MechWarrior Online is one of those titles that’s very easy to hop in and start playing right away, but requires a ton of learning to be effective in combat and an asset to your team. One of the first skills that need to be mastered right alongside that of piloting mastery is the management of your mech’s heating system.
In the old Battle Tech pods, you had buttons that would allow you to flush coolant through your weapon systems. This allowed you to fire a couple more times before you risked overheating. On more than one occasion, it made the difference between victory and defeat in the hands of a skilled mech pilot. It’s also one of those things that I wish would be implemented in MechWarrior Online, but sadly, this is not the case (at least not yet). The developers are constantly adding new features and upgrades to the game every month though, so fingers crossed we see coolant flushing in the future. [UPDATE - Coolant flushes are now available in the form of purchasable consumables called Cool Shot]
In the meantime, we’re just going to have to go about managing the heat of our mech the old fashioned way. The simplest method is to stick with the weapon configuration your mech starts out with and fire very slowly, all the while watching the rising heat gauge. When it gets too high, quit firing and try to get out of dodge while you wait for the temperature of your mech to get back into safe limits. This is technically one way you could go about it, but you’re begging to lose if you do.
The second option you can use to drastically counter the heat-building super powers of your mech is to configure your weapons smartly. There are a ton of different configurations you could go with and each of those depends on what weapon load-out your mech has. The basic rule of thumb though is split up your weapon groups. If you have four medium lasers, split them into two groups of two and alternate firing with them. If you have two missile launchers, split them into two groups of one and alternate fire. With a one second pause between the firing of each missile salvo, this will allow you to fire them indefinitely without ever overheating. The list of examples could go on and on, but you get the point. Split your groups up!
The third option involves a lot of risk and experimentation, but it’s also one of the most rewarding methods. Customize your mech’s weapon load out. Unless you’re using a trial mech, you don’t have to leave it configured the way it came. In fact, I will always encourage you *not* to leave it the way you found it. As you play matches and earn experience and cash, spend some of it on new modules, swap out weapons, and play around with your armor configurations. I guarantee the top players in the game right now have all of your mech’s default panel armor values memorized and know where your weak spots are. Shake things up a bit and boost the armor in those areas while stripping down a bit in other areas to allow yourself some more weight tolerance to increase your firepower.
When rearranging the weapon load out of your mech, it’s important to keep a few factors in mind. Specifically, what’s the heat generation of each of them? That Large Laser and PPC combination looks pretty sweet, but unless you upgrade your standard heatsinks, they’re going to be a problem if that’s all you’ve got. Projectile weapons on the other hand create very little heat (or in the case of machine guns, none). The downside here though is some of them have fairly long reload cycle times and some hard firing systems. For example, the Gauss Rifle, doesn’t create much heat, but along with a long reload time, it also has a strange firing system in which you need to hold the button until it’s charged and then let go to fire it. Hold it too long and it cycles back to its starting phase so getting the timing down in the heat of combat can be a little tricky. The payoff though is that it does some pretty nice damage.
As one final tip, the map you play on can make a big difference in terms of the amount of heat your mech has to cool. For example, when you’re playing in an arctic-style map, your mech will cool off faster. This is also true if you’re in water, so don’t be afraid to hop in the river. It’s your friend!
If you still have questions about heat management or weapon configurations, using the spectator mode after your mech has been obliterated on the battlefield is a great way to learn as well. Watching how other players manage their weapons and heat is a great learning tool. You’ll also pick up a few maneuvering tips as well, so get in there and start playing.