|MSRP||Free to Play|
|Series||MechWarrior (video games)|
MechWarrior Online (MWO) is a BattleTech-themed online multiplayer simulation game by Piranha Games for Microsoft Windows. MWO went into publicly accessible Open Beta on 29th of October 2012 and was officially released on September 17th, 2013.
The game the MechWarrior Online ultimately became was originally intended as a reboot of the MechWarrior series of computer games and announced as "MechWarrior" (frequently referred to as "MechWarrior 5" by fans, as the series had four previous installments), with a single-player storyline. That concept fell through, and development moved to an online multiplayer game instead. The success of MechWarrior Online led to the single player game being revisited nearly eight years later with the development and release of MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries largely built on the visuals developed for MWO.
- 1 Canonicity
- 2 Development
- 3 MWO Setting
- 4 Gameplay
- 5 BattleMechs
- 6 Pre-order/Promotional Packs
- 6.1 Operation Inception - Founders Program
- 6.2 Project Phoenix
- 6.3 The Clan Collection
- 6.4 The Resistance Collections
- 6.5 Single 'Mech Packs
- 6.6 Booster Packs
- 6.7 Other 'Mech Collections
- 7 Official Web Resources
- 8 Fan Sites
- 9 References
- 10 Media
MechWarrior Online, as such, does not meet the current criteria for canon for the BattleTech universe. As an official product with a valid license, it can be regarded as apocryphal. In 2011, Herbert A. Beas II (then BattleTech Line Developer), confirmed in an official chat that MWO would not be canonical per se, i.e. it would not be in a position to add events, characters or other content to the canon of the BattleTech universe.
However, in 2016, then Line Developer Randall N. Bills overruled this to an extent when he stated that the fiction relating to the MWO Hero BattleMechs was fully canonical for BattleTech. This technically only applies to the text and not to the visual appearance nor game stats.
Collaborating with Smith & Tinker on Mechwarrior: 3015
Jordan Weisman, cocreator of BattleTech and cofounder of FASA, is also the founder of the software firm Smith & Tinker. He negotiated the BattleTech/MechWarrior license back from Microsoft, which had left the property sit idle for several years since abandoning the series after Mechwarrior 4: Mercenaries in 2002 and cancelling FASA Studios' potential Mechwarrior 5. Russ Bullock from Piranha Games was a longtime fan of the series and wanted to start a joint collaboration with Weisman. He contacted Weisman to develop a prototype project that would become the new iteration in the MechWarrior series of video games. Preproduction of the new MechWarrior game first began in October 2008, when the two studios started discussing the project on pen and paper. After coming up with a presentation for a prototype scenario, both studios began ramping up a prototype to pitch the new game to potential publishers in March 2009. The game was titled Mechwarrior: 3015 and its premise was the following: "This new MechWarrior is set on the planet Deshler in the year 3015, and places players in the role of Adrian Khol, a wayward nobleman who prefers partying and shirking responsibility over his training and studies. However, when House Kurita launches a massive invasion to conquer Deshler, resulting in the death of his entire family, Khol discovers a purpose to fight for." PGI and Smith & Tinker developed a vertical slice developed in Unreal Engine 3 due to PGI's familiarity with the engine for their work on Transformers 2.
They arranged with IGN to publish the trailer and a feature article interviewing Weisman and Bullock about the project and the premise. The published trailer with supposed in-game footage was released on 9 July, 2009, depicting a House Davion Warhammer fighting an invading House Kurita in the form of a Jenner and an Atlas on Deshler in 3015. The words "in-game footage", clearly seen in the trailer, has caused confusion among fans. At the time it was created, the intent was to attract a publisher. So PGI used the UE3 game engine to demonstrate what a new MechWarrior game might look like. UE3 was stated as the logical engine of choice since PGI had familiarity with UE3 from their previous projects.
While pitching this vertical slice to publishers, PGI and Smith & Tinker were not successful in getting funding. The IP contractual obligations with Microsoft stated that the game could only be released on Xbox and PC, so that automatically excluded the Playstation userbase and therefore limited the potential return of investment for third-party publishers. These conditions were worsened by the fact that the financial crisis in 2008 and 2009 had hit the games industry and forced publishers to slim down while third-party developers were facing hardships with finding funding. This meant that there weren't really any publishers willing to fund Smith & Tinker's and PGI's singleplayer Mechwarrior: 3015 concept. As Weisman, Ekman, and Bullock wrote in the first dev blog post for Mechwarrior: Online:
"The hard work began in earnest after the video release. We had an aggressive schedule to visit publishers and gauge interest. In the month of August we met with all of the major publishers, pitched the MechWarrior game to a captive audience and waited. The answers rolled in slowly, starting with the smaller publishers. Then word showed up from the big five. The answer was no.
