope). One of my biggest issues with the game was
last week by making matches 12 vs. 12 instead of 8 vs. 8.


On the surface, it really doesn’t sound like such a big
deal, does it? It’s just another 4 mechs being added to each
side. Believe it
or not though, it really does make a huge difference and let me explain
When each side has only 8 mechs, there’s less room for
effective PUGs (pick up
groups) to utilize their mechs of choice effectively with little
(another piece of the game that needs more work as well). In an 8 on 8
light mechs are rarely used as they should be, let alone to their full


In any battle, no matter what game we’re talking about as
far as I’m concerned, there need to be multiple scouts and
harassers. With each
side now bringing in 12 mechs to a battle, this means any team should
very rarely find themselves without a good spread of available mech
types to
work with. An average team now looks like this:


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  • 2 to 4 Light Mechs
  • style="font-family: Symbol;"> style=""> style="font-family: "Times New Roman"; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 7pt; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal;"> 2
    to 3 Medium Mechs
  • 3 to 5 Heavy Mechs (Support
    and DPS varieties)
  • 2 to 4 Assault Mechs
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That's going to leave a mark.

Before the change, there were times I found myself on teams
that always seemed to be missing any light mechs at all or at best only
had one
or two. Since the team size change has come, I’ve been
playing a lot of matches
lately and personally, I’m pretty happy with the spread of
teammates I get now.
This doesn’t mean my side wins any more than we did, but
it’s not because the
team starts off gimped to begin with.


Let’s face facts – any PUG is going to be at a
disadvantage against a group of players that are on the same Ventrilo
server and
keeping in constant communication. This is one thing in MechWarrior
Online that
was an issue before and though it is *definitely* still a problem,
it’s not
quite as bad as it was before the recent team size increase. At least
now, I
don’t feel like my team has next to zero chance of winning
any given match the
moment we’re tossed into a map together.


When a match started “back in the day”, your team
split into two groups (called lances) of 4 mechs each. In true PUG
compounded by inferior communication tools immediately available, there
always a natural tendency for everyone to group together like a herd
and go
charging down the middle. There were times that support mechs would
hang behind
or light mechs would go out scouting to start highlighting targets, but
was very rare. Support mechs only hung around in case a base would be
and light mechs had zero fire support while they were out scouting. All
in all,
it was a recipe for disaster on a regular basis.


Now that there are 12 mechs on each team (split into
three lances consisting of four mechs each), there is another PUG
pattern emerging,
albeit a bit slowly – a triangle formation. When you only
have two lances going
against each other (PUG lances always stay together as a group), there
limited options that those lances will feel are effective. When you
throw a third lance into the mix though, there is a natural desire to
trying to outflank your opponent.


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Over the course of the week, I’ve seen this begin to
happen more and more. Personally, I think it’s a beautiful
thing. The matches
still turn into a cluster of a free for all more often than not, but
finally a bit of movement in the overall match. Far more than I
witnessed before to be certain.


So it’s obvious that I’m a fan of the change, but
are plenty of players that aren’t. Some complain that now
there’s just a bigger
single group of mechs converging in the middle of the map and that
there are
even less tactics being used than before. I respectfully choose to
with this assessment. I will freely admit (as I believe I already have)
there is still a serious lack of communication among both team and
lance mates,
but at least now I can see some semblance of a pretend strategy.


I regularly see multiple long-range support mechs set up
on a mountainside and start lobbing missiles early since
there’s more than a
single light mech out front scouting targets. At the same time, I see
mechs hanging near the edges of the fray coming in and out to distract
targets from annihilating those long-range support mechs. All the
while, the
assault mechs are coming in like a bull in a china shop and blasting
the holy
living hell out of anything they can find.


Is it perfect? Not even close. Is it getting better? I
think the answer to that is a solid yes. Do I think the game is a lot
of fun
and will continue to appeal to old BattleTech and MechWarrior players?
You bet
your ass I do.


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