On the 26th of October, PGI announced on their official forums that they have decided to go to Open Beta for MWO on the 29th of October. The president of PGI, Russ Bullock, wrote a letter to the community regarding the situation. "There are limits to [...] how long we can hold off on launching the product. But let’s not lose sight of the fact that the core MWO experience is a ton of fun."
ADDICTIVE AND FUN
MechWarrior Online does have a lot going for it. The MechWarrior community hasn't seen a solid title for years, resulting in pre-orders for MWO Bullock called "quite obviously a huge success, in fact at 5.2 Million it has set a new high bar for these types of programs." It seems clear that people are throwing their money at PGI and begging for a good game.
Russ sounded pretty confident, mentioning media reviews by Penny Arcade and PC Gamer saying that "the core [MWO] experience is extremely addictive and fun — we already have what most games never end up finding."
SO WHY NOT RELEASE THE GAME?
Even though MWO is fun and has a terrific setting and hordes of fans, there are still a few critical ingredients missing. Content, fun, and bug fixes are the cornerstones upon which successful games stand. The first announcement of open beta on the 16th was cancelled primarily because of "community concerns." In developer Paul Inoyue's words from the pushback: "We have decided to push Open Beta back. We agree that the game's current state of stability is not allowing us to get the latest experience across to new and veteran players alike."
In the two hotfixes and one patch that have taken place since the open beta was delayed, the game is certainly more stable. However, the most recent implementation of double heat sinks has been flawed. Not only do these special-cost heat sinks cost a large amount, heavy diminishing returns actually make them less useful than normal heat sinks in most situations. The outcry on this issue has been acknowledged by PGI in the beta forums with an "it is being looked at" post.
Finally, ongoing economy tweaks have been confusing. Screenshots of people with 120k C-bill repair costs are scattered across the beta forums, illustrating an estimated 50% repair cost increase. This means that it's difficult to make C-bills if your 'mech of choice is advanced, heavy and using expensive LRM or gauss ammo. These are all issues that need attention, and we haven't even started talking about content.
Next on the list of upcoming content is the new game mode, Conquest, an alternate map for each of the four existing maps, the full E-War package, another Centurion variant, and a new 'mech, the heavy Cataphract. The Cataphract will bring the total number of 'mechs to 11, three of each weight class except the Assault class. It should also make it harder to call the Catapult a 'cat'.
All this content should be entering the game within the first half of November, along with the phase one matchmaking system which means we'll only be able to drop in groups of four for quite a while. To be completely straightforward, while the four man queues will degrade the performance for large groups that have been playing MWO for a while, 4-man premade maximums should help the new flood of solo queuers that will be flooding into the game Monday.
LET'S TALK WANGS
The first hero 'mech, the Yen Lo Wang, has been quite an eye opener. PGI took an existing C-bill mech and removed it, replacing it with a weaker MC-only version. That's right, they took the only medium 'mech that could mount an AC-20 (the largest autocannon in the game) in its arm totally out of the game, and made it so that if you wanted to use an AC-20 you'd have to pay them for this new named mech that only has 4 weapon slots.
This 'mech also has the fastest torso rotation in the game, and a considerably faster top speed than other Centurion variants. The weapon power trade-offs are pretty fair in order to have these speed bonuses, but in the long run, hero 'mechs represent a huge 'pay to win' threat.
The forums are innundated with cries for a C-bill version of the Yen Lo Wang that doesn't have the unique skin or C-bill bonus, but does have the top-speed and weapon slots of the Wang. If PGI really cares about the long term survival of their game, they should give this idea serious consideration.
FLY FREE, MWO
Whatever concerns the closed beta testers have, PGI has made it pretty clear that the open beta is the next major step for the game. As closed beta testers, we have a duty to these new open beta players. Answer questions in chat, consider using PGI's official voice chat and help the new guys to feel like they are a part of the game.
The next generation of 'mech pilots are coming to MWO, and we need to do our part to get new pilots and veterans alike ready. After all, MWO is entering a new era.