MechWarrior Online Free-to-Play Shooter Playtest (Part 2)

When four imbeciles are allowed to go charging around in the dark in 80-ton Mechs, accidents will happen. The second part of our MechWarrior Online playtest.
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However, the battle was hotting up elsewhere and there was no time for wishy-washy alt-tabbing to read instructions. We charged on in, squinting at the vague silhouettes of the buildings that I repeatedly bounced off. I could just make out another mech in front of me which turned out to be Bootneck.

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Given that we’d already managed to get separated from the others, I tried to catch up to him. Being almost blind, following him through the city streets was no easy task and with the direction of my view not correlating with my travel direction, I felt like a giant metal clown.

Suddenly my Mech came to an involuntary stop. I look forward, but could see nothing. It was only after backing up slowly I realised my temporary blindness was caused by the back of Bootneck’s Dragon filling my view (as he so colourfully put it, he “mech’d all over my face”). Like a robotic Three Stooges sketch, he’d got caught on a building and I’d shunted into him. We just needed Toenailgoblin or SingingBush to appear with a ladder over their shoulder for the comedy finale.

We recovered in time to see some red things appear on our HUD displays followed by some beeping and explosions. We were being attacked! I ran around in a panic, firing randomly. I’d not got to grips with the multiple weapon-groupings or the heat management required to be effective, so I just became a button-mashing whirling dervish. Until I overheated my mech and it shut down. Unsurprisingly, I was soon put out of my misery.

[For the record: ‘H’ activates thermal vision and ‘N’ is night vision. I’ve still not figured out where the headlights are.]

Lifting the Fog of War

Subsequent battles were slightly more rewarding, with improved visual acuity improving the experience by leaps and bounds, but hot laser death often coming just as quickly. The four of us managed to work together to die in a co-ordinated fashion or to avoid combat altogether by going on long hikes. Occasionally we managed to actually contribute to the battle, but mostly we were an embarrassment to proud warriors of the BattleTech community.

Despite repeated trouncings, I actually found the experience quite rewarding. On the surface, MechWarrior Online has a lot in common with World of Tanks, with the controlled match environments and the vehicle-specific combat. However, where World of Tanks has gone for ease of access with simple and intuitive tank control which in reality would require multiple personnel to operate, MechWarrior Online aims to create a far more technical simulation of what solo piloting a complex futuristic engine of war might be like.

Next: Conclusions


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Image of Mat Westhorpe
Mat Westhorpe
Broken paramedic and coffee-drinking Englishman whose favourite dumb animal is an oxymoron. After over a decade of humping and dumping the fat and the dead, my lower spine did things normally reserved for Rubik's cubes, bringing my career as a medical clinician to an unexpectedly early end. Fortunately, my real passion is in writing and given that I'm now highly qualified in the art of sitting down, I have the time to pursue it. Having blogged about video games (well, mostly EVE Online) for years, I hope to channel my enjoyment of wordcraft and my hobby of gaming into one handy new career that doesn't involve other people's vomit.