MWO: Are We Having Fun Yet?

My discontent is not new. It was born a few months ago when PGI took their general forum out back and shot it dead so they wouldn’t have to see people talking mean about their game. It struck me as an odd choice at the time, and with hindsight I can now explain my trepidation: without an actual general forum, it seems as though PGI now has no idea what their players like or don’t like. All because someone decided he or she was getting a little tired hearing people say the game might just have a problem or two.

I’m giving the Brown Sea far more credit than it’s due; I can’t exactly blame PGI for not wanting to sift through a billion posts of incessant word diarrhea that the game is bad because some Pubbie, who I’m sure is the greatest Mechwarrior ever to live, can’t solo entire enemy teams unaided. Let’s be completely honest, though.

Mechwarrior Online has problems. Big ones.

average time to kill any `Mech is abysmally low.

Goons have known this since early beta, but now that everyone knows the super-secret OpSec tactic of focusing fire on one guy, Battlemechs simply don’t live long enough to survive making a single mistake. This issue became more apparent after Host State Rewind made missing a thing that only happens to bads, and will be exacerbated further when 12v12 rolls out. I won’t elaborate much on this because Tank Boy Ken already has.

Weapon balance is a joke.

I’m going to elaborate with a quote from Paul Inouye:

“While funny to test, the 6-SRM6 Catapult will decimate any Assault class Mech in 3 volleys.”

This is true, assuming neither the Catapult nor the Atlas are moving or torso twisting, and assuming that a 6 SRM-6 Catapult can get close enough to the Atlas without exploding. What this seems to say is this: PGI is testing weapon balance based on the optimal conditions for a weapon rather than using actual in-combat testing to determine how often those optimal conditions will actually occur. Couple this with the inarguable fact that PGI’s playtesters don’t play on the same level as say, the Steel Jaguars, and suddenly Large Pulse Lasers are eating an unexpected and unnecessary nerf that renders them useless. Or worse than useless, since Large Pulse Lasers were already pretty bad even before their recent nerf. Unless you were using them in a creative dubstep remix, anyway.

Sticking to Tabletop Values Hurts MWO

MWO is a first-person shooter. BattleTech is a turn-based tabletop wargame where you still get to shoot even on the same turn that you die. MWO has precision aiming. BattleTech has dice. It’s possible to capture the feel of BattleTech without copying every number in the rulebook. If AC/10s need to do 12 damage to be competitive, then increase their damage. If “light” autocannons need to weigh less; or if you need to introduce a weapon before it appears canonically to give medium `Mechs a reason to use ballistics, then do it! I’ve been playing BattleTech for two decades and even I recognize that some mechanics just won’t work when translated into an FPS.

metagame is stale and boring

There are no strategies other than PPC/Gauss Rifle poptart sniping. Brawling isn’t a thing, since PPCs and lasers have comparable close-range performance and missile weapons are a joke. LRMs could’ve been a good counter to poptart sniping, but even massed they don’t do enough damage to matter and are currently reliant on direct line-of-sight to be effective. LRMs also lack the ammunition to be used as an effective harassment tool, and their already crippling ammunition problems will likely spell the end of them in 12v12.

MWO is newbie-unfriendly

You can play ten or so games and you can afford a medium `Mech! Unfortunately you’ve just bought a machine that probably doesn’t work in the current metagame. Enjoy 20+ matches before you can buy and kit out a Highlander to replace it; or, y’know, just stop playing when you get sick of dying while you’re still trying to get a feel for how movement works. New players make a lot of mistakes, and in the current metagame environment even a single mistake is almost certainly going to be lethal.

TWELVE PLAYERS PER TEAM Makes every problem worse

12v12 is not going to be MWO’s panacea. Adding eight more players to each map won’t turn MWO into a magical wonderland where individual lances break up to contest objectives against a small number of enemy counterparts. There’s no incentive to capture and hold objectives in MWO, so that’s never going to happen. 12v12 is also not going to make Alpine any less godawful to play on. Quite the opposite: the metagame of blobbing up and killing the first player stupid or impatient enough to expose itself to your team will simply become even more deeply ingrained, because already-fragile `Mechs will now die even more quickly.

Unfortunately, it’s growing increasingly obvious that PGI either isn’t aware of these issues or that they simply don’t care. If PGI doesn’t care, why should we?

You don't have to take my word for it. PGI's original promo for the Victor speaks for itself.

I'm a published BattleTech author who's also responsible for inflicting the "Let's All Play BattleTech and rewrite Inner Sphere history" thread on the Something Awful forums for the past 2+ years.