|MSRP||Free to Play|
|Series||MechWarrior (video games)|
MechWarrior Online (MWO) is a BattleTech-themed simulation game currently under development by Piranha Games and Smith & Tinker for Microsoft Windows. It was originally intended as a reboot of the MechWarrior series of computer games and announced as "MechWarrior" (frequently referred to as "MechWarrior 5" by fans, as the series had four previous installments). That concept fell through, and development moved to an online game concept instead.
MWO went into publicly accessible Open Beta on 29th of October 2012 and was officially released on September 17th, 2013.
- 1 Canonicity
- 2 Development
- 3 Game storyline
- 4 Gameplay
- 5 BattleMechs
- 6 Preorder/Promotional Packs
- 7 Other 'Mech Collections
- 8 Official Web Resources
- 9 Fan Sites
- 10 References
- 11 Media
MWO does not meet the current criteria for canon for the BattleTech universe. When asked, BattleTech Line Developer Herbert A. Beas II expressly confirmed in an official chat that the game would not be canonical per se, i.e. it would not be in a position to add events, characters or other content to the canon of the BattleTech universe.
As an official product with a valid license, MWO can be regarded as apocryphal.
Jordan Weisman, co-creator of BattleTech and co-founder of FASA, is also the founder of the software firm Smith & Tinker. He negotiated the BattleTech/MechWarrior license back from Microsoft, which had left the property sit idle for several years. Russ Bullock from Piranha Games was a long-time fan of the series and wanted to start a joint collaboration with Weisman. He contacted Weisman to develop a prototype project that would become the new iteration in the MechWarrior series of video games. Production of the new MechWarrior game first began in October 2008, when the two studios started discussing the project on pen and paper. After coming up with a presentation for a prototype scenario, both studios began ramping up a full-time team to work on the new game in March 2009.
A trailer with supposed in-game footage was released on 9 July, 2009, depicting a House Davion Warhammer fighting House Kurita invaders on Deshler in 3015. (This storyline/setting has since been abandoned for the game, see below). The words "in-game footage", clearly seen in the trailer, has caused confusion among fans. At the time it was created, the intent was to attract a publisher. So PGI used the UE3 game engine to demonstrate what a new MechWarrior game might look like. UE3 was stated as the logical engine of choice since the objective was to create a game for PC and Xbox 360. It was later announced that CryEngine3 would be used for MWO, making the trailer's in-game footage no longer applicable.
A second trailer was released based on the CryEngine3 game engine.
MWO casts the player as either an Inner Sphere mercenary fighting on behalf of any of the Great Houses available in the time period (the Draconis Combine, Free Worlds League, Capellan Confederation, Free Rasalhague Republic as well as both halves of the Federated Commonwealth - the Federated Suns and Lyran Commonwealth) or as a member of the first four invading Clans (Clan Wolf, Clan Jade Falcon, Clan Ghost Bear and Clan Smoke Jaguar) to either to secure or defend planets for their respective faction/employer. Players who accept contracts and align with a faction in Community Warfare earn Loyalty Points which open up various reward tiers for their continued loyalty. At present this takes the form of cockpit items and Mech Bays as well as steadily increasing volume of C-Bills, GXP and MC, but in the past PGI mentioned the possibility of unique camouflage schemes, discounts for weapons and 'Mechs preferred by specific factions, and even factional 'Mech variants and exclusive designs at the highest levels as being considered. Earlier discussions of Community Warfare also painted a plan to have detailed logistical system, with holding or capturing various worlds giving LP bonuses and discounts to material. Players drop solo, but can band together into units to fight together. Another feature supposedly considered for future introduction was the use of unit coffers, a communal unit bank account, to purchase superior defenses or other aids to assist units in battle.
Initially, one of the more notable concepts of the game was that it is set in a 1:1 timeline with BattleTech universe, meaning the current date in (2015) equates to same day and month in 3050, placing the players right on the opening shots of the Clan Invasion. The forums previously had period news articles supporting the passage of time to set the scene and mood of the Inner Sphere. This detail was abandoned after development of Community Warfare lagged far behind the fictional timeline's pace, with the timeline reset back to 3049 a number of times. Throughout the resets, the available technology, 'Mechs and variants has remained lock at 3050, with anything released after point specifically excluded from inclusion, though PGI have indicated timeline jumps have been considered.