We knew going in, there were two major risks. No PS3 version due to a Microsoft restriction, and the epic market collapse and major recession. In the end, it was mostly the lack of a PS3 option that did us in. The scope and budget required to develop a console reboot needed the support of a PS3 SKU and we just couldn't convince publishers to take a risk. By late fall 2009, our dreams of making a MechWarrior game, began slowly drifting away.
Through the end of 2009 and into 2010 we rallied numerous times, reducing scope and budget, repitching the concept as a LIVE only title, etc. etc. In the end, nothing stuck."
Retooling into Mechwarrior: Online
The vertical slice and project pitch did not manage to land any third-party publisher and Microsoft was not willing to back the project despite Mechwarrior being their own IP. Additionally, because the trailer featured the Unseen Warhammer design, IGN also received a Cease & Desist from Harmony Gold that forced them to pull down the trailer, although the trailer is still easily found on Youtube. The C&D from Harmony Gold did not have any effect on the viability of landing a publishing deal for a Mechwarrior project: "Contrary to all the press and speculation that Harmony Gold was getting in the way of a deal or development, this had no impact whatsoever on development or signing a deal for MechWarrior."
After not being able to land a publishing deal due to licensing requirements with Microsoft and an unstable economy, Smith & Tinker and PGI went their separate ways, but now PGI had the ear of Microsoft to license the Mechwarrior IP from them through their contact with Smith & Tinker. Since PGI already had experience with multiplayer games and because it was relatively cheaper to develop within the deathmatch multiplayer genre, they downscaled the Mechwarrior project into a multiplayer-only game. They also chose to change engine into CryEngine 3 and hired Battletech artist Alex Iglesias to redesign the mechs, thereby making the previous Mechwarrior: 3015 trailer's in-game footage no longer applicable. The lower costs of a multiplayer-only game it possible to attract venture capital from Infinite Game Publishing to help PGI hire more people and put resources into a late Alpha/beta version of what would be known as Mechwarrior: Online.
In October 2011 a Twitter campaign was launched as the start of the advertising campaign. Little tidbits of info, dev blogs, concept art, and weekly screenshots were released about the title. At the Game Developer's Conference (GDC) in March 2012, PGI unveiled a new trailer for Mechwarrior: Online in its early closed beta state. On May 22, 2012, Piranha Games announced the start of closed beta testing for Mechwarrior Online. Later in 2012, PGI announced the Founder's Program that allowed players to purchase early access to the closed beta and get 1 to 4 mechs depending on which tier they chose to buy. The Founders Program was successful and generated $5 million dollars.
In the first three years, the game used its own launch client that is still used to this day. It was not until September 2015 that the game also launched on Steam, which saw a Peak Concurrent Players at 4,111.
Deprioritization during development of Mechwarrior 5: Mercenaries and Resurgence
Following the announcement of MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries at the inaugural Mech Con in 2016, PGI maintained that development on MechWarrior Online would continue with two separate teams devoted to each game. However as MW5's development dragged out and forecast release dates were missed, coinciding with sales of each new MWO 'Mech Pack being well below the money required to produce them led PGI to announce in June 2019 that while not intending to discontinue MWO that their development resources were being refocused on MW5. While no longer under active development, PGI has continued to maintain and modify the game to support the declining player base.
However, MechWarrior Online has notably made a bit of a resurgence in early 2021. Starting with the April 20th balance patch, which coincided with the release of the Stryker Pack, PGI has started implementing balance changes with the help of The Cauldron.
"The Cauldron is a group of experienced players and streamers that have an intimate understanding of the games inherent issues. We work directly with PGI to oversee the reconstruction of the many facets within MWO" - bear_cl4w, director of The Cauldron and the owner of the Cauldron discord
"The Design Philosophy is simple, making the game fun for all players by:
1. Increasing utility of the wide array of weapon types and incentivizing more diverse Mech and weapon combinations through a Weapon Pass, Mobility Pass, and Quirk Pass. Subsequent stages will include a Rescale Pass and Skill Tree Pass.
