MechWarrior Online Review

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is a free-to-play futuristic mech combat
game that uses a setting created by FASA back in the early/mid 1980s.
FASA no longer owns the rights to the intellectual property, the
universe they
created lives on and has a fanatic following. The IP itself has been
used for
numerous games, including a series of video games that had MechWarrior
in the
title. MechWarrior Online is the latest and most ambitious title to
date. MechWarrior
Online officially launched earlier this week in a whirlwind of
against the company, with the hardcore crowd crying foul (since coolant
are in the game href="">after
was stated they would not be added, third person view being added, and other complaints),
and the casual player base rumbling
along as normal. 

the sake of full disclosure, I am one of the game’s
Legendary Founders and have been for over a year. Some may feel this
means I
have an axe to grind, but I’d like to think you’ll
find this review objective
because despite what some players want to believe, what we Founders
were mechs, in-game currency, early access, and a couple other perks
– nothing
more. We certainly didn’t pay for the vision of MechWarrior
Online the
developers talked about at the time. In other words, I got what I paid
for and
that’s that.

that out of the way, let’s get to it, shall we?


Since this is an online multiplayer title, Little Johnny may
some language he probably shouldn’t. That being said, I have
rarely seen anyone
throw a complete tantrum in the team chat. Overall, there’s
not a lot of
discussion going on other than that of weapons, mech builds, and
tidbits of “GL
HFA (good luck – have fun all)” and “GG
(good game)”. In-game, the player base
is generally quite well behaved. 

The forums are an entirely different
matter. The community team does what it can to keep things reigned to a
roar, but right now, there is just too much backlash over what players
feel are
broken promises in terms of game features. I won’t go so far
as to say the
forums are toxic, but there are days it certainly comes close to
matching that

Gameplay - 77 / 100


MechWarrior Online has some of the best
feeling mech combat out there in terms of staying true to the
BattleTech/MechWarrior universe. Piloting your mech effectively enough
to be a
genuine asset to your team is a tough challenge and requires hours of
practice. I can’t count how many matches I’ve been
in over the past year yet there
are times I still feel like a complete noob when I get caught with my
down (meaning I run into a pack of enemy mechs by accident and get
mowed down).
Then there are other days where I get that perfectly timed kill shot
to save the day just before the enemy team completes the takeover of our base. The
game feels
like a proper mech game. The mechs
feel and respond how I feel they should and that’s great. 

mechs that you own are fully customizable as they
should be. Why Founder mechs can’t change
their camo pattern
is beyond me. Moving
on though! href="">The
MechLab is very well done and
allows you to see every
detail of
your mech and its configuration. Min/Max players will have a field day
to squeeze the most they can out of every available ounce of tonnage.
will find there’s a fine balance between armor point totals,
weapon loadouts,
and more. The development team obviously spent a lot of time working on
section and it shows.

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are currently two modes of combat matches available
for players – Assault and Conquest. Assault is a
straightforward 12 vs. 12
deathmatch mode with the additional option of capturing the enemy base.
is all about gaining control over resource points (there are 5 per map)
attaining a total of 750 resources. The alternative method of winning
in this
mode is to destroy all the other team’s mechs. Be careful if
you choose this
route. Trust me when I say there’s nothing worse than your
team having 9 out of
12 kills (while our team had 8 mechs still alive) and still losing
because the
other team still gained control of all their required resources. 

are a decent number of maps, but many of them are
just variations of themselves and can feel repetitive fairly quickly.
example, there’s Frozen City and Frozen City Night, or Forest
Colony and Forest
Colony Snow. The maps all vary in temperature which in turn directly
the heat levels of your mech. Cold planets help to keep you cool while
hot ones never let you get below 10% max heat. It’s a nice
touch that really
adds to that sense of attention to detail when it comes to how mechs

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why did I only give the Gameplay portion of this
review a 77? Sadly, there are some big issues still plaguing the game
By this point in time, they should have been addressed or caused the
postponement of the official launch. The players were expecting a
massive patch
on launch day to address such issues as heat balance bugs, the addition
of factions,
and more, yet all they received were a few bug fixes and a change to
disable third-person-view
(3PV) use in the 12 players pre-made group matches. 

