The majority of players in MWO agree that the high-alpha long-range meta is a problem and that something needs to be done.
Interestingly most suggestions focus on fighting “non-canon” builds (not conforming to 30 year old tabletop honor rules), which are guilty of “boating” a certain weapon type (aka use multiples of the same weapon, and nothing else). In MWO, you can fire your weapons as a group, including firing them all at once. Chain-fire fires the weapon in a group with a half a second pause in between shots, except for weapons with a beam duration; chain firing those will fire the next weapon after the beam duration has ended.
PGI’s intended solution works along those lines. Paul Inouye (PGI's Lead Designer) wants to discourage firing all of the weapons at once. Instead of forcing chain-fire on players, however, PGI is introducing a heat penalty to firing more than a specific number of specific weapons at once. This makes chain-firing or spacing of shots more heat efficient. Depending on the severity of heat penalties, it will be a lot more efficient to group your weapons into small enough packs to stay below the penalty size. Then, you just fire those groups half a second apart. You can even use basic software that comes with most mice to get the perfect timing.
Another idea touted as the perfect solution by many clueless players is the "overloaded targeting computer". It also tries to force people into chain-firing or spacing their shots - albeit through a different mechanic - and boils down to being able to fire some of your large weapons (2x PPC, 1x AC/20, 1x Gauss Rifle) every other second. Otherwise, you suffer a "Cone of Fire" effect. Of course, smaller weapons can be fired together without punishment. Which, at least, isn’t that punishing for light and medium Mechs.
A similar idea is the ever changing reticule. Of course, the denizens of the brown sea love this idea, even though it can also be easily circumvented by shooting your big guns within short succession. It’s another horrible idea to get the spread-out fire from a 30-year old Tabletop game into a modern FPS. While a lot of words were used, it boils down that your reticule has different aim points for different weapon hardpoints spread over your Mech. Much like World of Tanks, the reticule shrinks in size the longer you target an enemy. This can easily take 7 seconds against a fast light Mech. However, when you single fire a weapon, it uses the central aim point.
Why They Fix Nothing At All
The irony is that chain-firing or being forced to space shots will not reduce the total volume of fire being sent downrange. It will only increase lethality, since even high-alpha builds will now have to expose themselves for longer and thus will receive more return fire. Or they might be able accept the heat penalty for firing all of the weapons at once (the most common problem is four PPCs). While this might reduce the alpha damage, players will simply throw a “left/right” punch with their Quad PPC Stalker; two PPCs at a time, fired shortly after one another. Let’s compare the overall firepower of the dreaded quad PPC Stalker before and after Paul's “fix”. If you’re wondering why I’m not talking about the 6PPC Stalker, it’s that it has been a gimmick build in serious play. Encountered in the wild it can sometimes play out its strength, but overall it’s a gimmick build.
The damage output available with the new mechanic is essentially the same. This is the most inefficient way to not fix an issue. If you can aim, it’s possible to play after the boating “fix” hits with just a small adjustment. The sad part is that the introduction of 12v12 will provide full teams with even more firepower than they have now available to them.
All of the suggestions want to limit the amount of damage produced by a single click, thus allowing Mechs to live longer. These suggestions do increase the incentive to stagger your fire or use chain fire, but they only delay destruction of Mechs by a small amount of time. The actual problem - we can have teams with a high amount of heavy and assault Mechs carrying huge amounts of firepower relative to their hitpoints - won't get solved. This leaves heat efficient designs with smaller alphas in a bad spot. These heat efficient designs carry less front-loaded firepower, but can sustain their damage output for extended durations, unlike high-alphas. DPS builds are supported by historical data; in November 2012, Mechs lasted longer because the hit detection wasn’t perfectly working. This made sustained firepower and brawling a more viable option. To get back to this more balanced state, some users have suggested increasing hitpoints, as removing HSR would be tremendously stupid.