2. Reducing the reliance on quirks for primary balance and instead focus their use on diversity and flavor of the numerous variants via the Weapon Pass. This helps mitigate outliers or potentially overperforming mechs in our new set of proposals. While also giving every variant a reason to exist and worth owning.
3. Adjusting general Mech attributes with a Mobility and Rescale Pass for the purpose of increasing fun and lengthening time to kill." - not sure how to cite this thing
These changes have been proven to be a boon to the playerbase, and PGI has been capitalizing by releasing two additional mech packs, The Warden Pack as well as the upcoming Hunter Pack. The Cauldron has made additional changes since, including changes to mech mobility, quirks, as well as iteration on weapon balance as per their design philosophy.
Additionally, PGI has dedicated a new level designer, Francois, who has updated various maps coinciding with monthly patches, starting with the update of Canyon Network as apart of the May Patch. These changes include modifying terrain, adding/removing assets, and changing spawn points, changes that have been largely well received.
MWO casts the player as either an Inner Sphere mercenary fighting on behalf of any of the Great Houses available in the time period (the Draconis Combine, Free Worlds League, Capellan Confederation, Free Rasalhague Republic as well as both halves of the Federated Commonwealth - the Federated Suns and Lyran Commonwealth) or as a member of the invading Clans (Clan Wolf, Clan Jade Falcon, Clan Ghost Bear, Clan Smoke Jaguar, Clan Steel Viper and Clan Nova Cat) to either to secure or defend planets for their respective faction/employer. Players who accept contracts and align with a faction in Community Warfare earn Loyalty Points which open up various reward tiers for their continued loyalty. At present this takes the form of cockpit items and Mech Bays as well as steadily increasing volume of C-Bills, GXP and MC, but in the past PGI mentioned the possibility of unique camouflage schemes, discounts for weapons and 'Mechs preferred by specific factions, and even factional 'Mech variants and exclusive designs at the highest levels as being considered. Earlier discussions of Community Warfare also painted a plan to have detailed logistical system, with holding or capturing various worlds giving LP bonuses and discounts to material. Players drop solo, but can band together into units to fight together. Another feature supposedly considered for future introduction but as yet undeveloped was the use of unit coffers, a communal unit bank account, to purchase superior defenses or other aids to assist units in battle.
Initially, one of the more notable concepts of the game was that it is set in a 1:1 timeline with BattleTech universe in 1035 years, meaning the current real-world date equates to same day and month 1035 years later in BattleTech, placing the players right on the opening shots of the 3050 Clan Invasion as of 2015. The game forums previously had period news articles written by Catalyst Game Labs providing notable historical events supporting the passage of time to set the scene and mood of the Inner Sphere. This detail was abandoned after development of Community Warfare lagged far behind the fictional timeline's pace, with the timeline reset back to 3049 a number of times, with the available technology and 'Mechs had remained at the early Clan Invasion era period with anything introduced after 3052 excluded. As of July 2017 PGI progressed the game's timeframe to 3057 and the era of Operation Bulldog, while at the same time moving the available technology to the FedCom Civil War era of 3067 with 'Mechs, weapons and equipment from this time period to be made available to players.
MechWarrior Online currently offers three combat modes, with Quick Play and Faction Play featuring teams of twelve players facing a similarly sized opposing team, and Solaris 7 having 1v1 and 2v2 dueling matches. At the conclusion of a match in and mode, the player's individual performance and contribution their team is tallied, earning C-Bills and experience points for both inflicting damage and defeating opponents, as well for assists, spotting and base captures.
Representing the players in-game character's familiarity with their 'Mechs, MWO's experience system is broken into two forms, 'Mech specific Experience (MXP, locked to variant on which it was earned) and General Experience (GXP, able to be spent on any 'Mech), both can be used to unlock and/or enable skill nodes on a 'Mech's skill tree. Replacing a more linear placeholder system, the overall skill tree features a total of 231 nodes divided between seven individual trees for Firepower, Survival, Mobility, Jump Jets, Operations, Sensors and Auxiliary (consumables), each node offering benefits such as increased maximum heat, more responsive jump jets, better mobility, faster weapon cooldown, and reduced critical hit chance for example. 'Mechs are limited to a maximum of 91 nodes active at any one time, players having to decide where to specialize, which results in 'Mechs even with the identical weapon and equipment loadouts responding and playing differently. Of the two skill point types, MXP is earned faster than GXP, players can focus on spending the time to earn MXP to unlock skill nodes or use GXP. Players can trade MXP for GXP at 1 MC per 25 XP converted.