MechWarrior universe lore and history is very deep,
and while you’re teased with that on the forums,
there’s no indication of this
in the launch window or the game itself minus some purchasable
House (factions) mini-statues you can put in your mech. The game is in
desperate need of a fully fleshed out House/Clan system and the battle
for the
Inner Sphere of planets needs to be known. Without this, the game
becomes a grinding mill of pointless matches. Sure, you gain cash and
for upgrades, but at the end of the day, what’s the real

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you’re a hardcore MechWarrior fan, you’ll get most
of the MechLab and the more intricate aspects of mech combat.
It’s exactly because
of this though that those
players will also be the first to see just how many shortcomings
Online has in terms of balance bugs and missing MechWarrior universe
depth, thus curbing their enthusiasm and fun with the game. 

the casual crowd will potentially have the
most fun with the game, they’ll also be the ones the most
confused because the
game does a horrific
job of
explaining mech customization and combat to players. In fact, it
explain either one at all. It also does nothing to explain the concept
of heat
penalties for firing too many of the same weapon types at the same time.
lack of guiding new players in the absolute basics of the game directly
the experience they’ll have – and not in a
good way.

Graphics - 90 / 100

order for people reading this to have a reference
point to judge how the graphics may fare on their systems, here are the
for the machine MechWarrior Online was tested on: 

Phenom II X2 565 (3.4 GHz)

16 GB

Video Card:
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560 Ti (4GB)

Operating System:
Windows 7 Home Premium (Service Pack 1)

: Cable 

Online does a very impressive job of allowing
high resolution graphics while at the same time, not turning matches
into a
stutterfest. The game has a wide variety of graphic options that can be
and altered just the way you want to get the best out of a wide range
machines. My system is a little over three years old now and I run the
game with
everything maxed. The good news for the plethora of people out there
better systems than mine – with everything maxed out it runs
smooth as silk 95%
of the time. There are times I get stutter, but truth be told,
I’m not
convinced that’s due to the game and may very well just be my
connection acting up.

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all the maps with normal vision is fine, but
another highpoint of MechWarrior Online’s graphics are the
other vision modes
each mech possesses – thermal and night. The thermal vision
system has gone
through a couple changes over the past year, and while I agree the
Predator-movie-style thermal vision was too much of an advantage for
with good aim, I’m not a fan of the current black and white
version. Too much
of the time, an entire mech is nothing more than a washed out shadow
– so much
to the point that I sometimes can’t tell what panel
I’m actually shooting at. 

the other side of the vision mode fence though, I’m in
love with the night vision mode and think it’s perfect in its
iteration. It looks great overall, but I especially love the fact that
I get
nearly blinded when I’m getting bombarded with energy
weapons, or firing them
myself. Why would I be happy about being blinded? Because it makes
sense – night vision is nothing more than a system that
greatly magnifies the
available light. At night, that’s not a lot but fire a
massive laser and you
can bet your ass it’s going to be *bright*. I love it.

Sound - 65 / 100

The sound in MechWarrior Online is the epitome of what I would call “adequate”. The sound of the lasers, Gauss rifle, and other weapons are perfect. The sound of everything else is fine, but I can’t help being nagged that there is no form of soundtrack. I realize that sounds stupid to the super hardcore players that want as much realism in the game as they can, but hear me out. Maybe it’s because I watched Iron Eagle too many times in the mid-80s, but I think I should be able to have some music playing in my mech when I’m going into combat, even if it means strapping a tape recorder to my leg. Whether the development team adds a soundtrack of their own (making it optional to turn off), or plugs in a system similar to Win Amp from back in the day, there needs to be something in addition to just the sound of weaponry and walking.

