If you don’t know what MechWarrior Online is, then I’m not 100% sure why you’re here, but maybe you’re a newer player looking for some context or just someone looking for another perspective, in which case I’m happy to help. I’m gonna split it up between a focus on gameplay first (the most important thing in my mind), and then an overview of the feel and lore of the game.
MechWarrior Online is a game about giant piloted humanoid tanks known as BattleMechs. It doesn’t fit neatly into any current genre, but serves as a bit of a cross between an FPS and simulator, with a heavy focus on customization. The shooter bit is pretty simple really; all of the currently available gamemodes take place within maps where shooting the enemy is the primary objective, and the core mechanics of “shoot the enemy -> they die -> you win” isn’t really modified all that much.
The simulation side of the game is the first thing to really set this game apart from traditional titles. The most immediately noticeable bit of this is all of the movement stats, and there are quite a few. Acceleration/Deceleration, Torso Twist Pitch/Yaw Angle and Speed, Arm Range of Motion and Speed, Turning Rate, the ability to jump and the maximum Forward and Reverse Speeds themselves all vary wildly from mech to mech, and all have a significant impact on the way you can play. The simplest way to understand it is that a mech is like a tank with its treads replaced by legs and turret replaced by a torso…and then arms strapped on with their own articulation. After taking mobility into account, there’s also the damage to think of. Instead of a single health pool like you have in most games of this sort, you have 8 components which can be destroyed, each of which will have an effect (sometimes a fatal one) on your mech if it goes. The in-game tutorials do a great job of explaining all of this.
The next thing that sets MechWarrior Online apart is the customization. I could write many articles on how best to use the Mechlab to build your own custom robot (hell, I’ve written a couple about that already), but the most important thing to understand is that you can do a lot with it. I mean, a lot. The possibilities are effectively infinite, and even after eliminating all the terrible options there are more permutations remaining than most people could reasonably get through. I’ve tried to include most of the good basic build ideas on this site, but I’m always adding more because there’s just so much to do with the game. This might seem overwhelming, but you can start out by using netbuilds while you get the hang of the mechlab, and then start customizing them to better fit your own taste, and eventually produce your own builds. Each of these steps can take time to get good at, of course, but that’s just part of learning the game. Once you feel up to building mechs, Smurfy’s Mechlab is fantastic for crafting them, and Snafet’s is great reference material for the in-game quirks – a system which further modifies various mech attributes.
MechWarrior Online is set within the BattleTech Universe, where the six warring houses of the Terran Inner Sphere contend for dominance over one another. They fight battles with BattleMechs; giant walking robot-like war machines capable of leveling a city, over the worlds within their realm and the realms of their neighbors. These wars have been going on for centuries, over which they’ve bombed each others technological capabilities to oblivion, until the year 3050, when a self-exiled group of people return to conquer the Inner Sphere with their advanced technology and caste driven society. This kicks off the war between the Inner Sphere and the Clans, which is the era in which MechWarrior Online is set. There’s a lot more lore to this game, with tomes of reference material and stacks of novels, but the thing is that right now, none of it really matters in this game. Community Warfare attempts to simulate the combat between Clans and the Inner Sphere, but doesn’t really lean on much of the canon for this and really all you need to know is that these two warring groups exist and that their technology is slightly different. There are lots of resources to better educate yourself on the game, such as this NGNG article about the Inner Sphere and this forum post which seems pretty damn in-depth.
So yeah. MechWarrior Online…
I recommend you try it. It’s fun.
There are some resources that I think you might find helpful to learn more about the game:
- MetaMechs. Obviously.
- /r/OutreachHPG. This is the subreddit built around MWO which I and many others frequent. There are a number of helpful links in the top-bar and if you have any questions feel free to ask.
- /r/mwo. This is the other subreddit, there was a lot of drama and so people split off. Details aren’t worth going into. No reason not to subscribe to both, or check ’em both out and pick one.
- NoGutsNoGalaxy. The biggest community site for MWO, with lots of discussion and streams and all sorts of fun crap to check out.
- Twitch Streams. A lot of these are worth watching, all up to your taste. Too many to recommend.
- Smurfy’s and Snafet’s. Already mentioned them above, but these are the two main things I use when I’m building.