MWO – A toe in the water

As you’re likely aware, I was very keen when MWO was announced and even more excited when I was invited into the Beta. However you’ve also probably read my increasing disappointment with the direction the game seemed to be heading and eventually I stopped playing. I think that was about 2 months ago.

B3F022320942E1D1B7FD2B854C870B39Discussions with other MWO players who’ve continued to play picked up my interest, and so today I dipped a toe back into the water again.

I have to say, the three games I played I was pleasantly surprised. Enough that I will go back again, and to say to others that may have quit to at least have another look.

So what has changed?

I played 3 PUG games, 2 in my Hunchie (medium mech) and one in my Jenner. I was well out of practice, so I wasn’t particularly effective in any of them.

ECM is still there, but it doesn’t seem like the steamroller it was when it started. However I temper that comment with the fact that I wasn’t running my Catapult, which is seriously affected by ECM. In the three games, perhaps half of the mechs had ECM.

They haven’t done much to the lobby, however there are significant changes to pre and post match screens, with a lot more info displayed. Even when you get killed you get a screen that tally’s your killer, the last few hits, and some other stats.

There is a new game mode. Assault is still there but so is a kind of Resource point capture game (I can’t remember the proper name). That should mix things up some, you can even nominate to play only one of the game modes prior to launch. There are supposed to be some new maps, but I didn’t see one in my three games.

Oh, and in homage to the game that really got the franchise noticed, Mechwarrior 2, they have hired the voice actress who did all of that game’s “computer” voice. It’s all incorporated into MWO. Even the mech startup internal view has yourself running the startup sequence in the cockpit. Very cool for us old MW heads.

So its enough that I will dust off my Corp membership and shake the cobwebs of the mechs….

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MWO Open Beta Monday 29 Oct.

Beta opens in a few hours, some time Monday USA Pacific time, maybe its even open already, not sure.

Is the game ready? I think the core game is good, the matches are fun, flow well, there isn’t a lot of problems out there. I still think that the interface needs some work. Simple things like the TAB order when logging in could do with some tweaking.

The main thing that’s not yet been seen is the persistent galaxy. The game is meant to have us fighting for ownership of worlds, advancing the Houses. We haven’t seen how this will be implemented.

Open Beta doesn’t mean its finished, and MWO certainly isn’t. There are still things that have place holders (ECM and BAP for example), they’ve taken things away to tweak (like knockdowns), and they still have only one match format (Team Deathmatch). They say that Closed Beta has run it’s course, so I guess we’ll see how all the new people cope. There’s a lot of experienced pilots waiting to let loose on them. Hopefully they can add to the ideas that are still flowing through the forums, without getting disheartened by their defeats.

Big tip for the new folks …. in fact for any players…. get in a group, get talking.

MWO – Never give up

Miss 3 was doing a lot of not sleeping this morning from about 3am. So to occupy myself between periods of actual sleeping I logged into MWO for a few games.

Being 5am by this time none of the Corp were on, so I joined a group I found in Teamspeak and readied my LRM Catapault. We launched for the first game, and of course after the patch on Tuesday, all my video settings were default (it’s annoying post patch effect in MWO) so the first match was fought in a small window of about 800×600 pixels. I was quickly killed when a flanking attempt went horribly wrong and I ended up on the front line. Not where a support mech likes to hang out.

I sorted my screen settings and we picked up a full 8 person drop. Well that was until the drop… 3 people didn’t drop and we were 5 v 8 before the match even started. A lot of unhappy noises over Teamspeak as we saw what was happening! And the other team knows we only have 5 players as the roll displays for both sides.

Someone suggested an all out assault through the tunnel. This map (Frozen City) has a tunnel that leads from close to the back of one base to close to the back of the other base, but can also be a bit of a trap. It would be a gamble for us – if we were spotted or they charged the tunnel it would be a bloodbath. However it would be a certain bloodbath any other way through the open terrain.

Staying closely grouped we moved as fast as the lumbering assault Atlas could go to the other exit. Peeking out, we saw the other team lined up in the distance waiting for us to cross the ridge (the other normal attack route). They didn’t see us, but there may have also been a couple protecting the base that we couldn’t spot.