As with many Free2Play games, MWO's economy is broken down into two currencies, C-Bills which can be earned in game and 'Mech Credit (MC) which can only be purchased via real world money. While most items can be purchased with C-Bills, they are considerably more expensive in comparison to MC prices, and certain items such as premium time, 'Mech bays, Cockpit items and Hero 'Mechs can only be purchased with MC.
The standard and default play method for much of MWO's existence, featuring one training and five active game modes available to be played over one of thirteen different maps:
- Skirmish - Straight up 12 vs 12 deathmatch, the match ends when all opposing 'Mechs are destroyed leaving one team standing. If this condition is not met upon game timer expiration, the team with the most 'Mechs remaining wins.
- Assault - 12 vs 12 base capture, each team features a small field base encircled by small laser fence boundary which the enemy must stand within to capture it. The match continues until one side succeeds in running down their opponent's base capture bar down to empty, or all opposing 'Mechs are destroyed and thus unable to prevent full capture. Unlike Conquest, the Assault bases themselves do not regenerate/uncapture if left unattended, though capture attempts can be blocked by either a friendly 'Mech or enemy 'Mech within the capture boundary being struck by weapon fire.
- Conquest - 12 vs 12 resource capture, the match has 5 capture points each of which provides a steadily increasing volume of resource points when held by each team. Unlike Assault, each Conquest point can be reverted to neutral and recaptured if left unattended. The match continues until one side either reaches or is assured of reaching the 750 point capture limit, even if one team has been totally destroyed they can still win if the opposing team cannot prevent them reaching 750 points first.
- Domination - 12 vs 12 "King of the Hill" matches, victory is achieved by holding a key area around the center of the map. Each team starts with a one minute timer and needs to be alone and not under fire in the circular domination area to count down. Outside the domination boundary each team has two generators which if destroyed by their opponents each add fifteen seconds to their opponent's timer. Victory is achieved when a team's timer reaches zero, or the lowest timer value at match expiration, or upon total destruction of one team.
- Incursion - 12 vs 12 base defense matches. Each team in Incursion has a base made up four mobile field bases defended by destructible walls and turrets which they must protect while destroying the opposing team's. To avoid excessive base camping, each team's base also features three defense towers offering additional benefits (DropShip firing at opposing 'Mechs at their base, whole map radar sweeps and radar jamming) which must be powered by fuel cells generated from three points in the center of the map, each fuel cell powering a single tower for two minutes. Victory in Incursion is awarded to the first team that either destroys all seven enemy base elements or to which team inflicted the most damage to the opposing team's base when the match timer expires. Like Conquest and Escort, its possible for a team with all 'Mechs destroyed to win if the opposing team cannot inflict more damage on their opponent's base before the match ends.
- Testing Grounds - A single player training mode which allows players to learn and test piloting skills, weapons targeting, loadout charges and map layouts. Eight non-interactive enemy 'Mechs are randomly placed on the map to provide targets, no C-Bill or XP rewards are provided for defeating them.
A sixth game mode previously existed called Escort, a 12 vs 12 asymmetrical attack/defense mode where attackers had to prevent a heavily armored AI controlled VIP Atlas reaching the DropShip extraction point, following a number of randomly selected paths. The defending side received assistance from turrets and ECM equipped spotting towers, though the attackers could capture and use the ECM towers against the defenders. Victory was entirely dependent on the condition of the VIP, the attacking side winning as soon as the VIP was destroyed no matter how many defenders remained alive, where even if all the defending side were destroyed they could still win if the attackers could not destroy the VIP in time.
Following the game's formal release, Quick Play was divided into separate queues for grouped and non-grouped (solo) players, with the game's matchmaker using a form of ELO to try and ensure players are matched to other players with a similar win/loss ratio to try to create matches of equally ranked players, but declining player numbers forced PGI to combine both into what the fanbase refer to as Soup Queue, a negatively connotated portmanteau of Solo and Group Queues. Previously groups could be formed from any size from two up to twelve, but in the combine queues are limited to four. By default the standard play matchmaker attempts to ensure each side conforms to a weight ratio of 3/3/3/3 (three 'Mechs of the same weight class) though will breach this restriction to avoid excessive wait times, or when players drop in premade groups. Game mode and map selection is by vote with three random choices for each, the group leader's choice representing that of other players in their combined group.