MechWarrior Online currently offers two combat modes, Standard Play and Community Warfare, with players fighting in team of twelve players defeat a similarly sized opposing team. At the conclusion of a match in either mode, the player's contribution to their team's victory or loss is tallied, earning C-Bills and experience points for both inflicting damage and defeating opponents, as well for assists, spotting and base captures.
MWO's experience system (also known as the Pilot Lab) is broken into two forms, 'Mech specific Experience (MXP) and General Experience (GXP). Both can be used to buy efficiencies, which represent the players in-game characters familiarities with the 'Mech which provide modest benefits (for example 10% Acceleration rate, or a 10% increase in heat threshold). Each 'Mech has three efficiency trees (Basic, Elite and Master), the player must unlock the preceding efficiency level on three variants of the same 'Mech to unlock the next level; for example a player with a Jenner must unlock Basic on three variants of the Jenner before being able to unlock the Elite level of the piloting tree. This multi-chassis requirement has been heavily criticized by players, but the studio has thus far been immovable on this aspect.
Of the two, MXP is earned faster but is locked to the 'Mech variant it is earned with, while players earn GXP at a much lower rate but it can be used on any 'Mech the player owns. Players can trade MXP for GXP at 1 MC per 25 XP converted. GXP is also required to unlock modules. A physical counterpart to experience unlocks, modules offer different kinds of benefits (for example increased zoom, increased capture speed and 360 degree target locks) and have a per module GXP unlock cost as well as a C-Bill unlock cost per 'Mech. Once unlocked, modules can be slotted as per player preference.
As with many Free2Play games, MWO's economy is broken down into two currencies, C-Bills which can be earned in game and 'Mech Credit (MC) which can only be purchased via real world money. While most items can be purchased with C-Bills, they are considerably more expensive in comparison to MC prices, and certain items such as premium time, 'Mech bays, Cockpit items and Hero 'Mechs can only be purchased with MC.
The standard and default play method for much of MWO's existence, featuring one training and three active game modes available to be played over eight different maps:
- Assault - Straight up 12 vs 12 "King of the Hill" matches, the match continues until either side succeeds in occupying the enemy base or all opposing 'Mechs are destroyed. Both bases have six turrets defending them, and the bases themselves do not regenerate/uncapture if left unattended, though capture attempts can be blocked by a friendly 'Mech being within the capture boundary.
- Conquest - 12 vs 12 resource capture, the match has 5 capture points each of which provide a steadily increasing volume of resource points when held by each team, each starting with one held. Unlike assault, each Conquest point can be reverted to neutral and recaptured if left unattended. Again the match continues until one side reaches the 750 point capture limit or until all opposing 'Mechs are destroyed.
- Skirmish - 12 vs 12 "Team Destruction" matches, simple team vs team death match, the match ends when all opposing 'Mechs of one team are destroyed leaving the team with standing 'Mechs as the victors or the game timer expires.
- Testing Grounds - A single player training mode which allows players to learn and test piloting skills, weapons targeting, loadout charges and map layouts. Eight non-interactive enemy 'Mechs are randomly placed on the map to provide targets, no C-Bill or XP rewards are provided for defeating them.
Standard play is divided into separate queues for grouped and non-grouped players, with the game's match maker using a form of ELO to try and ensure players are matched to other players with a similar win/loss ratio to try create matches of equally ranked players. Players who form groups of any size, from two up to twelve, will only drop against other grouped players, while non-grouped players will only play against other similarly non-grouped players. By default the standard play match maker attempts to ensure each side conforms to a weight ratio of 3/3/3/3 (three 'Mechs of the same weight class) though will breach this restriction to avoid excessive wait times. Players can select which game mode they wish to play, the team leader's choice representing that of other players in their combine group, though map selection is always a random choice by the match maker.
Standard play also offers the option of private matches for any of the non-training game modes. While free players can create private invite only matches that mirror the standard game modes, players with active premium time can create lobbies with custom options such as restricted map selection, specific tonnage limitations, non-standard match time limits and locked view modes. If both team commanders in private match have active premium time, they may also additional to launch with team sizes of less than 12, right down to pure 1 vs 1. To avoid abuse, private matches do not award any C-bills or experience.
The long awaited Community Warfare currently offers only one game mode played on two maps. Along with earning C-Bills and experience, players in Community Warfare also earn Loyalty Points, opening up increasing rewards if they remain loyal and contracted to the same faction.
