Welcome back to Community Outreach, the ongoing column where we learn more about the people that help keep BattleTech alive and swinging. To get the lowdown on MechWarrior Online’s renaissance (which you can read all about in my last piece), I sat down with the Cauldron’s Bear_cl4w and Krasnopesky to talk about where the group came from, how it’s evolved, and how they plan to take the reigns of a failing game and bring the fun back to MechWarrior Online.
This interview was conducted last month, so many of the things we’ve discussed have already come to pass. That said, you can get an idea of what’s to come in MechWarrior Online by reading what Bear_cl4w and Krasnopesky have to say. Enjoy.
Something pretty remarkable is happening in MechWarrior Online. After years of falling player counts and being basically put on life support as developer PGI diverted funds and resources into developing MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries, MechWarrior Online players are returning to this once nearly-dead game.
There are a number of reasons for this unexpected renaissance. To start, PGI began providing MechWarrior Online with updates at the end of last year. PGI also hired a new community manager--a well-known figure in the MechWarrior and BattleTech community--to help reach out to players and convince them that MechWarrior Online was worth another shot.
But I’d argue that the biggest reason why players are returning to MechWarrior Online is that PGI has done the unthinkable: they’ve put the players in charge of MechWarrior Online.
Not all of them, of course. Even an almost dead game still has thousands of players and most of them couldn’t be bothered to dive into the spreadsheets of data necessary for a game as large and complex as MechWarrior Online. But a small group of players plucked from all levels of play have coalesced into a governing body that has largely been given the authority to determine MechWarrior Online’s future.
Those players call themselves the Cauldron--a name chosen to represent their melting pot of opinions. Like many online PvP games, MechWarrior Online has a diverse group of players of differing skill levels, and like BattleTech itself, they all love different aspects of the game. However, this group of players has been able to do something that PGI has struggled with over its many years of MechWarrior Online development.
The Cauldron is bringing fun back to MechWarrior Online.
MechWarrior Online’s Many Missteps
MechWarrior Online is a textbook example of what happens to an online service game when it expands faster than its developers can keep up. You can hardly blame PGI for wanting to monetize MWO as best they could, but the way they decided to do that was to keep throwing more and more ‘Mechs and weapons into the game until it became too overwhelming for their dev team to keep up with both balancing the game and also creating the next big thing.
Those big things often became sweeping changes to MechWarrior Online‘s mechanics that nobody really asked for. Perhaps the best example of this is MechWarrior Online‘s absolutely byzantine skill tree--resoundingly panned for being both overly complicated and ludicrously expensive at launch, and that opinion hasn’t changed much in the years since.
Throw on engine desync, overly quirked Hero ‘Mechs, pay-to-win airstrikes and artillery strikes, and the still-infamous golden ‘Mech cash grab, and at times it seemed almost like PGI was deliberately trying to alienate MechWarrior Online‘s audience.
It certainly alienated me. Until recently, I hadn’t even touched the game since sometime back in 2017. And although we don’t have a complete report on MechWarrior Online’s total player count, we can assume based on the game’s Steamcharts performance that it also alienated plenty of other players over the years.
By early 2020, MechWarrior Online had reached its lowest point. With few players still left actually playing the game, it made far more financial sense for PGI to focus on creating MechWarrior 5 than it did to waste resources in a game that nobody was playing. Although the servers remained online, few players meant extra-long wait times for MechWarrior Online’s matches to start, and so PGI declared official updates for the game would end in January of 2020.
At that point, the writing was on the wall. MechWarrior Online was on life support, and it seemed only a matter of time before it became more profitable to turn the MWO servers off rather than keep them online.
Then 2020 happened, and the whole fucking world changed.
A Pandemic Makes Fools Of Us All
In February 2020, there were as few as 577 players on MechWarrior Online via Steam. Then the pandemic hit, and despite the fact nothing in the game had changed, government-imposed lockdowns meant that lots of people were stuck at home with nothing to do. A free-to-play game like MechWarrior Online was a worthy diversion for BattleTech fans worried about an apocalyptic new virus, so by March, MechWarrior Online‘s population had jumped by nearly 25%.
By July, MechWarrior Online‘s player count was nearly double what it was a few months before without the game receiving a single update. I don’t really know what was going through the minds of PGI’s upper management during this time, but from their actions, you get a sense that they weren’t entirely ready to give up on MechWarrior Online.
First, PGI hired a brand new community manager in October. Daeron “Bombadil” Katz is a well-known figure amongst the entire BattleTech community for his time as co-host for No Guts No Galaxy, and especially well-known in the MechWarrior Online community. There was basically no better person to reach out to MWO players and ask them just what could be done to revive the game.
But it was a very small team, and both Bombadil and PGI marketing head Matt Newman made it clear in the early months of 2021 that they just couldn’t make the sweeping changes to MechWarrior Online that some players had hoped for (chief among those was porting the game from CryEngine to Unreal Engine 5, a heroic task even for a much larger developer).
Matt and Daeron promised small fixes, some new events, and perhaps a new ‘Mech pack or two. Game balance--which by this point was hopelessly out of control thanks to high-tech-era weapons and over 1,300 different ‘Mechs--was mentioned, but never really highlighted. The effort required to rebalance MechWarrior Online simply cost more than PGI would get in return. Or so they thought.
Welcome To The Gulag
Before we can talk about the Cauldron, we have to talk about the Gulag, a name chosen for several reasons but chief among them was the idea that they were providing PGI with free labor. The group first formed in early 2018 after several updates took MechWarrior Online‘s balance in a decidedly un-fun direction, nerfing certain weapons and ‘Mechs to the point where they became basically unusable for no particular reason.
The Gulag was by all accounts a reactive movement, but one with the best intentions. The group created spreadsheets of game data and made reasonable arguments to revert the changes or institute entirely new ones for the overall health of the game. MechWarrior Online‘s developers, however, weren’t a receptive audience.
“The attitude that PGI had at the time [was] sort of the ‘we don’t want your help, we can do it ourselves’ type,” Bear_cl4w tells me in an interview. The group operates mostly as a collective, but Bear_cl4w serves as the de-facto leader.
“When we had finished our work and showed it to the community the feedback was generally positive. But again, the response from PGI… They saw it and told us, ‘yeah we’ve discussed it internally,’ and then nothing,” Bear_cl4w recounts. “Little did we know that at the time they were working on MechWarrior 5, which led to maintenance mode for MWO.”
Things changed over the course of 2020. Maintenance mode reverted back to active--if somewhat tentative--development. With PGI’s resources mostly diverted to MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries, the free labor offered by the Gulag suddenly seemed like a far more attractive proposition.
But once spurned, twice shy. PGI needed to make amends, and that job fell to MWO‘s brand new community manager.
“Daeron I would say is a big part in why it has happened,” fellow Cauldron member Krasnopesky tells me. “I agree,” adds Bear_cl4w. “Daeron is a familiar face in the community due to his ties with No Guts No Galaxy and his recent hiring with PGI, but it was less about the individual and more about the message: they were asking us for help.”
This first step to mending fences meant that the Gulag was back on board. Only, they couldn’t be called the Gulag anymore. To avoid all the negative historical connotations, and to represent their new partnership with PGI, the Gulag “had to lose the edgy name.”
The Cauldron, as the group calls themselves now, got straight to work fixing all of MechWarrior Online‘s many ailments. “The Cauldron has been sort of set to high gear,” Bear_cl4w says. “Rather than tackling one part of the game, we intend to re-balance as much as we are able to. Or as much as PGI currently can do.”
Certain aspects of MWO are just beyond the Cauldron’s abilities to change. Fundamental aspects of the game--such as the team deathmatch format, the 12v12 matches, and user interface--require engineers on PGI’s end to alter, which are in terribly short supply given the company’s focus on MechWarrior 5. But anything that can basically be boiled down to a number on a spreadsheet is fair game, and the Cauldron loves its numbers.
They’ve also got a plan. “The Cauldron is going about it as strategically as possible,” adds Bear_cl4w. “For example, our April patch was the big weapons pass and some light quirk changes, and for May, there is a map rework coming from the recently added map guy PGI hired, Francois. But after every big step, there will be an iteration on the previous step. So for May, it’s a big mobility step, small weapon iteration, and some more light quirk work.”
May’s recent patch notes make Bear_cl4w a man of his words. April’s weapon changes get slight adjustments, but there are also some big developments when it comes to ‘Mech mobility. Old, outdated designs like the Centurion, Hunchback, and Firestarter have all received massive agility enhancements, while designs like the Jagermech, Jenner, and Cicada have all received armor and structure buffs.
It’s no exaggeration that these changes make all these old ‘Mechs feel like new again. I’m actually excited to take these old gals out for a spin, and I’m not the only one. Feedback on both Reddit and the MechWarrior Online forums has been universally positive, not just for the ‘Mech reworks but for the reworked Canyon map as well.
What’s next for the Cauldron and MechWarrior Online? Once again, Bear_cl4w lays out the near-term plan. “We are getting some significant stuff this year and we’ll push for as much as we ourselves and PGI can do. Our intended path is weapons, agility, quirks, rescale, skill tree.”
Not everything will come at once, but rescaling certain ‘Mechs to be smaller or larger than others (the Shadow Hawk has been annoyingly tall in MechWarrior Online for some time now), as well as a simplified skill tree will only help to bring more players back to the game and maybe even get new players to give MechWarrior Online a try.
Courtesy of PGI
Before I heap all the credit for MechWarrior Online‘s revival entirely on the Cauldron, it should be noted that PGI has been uncharacteristically generous with its events recently. Last month, they gave away the Mad Cat Mk II-B, a powerhouse of the old meta with its twin UAC/5 and twin UAC/10s. For May, PGI is giving away the Timber Wolf-C, a laser-vomit specialist and one of the ‘Mechs that benefited greatly from the recent mobility pass. And even if you don’t play enough to get the free ‘Mechs (which honestly doesn’t take too many matches even if you’re of average skill), there’s still tons of free C-bills, skill points, MC, and Premium Time up for grabs.
