MechWarrior Online's fitting system is undeniably less complex than EVE's. And yet, even with the limited amount of equipment available, several items are just hopelessly suboptimal. While the game is still a blast to play, it would be wrong not to talk about these issues. But why are these seemingly useless items in the game? Some of the oddities of MWO's equipment list stem from Tabletop rules. Naturally, PGI has already done several modifications to the rule set to make more weapons, equipment and upgrades viable. And honestly, the patch on the Feb. 5th brought some more weapons into that sweet spot. This article is the first in a series about why a piece of equipment is currently not good enough to see any usage. In some cases, possible ways to make stuff “good enough to use” will be mentioned.
Today I’m going to use lots of words to talk about Single Heat Sinks and how they fare against their more advanced counterpart (Double Heat Sinks, Spoiler: they are better). The only thing both types have in common is that their weight is 1 ton.
How Single and Double Heat Sinks work
Single heat sinks (SHS) dissipate a flat 0.1 heat per second and add 1 point of heat capacity to your heat scale, and every SHS which you need to place outside of your engine uses up 1 critical Slot.
Double heat sinks (DHS), on the other hand, dissipate twice the heat per second, provided those are included in the engine installed on your 'Mech (Engine Rating divided by 25, rounded down). Although it's possible to install more than 10 heat sinks in your engine, only the first 10 are true double heat sinks (DHS 2, dissipation of 0.2 heat/s and adding 2 points to heat capacity). All double heat sinks which do not fit those criteria will operate at a reduced rate with a dissipation rate of 0.14 HPS and 1.4 points of heat capacity (DHS 1.4). One significant disadvantage of double heat sinks is that they need 3 critical slots per sink when fitted outside of the engine.
What makes DHS flat out better than SHS
The main advantage to upgrading to DHS is that all internal engine heat sinks will be converted to DHS. This is a huge improvement in heat capacity/dissipation and also saves a lot of tonnage when aiming to get to a minimum viable cooling efficiency. Even engines with a rating of less than 250 get a huge boost to their cooling efficiency due to the upgrade to DHS.
Few 'Mech builds use engines below a 200 rating, but even on those small engines the difference is huge. A 200 engine with SHS will need to spend 8 additional tons on SHS to reach the same cooling efficiency as the same engine equipped with DHS.
It’s quite easy to be crit-bound due to switching to DHS on some stock designs, but it usually frees enough tonnage to upgrade the engine. A good example is the stock Awesome 8Q, which comes with a 240 standard engine (9 Heat Sinks included) and 19 external heat sinks. As shown in the examples below, the simple act of installing DHS increases the heat efficiency of the 'Mech while freeing 9 tons (DHS 240 Awesome). If that free tonnage is used to increase the engine rating, it’s easy possible to gain +20% heat dissipation rate while also upgrading the head-mounted Small Laser to a Medium.
Interestingly a lot of builds are quite useable even with only 10 DHS, while builds with SHS will struggle with the heat load of even two Medium Lasers. This is especially true on Caustic Valley. Due to the high environmental heat, all 'Mechs lose 0.3 heat dissipation per second (hd/s). A 'Mech moving at full speed will need to spend another 0.2 hd/s to remove heat generated by the movement system/engine, which cuts the hd/s avaible to a 'Mech with 10 SHS in half, while costing a DHS equipped 'Mech 25% of its cooling capacity. Fighting in the caldera becomes a dangerous thing with 10 SHS, since the caldera negates another 0.5 hd/s leaving most Trial 'Mechs that a total of 0 hd/s remaining as long as they are moving inside the caldera.
An Example of DHS Supremacy
While it is possible to create a SHS build which can dissipate heat faster than a DHS build, any such build will also lack firepower, as shown in the example below. With the latest change to PPC heat, this build would be heat stable if it exchanged the ER PPCs with regular PPCs.
While it has a heat capacity of 82 and 5.2 dissipation per second, it’s woefully underarmed. DHS will never be able to reach that dissipation or capacity level, but they save tremendous amounts of tonnage and still offer enough dissipation to use hot weapons. In comparison to a SHS build, a DHS build loses about 20 Heat Capacity and 2.0 Dissipation, but it gains a Gauss Rifle and an AMS, and thus offers far superior firepower. The DHS build will overheat faster but once it approaches the Shutdown range it can still fire the Gauss Rifle without being concerned by heat. And since the Gauss Rifle will also be fired alongside the ER PPCs it will easily outdamage the SHS build.
Considering that DHS is actually an upgrade to SHS, one could argue that it is okay that DHS is always the better option. But making it an interesting choice for some useful applications could add another level of variety to the loadout system. If there are no changes to SHS down the road, the game will not break in any way, but making them effective enough to use could make the upgrade to DHS an option and not mandatory. On the other hand, it's a nice feeling to know that you just paid a huge amount of spacebux and your gundam is now twice as good (or, well, nearly twice as good).
One should keep in mind that the current disparity is also impacting the New Player Experience, since most people are confined to Trial 'Mechs. Granted, the time they have to spend in those stock configs (most use SHS) has been significantly reduced since the introduction of the Cadet Bonus.
Since the beginning of Open Beta PGI has managed to make more weapons and equipment viable, but some of them remain suboptimal. It should also be noted that not only some of the stuff to put on your 'Mech is suboptimal, some 'Mechs also need to be classified suboptimal. The next installment in this series will feature a weapon system, but not Machine Guns or Flamers, as PGI has announced their intent to buff them. We should see what they have in mind and judge afterwards.
Call for Feedback
If you have a nice working Loadout with SHS, please share it with us. We're not claiming that we have a monopoly on knowledge.