"War Doesn't Come Easy"
I’ve had a love / hate relationship with the MechWarrior games for quite some time now. I love the premise of realistic giant robots rampaging about and engaging in heavy duty combat with one another. But, on the other hand, the density of the games can be off-putting. Of course, the rewards were always present, once you’d built your mech in a way what suited you, but there was a definitely challenge to becoming immersed the experience.
Now, there’s MechWarrior Online, which lets you engage in all of the depth associated with MechWarrior in a multiplayer FPS environment. However, not everything from the series translated smoothly and, while the game is technically free-to-play, there’s a plethora of content locked behind a wall of purchasable credits.
MechWarrior Online is an FPS game that takes a purposeful step away from the arcade styled shooter. Gone are the days of being spotted by your enemy and immediately being downed by a single bullet. On the contrary, battles in MechWarrior Online are typically drawn out affairs with a good amount of running and gunning mixed with tactical placement. Being spotted by the enemy team doesn’t automatically spell your doom and sometimes, depending on your mech you may be able to dish out a reasonable amount of damage while you retreat to safety. These drawn out battles allow for more team play to happen during a match, with some of the lighter units acting as scouts while the heavier, slower units eventually join the fight. However, the flip side is that once you’re dead, you’re out of the match until the end. You can spectate your teammates actions, but there’s no respawning at all which can be a little disappointing in some cases. However, once you’ve had some experience with the mech of your choice, you’ll more than likely find yourself dying less often and securing more kills. The problem comes when you’re trying to actually gain that experience.
MechWarrior Online lacks a true indepth tutorial. I admit that being an FPS game means that there are some things that don’t require an explanation. Shoot at the enemy, try not to take damage. The basics are still intact here. However, the movement tutorial is the most information you get and even it is tucked away in the same obscure tab where you can select your game mode. Once I’d adjusted to the movement over the course of a few matches, I finally managed to secure my first kill. The best part of being in the cockpit view is feeling like you're truly in control of the this hulking mech and downing an enemy is very satisfying. However, the barrier that you need to cross in order to get there is a little daunting and somewhat of a deterrent initially.
In truth, my biggest issue with MechWarrior Online aren’t the initially perplexing controls, it’s the game modes. There are only two to choose from and around ten or eleven maps to go along with them. Some of the maps are well done and, for the most part they’re diverse. However, I grew to detest the two night maps that I seemed to land on the most of out all of the selections available. The night maps have no real ambient lighting, so the only light you really receive are from the lasers, bullets and rockets from the battling mechs which admittedly looks cool. However, I found myself caught up on pieces of environment that I couldn’t see which added to my frustrations with the game. Fortunately, the night maps are a limited experience and all of the other maps function as proper battle arenas. Still, I would have liked for there to have been more two modes available.
Then, there are the mechs. You start out with four to choose from which all demand different plays styles and you unlock more mechs and customization options as you earn in game currency and experience points. However, there is a very obvious pay wall in this free-to-play game and the mechs behind that wall look much cooler and come with experience and cash bonuses permanently attached to them. Despite this wall, all of the mechs in the game have a realistic weight and feel to them as they thunder around the battlefield trading bullets and lasers.
Overall MechWarrior Online is a good attempt at bringing the MechWarrior franchise to the PC world, even if most of it is locked behind pay to play barriers. The combat is entertaining, but the many barriers that are in the game will more than likely deter more players than it entices.
GameDynamo's Score for MechWarrior Online (PC)
|Joey Blackwell II
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Avid gamer who's more passionate about writing. Hopes to be a renowned writing voice in the world someday, while still being addicted to games.
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