Some interesting information about energy weapon balance changes for MWO popped up in a Command Chair forum post by Paul Inouye - let’s have a look at it:
Concerning the Large Laser, ER Large Laser, Large Pulse Laser, PPC and ERPPCs: The Large Laser was pretty much on point where we wanted it in terms of heat generation. A proper scaling has been done to the rest of the mentioned weapons (i.e. they have all been reduced in terms of heat generated). You will see these changes in the next patch on Feb 5th and the exact numbers will be in the patch notes.
- The PPC/ERPPC vs ECM: this will be going live on Feb 19th.
- Hitting an ECM enabled Mech with a PPC/ERPPC will disable the ECM functionality for 5 seconds.
- After 5 seconds, full ECM functionality returns.
- If an ECM is disabled and the ECM enabled Mech is hit with a PPC/ERPPC again, the 5 second counter resets to 5. It will be possible for a very skilled PPC/ERPPC shooter to disable ECM on a Mech for as long as they can keep chain hitting the ECM Mech.
- The modules "Sensor Range" and "Advanced Sensor Range" will now affect ECM by increasing the detectable/targetable range of an ECM equipped Mech.
- "Sensor Range", the first tier, will allow players to detect/target an ECM equipped Mech 15% further away than normal (200m > 230m)
- "Advanced Sensor Range", the second tier, will allow players to detect/target an ECM equipped Mech 25% further away than normal (200m > 250m)
How this affects gameplay:
- Normally an ECM equipped Mech can only be detected/targeted between 180m-200m. I.e. there was a 20m buffer where SSRMs/LRMs could lock and fire.
- With Sensor Range, that buffer is now 180-230m. A total of 50m buffer.
- With Advanced Sensor Range, that buffer becomes 180-250. A total of 70m buffer.
- Players will have an additional 50m of space to target and fire guided munitions on ECM enabled Mechs.
This too will be going live on Feb 19th.
So, what does this mean in practical terms? Well, the big energy weapon heat reduction has been in the pipe for a while. The PPC and Large Pulse Laser are currently sitting at 9 points of heat generated, and Garth Erlam has dropped hints on Reddit that the PPC will be going down to 8 (making it just a bit hotter than the Large Laser). It doesn’t seem unreasonable to assume the Large Pulse would get the same heat reduction too, which would certainly make it a lot more viable than it is at present. It’s difficult to speculate on the detail of the ER weapon changes - the tradeoff for ER weapons is range vs heat, and at the moment we don’t really have maps big enough for increased range to be that useful, so ANY extra heat is frankly unnecessary. With the introduction of larger maps like the promised Alpine Peaks though, we may find that the ER weapons see more use.
The introduction of more ways to counter ECM is certainly both welcome and interesting. The PPC being a long-ranged "off switch" is going to severely impact the effectiveness of the Atlas D-DC as an ewar platform, though probably won’t impact on the Raven, Commando and Cicada too much (given the PPC is not ideal for shooting small, fast moving targets). The sensor range module change is also nice, but it may actually increase the effectiveness of the ECM/Streak Raven by giving it an extra 50m in which it can lock and fire Streaks without having to flip its ECM to counter mode.
There was also the announcement of a new Hero Mech, the Awesome "Pretty Baby." We don't have much information other than the hero mech page right now, but from that it's possible to divine that it comes with a 340 engine (probably an XL), meaning it could potentially squeeze a 400 sized engine in there if it adheres to the current max engine size rules. Hardpoint wise, the model resembles an Awesome 8V, but with the addition of what looks like an SRM4 launcher on the arm. Given that it gets a firepower rating of 61 on the chart there, the layout COULD be LRM15, SRM4, PPC, Large Laser and a Medium Laser in the head slot. At a bare minimum, then, we'll be seeing two missile and three energy slots. On an assault chassis that can fit the biggest engine in the game, that could be interesting. If it follows the current pricing model (75 MC per ton), though, then 6000 MC may prove a bit too expensive for many.
Overall, a potentially interesting hero mech. This along with changes that could shift the balance a lot, especially in 8 man play where the ECM usage is still fairly high compared to the four-man-or-less queue. Between these additions, the introduction of the Trebuchet, and the aforementioned Alpine Peaks map, the next month is looking pretty good for MWO players.