It has a been a long, strange trip for the MechWarrior series. Set within in the larger world of the BattleTech universe, the series managed to carve for itself a nice little niche in the gaming market as the series about giant robot before giant robots where cool (if such a thing is imaginable). Predating such series as Armored Core and Steel Battalion, MW was as known for its cutting edge graphics from game to game as it was for its more ‘realistic’ (at least in comparison to other giant robot properties such as Transformers, Gundam, and Robotech/Macross) gameplay and the series blazed a trail that games such as Hawken travel upon even to this day. And yet for all that, recent years have not been particularity kind to the MechWarrior brand: it has been almost 12 years since the series last graced the PC while its most recent incarnation (MechAssault: Phantom War released for DS in 2006) generally received a lukewarm reception at best.
With such woes haunting the series, it is not hard to see why even those among the MechWarrior faithful had begun to loose hope for a return to glory. Thankfully it seems that may not be the case after all if the upcoming MechWarrior Online can live up to its potential. A free-to-play MMO with elements from the strategy, simulation, and action genres all mixed together into a delicious looking stew, MO really does look like it could bring the MechWarrior experience into modern era of gaming. Piranha Games appears to be cooking up something impressive and I have to admit the footage I have seen so far brings back many a fond memories of my days with the likes of MechWarrior 2: 31st Century Combat.
Previously Piranha Games released details of their Founders pre-order program which, among other things, will grant players instant access to the game’s ongoing closed beta and, on the higher levels, access to a number of exclusive ‘Founders’ mechs. While images of these mechs were shown at the time, it is only now that full details and videos for them are being unleashed upon the unsuspecting public. Check out the official descriptions and trailers for three of the four mechs (including the just released Hunchback trailer) below:
Jenner JR7 Official Description
The Jenner JR7 is a Light, 35 ton ‘Mech with a max speed of 118 km/h. Quick, agile, and with an impressive weapons loadout of four medium lasers and a short range missile 4, the Jenner can make quick work of larger opponents. The jumpjets merely add to the flexibility of this ‘Mech.
While not outfitted with much in the way of armour, the Jenner lives by the motto ‘Speed is life.’ Holding still is a death sentence, thus Jenner pilots must become familiar with weaving through opponents, turning to fire at their exposed backs.
Heat management, and knowing to always move, and always find your opponents weak spots are key to becoming a successful Jenner Pilot. The Jenner has a very small amount of armour, however. Getting caught in a bad turn (or worse, holding still) will see your ‘Mech torn apart in seconds. Always stay on the move, always manoeuvre, always shoot their backs. Use your jumpjets to get out of bad situations, or jump into the middle of the enemy, and then jump out.
Atlas Official Description
If there was ever a ‘Mech that inspired terror in those that faced it, it was the Atlas. Weighing in at 100 tons, boasting a small ‘Mechs weight in armour, and having two small ‘Mechs worth of weaponry, the Atlas is truly an awe inspiring sight. The unyielding, deliberate movements, and Deaths-Head skull all make the Atlas a truly imposing ‘Mech to face.
The Atlas takes a skilled and veteran pilot to be effective — an intimate knowledge of the weapon systems is required.
-The Left Torso contains your LRM 20, perfect for indirect fire, as well as an SRM 6 for added close-in punch
-The Left and Right Arms each contain a Medium Laser
-The Centre Torso contains an additional two Medium Lasers
-The Right Torso contains your go-to weapon, the AC/20
Heat management, knowledge of weapon grouping and weapon ranges are all necessary to make the most of this fearsome ‘Mech. Mastery of these facets will rain destruction on any who face you.
Keep in mind, however, that the Atlas is not the fastest ‘Mech, and that being attacked from behind is a very constant and real threat. Scan your battlefield carefully, as even a single Jenner can ruin your day. Careful positioning is key, as is fire discipline — learn your weapons ranges, as you will be switching between them as you close with the enemy.
Hunchback HBK-4G Official Description
The Hunchback 4G is a close-range brawler, with thick armour and excellent weaponry. Capable of dealing as much damage as it can take, the Hucnhback is hard to put down, and hard to defend against. Extremely capable in any urban environment, look for this ‘Mech at the vnaguard of attacks; the AC/20 alone is cause for pause, but adding two medium lasers and a small laser just add to the close-in killing power.
Weight: 50 Tons
Speed: 64 km/h
Armament: AC/20; 2x Medium Lasers; 1x Small Laser
AKA: Terror at close range.
MechWarrior Online is due to fully launch on PC sometime this year. The Founders Pre-Order Program, which to reiterate grants immediate access to the closed beta, is happening right now and available in three flavors: Veteran (for the cost of $30), Elite (for the cost of $60), and Legendary (for the cost of $120). Stay tuned to Blistered Thumbs for continuing coverage of MechWarrior Online and be sure to share your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below.