Multiplayer - 70 / 100

entire game is multiplayer (minus the Testing Ground
which allows you to test out different mech builds against non-moving
bots by
yourself), so the Gameplay section covers everything pretty well but
I will talk
about a couple aspects of the game that need tweaking to address match

matchmaking system the game uses has seen some
behind-the-scenes changes with the launch day patch, but there are
still issues
with it. First and foremost, there’s still an issue with PUGs
(pick up groups)
being lumped in with premade teams in matches. MechWarrior is very much
team-oriented game and the advantage premade teams using voice
through out of game systems cannot be overstated. The term
that’s developed
over the months is pug stomping. It’s not that inaccurate a
Perhaps the development team feels it all evens out in the end since
you’re a solo player that is on the side of a mostly premade
team so you get
the benefit of a portion of your team working in coordination. That
doesn’t alleviate the sense of hopelessness and frustration
new solo players
feel when they get their asses handed to them 8 matches out of 10.

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recent issue that has been of major concern to
players is the addition of a third-person view (3PV) to the game. The
fact that
it was added at all (to appeal to a broader and more casual audience)
enough of a stir by itself, especially since the game now defaults to
that mode
the first time a person logs into the game. As a result, new players
may not
even be aware they can switch view modes unless they go through the
tutorial. Right up until the launch day patch, 12-man premade team
players could swap between the two views and the community mushroom
bloomed in a horrific demonstration of rage and hate. Do I agree with
actions? No. Do I understand them? I do. In a 12-man premade team match
by itself is the very definition of hardcore competition), being able
to switch
to a 3rd
person view to peek around corners and buildings was
tantamount to cheating. While no longer an issue in full 12-man premade
matches, this is still a problem in all other matches.

Value - 65 / 100

value of any free to play game is always difficult to
determine, but let’s see if I can give you some points of
interest to help you
decide what kind of value MechWarrior Online has for you. 

the game stands right now, if you have any interest in
playing a very deep and detailed mech combat game, especially one set
in the
BattleTech/MechWarrior universe, you can’t go wrong in terms
of value if you
don’t spend a penny on the game. The game is generally well
done (what few parts
of it there are) and if it doesn’t cost you anything more
than a download and
some personal time, you’d be foolish not to hop in and give
it a try.

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it comes to spending real world cash, things get a
little tricky. On the one hand, players will benefit greatly from
premium time or Hero mechs with C-Bill (currency earned in-game) and/or
experience bonuses. Trying to earn your way through the multiple pilot
to get to the higher tiers takes an inordinate amount of time style="">with
bonuses. I can’t imagine how long
it would take to do it without those bonuses. That said, I
don’t have an issue
with the cost of the premium play time if someone wants to purchase it. 

costs of the Hero mechs, on the other hand, are far
too high to make them worthwhile in my opinion. Several of them are
cheap, but most fall in the range of $20 to $25 dollars. I’m
all for companies
making enough money to keep creating new content and even making a
profit at the same time. Forking out $25 for a mech is just far too
much. If
they were in the range of $10 instead, I think the value would be
there, but as
it stands, I can’t advise spending that kind of money on any
of them.

Lasting Appeal - 50 / 100

the game contained any real continuity or depth of
story, this score would be much higher than it is. As it stands right
though, the game is little more than a decent mech combat match grind.
The game
gets far too repetitive in terms of what you can actually do to give it
real lasting appeal. 

addition of promised features such as a full faction
system, Inner Sphere fighting, etc. – all of these would add
greatly to the
lasting appeal of MechWarrior Online, but until this happens, the score

Pros and Cons


  • Wide variety of mechs
    available for purchase with
    currency earned in-game
  • Impressive mech customization
  • Free trial mech choices are
    swapped out frequently
  • Excellent graphics
  • “Authentic”
    mech combat gameplay
  • Free to play


  • Does little to no explaining
    in-game about most gameplay
    aspects (such as combat)
  • Hero mechs are too expensive
    for their worth
  • Heat scaling bugs still
    plague various weapon
  • Lack of a deeper story or
    faction system
  • Gameplay becomes repetitive
    over time


What more is there to say, really? At the end of the day, the game is what it is and that’s not horrible, but it is average. Looked at face value, MechWarrior Online delivers a convincing mech combat experience. What the game has in single match entertainment, it lacks in overall cohesiveness and reasons for playing long term. It clearly has the potential to be much more than what it currently is, but that potential has yet to be reached. For a free-to-play title, it’s worth the price of admission, but anything beyond that will need to be determined by each individual player.

Overall 68/100 - Okay


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