- Invasion - 12 vs 12 attack and defense matches. Attackers must breach a heavily defended enemy base via one of two to three gates, opening the gates to allow non-jump jet equipped 'Mechs to pass by destroying large generators behind them, and then destroying three smaller generators before they can cripple the module powering a naval gauss cannon preventing the arrival of larger invasion force. Defenders are assisted by a large number of turrets scattered around the base. Unlike standard play where once players are killed they are dead until match end, Invasion features a drop deck where players can take four 'Mechs of any weight as long as their total combined weight is greater than 160 tons and less than 240 tons. Additionally, each time the attacking or defending player enters the field at either match start or "respawning", they are dropped by a Leopard-class DropShip after small arrival delay, the DropShips firing upon nearby enemies as they arrive offload, aiding defenders as the attacker push for the final assault or warding off attempted spawn camping of the attackers landing zone.
Unlike standard play which is random and unconnected matches, Community Warfare takes place on an interactive map of the Inner Sphere with players selecting a contract to either attack or defend various key worlds along each faction's borders. Some worlds are only available to certain players or units assigned to certain factions. If an attacking faction is able to secure a large enough volume of wins, ownership of that respective world transfers to them and the map's border changes in response, opening up or restricting which planets will become available for factions to attack or defend in future. Unlike standard play, Community Warfare features no ELO matching of any kind.
Individual units or clans within a faction may earn the honor of the planet bearing their tag if that unit scores the most points when attacking or defending the planet. One point is scored for every one member of a unit that participates in a victory battle on the planet. For example, if the A.C.E.S. and the Warpigs Mercenary Company are both attacking the same planet, and the A.C.E.S. are running two 12 man teams while the Warpigs are only running one 12 man team, and at least 53% of the points for the planet are taken before the next cease fire, the A.C.E.S. will win the planet since they had more people attacking it. The planet will now show the A.C.E.S. name next to it on the map as well as in the planet details. The A.C.E.S. will also have their name in the history if the planet should be taken by another unit in the future.
While very similar and heavily based on the tabletop game's construction system, MWO openly admits to having tweaked and changed armor levels, weapon damage, rate of fire, heat and ammo levels. BattleMech modification in MWO uses a mixture of the tabletop game's critical location tables and MechWarrior 4's hardpoint system, with 'Mechs featuring the familiar table layout but also having restrictions on what type and how many weapons can be placed in certain locations, primarily an attempt to avoid over-optimization and Boating. Restrictions also exist on the size or rating of engine that certain 'Mechs can carry. While the armor and engines of Inner Sphere 'Mechs can be heavily modified, Clan OmniMechs in MWO mimic their tabletop counterparts and feature "hardwired" components as a balancing mechanism. Instead the modular nature of the OmniMech is represented in the game by allowing players to swap the hardpoints between configurations, so players can mix and match hardpoint layouts to suit their preference.
Each new player automatically receives four MechBays with which to store purchased BattleMechs, players either having the choice of selling an existing 'Mech to free up a slot or spending MC to purchase additional slots. Players can earn additional Mech Bays for reaching certain loyalty tiers in Community Warfare, and free MechBays are also occasionally offered as rewards for events.
PGI has formally announced the following BattleMechs will be included in MechWarrior Online. Note: 'Mechs that have been previewed but not yet released are noted below with an asterisk.
- Adder (Puma)
- Arctic Cheetah (Hankyu) *
- Flea *
- Kit Fox (Uller)
- Mist Lynx (Koshi)
- UrbanMech *
- Ice Ferret (Fenris)
- Nova (Black Hawk)
- Shadow Cat *
- Stormcrow (Ryoken)
- Ebon Jaguar (Cauldron-Born) *
- Hellbringer (Loki)
- Mad Dog (Vulture)
- Summoner (Thor)
- Timber Wolf (Mad Cat)
- Dire Wolf (Daishi)
- Executioner (Gladiator) *
- Gargoyle (Man O' War)
- King Crab
- Warhawk (Masakari)
Operation Inception - Founders Program
Likened to Kickstarter or other forms of crowd funding, the founders program was a method for people to effectively pre-purchase game time and show their support for the game. The program also had the added enticement of Closed Beta access for those who had previously missed out on being selected. Three purchase levels were available (Veteran, Elite and Legendary) which offered a steadily increasing volume of in-game currency, premium account time and unique account/forum tags, Legendary also including the player's name in the game's credits.
