Last night I had the honor of attending the MechWarrior Online Community Day, where I got to spend a few hours piloting brand new Mechs on impressive new hardware, talking to developers and staff, and (most importantly) feeding my face with free pizza and beer. The entire event was a lot of fun, and anyone interested can find plenty of pictures on the NVIDIA GeForce Facebook page. If you look closely you might find one of Dan Stapleton, myself, and other media
tearing it up getting our a$$es kicked on MechWarrior Online.
As someone relatively new to the MechWarrior games, I didn’t quite know what to expect in MechWarrior Online. Besides the original MechWarrior for the SNES, my only experience piloting giant Mechs was with Mech Assualt for the Xbox, many years ago. As it turns out, advertising experience in Mech Assault in front of a MechWarrior Online developer will only invoke laughter and smirks. Two hours later, I fully understood why. If the Mech universe was a theme park, Mech Assault would be the mini baby merry-go-round with seat belts and diapers, while MechWarrior Online would be the ultra mega coaster of doom complete with free flowing lava and barf bags.
There is a substantial learning curve in completely mastering how your Mech Maneuvers. A lot of people have likened it to piloting a tank with legs, and I have to agree. Mechs can aim 90 degrees to their left or right without affecting their movement direction, adding more strategy to the game as well as more people running into walls and buildings because they aren’t looking where they are going.
Once you’ve gotten the hang of it, controlling your Mech is one of the most realistic and addicting feelings I’ve ever encountered in a video game. I would have been fine for 2 hours if the game was simply piloting through various landscapes without any combat involved. In fact, I did just that after my Mech had it’s arms shot off by people much more experienced than I am. I ran around looking at the scenery with no weapons. It was great!
The various Mechs feel substantially different from one another in the cockpit, and you get an incredible amount of customization for weapons and armor. One thing I really enjoyed was that every Mech is useful, not just the super big ones. Every Mech has a purpose, and having a team utilizing the strengths from a variety of different Mechs can make it very difficult for the opposing team. The terrain also has a huge impact on what weapons and what Mech you will want to use. A cold snowy environment makes heat less of an issue, whereas a hot volcanic environment will force larger Mechs to either slow down or overheat.
The game runs very smooth. I had the privilege of playing it on Razer’s new laptop, the Razer Blade, which is one sexy, hardcore gaming laptop. I had a lot of fun messing with the LCD touchscreen on the right hand side, browsing the web on it after getting obliterated in a heated battle. I didn’t notice the LCD screen and buttons integrating with anything on MechWarrior Online, but I know it does integrate with other games like World of Warcraft.
I also took the time to talk briefly with Kevin Scarpati, a PR specialist for Razer, about their new Artemis controller. The controller, designed specifically for MechWarrior Online, looks like it will include a throttle on the left in addition to the keypad. Kevin also mentioned that the device is probably going to be somewhat modular, so you’ll have a bit of flexibility on how the controller is layed out in front of you. Since the controller still is in it’s concept phase, they don’t have an estimated release date or price range, but hopefully we’ll hear something on that soon once they finalize the design.
Overall, I’m very excited for the full release of this game. The only thing that could have been better was me. I went through 1 1/2 hours of brutal punishment before I was able to destroy my first enemy Mech, and it was oh so satisfying. After an intense 2 minute battle, I hit the guy with a full volley of lasers, and the sucker dropped to the ground. As I stood there, basking in my awesomeness, looking over the pile of molten metal that once was my opponent, I realized this was probably going to be my only success for the night. Leaving a game as a loser is never fun, so I promptly exited the game, and went off to get more pizza and take notes on my phone.