Quickplay also offers the option of private matches for any of the non-training game modes. While free players can create private invite-only matches that mirror the standard game modes, players with active premium time can create lobbies with custom options such as restricted map selection, specific tonnage limitations, nonstandard match time limits and locked view modes. If both team commanders in private matches have active premium time, they may also additional to launch with team sizes of less than 12, right down to pure 1 vs 1. Such 1 vs 1 matches also have access to a unique map - the Steiner Colosseum of Solaris VII. To avoid abuse, private matches do not award any C-bills or experience.
Faction Play - Community Warfare
The long awaited Faction Play, previously called Community Warfare, currently offers only one game mode played on two maps. Along with earning C-Bills and experience, players in Community Warfare also earn Loyalty Points, opening up increasing rewards if they remain loyal and contracted to the same faction.
- Invasion - 12 vs 12 attack and defense matches. Attackers must breach a heavily defended enemy base via one of two to three gates, opening the gates to allow non-jump jet equipped 'Mechs to pass by destroying large generators behind them, and then destroying three smaller generators before they can cripple the module powering a naval gauss cannon preventing the arrival of larger invasion force. Defenders are assisted by a large number of turrets scattered around the base. Unlike standard play where once players are killed they are dead until match end, Invasion features a drop deck where players can take four 'Mechs of any weight as long as their total combined weight is greater than 160 tons and less than 240 tons. Additionally, each time the attacking or defending player enters the field at either match start or "respawning", they are dropped by a Leopard-class DropShip after small arrival delay, the DropShips firing upon nearby enemies as they arrive offload, aiding defenders as the attacker push for the final assault or warding off attempted spawn camping of the attackers landing zone.
Unlike standard play which is random and unconnected matches, Community Warfare takes place on an interactive map of the Inner Sphere with players selecting a contract to either attack or defend various key worlds along each faction's borders. Some worlds are only available to certain players or units assigned to certain factions. If an attacking faction is able to secure a large enough volume of wins, ownership of that respective world transfers to them and the map's border changes in response, opening up or restricting which planets will become available for factions to attack or defend in future. Unlike standard play, Community Warfare features no ELO matching of any kind.
Individual units or clans within a faction may earn the honor of the planet bearing their tag if that unit scores the most points when attacking or defending the planet. One point is scored for every one member of a unit that participates in a victory battle on the planet. For example, if the A.C.E.S. and the Warpigs Mercenary Company are both attacking the same planet, and the A.C.E.S. are running two 12 man teams while the Warpigs are only running one 12 man team, and at least 53% of the points for the planet are taken before the next cease fire, the A.C.E.S. will win the planet since they had more people attacking it. The planet will now show the A.C.E.S. name next to it on the map as well as in the planet details. The A.C.E.S. will also have their name in the history if the planet should be taken by another unit in the future.
Released on 17 April 2018, the Solaris 7 game mode was intended to replicate the dueling of the Solaris Games rather than the team based play of MechWarrior Online's other game modes, with players dropping in pure 1v1 or 2v2 "group" matches in maps emulating one of the five classic Open Class Solaris arenas - Boreal Reach, The Jungle, Ishiyama, The Factory and Steiner Stadium - complete with Duncan Fisher match calling. Where the tabletop Solaris is divided into five classes based upon weight, MWO's version has every variant of every 'Mech divided instead into one of seven divisions based on its loadouts, speed and viability on the battlefield with multiple weight classes within each division.
Solaris features competitive seasons running for three months, each division has two separate leaderboards for both match types with players moving up or down the rankings in response to their performance against opponents higher and lower in the standings, with a global leaderboard for each mode using an average of a player's ranking across all divisions, with the leaderboard is preserved for prosperity before being reset for the next season. For Seasons 1 to 13 the top five players in each division and the top twenty in the global leaderboards received unique cockpit items, PGI announced 25 August 2021 that due to declining interest in Solaris and concerns of rampant win trading and match fixing that such rewards were being removed for Season 14.