But just by the very nature of the game, players wouldn’t come back to acquire these new ‘Mechs if they didn’t think there’d be anyone to use them against. The Cauldron has changed the perception of MechWarrior Online as a dead game without a future into something much brighter.
For the past seven months, MechWarrior Online’s player count has only gone up. In my own experience, the time spent waiting for the matchmaker to find players for a game has gone down. And when those games actually start, I’m far more likely to see new and interesting custom loadouts that nobody has ever seen before. it honestly feels like a whole new game.
MechWarrior 5’s release on Steam in the coming days is sure to bring renewed interest to MechWarrior Online. When those players come, they’ll be met with a game being made better by the very same MechWarriors they’re facing online. Just as it should be.
It’s May, and I’m finally vaccinated! It hurt like hell and I was feeling like hot garbage for several days, but it’s a small price to pay for life to get back to some semblance of normal. A normal that probably won’t come for at least several more months as more people need to be vaccinated. And then we’ll all have to get boosters as we accept COVID as a seasonal disease like influenza.
But whatever. As far as I’m concerned, May is full of good news, and that includes BattleTech. So let’s get to it!
MechWarrior 5 Steam Release Includes Full Crossplay On May 27
There are two big news beats for May, those being Catalyst and the imminent shipping of Wave 2 of the Clan Invasion Kickstarter, and MechWarrior 5 releasing on Steam. We’ll start with MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries because it’s just days away from arriving.
All the deets recently got published on the MechWarrior 5and MechWarrior Online websites. The base game will clock in at $29.99, while the Heroes of the Inner Sphere DLC will hit you for another $19.99. Not a bad price for those who’ve been willing to wait for the game to release on Steam.
Ahh, but MechWarrior 5 isn’t just getting a Steam release! The game is also coming to the Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S, making it the first console MechWarrior game since MechAssault 2. And if you’re a PC snob, you can even get it on GoG too.
Even better, MechWarrior 5 will have full crossplay across all platforms. For co-op play, only the host will need to have purchased the DLC to give access to everyone playing, so if you’ve got your lancemates already arranged you can save a few bucks with only one of you purchasing Heroes of the Inner Sphere.
A massive free game update is also coming with the Steam release, which includes a revamped intro sequence, the ability to skip the tutorial, rebalanced difficulty and economy, and greater variety in missions and maps. There’s even going to be infantry running around so the levels will feel more like an actual planet and not just some ‘Mech-sized set-piece.
We’ve already gone over most of what Heroes of the Inner Sphere will get you (such as a new career start option, seven new ‘Mechs, new missions, biomes, and equipment), but you’ll also get an expanded Inner Sphere map with 18 more warzones and 11 more side quests.
Clan Invasion Wave 2 Shipping Soon And IlCan Coming In June
And now for the news you’ve all been waiting for: Clan Wave 2 shipping is imminent! I just got an email warning me to update my shipping address if anything’s changed between now and Wave 1 (if your address is the same listed in the email, then there’s no further action required). Catalyst is still waiting on one last container shipment as of May 20, and I have no idea how long it takes for a box to cross the Pacific ocean (or even if it necessarily is arriving via the Pacific), but I’d say a June delivery is likely.
Catalyst also treated us to a State of the Game update earlier in May that revealed an equally momentous occasion: The IClan sourcebook arrives in June too! Get the full story for the Battle of Terra, including tactical maps, new ‘Mechs, and insights into how the other Great Houses reacted to this momentous conflict.
There’s a whole list of things coming in the next few months! Recognition Guide: IlClan gets its fourth cycle from August to November, Rock and a Hard Place brings the first new Gray Death Legion story in years in July, and Tamar Rising takes a look at the Tamar region of Lyran space during the Battle for Terra in September.
Check out Catalyst’s website for the full rundown on what’s coming in the latter half of 2021.
This Guy Added A ‘Mech Bay To His Computer
My computer hasn’t had a disk drive in some time, and even the days of my solid-state drives requiring a bay are numbered. When I eventually swap to NVMe drives, I’ll have nothing to put in the front of my case.
Nothing, except for a bad-ass ‘Mech bay.
Toukejin, thank you for creating this articulated Timber Wolf model and then throwing it on Thingiverse for me. Now I just need to find a 3D printer to make one of these for my next build.
MechWarrior Online’s May Patch Brings Phase 1 Mobility Pass And A New Canyon Map
We covered a lot of what’s going on in the May patch in my recent interview with the Cauldron’s Bear_cl4w, but a quick recap never hurts!
The biggest change with MechWarrior Online’s May patch is the reworked Canyon Network map. Spawn points and differences in cover have been fixed along with newly added ramps, bridges, and other terrain fixes that will make it a little easier to get around if you’re a non-jump-capable ‘Mech, but still provides a benefit for bringing a ‘Mech with jump jets.
April’s weapon pass has been fine-tuned with additional tweaks to various over-performing weapons, such as the Snub-Nose PPC, Clan Micro Pulse Laser, and Light Gauss Rifle. These adjustments hardly remove these weapons from viability, so all the cool new builds that came out of April’s patch will still work just fine. As always, the Cauldron is keeping a watchful eye on weapon performance for next month’s patch.
May also brought phase one of the ‘Mech agility pass. The Centurion, Hunchback, Hunchback IIC, Firestarter, Night Gyr, Timber Wolf, Atlas, and Kodiak are all more nimble to varying degrees to bring them into line with other ‘Mechs in their class. The Centurion and Hunchback IIC in particular were both extremely cumbersome chassis despite being medium-class machines, often getting outmaneuvered by ‘Mechs much heavier.
A few ‘Mechs also received armor and structure quirk alterations, namely the Stalker, Jagermech, Cicada, Jenner, and Jenner IIC. Generally, this involved providing more base armor to these fragile ‘Mechs while also redistributing their structure values somewhat so that they’re all tougher and hopefully more viable to bring into a pug.
I’ve tried the new Hunchback and Jenner, and both feel a lot better. I’m looking forward to my Novagetting the same treatment eventually.
Sean Lang Interviews Iqfish, Creative Director For Hired Steel
So I somehow missed Hired Steel‘s debut episode on Sarna’s April news blast, which is an unforgivable offense given how this is quite possibly the most amazing fan-made BattleTech machinima ever made. For those that missed it (including myself), I’ll embed the video above.
Now that you’ve seen it, here’s No Guts No Galaxy’s Sean Lang’s interview Constantin “Iqfish,” Hired Steel’s creative director over at TMC. Apparently, this whole thing got started as a COVID project since Germany had a bunch of lockdowns that resulted in reduced work hours for most of the population. With more free time, TMC came up with this amazing new video series.
Earlier this month, Wolves got its Wave 2 update, including the Raven, Raptor II, Hellbringer, and Mad Cat Mk II. And to celebrate the occasion, New Day Fiction gave us this sweet new trailer. The maps are all still fairly basic-looking, but they’re working on it.
Oh, and Wave 3 is currently in development. No word on what ‘Mechs that will include, but there’s a hint on the Wolves Twitter suggesting that the Puma will be in it. The Puma isn’t as cool as the Cougar, but it’s still a worthy addition and a ‘Mech we don’t see all that often in MechWarrior games.
As always, you can download Wolves and play for free from their website. If you’re a fan of MechAssault, then you’ll love Wolves.
The Ostsol is a ‘Mech that doesn’t get nearly enough love. Especially the bizarre, spindly-limbed original drawings by Duane Loose. So when I saw SU-SMD‘s take on the Ostsol on the BattleTech subreddit, I just had to share it.
What I love about this drawing is how it combines the abstract and “rough” style of the original BattleTech card game with the more hyper-realistic style of modern BattleTech artists.
Well, not really. But as the story goes, Tex had a VERY strong girlfriend at one point, so the meme is that he’s into big strong ladies, and it doesn’t get any bigger or stronger than an Elemental. Thus, the incredibly talented EldoniousRex created this image of Randolph P. Checkers on his wedding day with one very lucky Ghost Bear woman.
The lore of Randolph P. Checkers, Tex’s now-canonized character, still needs to be fleshed out with this story on Sarna’s wiki, so somebody hop to it!
And that’s it for May. Join us next month for more BattleTech action.
Well, now it’s April, and I’m still waiting on the go-ahead to get me some of that sweet sweet COVID vaccine. Here in the wilds of Canada, vaccines haven’t been as readily available as the rest of the world, and being in a relatively low-risk group (I work alone, at home, in the dark usually) means that I’m not really a priority to get vaccinated. That hasn’t stopped me from camping outside the pharmacy every day waiting for the sweet taste of stainless steel.
I’ve been asked to leave several times. Apparently, merely wearing a mask isn’t enough for some people.
Anyhow, let’s get to the BattleTech news for April, shall we?
MechWarrior Online Gets Its Second Big Balance Patch, But This Time The Players Did It
So. This is a big change for MechWarrior Online. Previously, PGI had absolutely no problem with ignoring complaints from players, but after last March’s balance pass went over about as well as Dire Wolf with a faulty drop pod, PGI has had a change of heart.
March’s balance changes are being reversed in April’s patch. Not only that, PGI has brought on The Cauldron, a group of both professional and casual players previously known as The Gulag, to work on MechWarrior Online’s future development. This provides direct player input into the design process for MechWarrior Online for the first time, ever.
I don’t know who all these Cauldron folks are, but I do know that they have some pretty great ideas for revitalizing MechWarrior Online. That starts with a comprehensive balance pass that attempts to tone down over-used meta weapons, dial up under-used off-meta weapons, and just overall makes every weapon effective in its own role.
On top of that, The Cauldron plans to increase baseline agility for all ‘Mechs, perform a re-scaling pass so certain ‘Mechs won’t be uncharacteristically gigantic for no reason (I’m lookin’ at you, Shadow Hawk), and a quirk revision pass that will make crappy ‘Mechs worth using again (my Novaeagerly awaits a return to relevance).
The Cauldron has already posted the weapon changes on the MWOwebsite, so you can go over them there to see some of the new numbers. Almost everything has been adjusted in one form or another. I don’t think it’s overstating things that MechWarrior Online will feel like a totally new game once this patch goes live.