Elite and Legendary also offered "Founder's 'Mech", exclusive versions of the first four playable BattleMechs in MWO (Atlas, Hunchback, Catapult, Jenner), Elite founders having a choice of one, Legendary founders receiving all four. Founder's 'Mechs feature unique paint skins, a lifetime per-match 25% boost in C-Bill earnings when such 'Mechs are piloted as well as not taking up any of the player's allotment of garage slots, otherwise featuring the same hard-points and functioning identically to the standard models.
On June 25th, 2013, Piranha Games announced the availability of a series of promotional packages titled "Project Phoenix", featuring four previously-Unseen BattleMechs: The Locust, Shadow Hawk, Thunderbolt, and Battlemaster. The program was expanded on August 28th 2013 with the announcement of the Saber Reinforcement pack, an add-on funding level which added the Griffin and Wolverine to "Project Phoenix". Similar to the original Founders' Program, players were able to choose between several pre-order packages to show their support for the upcoming 'Community Warfare' expansion. Project Phoenix featured four standard purchase levels (Talon, Storm, Guardian, and Overlord) with the Saber add-on able to be added to after purchasing one of the existing tiers. The program also had a Phoenix Loyalty Reward system, offering extra exclusive paint jobs and cockpit items as certain funding levels are reached.
Each standard package offered a "Phoenix" BattleMech as well as two standard variants of each 'Mech offered in each package, with 'Mech Bays to store them included. Unlike the Founders Program where buyers could select which 'Mech/s they would receive at the Elite tier, each "Phoenix" 'Mech is locked to a specific price tier, with higher tiers also including the 'Mechs from the tiers preceding it. A "Phoenix" 'Mech, similar to the Founder's 'Mechs, is a variant of a standard BattleMech that features a unique appearance, a lifetime per-match C-Bill boost of 30%, as well as a 10% boost to an as-of-yet detailed system titled "Loyalty Points", intended to offer an advantage when Community Warfare releases. A number of tiers also included a steadily increasing volume of premium time and faction medals, cockpit items that also give modest boosts to Loyalty Points.
The standard Project Phoenix pre-order content was delivered on October 15th, 2013, while the Saber Reinforcement content was delivered on December 17th, 2013.
The Clan Collection
On December 13th 2013 PGI revealed the long awaited Clan OmniMechs, making them available for pre-ordering.
Initially the Clan Collection was roughly similar to the preceding Project Phoenix promotion, featuring a series of tiers offering a specific Clan 'Mech with its Prime variant (featuring a 30% C-Bill boost) and two standard variants, each higher tier including the 'Mechs in the tiers below it. The higher tiers also include a volume of premium time, exclusive badge and titles, signed prints of the concept art as well as unique bonus modules and an as yet unknown item referred to as Warhorns. A subset of the standard collection is the Gold Khan Collection, which offers a limited edition gold skinned version of a Prime variant along with additional bonuses.
The considerable cost of the higher tiers and Gold Collection triggered extensive level of debate and complaint from many MWO players, eventually prompting PGI to offer an "À La Carte" option, allowing players to purchase the OmniMechs they desired and skip those they did not, albeit without many of the discounts and bonuses of the Collections unless buying multiple in bulk, as well as including the top-tier Masakari Collection with any Gold Khan Collection purchase. Similar to Project Phoenix, the Clan Collection also received a Loyalty Reward system, offering bonus cockpit items and paint schemes was more people bought the Collections, certain items only available to those who bought a collection prior to a set date as further incentive.
Both the standard and gold collections were delivered on June 17th 2014. No end date for the promotion has yet been announced.
On September 15th 2014, PGI revealed 5 new Clan 'mechs as part of Clan Wave 2. These included the Koshi, Fenris, Loki, Man O' War and as an "ultimate bonus" for those who purchased both the Masakari and Man O' War collections, the Mad Dog.
The Resistance Collection
In mid October, PGI offered a pack featuring the Inner Sphere mechs: Panther, Enforcer, Grasshopper, and Zeus for pre-order though these mechs will eventually be available for C-Bills. Similar to the previous Phoenix and Clan pre-orders there are a variety of bonuses such as premium time, badges, titles, and faction content depending on the tier purchased. The faction content will be related to each of the Inner Sphere Houses and will include House colors, warhorn, cockpit standing and hanging items, the amount of faction content will depend on the tier purchased. Tier 1 gets 1 faction pack, Tier 2 gets 2, Tier 3 gets 4, and Tier 4 gets all 6. Like the previous pre-orders there incentives to buying before a certain date to get bonus premium time, cockpit items and a Mech bay as well as an a la carte option for those who wish to purchase a specific Mech.
