Mechwarrior Online Review: Grinding Gears

 

Unfortunately, there’s effectively no difference between these modes most of the time, as both require a significant time investment to capture a base or win through points, and each player has only one life. Without respawns or some additional incentive to run out the clock, almost every match devolves into a pure team deathmatch, with victory being handed to whichever team managed to stick together best. Even the heaviest of assault ‘Mechs can be brought down in just a couple seconds of focused fire, assuming enough guns are leveled at it, and every kill swings the odds further in favor of the team with the most guns.

Simply put, Mechwarrior Online doesn’t feel like it’s fleshed out enough to shed the “beta” tag that it has worn for so long. The core gameplay engine is strong, but the business model and lack of content hurts the game badly. While they’ve rolled out a fair number of new ‘Mech models in the past few months, there have been few notable improvements to balance, and there are still far too few maps to play on. The recent addition of a third-person mode courted controversy: it feels a little underdeveloped, and it allows you to peek over hills that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to, but it’s also very difficult to shoot straight from this elevated perspective.

Another indicator that the game isn’t quite ready for prime-time is the fact that the only servers are currently located in North America. The lumbering nature of the combat mitigates the issue slightly, but it’s still far from ideal. There’s every chance that Mechwarrior Online will improve, grow and fill in the blanks over the coming months and years. The developers have already outlined plans for new playmodes, a refined interface, balance tweaks and more, but until those surface it’s a hard sell even at the base price of “free.

Just a cursory glance at the official forums (and even recent stories Game Front) reveals that the player base is less than happy. Meanwhile, questionable business decisions continue to pile up. Even the controversy over purchasable weapon-cooling consumables refuses to die down; a single blast of coolant costs almost half a match’s worth of winnings, and there are some harsh allegations from the more competitive players that Piranha are ignoring complaints about high-level balance. At the moment, it’s still quick and easy to find a match, but if things don’t change soon, the well might start drying up.

There is the atomic heart of a great ‘Mech game beating away within Mechwarrior Online, but the chassis surrounding it is ramshackle, full of holes and plastered with garish advertisements. While MWO may be the only free-to-play title out there to offer the authentic “walking tank” experience the Mechwarrior fanbase has come to expect, there are some very solid competitors out there with more meat on their bones, including the recently overhauled and improved Hawken and historical counterparts such as War Thunder or World Of Tanks. When firing on all cylinders, MWO is an enjoyable sim-shooter, but for all the overheating energy weapons in the world, the current product still feels a little half-baked.

Pros

  • Gorgeous graphics, including some amazing explosions
  • Reimagined mech designs look far sleeker their tabletop counterparts
  • Solid ‘Mech combat, giving every weight class a real role
  • All the fundamentals of classic Mechwarrior gameplay updated
  • Customizing your ride is very satisfying, once you know how

Cons

  • Vertical learning curve, with almost no tutorial content in-game
  • Only two playmodes, both of which often devolve into deathmatches
  • Nowhere near enough maps to support repeated 12v12 matches
  • No framework to tie gameplay together, outside of tiny XP perks
  • A huge grind required to get off the ground and into your own mech
  • Hero mechs and consumables are vastly overpriced for what they offer

Final Score: 60/100


Game Front employs a 100-point scale when reviewing games to be as accurate about the experience as possible. Read the full rundown of what our review scores mean.

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8 Comments on Mechwarrior Online Review: Grinding Gears

ArchAngelWC

On September 30, 2013 at 6:51 pm

As a former Starlance Admin for MW3, MW4, MC, and MC2…Let me say if PGI had done to this game what Microsoft did to MC2…It would be a much more merciful fate…PGI has exploited the loyalty of the community and desire for certain mechs to monetize the Intellectual Property…While completely ignoring the story, the history, and the fundamental focuses of Battletech..the planetary campaign which they had a wicked huge resource pile to cherry pick from and completely ignored…They have turned it into World of Tanks/Call of Dumbass…..every few months PGI will do some lame “ohh we are going to add that soon..but we soo busy working on new content…by the way we have new mech for 25$…and it has 4 new special camos you can buy for 5 dollars a piece..and you can buy some decorations for your pit for 2.50 each…and then you buy some heatsink things (which they initially promised founders would never be added..and then they added 3rd person view which they also said they would never add) and make a completely exploitative build as PGI didn’t think to learn CBBR rules from every other BT game…

In conclusion…I love Battletech..I have loved it since I first played Mechcommander when i was 13…and I live in Vancouver where PGI is located…and I honestly want this incarnation to crash and burn worse than MS’ Mechcommander 2…Which was so bad that people who had waited 5 years for a new game would not buy it…Just so when the IP’s value might drop low enough for someone who actually values it and the LOYAL community that comes with it..instead of thinking giving them a reach-around with mechs they should have anyways compensates for milking the community for eveyr dime they can think of a way to get..