Weapons are getting the attention for April, while May’s patch will be about agility changes. Maps are also getting some attention as well with changes to spawn points and other tweaks, with particular attention to Canyon on the first go.
This is all great to hear, but I’ve been playing the game recently to pick up some of the free ‘Mechs, and I still absolutely abhor this game’s utter fetish for embedded menus and clicking buttons. It takes 5 clicks to start a friendly playgroup when it should take 2. That and the team deathmatch gameplay means that I’m often waiting for a game to start as long as I’m actually playing it. A 50% game uptime is still really awful.
But hey, baby steps. First, let the players fix the wildly unbalanced game, and then maybe we can talk about GUI design. I’ll be taking a look at the new patch this weekend to see how it changes the game for the better.
MechWarrior: Living Legends Adds The Archangel And Two Tanks To Its Arsenal
From MechWarrior Online to MechWarrior: Living Legends, which also recently got an update. Included are the Shoden and Schrek assault tanks--the first a Clan missile support tank and the second an IS PPC carrier. Update 0.14.0 also adds the oft-requested Archangel, the terrifying Word of Blake assault ‘Mech. The retractable blade on the Archangel is strictly cosmetic, so don’t get too excited.
Update 0.14.0 also brings several map revisions, bug fixes, and a targeting control revamp. You can get the patch now over on ModDB.
DC Bruins Creates Operation Bulldog Animatic With The Help Of Gallery 3025
Gallery 3025 is already showing us just how valuable it can be. With their help, DC Bruins was able to complete an animatic that shows a possible scenario from Operation Bulldog.
It’s not quite a finished animation as you can see most of the moving pieces are built from sketches, but the small amount of animation added here and there add a lot to what would otherwise be a storyboard set to some intense music. DC Bruins has been working on this piece off-and-on for years, and it’s great to finally see it come to fruition.
But don’t expect to see a polished version for a while. Animation takes a LOT of work, so getting DC Bruins to give Operation Bulldog some color will take a lot more patrons on Gallery 3025. Which is my way of saying you should all subscribe to Gallery 3025.
Seriously, I love this and hope to see a lot more from DC Bruins in the future.
Wolves Wave 2 Is On The Way With A Raven Showcase To Start Us Off
Last month, I thought Wolves was treating us to a Raven showcase when they were actually showing off the Raptor II, a ‘Mech with a lot of MechAssault history for being essentially created just for MechAssault 2: Lone Wolf. Pyjama Boy kindly corrected me and promised that this month we’d get to see the Raven in action.
And what Pyjama Boy promises, Pyjama Boy delivers. Here’s a Raven, and here it is in shooting the shit out of a bunch of Summoners, Cougars, and several other Ravens in an alpha build of Wolves.
Also, we got a date for Wolve‘s next big update. Wave 2 of Wolves will bring the Raven, Raptor, Hellbringer, Summoner, Atlas, and Mad Cat Mk II, as well as three new maps to clear out endless hordes of enemy ‘Mechs on May 1st. That’s not very long at all, so be sure to download the game now to be ready to play on patch day!
Remember That Stupid Ship That Got Stuck In The Suez Canal? Well, Bad News For Clan Invasion Backers…
Yup. That stupid ship--Evergreen or Everclear or Everwhatever--has caused an already strained logistics chain thanks to COVID-19 to just up and snap. So expect a somewhat later shipping date for Wave 2 miniatures than previously indicated. Catalyst said in a recent Kickstarter update that they’re hoping to have everything State-side by June 10, but that assumes some other giant-ass ship doesn’t get its giant ass stuck in the Suez Canal.
Whatever. We’ve been dealing with disappointments for over a year, this is just one more to add to the pile.
Harmony Gold, Big West Finally Settle Macross/Robotech Dispute
Harmony Gold has long since settled its ongoing dispute with BattleTech‘s IP holders such that we will likely never hear from them again. But Robotech was a franchise that wasn’t so lucky. In much the same way that FASA got dragged into a massive IP dispute thanks to Tatsunoko selling their ‘Mech designs to whoever would pay for them, Bigwest and Harmony Gold have been fighting over the Macross and Robotech franchises for decades.
And now it seems that fight has also come to an end. Both the Robotechand Macrosswebsites have issued statements confirming that Bigwest Co. Ltd. and Harmony Gold have come to a mutual agreement that ends their decades-long dispute.
What this means is that the Macross films and television sequels can now see worldwide distribution once again. It also means that Bigwest won’t stand in the way of the upcoming Robotech live-action film.
It’s pretty crazy to see the evolution of these legal disputes. I guess Harmony Gold has finally figured out that sitting on their IP won’t get them any more money, and the only way it’s worth anything is if they use it. A lesson learned likely from their loss against BattleTech.
Someone Put A ‘Mech In Smash Bros. For Some Reason…
Yeah, I’m not sure why this exists, but it’s cool. We have Mecha Krizalid to thank for this crossover that places MechAssault‘s Cougar inside of Project M, a mod that allows for user-generated content to be added to Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
I gotta say, even at 35 tons, the Cougar is ludicrously overpowered for Smash Bros. Like, what the fuck is Pikachu going to do to an OmniMech? Shock it slightly? Run around? And the Cougar seems to be able to tank damage up to the 200s while one-shotting Mr. Game And Watch with a PPC blast to the face.
The video description reveals that not only will the Cougar be present in this mod, but various other BattleMechs are going to make an appearance as costumes for the Cougar. I’ve already seen an Uller in action, and I think there was an Atlas II mentioned.
That’s it for April! Next month will bring the arrival of MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries on Steam and the Heroes of the Inner Sphere expansion, as well as the usual surprises that I’ve come to expect from the BattleTech community.
Man, March turned into a whirlwind of announcements! First it was MechWarrior Online getting a controversial patch, then MechWarrior 5 getting a Steam release date, and then MechWarrior Living Legends announced that they’re making a sequel mod. Plus there’s an update from Catalyst on the Clan Invasion Kickstarter, and as always, some delightful new art to share from around the web.
So no more small talk. Let’s get to the news!
Shrapnel Celebrates Its First Year And Updates On Wave 2
We’ll get the good news out of the way first. Clan Invasion Wave 2 is on track to start shipping out in May/June, according to the most recent Kickstarter update. Manufacturing should be done by the end of the month, with freight happening in April.
There are, apparently, a few things that are running “a few weeks behind” due to delays, but Catalyst isn’t letting that delay Wave 2 shipping. No word on what those items are, but they better not be my goddamn Urbie plushes or I will start a riot.
In other news, Shrapnel – The Official BattleTech Magazine has just completed its first full year of print. That’s a pretty big deal, if you ask me, as Shrapnel has a lot of BattleTech content you won’t find anywhere else. And these magazines aren’t like picking up a copy of People--they’re more like grabbing the latest Reader’s Digest or National Geographic with 160+ pages to go through. This includes stories from vets and first-time authors, actually playable scenarios for your next tabletop game, and tons and tons of new art.
Frankly, they could use more art, but I’m not complaining about what we got.
New this month is Fall from Glory, the Founding of the Clans series’ first book, as well as Fang and Claw, a short story from Michael J. Caravella. That’ll come to Clan Invasion Kickstarter backers Ristar and above, with no word on a wider release as of yet. Check your emails for the link for this short story.
MechWarrior Online’s First Major Update In Years Was A Bit Rough…
MechWarrior Online recently got its first major patch in two years, and wow, people were not happy. There were a few map tweaks, some new trials ‘Mechs that don’t suck, and a few other miscellaneous tweaks and bug fixes (not the least of which was a new intro that won’t blow out your headphones every time you boot the game up).
But the new patch also included some weapon and equipment changes that nobody really asked for. You can go over the exact numbers on the MechWarrior Onlinewebsite, but in general, PPCs do 20% more up-front damage at the cost of 20% less DPS. That means a far slower recharge rate than you might be used to.
The reason for these tweaks as given by PGI was to open up more “space” for other weapon tweaks down the road and to make PPCs (and Gauss Rifles) more specialized weapons. In this case, specialized means dedicated sniper weapons. You get a whole bunch of bang, but if you can’t reposition while your PPC/Gauss recharges, you’re kinda pooched.
There’s a lot of talk online about this patch being an overall nerf, but I don’t think so. They certainly succeeded in making PPCs/Gauss Rifles into sniper weapons, and in the hands of a coordinated lance, this means trained PPC fire can bring down a ‘Mech in a single salvo. In those scenarios, the longer cooldown doesn’t matter because the target is already dead.
But I don’t play in those sorts of matches. I just play in PUGs, where it’s basically controlled mayhem every match. A 7-second Clan ER PPC cooldown means that my Nova-A has absolutely no ability to plug a hole in a line if the enemy side charges. I’ll get one shot off and then I have to wait an eternity to fire again, at which point faster-firing Medium Pulse Lasers or SRM-6s have chewed me to pieces.
To me, this change doesn’t feel great. It pigeon holes PPC-boating ‘Mechs into dedicated snipers and punishes pilots with poor aim. That’s fine for pro players, but for a game that’s trying to encourage a renaissance with new blood, it just seems too unforgiving to newbies to be the right call.
To me, the changes to PPCs/Gausses (and even the MASC changes that were included) feel like PGI is just trying to introduce some sweeping changes to the MechWarrior Online meta. I get that--established MMO and online service games do it all the time to keep things fresh and interesting. But it’s easy to get carried away with that sort of thinking and make changes that look like they’ll really shake things up on paper but really don’t feel great for existing players.
Plus, MWO players are a curmudgeonly lot that don’t take change particularly well, especially if they didn’t ask for it.
Mechwarrior Online Patch Notes Review - March 2021
On the plus side, MechWarrior Online is giving away a free Grasshopper-5H for the Month of March and also hosting a public test server with a slew of changes that have been suggested by a group of players calling themselves “The Gulag.” Those changes include an overhaul of pretty much everything based on input from both casual and professional MWO players alike, so it’ll be interesting to see how it compares to the latest official patch from PGI.
UPDATE: Oh hey, looks like PGI has decided to rollback the weapon and MASC changes in the latest patch after all. I gotta say, that’s a big change for PGI, which has typically ignored public outcry from its players after unpopular changes. If that’s not a positive sign, I don’t know what is.