Also tied into this pre-order was the 1 year anniversary bonus items although they were also announced with the Clan Wave 2 pack. Those who purchased any amount of Mechwarrior Credits received a CN9-AH Centurion with custom paint job, 30% C-Bill bonus and Mech bay on Oct. 21st, any prior pre-sale package tier received an AS7-S Atlas with custom paint job, 30% C-Bill bonus and Mech bay on Oct. 21st, and any prior top tier of Phoenix, Clan Wave 1, Clan Wave 2, and Resistance will receive a King Crab with custom paint job, 30% C-Bill bonus and Mech bay on Dec. 16th.
Other 'Mech Collections
MWO has a selection of sixteen Trial 'Mechs, two per each weight class for both Inner Sphere and Clans technology bases, that can be used at no cost. This also offers players the ability to try 'Mech types and variants before outlaying money to permanently purchase them. The primary downside with Trial 'Mechs is that their loadouts cannot be modified, placing them at a disadvantage against the customized and optimized 'Mechs used by the majority of MWO players. Also, while Trial 'Mechs earn C-Bills and XP as normal, players cannot spend the MXP earned while using them until they purchase that specific variant, with Trial 'Mechs permanently functioning as if no skill trees have been unlocked.
Similar in concept to Founder's 'Mechs, Hero 'Mechs are exclusive variants which can only be purchased for MC rather than C-Bills, offering both a unique paint scheme, a per-match C-Bill booster (currently 30%) and custom hardpoint layout. Generally the intention is to use historical or notable variants from the BattleTech universe, but new custom 'Mechs unique to MechWarrior Online have also been introduced. It is not known if Hero 'Mechs will be available for limited time only.
- Atlas Boar's Head
- Awesome Pretty Baby
- Banshee La Malinche
- BattleMaster Hellslinger
- Blackjack Arrow
- Cataphract Ilya Muromets
- Catapult Jester
- Centurion Yen-Lo-Wang
- Cicada X-5
- Commando Death's Knell
- Dragon Fang
- Dragon Flame
- Firestarter Ember
- Griffin Sparky
- Highlander Heavy Metal
- Hunchback Grid Iron
- Jagermech Firebrand
- Jenner Oxide
- Kintaro Goldenboy
- Locust Pirate's Bane
- Orion Protector
- Quickdraw IV-4
- Raven Huginn
- Shadowhawk The Gray Death
- Spider Anansi
- Stalker Misery
- Trebuchet Loup de Guerre
- Victor Dragon Slayer
- Vindicator St. Ives Blue
A mid-way point between MWO's stock 'Mechs and Hero 'Mechs, Champion 'Mechs are variations of a specific standard variant with a custom loadout and include a 30% XP bonus, purchasable only with MC. While the included weapons and equipment of each Champion variant differs from their standard counterparts, with loadouts based on the most popular or successful custom loadouts developed by players, they feature the same hardpoint layout as the variant upon which they are based unlike the unique hardpoints of Hero 'Mechs.
- Atlas AS7-RS(C)
- Blackjack BJ-1(C)
- Cataphract CTF-3D(C)
- Catapult CPLT-A1(C)
- Centurion CN9-A(C)
- Cicada CDA-2A(C)
- Dragon DRG-5N(C)
- Firestarter FS9-S(C)
- Highlander HGN-733C(C)
- Hunchback HBK-4P(C)
- Jenner JR7-F(C)
- Kintaro KTO-18(C)
- Orion ON1-K(C)
- Shadowhawk SHD-2H(C)
- Spider SDR-5K(C)
- Stalker STK-3F(C)
- Victor VTR-9S(C)
Official Web Resources
- MechWarrior Online
- MechWarrior Online's Facebook
- MechWarrior Online's Twitter
- MechWarrior Online's YouTube
- IGN MechWarrior Q&A with Smith and Tinkers' Jordan Weisman and Russ Bullock of Piranha Games
- MechWarrior Trailer
- IGN Rewind Reveal Video