Player earnings in Solaris differ slightly from the main game with players receiving C-Bills and XP as before, as well as the new Accolade (ACC) currency that can only be earned by participating in Solaris matches. Patrons are the default revenue stream available to all duelists, with players able to select from one three Patrons - Kallon Industries offering higher amounts of ACC per match, StarCorps Industries offering higher XP per match and Earthwerks Incorporated offering higher C-Bills per match. Patron contracts run for 30 days with players having the option to swap to alternate Patron if they so choose, with players also able to select different Patrons in each division as well. As players earn ACC they "level up" with their selected Patron, earning better payouts and random cosmetic bolt-ons in unique Solaris caches for reaching various milestones, each division tracked and leveled up separately.
Sponsors are an additional source of income and ACC, offering Premium Time style percentage boosts to per match Patron earnings. Unlike Patrons which players select by default, the number and quality of sponsors (up to 10 ranging from VEST to Triple-F) is entirely dependent on a player's ELO performance in the arenas in the preceding twenty-four hours - higher ranked players will keep and gain access to higher paying sponsors where players sliding down the rankings will find sponsors deserting them.
Solaris introduced cosmetic geometric bolt-ons that can be added to a 'Mech such as masks, spikes and pauldrons. Certain bolt-ons are exclusive to certain 'Mechs, earned randomly via Solaris or purchased for MC. Similar to the tabletop concept of Solaris-style cosmetic additions, these bolt-ons offer no real combat benefit, do not take up any additional weight and are instantly destroyed by weapons fire against the location on which they are fitted.
In late August 2021, PGI has decided to remove the Season Ending Leaderboard Rewards with the end of the 13th season, citing low player numbers and the belief that more rewards will not bring the playerbase back to Solaris 7. As of the August 24th post, "We don't have a solution in place yet, however we are still interested in finding a solution for Solaris mode... Any solution we pursue will be significant work and take place in the future."
While very similar and heavily based on the tabletop game's construction system, MWO openly admits to having tweaked and changed armor levels, weapon damage, rate of fire, heat and ammo levels. BattleMech modification in MWO uses a mixture of the tabletop game's critical location tables and MechWarrior 4's hardpoint system, with 'Mechs featuring the familiar table layout but also having restrictions on what type and how many weapons can be placed in certain locations, primarily an attempt to avoid overoptimization and Boating. Restrictions also exist on the size or rating of engine that certain 'Mechs and variants can carry, and if they can mount Jump Jets, ECM or MASC. While the armor and engines of Inner Sphere 'Mechs can be heavily modified, Clan OmniMechs in MWO mimic their tabletop counterparts and feature "hardwired" components as a balancing mechanism. The modular nature of the OmniMech is instead represented in the game by allowing players to swap the hardpoints between configurations, so players can mix and match hardpoint layouts to suit their preference.
Each new player automatically receives four MechBays with which to store purchased BattleMechs, players either having the choice of selling an existing 'Mech to free up a slot or spending MC to purchase additional slots. Players can earn additional Mech Bays for reaching certain loyalty tiers in Community Warfare, and free MechBays are also occasionally offered as rewards for events.
PGI has formally announced the following BattleMechs will be included in MWO. 'Mechs that have been previewed (or are available for preorder) but not yet released are noted below with an asterisk.
- Adder (Puma)
- Arctic Cheetah (Hankyu)
- Incubus (Vixen)
- Jenner IIC
- Kit Fox (Uller)
- Mist Lynx (Koshi)
- Arctic Wolf
- Black Lanner
- Hunchback IIC
- Huntsman (Nobori-nin)
- Ice Ferret (Fenris)
- Nova (Black Hawk)
- Phoenix Hawk
- Shadow Cat
- Stormcrow (Ryoken)
- Vapor Eagle (Goshawk)
- Viper (Dragonfly)
- Black Knight
- Ebon Jaguar (Cauldron-Born)
- Grand Dragon
- Hellbringer (Loki)
- Mad Dog (Vulture)
- Night Gyr
- Nova Cat
- Orion IIC
- Rifleman IIC
- Summoner (Thor)
- Sun Spider
- Timber Wolf (Mad Cat)
- Blood Asp
- Dire Wolf (Daishi)
- Executioner (Gladiator)
- Gargoyle (Man O' War)
- Highlander IIC
- King Crab
- Mad Cat Mk II
- Marauder II
- Marauder IIC
- Warhammer IIC
- Warhawk (Masakari)
Originally a rarity, preorder 'Mech packages have become PGI's primary means of funding the continued development and running costs of MechWarrior Online. 'Mech Preorders operate as a form of paywall style time-gating - 'Mechs are released to preorder purchasers first, then made available for MC purchase then finally for C-Bill purchase. While ensuring all 'Mechs and almost all of their variants will be available to nonpaying players eventually, the delay has grown to in some cases seven months between preorder and C-Bill release.