The game Rust also hosted its save data at the same location and suffered far worse losses. Monthly backups meant that it wasn’t a total loss, but community-hosted servers that didn’t have backups were just… gone.
MechWarrior Onlinegot a new server the next day and is back and running for you fancy Europeans, so there’s no need to deal with a 200 ping when you’re playing with me here in North America.
MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries Gets A Release Date On Steam, GoG, and Xbox
Hey, so, remember when MechWarrior 5’s Steam release got delayed till the spring, but then PGI said that they’d also come out with the Heroes of the Inner Sphere DLC as well as an Xbox release at the same time? Well, we’ve got a date: May 27.
“We are very excited to also be able to give Xbox and Steam players a good dose of MechWarrior fun,” said EG7 CEO Robin Flodin in a statement. “It is also great to be able to present yet another example of the EG7 companies working together to bring a world-class title to market.”
The funny part (at least to me) is that MechWarrior 5 was initially delayed from December to avoid getting stomped on by Cyberpunk 2077, and then Cyberpunk turned out to be a slow-motion train wreck. Now May is coming up with games like Biomutant, Subnautica: Below Zero, Resident Evil Village, and the remade/remastered Mass Effect trilogy, with more announcements being made all the time. It’s sort of an out-of-the-frying-pan-into-the-fire situation if you ask me.
But hey, if you were among the many who thought that the Epic Games Store release was like an early access preview, then the real deal is just two months away.
Tex Talks BattleTech Returns To Discuss The Marauder Soon™
A little while back, I gave MechWarrior: Living Legends a try. It was great fun, but it’s a game that’s definitely showing its age. MechWarrior: Living Legends, for those unaware, is the total-conversion mod built on the original Crysis engine, which is pushing 14 years old at this point--old enough that it’s already received a remake on a brand new engine.
Rather than use the Crysis Remake for MechWarrior: Living Legends 2, the fine folks at JPL Studios have decided to use the far more moddable MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries as their starting point. This makes creating another total-conversion mod much easier since a lot of the assets they’d be using (like all the ‘Mechs, for example) are already present in the game.
That and MechWarrior 5 is built on the Unreal 4 Engine, which just has more knowledge and support out there.
JPL just announced MechWarrior: Living Legends 2over on Reddit, revealing that it’s been a passion project a year in the making. The team is made up of many of the same people who worked on the first MechWarrior: Living Legends, but I’ve been told there has been a lot of new blood brought in thanks to MWLL2 going public.
According to the Reddit post, alpha tests are coming “within a couple of weeks,” and MWLL2 project lead Nathan reports that the team will be hosting smaller stress tests before then to make sure everything works. Support will start out for 32-player matches, but that number might increase over the course of the mod’s development.
Nathan tells me that MWLL2 will follow the same format as the original mod, which is a sort of Battlefield-style persistent battle with matches focusing on taking control points for resources. The team with the most points gets declared the winner after roughly an hour of play.
Obviously, more MechWarrior is always great, but I think MechWarrior: Living Legends 2 has a lot going for it. First, it’ll be in a modern engine with way more technical support and it’ll be made by a proven team of modders with a passion for MechWarrior/BattleTech. Second, it might even add a multiplayer component to MechWarrior 5 that PGI has no particular interest in making. Sure, co-op campaigns are great, but competitive multiplayer adds a level of replayability that you just can’t beat.
I’m excited to see what JPL comes up with, especially given the quality of product they’ve put out with the original MWLL. For updates, follow MechWarrior: Living Legends 2 on Twitter, and for (possible) access to some of the upcoming stress tests or even the technical alpha, head on over to the MechWarrior: Living Legends 2Discord.
From Mice To Elementals?
So, this isn’t exactly BattleTech news, per se, but it does seem to have a direct link to the BattleTech universe in that it’s yet another piece of technology common to the Clans in the far future that has just been invented right now. Thanks go out to an eagle-eyed Sarna reader for giving me the heads up.
A group of scientists in Israel has just grown a mouse embryo in an artificial womb. That’s according to the MIT Technology Review, who interviewed biologists at the Weizmann Institute of Science. The embryos were grown by adding blood serum from human umbilical cords along with a pressurized oxygen mixture.
The mouse embryos only lasted between 11 to 12 days before they grew too large for the glass containers they were in to continue supplying them with adequate oxygen, but the basic concept has been proven: conception without a womb.
The crux of the article is the huge ethical concerns such technology raises for humans, specifically with the ongoing abortion debate. However, for us BattleTech nerds, this is the first step towards a true Iron Womb.
And that’s all I got for March! Join us next time for more BattleTech news, and hopefully some teasers for Heroes of the Inner Sphere.
Hey! We made it to February [Ed. well, Technically March, but we were a little late getting the news out for February]! I honestly didn’t think we’d make it this far. But we’re here and we’re all makin’ the best of it in these cold winter months.
As always, I’ve got some lovely BattleTech news to keep us warm. Well, relatively warm. Look, warmth is in the mind, okay? Let’s see what’s going on in the world of big stompy robots.
There are a lot of artists out there doing BattleTech stuff, and while a lot of them are associated with commercial BattleTech creators like PGI and Harebrained Schemes, a lot of ‘em are just doing it for free. But what if the community could come together to support those artists and encourage them to produce more free artwork for the community to enjoy?
Best of all, “those works will be openly available for the public to enjoy and use as they wish,” so long as the original artist approves.
“This fund will also allow the exploration of brand new talent with a fresh, innovative vision,” adds RenegadeHPG. “What would a top Magic: The Gathering or LucasFilm artist come up with if they were let loose on BattleTech? A Marvel Studios concept artist? Will we discover BattleTech‘s Ralph McQuarrie with a project like this?”
I’ve just signed on for the low price of $2 per month (a $10 level allows Patrons to participate in regular Live Q&As with creators), and I see DC Bruins is working on an animation project that looks pretty cool. There’s also this fantastic piece from Dmitriy Leonovich (the ‘Mech is an original design of his, in case you were wondering).
The more people that sign up, the more great art I expect to see come out of Gallery 3025.
MechWarrior Online Gets February Patch, And There’s More On The Way
MechWarrior Online has received the occasional update to change what ‘Mechs are on sale, but it’s been well over a year since MWO has received a patch with any meaningful changes to the game. That’s changed as of February 11 with update 188.8.131.52, with a 38MB patch that promises to be just the first of MWO’s 2021 roadmap.
As discussed in previous web vlogs, February’s update is full of quick, simple QOL changes that MechWarrior Online fans have been requesting for quite some time. The reconnection time limit and early leaver punishment threshold have both increased from 2 minutes to 4 minutes, which will encourage players to rejoin a match if they get disconnected and also punishes players for leaving a match early. Unit recruitment costs have also been reduced to 10% of their former prices, while the cadet bonuses have been increased to better reward new players and give them a fighting chance against MWO‘s sea of veterans.
Several maps have had their dynamic time-of-day timer set to a specific time to better improve visibility, and bolt-on cosmetics are now truly bolted on and will not get shot off in the first 30 seconds of a firefight. The patch notes do say that PGI is looking for feedback on which bolt-ons actually should have the ability to be shot off as they might give players the wrong impression of a ‘Mech’s hitbox outline. Go check the MWO forums for that specific thread.
We’ve also got a roadmap for what to expect in future patches. March should include new player video tutorials, lower volume on the intro movie (a long-requested change), and a balance pass on weapons. There’s also going to be new ‘Mech packages and a brand new free ‘Mech available as part of a monthly event.
Honestly, the free giveaways are probably the best idea I’ve seen yet. My problem with MechWarrior Online has always been the awful price-to-content ratio, but free ‘Mechs (plus tons of other free stuff as part of the monthly event) does a lot to solve that problem. Plus, all these QOL changes are showing the players some real love. I might just give this game another chance.
Check out the latest vlog to see what’s coming in March, such as lighting fixes to Caustic Valley, spawn changes on Tourmaline Dessert, and a long-requested weapons balance update.
An Atlas, A Battlemaster, A Wyvern, And An Urbanmech Travel To A Galaxy Far Far Away
Reddit user aa-ron-dakota gives us this fabulous CG image that reimagines the cover of Exodus Road. It’s a landscape rather than a portrait, but that’s fine since now you can use it as a desktop background.
Clan Invasion Wave Two Set To Arrive In Late Spring
CGL just sent out a Clan Invasion Kickstarter update that confirmed the Wave 2 stuff won’t leave China until after Chinese New Year, which actually puts them right on track for my estimate of a spring delivery. Since that was my expectation all along, I’m not really mad or disappointed. Then again, I don’t remember what the original timeline was supposed to be like so I had no idea they were actually missing it.
Also, quarantine has sort of removed whatever sense of time I had, so it might be August right now and the only way I’d tell is if I went outside in my snow jacket and just fucking died of heatstroke.
From the description Loren gave to us in the update, it sounds like CGL was doing whatever they could to keep to their original schedule. There’s a lot of cursing, a lot of exclamation points, and a lot of dates for when gears turn or are expected to spin wildly. Bottom line is that Wave 2 should start shipping to backers “by the end of May for a mostly-June delivery.”
That’s not technically summer, but it might turn out to be summer. Fingers crossed and all that.
MechWarrior Living Legends Releases Update To Fix Lag Warping
The MechWarrior: Living Legends dev team is back after a much-deserved holiday break, and they bring with them update 0.13.4. The big deal with this update is that it incorporates jedi95’s Crysis Wars Lag Fix code, which greatly improves performance for players with a bad connection.
Crysis Wars has always had some pretty janky netcode according to the MWLL devs, who described it as “a thorn in our side for years!” Modern games have vastly improved netcode that can smooth out the bumps in a poor internet connection, but Crysis Wars’ netcode predates those improvements.
Now Crysis Wars has a modernized netcode that smooths the gameplay for low ping players, with jedi95 even helping the MWLL folks ensure that his code was properly implemented in the latest update. MWLL players are already reporting improvements to gameplay, so it sounds like this patch is a big success.
