|Publisher||Infinite Game Publishing|
|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.
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.
 Game storyline
MWO casts the player as a mercenary in the Inner Sphere. In its current released form the game is little more than a series of unconnected battles. The developers have announced, and frequently delayed, release of the Community Warfare system where players may be able to fight 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) or as unaligned mercenaries to secure planets for their employer. Fighting on behalf of a faction may earn faction points, allowing players to earn ranks and possibly opening up different mission and equipment options, with each faction possibly having different weapon and 'Mech costs, reflecting their factional preferences (ex: cheaper autocannons for House Davion, while Jenners and Dragons are cheaper for the House Kurita aligned players). The possibility of unique factional hardpoint layouts and 'Mechs has been mooted.
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 (2013) equates to the date in 3050. The forums had period news articles supporting the passage of time. This detail was abandoned after developement of community warefare lagged far behind the fictional timeline's pace. The 1:1 timeline may be reset once elements are properly in place to support it, though it appears technology available for gameplay will still be limited to the year 3050.
MWO currently has one training and two 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. Bases 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.
At the conclusion of a match the player's contribution to their team's victory or loss is tallied, earning both C-Bills and experience points for both inflicting damage and defeating opponents, as well for assists, spotting and base captures.
Using a form of ELO, when launching players are matched to other players with a similar win/loss ratio to try create matches of equally ranked players. In addition, players can also form 4-man groups before entering a match, when all members of the group are ready the game's matchmaker will attempt to find a group of equal size that is also available for a match.
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-chasis 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 earning boosts, 'Mech bays, Cockpit items and Hero 'Mechs can only be purchased with MC.
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 hard point 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.
Each 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.
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.
- Nova (Black Hawk) *
- Stormcrow (Ryoken) *
- Wolverine *
- Summoner (Thor) *
- Timber Wolf (Mad Cat) *
- Dire Wolf (Daishi) *
- Warhawk (Masakari) *
 Preorder/Promotional Packs
 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.
 Project Phoenix
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. Unlike Project Phoenix, the Clan Loyalty Rewards also includes a physical component, offering mugs of a players Founder and Phoenix purchase tier if they took part in either.
Both the standard and gold collections are both due to be delivered on June 17th 2014. No end date for the promotion has yet been announced.
 Other 'Mech Collections
 Trial 'Mechs
MWO has a selection of four Trial 'Mechs that can be used at no cost, with the Trial 'Mechs offered changing every patch. 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.
 Hero 'Mechs
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
- Cataphract Ilya Muromets
- Catapult Jester
- Centurion Yen-Lo-Wang
- Cicada X-5
- Commando Death's Knell
- Dragon Fang
- Dragon Flame
- Firestarter Ember
- Highlander Heavy Metal
- Hunchback Grid Iron
- Jagermech Firebrand
- Jenner Oxide
- Kintaro Goldenboy
- Orion Protector
- Stalker Misery
- Victor Dragon Slayer
 Champion 'Mechs
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 10% 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)
- Catapult CPLT-A1(C)
- Centurion CN9-A(C)
- Dragon DRG-5N(C)
- Highlander HGN-733C(C)
- Hunchback HBK-4P(C)
- Jenner JR7-F(C)
 Official Web Resources
- MechWarrior Online
- MechWarrior Online's Facebook
- MechWarrior Online's Twitter
- MechWarrior Online's YouTube
 Fan Sites
- IGN MechWarrior Q&A with Smith and Tinkers' Jordan Weisman and Russ Bullock of Piranha Games
- MechWarrior Trailer
- IGN Rewind Reveal Video