Sneaking through the snow and buildings (as only a group of five storey war machines can) we approached the enemy base. We stayed close because as soon as we entered the area the entire enemy team would get BASE UNDER ATTACK across their cockpits.

Shortly we had 5 mechs stopped in the base and the capping started.

I’ve never seen a cap drop so quickly… I’ve solo capped or dual previously, but this was far faster than that.

In the time it took their fastest response to rush back the 1000m or so, we’d won. 5 v 8 victory without a shot fired! Very happy with that effort.

I squeezed in another game or two. One typical enemy getting my LRMs rained on them to victory match, the second started well and went very badly when they flanked us and hit our support mechs (me again) in the back line again. A lot of back peddling as I scrambled for cover and to keep the enemy beyond the minimum range of my missiles.

Our assault forces returned to save all but one of us and then our organisation prevailed, with their mechs falling swiftly to concentrated fire. Victory again from what was looking very untidy for several minutes.

So a fun morning.

MWO Open Beta starts next week. Feel free to join in :) Look for Mabaho :)

Oh, and Miss 5, well she eventually slept about 6am, and I left for work. Mrs was woken at 7am by Miss 3 declaring that “It’s Morning time!”

(I apologise for the lack of screenshots, but I just can’t seem to get PrtScrn to work in game).

MWO Beta NDA dropped and more

As you’re all aware I was away for the past month. I returned with the MoP expansion to WoW to fill my time, but another major piece of news is that they have dropped the NDA in MWO and I am now free to speak of the game (hence the sudden explosion of posts).

They have also completed some new builds in my time away. I’ve only played a couple of matches as I had to rebuild the Windows part of my iMac (I run a Bootcamp partition to play MWO). And play MoP and sort out the photos from the trip (and work, mind the kids etc etc) But here are my thoughts so far.

- new map, River City, is very confusing so far, but I should learn it soon enough. Very different from Frozen City, but again, maybe a bit small.

- LRMs do a lot more damage than before. Nice (unless you’re the target)

- Repair and reload now costs money. An expected feature that they have turned on. I haven’t had any problems with it so far.

- Improved MechLab giving up addition details on your mech as you build it. Nice

- Additional enhancements to unlock to do with pilot skills, EW and other modules to add significant enhancement to your abilities.

- Salvage from matches, but you have to stayed joined to that game until it is resolved. If you leave once you’re dead, you still get your win/loss money, but not salvage.

I’m still really happy with the game. My Merc Corp is going strong with about 200 members now, all organised into groups. Teamwork will always be the deciding factor in this game. And these guys are getting a lot of experience at it.

I will try to get you some screen shots, honest.

MWO Beta Week 4

Another patch and the gameplay problems have calmed down a lot. I don’t see as much “rubber banding”* and don’t seem to hear so many people getting dropped from the game. So its a fair bit more stable.

And to be honest I’ve found it pretty stable since I started. I may have had about 2 or 3 crashes but that’s par for the course. And a little bit of rubber banding but with an online game based in the US, with players across the world on who knows what kind of internet connection, you can’t expect it to perform perfectly every time. There are finite wait limits involved. Even with all that its totally playable, whether you brawl, snipe, LRM or scout. They’ve done a really good job.

Team play is going well. I’ve racked up a few more kills (though as support I don’t expect one every game) and I’ve barely lost a game since I grouped up. Even PUG matches that we’ve had comms through the MWO Beta Teamspeak have smashed the opposition in most cases. Excluding my lone wolf period, I’m probably at 30-4-1 or something.

Yes, we had a Tie once. None involved could figure out what tripped it, we assumed that we must have all killed each other at the last moment. It was very weird. It may have also included a suicide** or disconnect.

I’ve been working on my pilot skills for a single mech and should shortly unlock the Elite enhancements. Though truly the enhancements I haven’t really noticed their effects in game.

So another week, and still totally enjoying myself. To me, this is Mechwarrior 5. I still haven’t figure out how to take screenshots so these are very visually boring posts. I will add some from the web as I ready them for posting.

* rubber banding occurs when you are watching another player and he suddenly moves between several positions as you catch up with the server…. makes it really hard to aim!