Besides the sweet netcode improvements, patch 0.13.4 brings a few balance tweaks to the AC/10, Clan ER PPC, Sniper Artillery, and Stealth Armor. For the full details, check out the patch notes over on the MWLL wiki here.
Check Out The Raven In Wolves Wave 2 Mini Showcase
UPDATE: I have since been informed that the ‘Mech showcased in the above video is in fact the Raptor II and not the Raven as I initially thought. Friggin’ chicken-walking ‘Mechs all lookin’ the same. Pajama Boy will give me some Raven footage to add later. Original story follows.
There’s also the Cougar and Mad Cat Mk II to consider, but who cares about them? It’s the little Raven that steals the show in this short trailer previewing the upcoming Wave 2 update in Wolves, the fan-made MechAssault game.
The cool shit is that Raven is apparently just a prototype. PajamaBoy has since redone the Raven model to be, well, probably the best-looking Raven I’ve ever seen.
Now, I know that on paper, the Raven was never really that good. It got cut a lot of slack for being the first dedicated electronic warfare platform in the Inner Sphere (or should I say the first new EW platform in the Inner Sphere, since y’all remember the Spector), but compared to other scout ‘Mechs, the Raven was slow, poorly armed, and poorly armored, making too many sacrifices in order to stuff all those high-tech gizmos onto a light ‘Mech chassis.
That said, there’s no denying that for most of us the Raven is the first ‘Mech that actually looked sexy. Those smooth lines and pointed beak almost made it appear to belong in a different giant robot franchise entirely. It’s no surprise that the Raven has found its way into pretty much every MechWarrior game since MW2: Mercenaries.
Still no word on when Wave 2 will ship, but here’s hoping it’s soon.
Real-Life Myomer Fibers Anyone?
Yes, we see this headline from time to time because scientists are always trying to find a way to make synthetic muscles. It’s just a mechanism that’d work better for a range of applications than something like micromotors, pneumatic pumps, or simple wheels would. And every time we hear about some research group making a breakthrough, we think that this is finally when myomer muscles will get invented.
This time might be different. A research group in Italy made a synthetic muscle that’s not only capable of lifting up to 70 times its own weight but also capable of being made on the cheap.
You can read all about it in the journal Science and Robotics. Researchers from TeCIP Institute’s mechanical engineering program made an “electrostatic bellow muscle (EBM),” which can act as an actuator, a pump, and also as its own generator.
It’s that last bit that’s very interesting since it means that these muscles can convert some of their own mechanical energy back into electricity and store it for use later.
“The EBM could be promising for robotic systems due to its lightness, scalability, and adaptability to different tasks,” writes the researchers. “The added ability to harvest energy could also be an advantageous feature for autonomous battery-powered robots.”
These muscles don’t quite look like myomer strands (actually it looks more like folded pastrami, if I’m being honest), but that’s fine. They don’t need to look like myomers so long as they act like ‘em. You can see EBM in action over on Inverse.
BattleTech Extended Gets Even More Extended In Latest Update
BattleTech Extended, along with RogueTech and BattleTechAdvanced, are the three biggest mods out there for BATTLETECH. Where BattleTech Advanced focuses more on additional units and RogueTech turns the game into a roguelike, BattleTech Extended adds a ton of all-new systems to the game, like pilot fatigue, expanded skills, ‘Mech quirks, and even the Clan Invasion.
And now it’s getting even more stuff in update 184.108.40.206. A massive map rework, improvements to the Clan Invasion (now with 100% more Clan Diamond Shark), and over 300 faction and mercenary units have been added to the game, along with a large rework to shops and progression. Look, there’s a ton more added in this update and I don’t want to become a patch notes regurgitator, so go read the full notes over on Nexus Mods or Reddit. It’s a lot, and well worth your time if you’re looking for a new way to experience BATTLETECH.
And that’s it for February! Hopefully next month is warmer, drier, and still lets me get a decent burrito.
Welcome to 2021! It’s a new year, and that means new beginnings. There’s a new president, there’s a new sense of calm and orderliness that--ah, sorry, I’m being told that only one of those things is true and that we’re still in the middle of a global pandemic that’s killing thousands on the daily. Well, great, off to a good start then.
On the plus side, BattleTech is still here, and it’s still great. Here’s all the news worth knowing for January.
MechCommander Gold: Prometheus Gets Beta Release
We start off the January news with a piece of news I missed from last December because it came out over Christmas and I was knee-deep in the nog, if you know what I mean.
RizZen, the guy responsible for the fantastic Darkest Hours expansion of MechCommander Gold, has once again returned with a new expansion: Prometheus. This time he’s straying away from the Inner Sphere and goes fully into Clan Wolf territory with a brand new Wolf-themed expansion.
What started as a passion project due to COVID-19, RizZen describes Prometheus as the version of MechCommander Gold “I would like to have done in the first place while starting to mod MechCommander wayback 2016.” It will eventually contain an absolutely astonishing 200 missions, but so far the beta release just has 33 of the planned Wolf campaign. It’s also got all eight Darkest Hours campaigns, for a total of 89 missions.
There’s also new voice packages planned for various new MechWarrriors, although the current beta release only has one of them recorded so far. RizZen also needs to finish the story writing and full briefings for each of the missions, which are planned for future updates.
You can download the whole thing over on ModDB and take a look at the differences between Prometheus and Darkest Hourson this comparison post here. Best of all, there’s no need to have the original game. Just like Darkest Hours, everything is downloadable as a standalone game.
Speaking Of MechCommander, MechCommander Mercenaries Update Delayed Until MechWarrior 5 Spring Release
As we’re all aware, PGI has recently been acquired by EG7 and that led to a delay on the release of Heroes of the Inner Sphere, the first major update to MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries, as well as a delay on the Steam release. On the plus side, MechWarrior 5 is also getting an Xbox Series X version that’ll bring MechWarrior back to consoles for the first time since MechAssault.
This means expected editor updates have also been delayed which means work on MechCommander Mercenaries has stalled (that’s the mod that turns MechWarrior 5 into an RTS styled after the classic MechCommander games).
But not all work has ceased on MechCommander Mercenaries. Redditor yrrot gave us an update a few weeks ago that showed a brand new drop pod model ready for game integration as well as a new repair vehicle that’ll let you do battlefield repairs while your ‘Mechs are on deployment.
Another planned feature is a Mechlab overhaul that adds more MechWarrior 4 elements over what we have in MechWarrior 5. It’ll be “a little more complicated than just MW4‘s mechlab,” writes yrrot, mentioning that they want to deal with certain issues like hardpoint inflation.
Since mods like MercTech And MechWarrior 5: Reloaded are so popular, the MechCommander Mercenaries team wants to release MCM as a standalone mod so that it can play nice with other mods. That might take a while even if PGI releases the editor update on time in the spring. In the meantime, the mod is in a holding pattern until we see Heroes of the Inner Sphere.
Catalyst January Products And Clan Invasion Update
Clan Invasion Kickstarter backers also got their first look at the Marauder II and Marauder IIC, which should be coming out in the second wave of Kickstarter orders. I get a lot of Phoenix redesign aesthetic from the Marauder II, especially in the cockpit and torso-mounted autocannon. The Marauder IIC has a more streamlined, deadly appearance, which totally fits the ‘Mechs amazing firepower thanks to three ER PPCs.
Speaking of Wave 2, Catalyst should have all the Wave 2 orders squared away by now, so we’re just waiting for the manufacturer to complete the order and get things sent back overseas. By all accounts, I should have my ‘Mechs by the spring, and maybe even sooner [editors’ note: Sean has no idea when Wave 2 will ship and should not be counted on to provide an accurate guesstimate of when eager BattleTech fans will get their minis].
What’s a monthly update without some great art? I spotted this Shadow Hawk battling a Wolverinefrom Reddit user meltdonw14 and felt that it really captures that classic art style you really don’t get with the redesigns and MechWarrior 5-style art. I can appreciate the classics too sometimes.
A few days later, meltdonw14 gave us another great image of a more modern-looking Thunderbolt. This one seems to have seen some battle, and I’m very appreciative of the shell craters and laser scars on this ‘Mechs armor. Lovely attention to detail.
MechWarrior Online Delivers January Development Update
It’s January, and as promised, PGI has given us their preliminary plans for MechWarrior Online. Bombadil and Matt sat down to deliver a January update on the state of the game, noting that MechWarrior Online had some good player counts and sales numbers throughout the holiday season. That’s good news for heading into 2021, with plans for more content and updates coming together.
In the update video, the two describe patches coming in Q1 2021 as being dedicated to “low-hanging fruit.” These are quick, fast, easy changes that will directly improve the quality of life for players and will be delivered in an upcoming patch tentatively planned for February (but no promises there).
On the docket are lowering or removing unit C-bill membership costs to make it easier to join units for faction play, as well as doubling the reconnection penalty time from two to four minutes. This will punish players that deliberately disconnect from a match before completion.
Also planned for the patch are keeping the match time-of-day static as well as making it so bolt-on cosmetics stay on your ‘Mechs permanently and can’t just be shot off at the beginning of a match. This should hopefully make them a bit more relevant as they typically got destroyed in the first five seconds of fighting, making them mostly irrelevant since nobody could see how badass your ‘Mechs mohawk looked.
The second quarter will see PGI looking at new ‘Mech bundles to give players a better deal on some new toys, fixing Solaris maps in private matches, moving spawn points around, and maybe even adding new ‘Mech variants.
Q3 will be about new content and features, but neither Matt nor Daeron are even willing to hazard a guess as to what that might look like as of yet. They stress that a lot of resources are being poured into MechWarrior 5‘s coming Steam release and expansions, but they are hiring some dedicated devs to work on MechWarrior Online. If you’re still playing MWO after all this time, you’ve probably already learned how to be patient with this game, and that skill will serve you well.
Here’s Some Sweet Covers Of The MechWarrior 3 Soundtrack
MechWarrior 3 certainly wasn’t my favorite MechWarrior soundtrack, but maybe Joey Cramsey’s covers will change my mind. He recently posted a few covers of MechWarrior 3‘s main theme to the MechWarrior subreddit, and they’re pretty good! You can check ’em out over on his Bandcamp, and even pay for them if you want.