Preorder packs are also notable for including so-called Special 'Mech variants, though featuring the same stats and hardpoints these special versions of the primary variant feature unique visuals (sometime unique geometry, most often a unique paint scheme) as well as a lifetime per-match 30% boost in C-Bill earnings. These special variants are permanently locked to their included 'Mech Bays and cannot be sold, though they can be stripped and their equipment sold.
Initially billed as available for limited time in an attempt to drive sales, starting with the first Clan Collection the sale of packs became open-ended. Instead collections began to feature early purchaser bonuses such as cockpit items, patterns, C-Bills, modules and decals and in some instances even additional 'Mech variants to entice purchases prior to their in-game release.
Operation Inception - Founders Program
Likened to Kickstarter or other forms of crowd funding, the MWO Founders Program was a method for people to effectively prepurchase game time and show their support for the game prior to its official release. The program also had the added enticement of Closed Beta access for those who had previously missed out on being selected. Three purchase levels were available (Veteran, Elite and Legendary) which offered a steadily increasing volume of in-game currency, premium account time and unique account/forum tags, Legendary also including the player's name in the game's credits. The Elite and Legendary tiers also offered "Founder's 'Mechs", exclusive versions of the first four playable BattleMechs in MWO (Atlas, Hunchback, Catapult and Jenner), Elite founders having to choose one while Legendary founders received all four. The Founders packs went on sale from June 19th 2012 with delivery from August 7th 2012 before being removed from sale on September 6th 2012.
On June 25th, 2013, Piranha Games announced the availability of a series of promotional packages titled "Project Phoenix", featuring four previously-Unseen BattleMechs: The Locust, Shadow Hawk, Thunderbolt, and Battlemaster. The program was expanded on August 28th 2013 with the announcement of the Saber Reinforcement pack, an add-on funding level which added the Griffin and Wolverine to "Project Phoenix". Similar to the original Founders' Program, players were able to choose between several preorder packages to show their support for the then upcoming 'Community Warfare' expansion. Project Phoenix featured four standard purchase levels (Talon, Storm, Guardian, and Overlord) with the Saber add-on available for purchase after purchasing any one of the existing tiers. The program also had a Phoenix Loyalty Reward system, offering extra exclusive paint jobs and cockpit items as certain funding levels were reached.
Unlike the Founders Program where buyers could select which 'Mech/s they would receive at the Elite tier, each "Phoenix" 'Mech was locked to a specific price tier, with the more expensive tiers also including the 'Mechs from the tiers preceding it, the format most future four-'Mechs collections would follow. Additionally where the Founders Program merely offered the Founder's 'Mechs, Project Phoenix introduced the concept of providing two additional standard variants to allow buyers the means of unlocking the skills for each chassis purchased without additional cost.
The standard Project Phoenix preorder content was delivered on October 15th 2013, while the Saber Reinforcement content was delivered on December 17th 2013. To date the Project Phoenix packs are the last time-limited preorder packages, with both packs removed from sale on December 3rd 2013.
The Clan Collection
On December 13th 2013 PGI revealed the long awaited Clan OmniMechs, making them available for preordering.
Initially the Clan Collection was roughly similar to the preceding Project Phoenix promotion, featuring a series of tiers offering a specific Clan 'Mech with its Prime variant (featuring a 30% C-Bill boost) and two standard variants, each higher tier including the 'Mechs in the tiers below it. The higher tiers also include a volume of premium time, exclusive badge and titles, signed prints of the concept art as well as unique bonus modules and an as yet unknown item referred to as Warhorns. A subset of the standard collection is the Gold Khan Collection, which offers a limited edition gold skinned version of a Prime variant along with additional bonuses.
The considerable cost of the higher tiers and Gold Collection triggered extensive level of debate and complaint from many MWO players, eventually prompting PGI to offer an "À La Carte" option, allowing players to purchase the OmniMechs they desired and skip those they did not, albeit without many of the discounts and bonuses of the Collections unless buying multiple in bulk, as well as including the top-tier Masakari Collection with any Gold Khan Collection purchase. Similar to Project Phoenix, the Clan Collection also received a Loyalty Reward system, offering bonus cockpit items and paint schemes was more people bought the Collections, certain items only available to those who bought a collection prior to a set date as further incentive.
