Might & Machinery: A MechWarrior Online Q&A

We talked to Piranha Games President, Russ Bullock, to get some details on the upcoming free-to-play set in the BattleTech universe, MechWarrior Online.
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The year is 3049, and there's a massive interstellar war in progress. Your part in this war involves commanding a mighty BattleMech in Piranha Games' upcoming free-to-play title set in the BattleTech universe, MechWarrior Online. We got details from Russ Bullock, President of Piranha Games, Inc.

What role does each of the four BattleMech types serve?

It really depends on how you play the game, but generally speaking you have four BattleMech types: Light, Medium, Heavy and Assault.

Light Mechs are fast and great for things like recon and scouting. They are also great for things like raids or surgical strikes on enemies – especially in hard to see areas or areas that are dense (urban environments, etc.)

Medium Mechs are cost-effective, so you’ll tend to see lances with a lot of medium-sized Mechs. They aren’t necessarily made to inflict huge damage with one strike but they carry a variety of weapons so customizing these Mechs to fit your strategy leaves you with a lot of options.

Heavy Mechs carry more weapons than medium Mechs, are more expensive but are also more powerful, carrying weapons like missiles or cannons – heavier weapons that do greater damage.

Assault Mechs can weigh up to 100 tons, are huge, and often times much slower than the smaller, lighter Mechs. They are the most destructive, and far less vulnerable to light weight Mechs who can be destroyed if caught in the crosshairs of an Assault Mech.

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You mentioned that this new MechWarrior game will be the next "good" MechWarrior game. What makes it that way?

We’ve really worked hard to make the truest MechWarrior game since the early versions. Each Mech feels like it should: it drives the way you imagined it playing the old BattleTech boardgames as a kid, fires the way you imagined it, and does the damage you’d expect it to depending on what kind of Mech you’re piloting.

We’re also introducing elements of gameplay true to the world of the InnerSphere – the year 3049 will have the appropriate types of Mechs and situations, and as we get further into the lore and what happens in the InnerSphere, those types of things will be reflected in the game.

We saw one of the maps at E3. How many maps will be introduced at launch? And what types of environmental themes can we look forward to?

We’ll have four maps at launch – Frozen City, Forest, Caustic Valley and one environment we still haven’t revealed yet but one I know fans will be dying to play on once they know it’s in the game at launch.

How many game or match styles will be available and can you describe these?

At launch we’ll have 12v12 capability death matches with more gameplay / match styles being implemented after launch.

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Will there be an overarching story line?

Definitely – for those familiar with the InnerSphere lore, we’re planning to supplement that with things that happen in the game. For newcomers to the franchise, they can obviously kind of skip ahead to what’s coming if they want to find out what to expect (InnerSphere lore is well documented on the Internet) or they kind of have an advantage of being surprised as we begin to roll things out and experience it fresh without expectation.

Are there any plans for non-PvP play in MechWarrior Online?

We’ve conceptualized it, but we are not including it at launch. We know it’s something fans have asked about but right now it’s not included and no details have been announced.

Can you describe the matchmaking system?

Matchmaking is one of those things that is never finished. You never say, “Yup, we’re done.” Right now, things like tonnage (how heavy your Lance is) will come into play, and also we are taking into account things like Mech design those types of battle values. We know we need to make it right for fans, and that’s taken a lot of time in the beta but at launch we’re confident it will be at a state where fans are happy with it (though we do expect it will be an evolving process over the next many years as we introduce more elements to the game).

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In what ways can a player advance their character? Is it just purchasing of new Mechs and weapons/armor or can skills can be learned to improve a pilot?

XP is earned based on your role in the battle and achievements / points are earned for your Pilot specifically that can be applied to your Pilot skill tree. You have the choice to advance your Pilot from there.

GXP is used to unlock Pilot Modules. These are not the same as BattleMech Efficiencies.

Currently, the Pilot Modules enhance a player’s gameplay by providing upgrades and/or enhancements to vision modes, sensors/radar, defensive actions, and non-combatant support units. A few examples would include a 4x reticular zoom that has a picture-in-picture effect that is beneficial to long range sniper play. Another module will accelerate the capture speed of the Capture the Base gameplay mechanic. And another module will accelerate the speed in which detailed target data is acquired. These are just a sample of what will be coming down the pipe in terms of Pilot Modules and there are many more to come on the horizon.

What is the maximum amount of players in a battle?

At launch we’ll support 12 v 12.



Many thanks to Russ Bullock and Piranha games for taking the time to answer our questions. Be sure to keep an eye on Ten Ton Hammer for MechWarrior Online news and features.

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About the Author

Karen is H.D.i.C. (Head Druid in Charge) at EQHammer. She likes chocolate chip pancakes, warm hugs, gaming so late that it's early, and rooting things and covering them with bees. Don't read her Ten Ton Hammer column every Tuesday. Or the EQHammer one every Thursday, either.
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