“Please excuse the silence. We at #TMC are working hours every day on Ep1 and pushed through >100 tasks since Christmas,” wrote the 3D artist. “I can’t share much without spoiling too much. I think [this] image is OK though. Bear with us please.”
I feel like we’re very close to a release date, although specifics were never provided. We did get a pretty nice screengrab from a work-in-progress, so hopefully that’ll tide us over for a bit.
Aces Wild To Host To Host Inner Sphere Coalition MechWarrior Online Tournament Starting February 1
Even as we await MechWarrior Online‘s February patch, The Inner Sphere Coalition is barreling straight to its third-ever community tournament.
Hosted by Aces Wild, you can head on over to their website to register your team. Exhibition games take place throughout January, with official games scheduled to start on February 1. Teams will be seeded based on their individual members’ Jarls’ List rankings to make sure that initial games aren’t complete blowouts.
Games are 6v6 and as the name suggests are limited to Inner Sphere ‘Mechs and technology only (sorry, Clanners, you’ll have to sit this one out). Each match will include five drops of escalating tonnage so that you’ll get the full range of MechWarrior Online games, from highly mobile light and medium ‘Mech fights to assault and heavy ‘Mech-anchored brawls.
Interestingly, you can only use a particular chassis three times over the course of those five drops, and since matches are 6v6, each team will need a variety of ‘Mechs to compete.
Winners are awarded 1000 MC per drop win, but the real incentive to compete is to not have to worry about queue times thanks to the scheduled matches.
And some of these times must have been set with folks running around in Fire Moths, ’cause they are FAST. ProxInDaBox is blowing through the Wolf campaign’s “Pyre Light” in a blistering 1 minute and 2 seconds, while jangler throws down the gauntlet on the third mission of the Jade Falcon campaign, “Mirror Cage,” at an eye-watering 43 seconds!
That time was established in jangler’s world record run, which you can watch in the video above. Their ride is not in fact a Fire Moth but is instead either a custom Jenner IIC or a Stormcrow, both equipped with jump jets and making frequent use of a glitch that maintains forward momentum from jump jetting after shutting down.
Since When Did HBS’s BATTLETECH Become An RPG?
I’ll be honest, I sort of put Hairbrained’s BATTLETECH down for a little bit. I certainly think it was great and I put about 100 hours into BATTLETECH, playing through the main campaign twice, but I never did get to experience the three DLC that HBS put out over the course of 2019.
This time will be different for me, however. I’m not going to play the main campaign, and I’ve embarked on the new “Career” mode that was added in the Flashpoints expansion. This will help me get to the Flashpoints as quickly as possible and allow me to access all the new ‘Mechs that were added with each of the DLC.
I’ve played through a few missions and gotten my little starter merc company a fancy new Javelin-10F and an Enforcer, and then it really hit me--with all the new random events, Flashpoints, and additional mission-types and dialog, BATTLETECH went from being a pretty standard turn-based tactical wargame into a fully-fledged RPG.
I’m digging it, is all I’m saying. I may be late to the party, but y’all should really be playing BATTLETECH if you haven’t already downloaded it. It’s still the best BattleTech game out there.
The news comes fast and hard in December! That’s mostly because everyone is getting their work out of the way now so they can have a quiet holiday break. At least, I assume. I don’t get those because the news never sleeps!
My pain is your gain. We’ve got some important things to talk about. Some important, plushie, Urbie things. But first, a follow-up to last week’s big story that is sure to be at the top of everyone’s mind.
PGI Talks About EG7 Purchase, MechWarrior 5 Release On Steam/GOG
To cut 45 minutes down to a few paragraphs, it means good things for both. With EG7 providing financial backing and marketing support, PGI can focus their efforts on developing the best game they can.
All three made it clear that there’s not a lot they can say that wasn’t handled in the press release a few weeks ago. Not even PGI employees knew about the EG7 deal until the day of the announcement as there was a ton of secrecy surrounding negotiations. Russ did say that PGI had been on the market for a business partner for some time, and EG7 made the most sense. It allows PGI to retain their autonomy and also gives PGI access to what they’ve been missing: a powerful marketing engine that can get their games out there.
On the delay for MechWarrior 5‘s planned release on Steam and GOG, that was just mostly bad timing. The EG7 deal started to really take shape in November, and then Cyberpunk 2077 announced their delay to release on the same day as MechWarrior 5. These factors combined made it just impossible to get the product they wanted out on Steam in December as previously hoped.
Now the plan is to have Heroes of the Inner Sphere and MechWarrior 5 release together on Steam in the spring along with a simultaneous release on Xbox Series X. This version will essentially be the same game as found on PC but optimized for a singular console. PGI had wanted to also get the Xbox Series X version out in December as a surprise addition to the Steam release, but Microsoft was a little slow getting their dev kits sent out.
And we have some good news. Daeron strongly hinted that there will be a second DLC pack after Heroes of the Inner Sphere “right about the same time or just around the corner.” He even went as far as calling it an “overload of content” come the spring.
Which is great. I’m into it, and that gives me plenty of time to get through Cyberpunk and Project Wingman.
In addition to the MechWarrior 5 Developer update, Bombadil also returned to No Guts No Galaxy to talk to Sean (not me, the other Sean) about MechWarrior Online. Honestly, plans don’t appear to have changed all that much from November, but they are taking a more solid shape.
First off, the plan is to slightly alter the new player experience by changing the tier in which new MechWarriors begin. Right now it’s set to a tier that has them playing against the best MechWarriors in the game, and that causes them to get stomped into oblivion--not exactly a great way to introduce a new player to a competitive game. Instead, they’re going to have new players arrive at a lower tier so they’re not always giant targets for dudes with custom Mad Cat IIs and Vapor Eagles.
That’ll hopefully arrive in December’s patch, but if not it’ll be here in January. That’s about the same time PGI hopes to have a roadmap for what they plan to do with MechWarrior Online in 2021. Daeron said that PGI is hiring a dedicated team to work on MechWarrior Online, and that might even include a level designer or two to make a new map. But first, they’ll fix up some old maps to learn the ropes.
Fixing the new player experience is the top priority though, and that means new trial mechs for new players to aspire to. Everyone seemed very doubtful that an engine rewrite or even MechWarrior Online 2 is in the cards but you never know.
Oh, and there’s a town hall for MechWarrior fans scheduled for December 11. Sean Lang of No Guts No Galaxy will host the town hall on Twitch with Daeron posting questions to the MechWarrior Online forums to discuss live on stream. Go on over there to provide your two cents. [EDIT: Sorry, this was meant to get up a bit earlier, but a problem with the site delayed things until after the townhall.]
The UrbanMech Plushie Is Real And I Cannot Stand Being Apart From It
Look, I’ll be honest, I was getting a little bit concerned that the UrbanMech plushie that was offered in the Clan Invasion Kickstarter was going to turn out to be an empty promise that wouldn’t be fulfilled. Every single time I’ve even mildly interacted with Catalyst, it was to ask about the plushie UrbanMech. At this point, they’ve probably blocked my emails.
But my concerns were totally unfounded. The latest update on the Clan Invasion Kickstarter confirms that the Plushie Urbie is real, and it is ADORABLE.
It’s also a lot more complex than I initially expected. Look at all the colors! And the antennae! And the arms!
What we’re seeing here is a product sample that got sent to Catalyst after they sent their technical drawings, which were very technical indeed. I was expecting something very basic, very greyscale, and very… well, y’know, urban, but no. We get a pirate Urbie complete with a fancy paint job.
I eagerly await the day when I can hold my new UrbanMech son in my arms and name him. Until that day, more news.
Camo Specs Has A New Website And They Got Tex To Do The Introductory Video
I’ll be honest, I’m not a painter, so I didn’t have much cause to go to Camo Specs very often. But the few times I did go I was reminded of a GeoCities website from the late ’90s. It was bad, and I felt bad going there.
But now it’s gotten a huge overhaul that makes it faster, more user friendly, and just freakin’ works. There’s a search bar that can bring up helpful articles. There’s a tab at the top that will list factions, artists, and tutorials. You wanna know how the Tiburon Khanate painted their ‘Mechs? Well, you’re just three clicks away from the Camo Specs home page of finding out.
Best of all, they got Tex of Tex Talks BattleTech to do the intro video. I know Tex’s delivery makes it sort of sound like he’s doing the voiceover work for a corporate training video, but it’s still pretty great.
Tex Did A Voice Pack For BattleTech Modders
MERRY CHRISTMAS TO THE BATTLETECH COMMUNITY - Grampa Tex Mod Pack Preview
Speaking of Tex, he’s also featured in a brand new voice pack for Harebrained’s BATTLETECH. This allows Grampa Tex to be added as a pilot to something like RogueTech--provided they want to add said pilot, of course. Grampa Tex is not exactly the sort of guy you’d expect to find in a decorated mercenary outfit, so he sort of breaks immersion. On the other hand, he’s hilarious, and I think comedy far outweighs realism when it comes to video games.
Wolvesis still working on getting Wave 2 out, but they’ve got something to keep us interested in the meantime. The Hellbringeris going to get added in the spring, and it will apparently be “agile, sturdy, and very hot.” Makes sense, given the Hellbringer was never a particularly cool ‘Mech even by Clan standards.
To show the Hellbringer off, Pajama Boy produced this delightful trailer video. And then he tagged me so I’d pop it in the December news dump. I’m easily manipulated, you see.
Now This Is A Super Cool HOTAS Setup For MechWarrior 5
I play MechWarrior 5 on a mouse and keyboard like most regular humans (I assume). When it releases on the Xbox Series X sometime next year, I suspect most people will play using a standard Xbox controller. This guy has something much, much better. Reddit user Tiltinnitus shows off his sweet-ass HOTAS setup, with the throttle on the left and joystick on the right. He’s even got old-school switches that can apparently be mapped to a ‘Mech’s engine ignition. For those wondering, Tiltinnitus explained in the comments that it’s a Logitech X56 throttle and an NXT Gladiator joystick. Both look very cool, although I sure hope there are some elbow rests hiding somewhere off-screen.
