MWO: Consume, Consume, Consume

Well, that was a fun couple of days in MWO land, wasn't it?

A little while ago, PGI announced that consumable items were going to be a thing. This week they released some details on them - and the MWO userbase erupted into something that the phrase "paroxysm of apoplectic rage" barely begins to describe. Not, dear reader, because PGI was putting consumable items in at all (although there were a fair few people who seemed outraged at the notion). It's become increasingly obvious that it's possible to earn or buy everything in the game at a rate that PGI's content delivery pipeline can't keep pace with, and consumables allow a constant drip feed of cash into PGI's coffers after an initial outlay of development effort on their part. No, the main outpouring of hatred came from the announcement that one of the consumables would be coolant flush.

Flushing Out The Problem

Some background - in Battletech, your giant space robot generates heat when it does anything (firing, moving, etc), and does so in differing amounts depending on what weapon you're using or how fast you're moving or whatever. Heat sinks are your defence against this - more sinks means a greater heat capacity, as well as faster cooling. Mechwarrior 4 introduced the idea of flushing coolant - hitting a button used up part of a reservoir of coolant that dropped your heat level and would sometimes allow you to get that final shot you needed in without shutting down. A good chunk of the MW4 player base didn't like this feature, some for perfectly rational reasons (many consider it a crutch that detracts from learning how to manage your heat), some because DEVIATION FROM CANON MUST BE PREVENTED AT ALL COSTS. Whatever the reason for the dislike, PGI were asked directly if they intended to implement coolant flushing and Garth Erlam answered with a resounding "no".

Now, it's true to say that what PGI are doing with coolant flush is at odds with what they said they were going to. This point has been brought up over and over and OVER again over on what my fellow TMDC contributor Tank Boy Ken charitably calls "the brown sea" of the MWO forums. In fact, in many cases it has been the entire thrust of the argument as to why PGI shouldn't do it, so I want to address it. Are we seriously expecting PGI to look at all their design and revenue decisions through the lens of some questions that their community manager answered 6 months ago? Are we really and truly expecting that they cannot change their minds about anything ever? You know who never changes their mind? Religious fundamentalists and crazy people. I don't fancy playing a game developed by either of those groups. If that's what you're after, try Left Behind.

Coolant Induced Meltdown

Back to the consumables. The initial announcement was of three consumable items: coolant flush, artillery bombardment and air strikes. The latter two have been sitting around in the game files for a while, but the assumption everyone had been making was that these would be one off purchases that would occupy a module slot and allow a limited number of remote strikes per match. The announcement that this would be a consumable instead is perhaps a little disappointing, as remote bombardment seems the natural counter to the current jump sniping metagame, and running a jump snipe group doesn’t require a repeated investment of funds, but at least there WILL be a counter to it now. Having something you can use to force the enemy team to change position will be extremely valuable. However,further yelling resulted from the news that there would not only be cbill consumables (purchased with the currency you earn for playing games) but also MC (the currency you purchase with real money) variations of the consumables. The example given was that coolant flush would have a 10% and a 25% heat reducing variant purchasable with cbills which could both be equipped at once and allow you to reduce heat by a total of 35%. Each would also take up a module slot, which are at a premium - the most any mech has is three (four if you've ground out the experience necessary to Master it) and there's sensor range boosts and capture accelerators to jam into them already. Fitting two coolant flush modules in would have meant making some sacrifices. The announced MC coolant flush module would have allowed 35% heat reduction from a single module slot.

I've been writing words on the internet for years at, but until I came to, no one bothered to read them. I like robots, space and the internet and am therefore perfect for the MWO desk.