** a mech can suicide by overriding the overheat safety systems. If you let the heat get too high, the reactor explodes, destroying the mech. Can also occur when your at high heat and fire too many weapons at once. This usually occurs in the thick of battle.

MWO Beta Week 3

I get organised!

I joined a solid crew of fellow pilots who were constant playing at similar times and over a few nights, several became regulars. Eventually I joined their Merc Corp – The Australian Mech Corp.

Subsequently it is very clear that teamwork and voice comms are the only way to do well in this games. Unorganised pick up games get the wiped across the floor sometimes without effort as the organised team sweeps the map. I expect this is similar to BGs in WoW when a random bunch meets a premade.

I’ve been sticking with my mix of scout (Jenner) and artillery (LRM Catapult). The Cat is currently a long way from standard. The Jenner, not so much. It does take some time as they reset everyone’s money and xp, so you need to run a few matches to earn the money to modify your mechs.

My biggest issue with the game is currently the front end, the home screen, chat and mechlabs. The two main problems are a lack of information when in the Mechlab (where you customise your mech) and poor social/team layout hiding conversations away from you. There are other problems such as a confusing launch button and small sometimes hard to click buttons, and not very obvious alerts.

I’m still loving it and working as a team is very much fun. I don’t have a lot of kills under my belt, but I’ve done a lot of damage and my win/loss ratio is steadily improving.

MWO Beta Week 2

The game continues to excite me. It’s tough and can be a frenzy of weapons fire and mechs around the place.

Or it can be long range fire at distant specks, though this is not so common.

They’ve added a new mech, the Awesome, an Assault that I haven’t played yet. I’ve been concentrating on the Jenner and a Catapult as a second option. One of the nice things is that when a mech is killed in a match (there is no respawn) you can leave that game and start another whilst the first is resolved without you. You still receive your xp and bonuses as if you hung about. Alternatively you can spectate from others mechs, but you can’t even chat at this point. (if you had external team voice comms, you could keep talking)

Another addition in the latest is an AMS (anti missile system) slot to every mech. I’ve added these (with a lot of ammo!!) to both of my main mechs and its helped a lot. I hope to see the Raven, or at least the ECM developed as well as that will be a boon to my Jenner as a scout. The AMS is a way of reducing the damage from LRM fire (which is pretty brutal if they keep lock) but its very ammo hungry! ECM should make it harder to lock, or even harder for them to spot me, allowing me to scout them out better.

I played to mostly loses over the week. I did get two kills in one match though. I was running my Catapult and with the main force engaged I was able to maintain a steady lock to rain LRMs into the fray. A solid kill on a Centurion I think. I never saw it as it was behind a hill the whole time (LRM fire follows a sort of ballistic trajectory arching up and over many obstacles). When my ammo ran dry soon after (I gave another couple of mechs a good pounding after the kill) I moved in to assault mode. AMS was very busy during this fight, I could hear it ripping away almost constantly.

I spent most of the rest of the match taking pot shots and evading an Atlas who had taken a liking to me. Eventually he was the last left on his team and we had about 3 guys left. 3 on 1, but the kill shot was mine :)

I’m working on getting into some groups to start to hone my skills as a scout properly. Hopefully this coming week will see that work out.

I also logged into the Testers Teamspeak and listened in for a while. They talked a lot about World of Tanks, a similar game based around WWII tanks. One of the biggest differences between them is that in MWO even the smallest mech can be a threat to the biggest, whereas the smallest tanks cannot even penetrate the bigger ones in WoT. In MWO a Jenner (35T) can kill an Atlas (100T), but you have to work at it.

Week two… love it.

First Beta Thoughts

I’m not posting this for some time due to the NDA requirements, but I need to get my thoughts down now, so that I can see how they change over the coming weeks. I’ll post it once the NDA lifts.

In my first post, I’m excited about this game. Then when I got the email with the Beta invite I was doing the running about waving my hands in excitement, want to tell EVERYBODY kind of excitement (and I just made that post about Starstruck too). But of course I couldn’t.