That’s it for now, but December isn’t over. We might have a few more surprises waiting for us before the year is out, so stay tuned.
There’s a sense of anticipation this November. We’re all looking forward to good things that are coming, whether they be Cyberpunk 2077, our Clan Invasion packages, covid vaccines, or even winter. Personally, I hate winter, but I acknowledge the fact that some people might like it.
I’m a terrible Canadian, in case you hadn’t noticed.
Anyway, we got a lot of big news this month so there’s no sense dilly-dallying. Let’s get to it!
MechWarrior 5 & MechWarrior Online Developer Piranha Games Purchased By Swedish Games Publisher EG7
EG7 Investor Presentation Q3 2020 - Acquires Piranha Games
There’s a couple of very interesting figures produced in the press release from EG7. PGI’s net sales for the one-year period prior to September 30, 2020, totaled $22.7 million, with MechWarrior 5 selling “hundreds of thousands of copies on Epic Games Store alone.” Over MechWarrior Online‘s lifetime, the game has generated $75 million CAD in net revenue, which sounds like it was quite profitable.
So who’s EG7? A cursory glance around the interwebs reveals them to be a relatively new Swedish games publisher with a history of working with some pretty big names in the games industry. They have their hand in a little bit of everything, but they mostly seem to handle marketing and publishing with a few developers under their umbrella. They’ve done marketing for Call of Duty, Destiny, Fortnite, and Angry Birds, so they’ve certainly handled IP way bigger than MechWarrior.
For PGI, EG7 offers financial stability and resources to fund MechWarrior 5‘s future development and also get them started on their next big thing. In EG7’s third-quarter financial presentation, PGI President Russ Bullock revealed that his company will work on a “new live-service IP” in the next five years while simultaneously supporting MechWarrior 5.
In return, EG7 gets a Candian developer with 65 employees as well as access to the MechWarrior license. Since PGI is going to be working on a new IP, this means EG7 might hand the next MechWarrior game over to a different developer to see what they come up with. Or they might sit on the IP and do nothing. EG7 gave no indication in their presentation of what they plan to do either way.
The press release states that PGI will continue to operate as an independent studio with the financial backing of EG7. That’s great news for PGI as it means they get to continue on as normal while still collecting salaries as they make their new live-service IP--whatever the heck that is.
All we know for sure at this point is that whatever game PGI makes, it won’t be MechWarrior. I’ve reached out to EG7 to see if they’ve got any plans for the license.
MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries Coming To Xbox Series X/S In Spring 2021, Steam Release Delayed
Hot off the heels of that news, the MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries and its attendant DLC, Heroes of the Inner Sphere, won’t release December 10th on Steam as previously planned. PGI pretty much came right out and said that releasing on the same day as Cyberpunk 2077 was “less than optimal,” so a delay seems prudent.
The new release window for Steam is Spring of 2021. That’s the bad news. The good news is that there’s going to be more than just a Steam release. MechWarrior 5 is now also going to be released on GOG.com and, surprisingly, the brand-new Xbox Series X/S consoles.
I’m a PC gamer, so I don’t have one of Microsoft’s newfangled consoles, but it sure looks like it could run a game like MechWarrior 5 just fine. PGI notes this’ll be the first MechWarrior game on a home console since MechAssault 2, which is kinda neat. The extra time will also give the developers time to polish MechWarrior 5 until it’s gleaming, “including [improvements to] AI, UI, art, customization, and content.”
And if you don’t have an Xbox Series X/S, there’s going to be an Xbox One version too.
Last month, we learned the MechWarrior Online was in for a bit of a revival. PGI had resecured the rights to the MechWarrior license from Microsoft and was thinking of ways to reinvigorate their oldest MechWarrior game. To that end, they hired Bombadil to be the new community manager, who then went to work talking to the community to generate some ideas on what they could do to make MechWarrior Online a better game.
Bombadil posted a list of those ideas on the MechWarrior Onlinewebsite, which range from simple server-side changes that might improve the new player experience to sweeping overhauls of the MechWarrior Online matchmaker. As discussed last month, the idea here is to improve MechWarrior Online with as little effort as possible, so some of the more labor-intensive ideas seem less likely to occur than others.
On the latest Beardcast with No Guts To Galaxy, Bombadil basically said that he’s going to take this list to the PGI heads to further discuss, but not to expect any additional news on this topic until next year. Considering MechWarrior 5 and its expansion, Heroes of the Inner Sphere, arrive on both Steam and Xbox Series X/S next spring, PGI is probably going to have most of their programmers working on MechWarrior 5 for the next little while and won’t have a lot to spare for MechWarrior Online.
Catalyst Has A New Assistant Line Developer
Catalyst has a new assistant line developer. Aaron Cahall got the job as per an October 28th announcement that got in just after I’d already posted the October supplemental news dump, so we’re going to cover it here.
According to Catalyst’s press release, Cahall was previously the BattleTech line editor for the past two years, helping to make new products, help new writers, and keeping developers on tight deadlines.
“I’m pleased to be able to continue supporting Ray and the entire BattleTech team during this exciting time for the game,” Cahall said. “I’ve been a BattleTech fan for a long time, but it’s the people involved in making it who have come to mean even more to me. I’m looking forward to moving into the new ilClan era alongside them.”
Judging by the job description, this sounds to me like mostly a title change. Cahall will still do mostly the same stuff he’s done before, but maybe we’ll see his name at the bottom of those new BattleTech product emails instead of current line developer Ray Astaria.
Also, CamoSpec‘s has a new leader in Matt Frederiksen. He organized the annual CamoSpecs GenCon diorama (back when GenCon was still a thing), and now he’ll be recruiting new artists to join the CamoSpecs team.
First off, we’ve got five new novellas coming that tell the story of Tukayyid from multiple sides. A few of them are already out, including Blake’s Own by Jason Schmetzer and Two Roads Diverged from Michael J. Ciaravella. Both tell the story of the Com Guards’ clash with Clan Smoke Jaguar, and we all know how that turned out.
Nine stories will be released in the lead-up to The Battle of Tukayyid Sourcebook which arrives on November 27th. Catalyst is giving us a 200-page hardcover volume that covers each of the seven campaigns. Expect a “full overview of the battle, including a map of the regions; the specific combatants involved, along with insignias; and details to allow players to experience each campaign on their tabletop.”
And just for a little extra, the Battle Of Tukayyid Supplemental PDF provides record sheets, counters, and a worksheet for the Battle Support: Combined Arms rules.
There’s not a lot of info on the miniatures, but I expect them to be the same ComStar minis that were included in the second wave of the Clan Invasion. I’ll be sure to report more as soon as I find out.
Oh, and one more Catalyst thing: the Clan Recognition Guide is up to Volume 8 now. Go get it on the Catalyst store.
People Are Getting Old MechWarrior Games To Work On Some Pretty Weird Stuff
I noticed a bit of a trend on the MechWarrior subreddits this November. People are getting very old MechWarrior games to work on some pretty esoteric devices in much the same way people have been getting Doom to work on technology that has no business playing Doom (such as a pregnancy test).
First up, Reddit user Nakele got MechWarrior 3 working on a Samsung Note9. For something without a dedicated graphics processor to run any game is a technical achievement, so kudos to Nakele for getting MechWarrior 3 to work at all. That said, there’s some noticeable slowdown in actual combat, and the overall frame rate isn’t exactly what I’d call “smooth.”
Topping that is user benchallenger10 with MechWarrior 2 running on a Samsung Z Fold2 with additional controller support. This makes the whole setup look like a Nintendo Switch, only it’s playing some classic MechWarrior. Sadly, we don’t get to see the game in action, but benchallenger10 reports that they’re getting 60fps at 1024x868 resolution. They also managed to get MechWarrior 2: Mercenaries working too, but the slightly more “advanced” textures made the frame rate drop below 60fps at times.
Both of these are fantastic, and I encourage other techy MechWarriors to get old MechWarrior games working on even more humble devices. If Doom can play on a pregnancy test, maybe we can get MechWarrior 2 to play on a programmable microwave or something.
Here we have a 3D-printed Catapult model that uses magnets to swap between the arm-mounted PPCs of the CPLT-K2 and the LRM-15s of the CPLT-C1. There’s also a magnet that lets the torso twist, too. It’s great, and I want one. We should all message Reddit user Philbobagginzzz for the details.
You remember my article discussing the possibility that BattleTech might have what I described as a “Pokemon problem,” right? Well, forget about that argument and just click on the link to see the cover image. I didn’t know who made that adorable Pokemon-themed tableau at the time of writing, but now I do. And they’ve come back with an even better version of the PikachUrbie thanks to the new model redesigns sent out with the Clan Invasion Kickstarter.
Reddit user feor1300, you are hereby officially recognized for your creative genius. Please let me know how much Nintendo intends to sue you for copyright infringement and I’ll start the Go Fund Me page to pay for your legal defense. I won’t actually contribute, mind you, but I’ll at least start the page.
Wolves Announced Wave 2 Expansion Coming In Spring Of 2021
There’s also some pretty sweet animation improvements coming in Wave 2. You can’t discount animation when it comes to ‘Mech games--there’s a fine line between the lumbering gait of a 75-ton death machine and the wobbling stumbles of a chicken-legged robot.
I’m Actually Not Getting My Clan Invasion Wave 1 Kickstarter Package Because I’m A Fool
So I still haven’t gotten my Wave 1 package even though pretty much every Canadian has received theirs, and now I know why. Back when I was choosing my shipping options, I selected “ship all at once” rather than “ship as products become available.” So now I gotta wait for Wave 2 to ship before I get everything that I ordered.
This was all happening just as the first wave of the COVID pandemic was really hitting home, so I’m sure I was thinking it’d be a noble sacrifice to let mail services deliver more important packages than little robot figurines, but now I haven’t seen my friends in months and I could really use the pick-me-up that only ‘Mechs can provide.
Ah well. Just a few weeks until Heroes of the Inner Sphere drops and then I’ll have plenty of distractions. Oh, wait.
