Can a single patch turn it all around?
Mechwarrior Online is a troubled game. Build on a shaky version of Cryengine3 that doesn't play nice with multiplayer coding. Struggling to balance a FPS game based around a decades old franchise, with a core playerbase slavishly devoted to tabletop rule-sets and lore. Plodding along at a snails pace towards a hazy future of much ballyhooed features and promises. The dreams of large scale community warfare and a player run economy seem like distant figments for a game is still having trouble with the fundamentals.
But everything seems a little bit closer now. A little more attainable. MWO's
Febuary 5th patch did more than addressed a lot of core issues fans have been complaining about for months now, it brought optimism back to the playerbase.
As a stompy robot nerd, I'm most excited about the gameplay changes. A slew of balance changes making large energy weapons like my beloved "lightning nipples" more tactically viable against other weapons that fill similar roles. Adjustments to jumpjets to give your mech's liftoff a little more "omph." Minor edits to torso twist rates and turning speeds for some units, and a revised heat override system, to better understand when your mech is burning itself out. Nothing ground breaking in itself, but combined together they make a much tighter and more polished feeling game. Things "move" like you intuitively feel they should. More build options are viable, players are already seeing more variety in the field.
The camo and paint customization system received a MASSIVE overhaul. For a F2P game that should be running on this kind of picemeal buy-in content, the paint options in MWO
were embarrassingly anaemic and criminally overpriced. You could pay one or two dollars for a single coat of paint on one of your robots that could never be changed or edited without repurchasing the same colour again. It was a terrible rip-off that many players simply opted out of.
- Now with colour!
Now they have a much more sensible system where you buy a paint colour and can apply it again and again over all your mechs. A fantastic system for players in clans or merc groups with a unified colour scheme. Buy your team colours once, slap them on all your mechs, no more pissing around buying the team shade of white 10 times to outfit your garage. Now that you own those colours, you are also free to change them up when not running with your homeboys, you can swap from team colours to personal ride on the fly. Running a personalized robot won't break the bank anymore! I know I've purchased more colours in the past day than I did in the previous three months.
Not to mention the 100+ colour options they added. No longer bound to a few puke shaded basic options and a pile of variations on military green, the new paint shop has loads of garish eye-popping colours to deck out your futuristic Landsknechte. Appealing light blue highlights, desert tans, and happy-go-lucky pinks, there is a colour for whatever kind of robot you want to stomp in. Showing unusual savvy, PGI is running a %50 off sale on a lot of paints and camo options for the next week as well, all the more reason to customize your bots while the getting is good.
Then we get into the nitty gritty. Changes to the game's UI that include pre and post-game chat bars, an overview of what units the teams are running, end of the round statistics, and a break-down of the last few weapons to hit you and what killed you. It's hard to describe what this basic functionality adds to the experience. MWO
feels like a legitimate game now, not a ramshackle pile of systems held together with baling wire and hope. The devil, and the gameplay, is in the details after-all.
- I can't believe this kind of thing wasn't in the game before, but I'm sure glad it is now.
One of the most interesting aspects is the new "player rating" at the end of each match. While meaningless now, that score is being collated and sorted to determine a players ELO rating in the upcoming match making system. We may finally see an end to pub-stomps in our lifetime! Hopefully when the system goes active, new players will be matched with other new/low skill players instead of dumped into the shark tank of robotic pros. Anything that makes the game a more welcoming experience for new players is fine by me.
Novice mechwarriors are also seeing the benefit of a recent, more egalitarian, shift in trial mechs and sales. The latest crops of trial mechs have actually been respectable usable units, not the death-trap robotic-Pinto's they previously stuck newbies in. Combine that with a %50 off discount on the MC cost (real money) of the trial mechs, the cadet bonus to cbills (moon money) for the first 25 matches, and a new player can join the game, spend $6 and have 2 or 3 respectable fully upgradable mechs at their disposal they can immediately kit out. A far cry from a few months ago when a new player was expected to either pay through the nose for a real mech, or spend hours of painful losses and grinding to afford one with cbills.
When PGI promised a substantial improvement to the visual performance of the game in this patch, I was skeptical. But damn if they didn't pull it off. MWO
is running buttery smooth on my computer now. After several matches of not experiencing any of the normal stuttering and slow down I usually get, I decided to push it and up the detail settings – still smooth sailing. I cannot believe how much better the game plays now. After some recent fixes to netcode and this new graphics optimization, the game feels so tight and responsive now, it's hard to believe it's the same MWO
Although, it does make me wonder just how broken their coding was before that a software patch can result in such a bump in performance...
I'm gushing, I know. I'm just so EXCITED! My love of stompy robots has been fulfilled! It doesn't feel like a chore to play anymore, it feels... Fun!
I know MWO
hasn't exactly been on many Dtoider's radar. But if you EVER had even a twinge of interest in the stompy robot action, THIS IS THE TIME TO JOIN IN. It isn't often you see a single patch fix a near broken game.
* - Nanbu thinks the industry is chock'a block with wannabees and copycats. That might be true, but crap games don't somehow annul the good ones. Some excellent action going on in the comments of this well written blog.
* - DMC fans have spoken with their wallets – what a whinny bunch of bitches eh? How dare they not buy something they don't want?
* - A fun video comparing Hogan's Alley to police training through the years. Watching it, I kept thinking of Knutaf's dad. Which is weird. Sorry buddy.
A - One man's exploit is another man's skill-gated technique. I can feel what Chris Hibbard is trying to say in this blog, but some of the things he lists as cheats or exploits seem iffy. Players will always race to the bottom for the highest reward/minimum effort tactic, I think more onus needs to be placed on the devs to balance before shipping.
A - Hells yes! Pixielated dropped some coin on a new Vita and a pair of games. My bro did the same thing, pretty much buying a 3DS just to get on the Fire Emblem hype train. If you see him, don't spoil the surprise that I intended to steal it off him reaalll soon.
A - Soooo much snark in this list of 5 developer sins. Most of the things on this list though are only terrible if done poorly.
P - Fuck kittens. Communitoid knows what it takes to survive in the world.
P - Come get your weekly dose of hot meat from the taco truck.
A - Hard to top the original DualShock. Great controller.
A - A massive article about what seems like a bunch of semantics. Maybe I missed some nuance here or something.
I - Long time lurker Hawk200101 steps out of the shadows and into the c-blogs!
T - Nilcam makes the case for Twilight Princess on the Gamecube. One of my biggest gaming regrets is missing out on this title.
P - Get the skinny on Pandora's Tower from TroyFullBuster. Sounds like a win for any JRPG fan.
T - Somone FINALLY has the guts to settle the Mario Kart/Diddy Kong Racing hash once and for all.
V - I don't understand a single thing going on in this Guild Wars lets play.
M - Some beautiful music and sleuthing in this blog by Hyper Lemon Buster. Who is Zohar002?
L - Noam Zomsky made me chuckle.
C - Some lets play of Slender. Little dry.
F - I can buy a whole box of cookies at the supermarket and I don't have to dirty up my browser with spam to do it.
- That feeling when I realize I'm part of the F2P problem.