JDW

On October 1, 2013 at 7:31 am

I admit I am a bit of a MechWarrior fan-boy; but 60 is a pretty harsh score. If a game reviewer give a game a 60 it is usually not just bad, but completely unplayable.

MechWarrior online have its issues, but it is not that bad. Let’s look at the cons…

>Vertical learning curve, with almost no tutorial content in-gameOnly two play modes, both of which often devolve into death matchesNowhere near enough maps to support repeated 12v12 matchesNo framework to tie gameplay together, outside of tiny XP perksA huge grind required to get off the ground and into your own mechHero mechs and consumables are vastly overpriced for what they offer<
True. And Free to Play.

JDW

On October 1, 2013 at 7:35 am

I admit I am a bit of a MechWarrior fan-boy; but 60 is a pretty harsh score. If a game reviewer give a game a 60 it is usually not just bad, but completely unplayable.

MechWarrior online have its issues, but it is not that bad. Let’s look at the cons…

–Vertical learning curve, with almost no tutorial content in-game–
If you have not already played one of the ten MechWarrior games that came before this you are probably not playing this one either. If you have, there is a very small curve as most things are right where you would expect them to be.

–Only two play modes, both of which often devolve into death matches–
Yes, instead of games like World of Tanks that only had one mode of play.

–Nowhere near enough maps to support repeated 12v12 matches–
More maps would be nice, but meh.

–No framework to tie gameplay together, outside of tiny XP perks–
I would love to see this, but what made you think they would be able to pull it off? No other free to play game has.

–A huge grind required to get off the ground and into your own mech–
Free to play. Again, not as bad as World of Tanks. At least there are no tiers.

–Hero mechs and consumables are vastly overpriced for what they offer–
True. And Free to Play.

Sorry about the double post. I screwed up the first one with unintended formatting.

Dominic Tarason

On October 1, 2013 at 7:40 am

60 sounds about right on our review scores. Here’s what a 60 typically means:

“Pretty good games, but also sloppy and perhaps inconsistent. They may fit nicely within a genre and have a couple good gameplay elements, but those positives are threatened by several problems”

Sounds like it fits the bill. Good graphics, a solid combat engine are the key advantages, offset by a very problematic business model, balance issues, a shortage of content and no tutorial stuff.

psycros

On October 1, 2013 at 8:59 am

So basically its EVE Online with giant robots.

Garrett

On February 27, 2014 at 1:31 pm

Please downgrade the score to a 50 due to U.I. 2.0

Paul

On November 13, 2014 at 7:31 am

Choosing “Piranha” as their name really tells everybody Piranha Games company philosophy. They will chew the fan base up, spit out the bones and then swim away fat.

After playing the game for 3 weeks and 400 games, I must agree with the petition to yank the rights. I posted a topic on their forums with 15 different changes the community wanted and asked the community to prioritize what changes they want first.

Guess what, the topic was locked inside 10 minutes and the moderator told me that when Piranha Games wanted to know what the community wanted, they would ask.

I haven’t logged on since then and will never do so again. I had reached the point in the grind where you had to spend real money on mech bays and was unsure if I wanted to spend the money on a game that I fell so far behind my expectations after having been a top 100 player on Mechwarrior 4. I won’t be spending any money.

strikearrow

On November 27, 2014 at 11:18 pm

Choosing “Piranha” as their name really tells everybody Piranha Games’ company philosophy. (the company that owns MWO). They will chew the fan base up, spit out the bones and then they will swim away fat.

After playing the game for 3 weeks and 400 games, I must agree with the petition to yank the rights. I posted a topic on their forums with 15 different changes the community wanted and asked the community to prioritize what changes they want first.

Guess what, the topic was locked inside 10 minutes and the moderator told me that when Piranha Games wanted to know what the community wanted, they would ask.

I haven’t logged on since then and will never do so again. I had reached the point in the grind where you had to spend real money on mech bays and was unsure if I wanted to spend the money on a game that fell so far behind my expectations after having been a top 100 player on Mechwarrior 4. I won’t be spending any money.