That’s it for November! Join us next time as we contend with a pandemic and winter. Stay safe, stay healthy, and stay at home.
October has been exceptionally busy for BattleTech! So busy, in fact, that I’m pushing our big monthly news update out a few weeks earlier than usual. I’m also leaving my customary existential dread at the door since there’s just no room to concern ourselves with elections or pandemics will all this incredible BattleTech news sitting right in front of us.
Expect to receive a supplemental news dump later in the month if things keep dropping at the same pace they have been for the past few weeks. But for now, let’s get to the news!
Catalyst’s Clan Invasion First Wave Is Away!
The Battlemechs have overrun the Orlando warehouse as shipments of BattleTech: Clan Invasion for US and Canada have commenced this morning! This project will take some time to complete and we'll be posting updates throughout the process. #Kickstarter@catalystgamelabpic.twitter.com/kVMHZSnYFZ
The day we’ve all been waiting for is finally here! Wave 1 of the Clan Invasion Kickstarter has finally started shipping according to the most recent update from Catalyst, with 23 out of 26 shipments having arrived (the remaining three will probably have arrived by the time this article is published). That means the first shipment is being sent out to backers as we speak, with backers from the EU and UK expected to receive their shipments before everyone else because the customs office there was lucky enough to not suffer any setbacks.
Catalyst also gave us a bunch of fun stats: 9,824 backers, 268,797 physical items, and 31,543 UrbanMechSalvage Boxes, with another 3,000 or so expected to be sent out with Wave 2. This is an enormous logistical undertaking, and Catalyst is hard at work making sure everything goes as smoothly as 2020 will allow.
In the meantime, the Pledge Manager will be reopened on October 15 (which is right now as of the moment I’m writing these words) to allow people to edit their pledges or add one of the eight new items that Catalyst just couldn’t wait to get into people’s hands. I’ve got no idea what those items are, but we’re surely going to find out when the Pledge Manager reopens.
New Patch For MechWarrior Living Legends! Update 0.13.0 Is Here
MechWarrior Living Legends update 0.13.0 has gone live, and with it comes some new tanks. Big tanks. Like, the largest tanks that BattleTech has ever seen.
First up, the Behemoth, a 100-ton assault-class tank that certainly lives up to its name. Although the overall design follows the same general theme of the Behemoth combat vehicle, its prime variant is armed with the new Hyper Velocity Autocannon 10 which provides super long-range suppressing fire. This comes at the cost of the two SRM-6s, while the machine guns are replaced by two of the new Autoflamer turrets.
The Clans are represented by the equally massive Mars assault tank. As with the Behemoth, some liberties were taken with the principle armament of the tank as the twin Streak SRM-6s were replaced by dual Streak SRM-4s, and the extra weight used to install two Autoflamers.
In case you were wondering, the Autoflamer turret will automatically target opponents within 150 meters, and is the ideal way to convince battle armor to keep their distance.
Travis over at Renegade HPG contacted me a little while ago and we engaged in a little bit of journalistic trading. In exchange for his contacts with the BattleTech CCG community, I agreed to forward his email to my boss so he could have Nic on the show. And then it happened! You can check out the whole 45-minute interview here.
If you were ever curious about how Sarna works, including its origins, site operation, and monetization, you’ll get it all here. I even got a shoutout for writing up all this lovely news for you lovely people.
Alright, enough with the self-plug, back to business.
This was our first indication that MechWarrior Online would be getting a revival, with more details to follow in the No Guts No Galaxy podcast that came days after the announcement. Daeron “Bombadil” Katz was a longtime host of NGNG but left in February to pursue other interests. Those interests apparently didn’t stray too far from BattleTech, as Bombadil was the top guy for PGI when it came time to start planning on how to reinvigorate MechWarrior Online.
Bombadil gave us a bit of an update on how he’s been doing in his official announcement on the MWO website. The plan is for Bombadil to lead PGI in developing a plan to bring MWO into the year 2021 by refreshing the fanbase and maybe convincing lapsed players to give the game another try. More on that in exactly one embedded video and one subheader.
Last time I checked in on MechWarrior Online, I’d basically written the game off. Player counts were dwindling, content updates had stopped, and PGI had announced that it was all hands on deck for MechWarrior 5. So imagine my surprise to find out that MechWarrior Online is not nearly as dead as I was led to believe.
I mean, MechWarrior Online has certainly seen better days from a player count perspective, but it’s still very much alive and kicking. In fact, PGI CEO Russ Bullock recently did a podcast with our friends over at No Guts No Galaxy to discuss a MechWarrior Online revival.
This all comes from PGI renewing their MechWarrior license from Microsoft for another five years. This wouldn’t have come cheap, so PGI is looking to make back their money by investing in the license, and that includes both MechWarrior 5 and MechWarrior Online.
Bullock, PGI marketing head Matt Newman, and recently appointed community manager Bombadil talked to Sean Lang about what may or may not be coming to MechWarrior Online. All options are on the table, with PGI specifically focusing on content that will bring lapsed players back to MechWarrior Online. This might include new features like ‘Mech knockdown or melee weapons, or silly event queues like games where everyone is in an UrbanMech.
Don’t expect to see MechWarrior Online 2, however. Although all options are on the table, remaking MechWarrior Online in MechWarrior 5‘s engine is likely to be more of an investment than would be profitable, which is a shame since Unreal 4 is a vastly superior engine. But we might see some fundamental changes to MechWarrior Online, including changes to its monetization model and its byzantine and unpopular skill tree.
This might be an unpopular opinion to MechWarrior Online fans, but for me personally, I’m not going to really get interested in an MWO revival unless it starts catering more to casual fans. The days of me spending hours and hours grinding for new ‘Mechs are long gone, and unless MWO improves its monetization model to give me WAY more content than I’ve ever had access to, I’m probably not going to bother. That content would also have to be faster to get at, which would mean some overhauls to the ‘Mech bay, skills, and likely the core gameplay loop to be less dependant on matching 8v8 single-life games, something I don’t really see happening.
But then again, if everything is on the table, who knows? I’d love to see MechWarrior Online adopt a game mode that mirrors MechWarrior: Living Legends--a persistent battle with constant respawns from your personal ‘Mech bay. That’d be both a fun and fresh take on a very old game.
MechWarrior 5 DLC—Heroes of the Inner Sphere—Arrives December 10
RazerCon 2020 MechWarrior 5 Merc DLC Heroes of the Inner Sphere
Announced at RazerCon 2020, Heroes of the Inner Sphere will finally arrive along with MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries releasing on Steam. That’s December 10th, exactly one year since MechWarrior 5 released on the Epic Games Store.
I know many of you have been waiting for this day, so lemme once again offer my two cents: the game is absolutely worth playing with the right mods, and Heroes of the Inner Sphere is expected to bring a free update that will totally overhaul the MechWarrior 5 experience. This will include better ambient heat effects, an additional biome for random missions, new skill trees, and more.
Best of all, those that purchase Heroes of the Inner Sphere can sort of share it with friends. If the host of a co-op game owns Heroes of the Inner Sphere, friends that join that game will have access to the same new ‘Mechs and story missions that the host does.
Check out Sarna’s previous coverage of the Heroes of the Inner Sphere to get more details on what to expect from the DLC, along with a list of new ‘Mechs. Heroes of the Inner Sphere will be priced at $19.99 USD. Expect to find a package deal with the Steam release (hopefully with a bit of a discount for everyone patient enough to wait for the game to release on Steam).
Oh, and one more thing that was discussed with the MechWarrior Online revival podcast: MechWarrior 5 is getting more DLC, with an extremely tentative date set for next April. No idea what that might entail, but the concept of a Clan Invasion was definitely mentioned at least once. Take that for what it’s worth.
More Mod Tools Coming To MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries
Yet another breaking story from our friends at No Guts No Galaxy! MechWarrior 5 is getting additional mod tools to help with mission scripting. This includes “tutorial videos and associated documentation” that explain “level setup, markup levels and locators, area specification setup, mission flow nodes, and finishing the mission and deploying the mod.”
As discussed in Lang’s interview with Bombadil and PGI level designer Thaddeus Jantzi, a lot of these tools are the same ones used to create MechWarrior 5‘s missions in the Unreal 4 engine. And that’s basically the extent of my knowledge since I’m not a programmer and have no idea what these tools might look like, but they certainly sound cool and they open up a whole new world of custom campaigns in MechWarrior 5--something I’m totally on board for.
Modders can grab these new modding resources here.
Would You Like To Bring BattleTech To Roll20? Then Support This Kickstarter!
I’ve never really dealt with the RPG side of MechWarrior and BattleTech, but I know it exists, and it has its appeal to those that are really into tabletop RPGs. However, with COVID-19 ending in-person group sessions and sending everyone online, folks are looking for their favorite virtual tabletop to support their RPG habit for the foreseeable future.
Roll20 is one such piece of software that’s gotten to be pretty popular--mostly because a base account is free and a DM can share all their paid-for resources with their players. Roll20 already has tons of stuff for Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder, and now one dedicated BattleTech fan is looking to add our humble universe to Roll20’s list.
However, getting BattleTech/MechWarrior added to Roll20 takes money. Joel Janni has taken it upon himself to start a Kickstarter campaign to get someone to code up the MechWarrior and BattleTech sheets so that people can actually play the game virtually via Roll20. This will include a basic macro that will allow for skill checks and weapon/damage rolls.
Janni needs $500 to get the sheets made and pay for Kickstarter’s fees, but stretch goals can include a ‘Mech builder function to make your own custom ‘Mechs and even a character builder function.
Judging by the teaser trailer, there’s still a lot left to do before the engine is working right in Unity, although it looks like they’re off to a great start. The slight skip in the Bushwacker‘s gate is probably wrong, but so adorable that I hope they keep that animation bug in.
Of all the MechWarrior games since MechWarrior 2, MechWarrior 3 was probably the one I played the least. Mostly because it came out around the same time as Diablo 2 and I spent a lot of my high school years playing Diablo with my friends than I did playing MechWarrior by myself. That said, a reborn MechWarrior 3 in Unity might be enough for me to take another crack at the single-player campaign.