Now the MoP beta I wanted to avoid as that would spoil the surprise. However the MWO beta, especially the Closed Beta is a chance for me to help make the game, I hope. It’s also a different kind of game so getting Beta access allows me to refine my skills and practice whereas something like MoP means I lose that everything is new feeling – in MWO its not the content its the opponents and teammates that make it new, and that’s new every time whether Beta or not.

I’ve been playing on and off for about a week now. Probably around the 20-30 matches so far. Tried about 5 of the 10 or so mechs and a range of lights (my current preference) to the awe inspiring Atlas (and you’re going to love the red eyes!)

Things I Like

Visually it’s excellent. I don’t have the top of the range card, but on my 9500GT and the other is a HD5750. Both run it very well with good frame rates and detail.

The mechs look and move great as well. They have a lot of detail and clearly display damage as it occurs (lost limbs, sparks, broken pieces). Again, visually very nice.

They’ve stuck close to the rules (according to the Original Table Top) and also close to the previous (PC at least) games in the franchise. It plays as I imagine it would.

Mech balance is hard to call, but they are close to the canon and so the flaws are there from that. Live with it, the Mechwarriors would have had to, and its the same as soldiers, tankers, fighter pilots have all had to ever since we first threw rocks at each other.

Some have talked about being able to reconfigure the mech at match start. I don’t think that’s a good idea either, only Omni Mechs (which we don’t have yet) would have that capability in short time. We’re spoiled by the previous games in the franchise, especially MW2.

I have also seen positive action to fix and adjust things by the devs. We’ve also had additional content added.

Things I’m not happy with so far

Small size of maps. Frozen City is big and nice, Caustic Valley is good, the River Valley is too small.

No variety (yet) in game type. All are basically Team Deathmatch with a capture point as an option. Fun, but would be nice to mix it up.

Can’t assign weapon groups prior to match start. This is really frustrating and will often see nobody move for the first 10 seconds or so of a match. And then some friendly fire as a few test their new set ups!

The earning of XP seems REALLY slow, with I think about 20-40 per match, and the lowest upgrades are in the thousands. Still don’t want to let people push through too fast. And premium accounts allow triple earning.

Some of the interface outside of the game is a bit clunky. Small buttons for no real reason, initally some confusion on what different options do.

Summary

Still after a week, and a complete reset and new build I am happy with the game. I would like to see some of my concerns addressed, as my concerns are replicated by many of the vocal people, and some have been commented positively by the Devs.

I am pretty certain there is still a good month of Beta to come before it even moves to Open Beta, so I’ll see how things progress over the next couple of weeks.

So far as I said I have been playing a fair bit of the light mechs, mostly concetrating on the Jenner. Its speed is a huge asset, but not so sure about the jump jets. There has been some discussion about games turning into slug fests between Heavies but I havent seen that. Whilst I haven’t done much “scouting” I think the real hamper to that is voice comms. It’s really hard to evade weapon fire and type a report to the remaining team at the same time. Trust me I’ve tried. So get into an organized team and use voice Comms. It will be a massive advantage.

I’ve only made two kills so far, and assisted in a few more. one of my favorites is slashing away at the back of a heavy whilst it was preoccupied with a heavy to his front, a classic double team. I’ve seen an Atlas brought down by a group of mediums and lights.

I’ve managed two base captures on my own as well. Most recent I ran straight to their base to find it emptied and the opposite team heavily engaged with my team on the other side of the map. As I sat in their base watching it tick down, feeling very vulnerable in my little Jenner, I watch my teammates get eliminated until it was 8 v 4. Finally as the last few ticks started an enemy Atlas lumbered from the woods weapons ablaze. I ran about trying to stay inside the cap, and as his next salvo landed….. We won! That was an awesome game.

I’ve also been the last man standing, running across the enemy’s base while being chased by about 5 heavies. They got me in the end, but I must have annoyed the crap out of them.

I’ve used the Catapult to rain LRM on enemy that I couldn’t even see, again, exactly what they are meant for, then charged in once my ammo was finished.

I haven’t spent as much time in the heavier mechs, but they are slow when you’re used to the smaller ones. It’s an interesting lesson to see a light running about your legs and you can’t turn or breakaway in order to get a shot off at him. But they usually pack a big punch and take a beating.