Both the standard and gold collections were delivered on June 17th 2014. No end date for the promotion has yet been announced.
On September 15th 2014, PGI revealed 5 new Clan 'Mechs as part of Clan Wave 2. These included the Koshi, Fenris, Loki, Man O' War and as an "ultimate bonus" for those who purchased both the Masakari and Man O' War collections, the Mad Dog.
On February 20th 2015, PGI revealed 4 new Clan 'mechs as part of Clan Wave 3. These included the Arctic Cheetah, Shadow Cat, Ebon Jaguar and Executioner.
The Resistance Collections
Themed as an Inner Sphere response to the Clan Invasion, in mid October 2014 PGI offered a pack featuring four Inner Sphere 'Mechs: the Panther, Enforcer, Grasshopper, and Zeus for preorder. Similar to the previous Phoenix and Clan preorders the pack included a variety of bonuses such as premium time, badges, titles, and faction content depending on the tier purchased. The faction content consisted of patterns, colors, warhorns, cockpit standing and hanging items for each of the six Inner Sphere factions. Delivery of the Resistance 'Mechs was staggered, with the Panther and Enforcer released February 17th 2015 while the Grasshopper and Zeus were released on March 15th 2015.
On the 29th April 2015, PGI announced the Resistance II Collection, including four new Inner Sphere 'Mechs: the Wolfhound, Crab, Black Knight and Mauler for preorder. Offering similar faction content as the first Resistance collection, Resistance II also adopted the concept of a fourth variant only available for free within the Early Adopter period. The second Resistance Collection also had two additional Early Adopter preorder inducements for players who also purchased the top-tier Resistance I Wraith and Resistance II Mauler packs, the first "Irresistible Deals" retroactively offered additional fourth variants of the four Resistance I 'Mechs while the second was called the "Blood Pact" which offered an exclusive title, badge, cockpit item and pattern unlocks for the all eight Resistance 'Mechs. All 'Mechs, badges, and cockpit items were delivered by October 6, 2015.
Single 'Mech Packs
Offering a single 'Mech chassis rather than the four of previous collections, the first single 'Mech pack was the UrbanMech, developed and sold individually out concern such niche design would not be as popular as the MWO fanbase indicated or even viable on the battlefield. PGI started to switch to permanently to single packs with the so-called "Classics", PGI's versions of the Macross Unseen coinciding with the announcement of Catalyst Game Lab's development of new IP-friendly "Classic" redesigns. All succeeding releases, Clan or Inner Sphere, have been such single chassis packs.
Unlike the four 'Mech packs, the single packs are available in lower cost Standard and more expensive Collector variations, with the Special variation of the primary variant only available in the Collector tier. Starting with the initial Marauder pack, the single chassis packs also included the ability to purchase the Hero 'Mech for that chassis at a discount, and since the Kodiak pack the option of buying additional Reinforcement variants has also been provided. Similar to Project Phoenix's Saber add-on, the Reinforcement and Hero add-ons are only available for purchase if the buyer has purchased at least the respective Standard tier for that chassis.
- UrbanMech - On sale January 20th 2015 - Release April 7th 2015
- Marauder - On sale September 10th 2015 - Released December 1st 2015
- Warhammer - On sale September 28th 2015 - Released January 19th 2016
- Rifleman - On sale November 5th 2015 - Released February 16th 2016
- Archer - On sale December 15th 2015 - Released March 15th 2016
- Kodiak - On sale February 1st 2016 - Released May 17th 2016
- Phoenix Hawk - On sale February 25th 2016 - Released June 21st 2016
- Viper - On sale April 5th 2016 - Released July 19th 2016
- Cyclops - On sale April 19th 2016 - Released August 23rd 2016
- Night Gyr - On sale May 2nd 2016 - Released September 20th 2016
- Huntsman - On sale June 13th 2016 - Released October 18th 2016
- Linebacker - On sale June 29th 2016 - Released November 15th 2016
- Marauder IIC - On sale August 24th 2016 - Released December 13th 2016
- Bushwacker - On sale September 7th 2016 - Released January 24th 2017
- Supernova - On sale October 5th 2016 - Released February 21st 2017
- Assassin - On sale November 5th 2016 - Releases March 21st 2017
- Roughneck - On sale November 29th 2016 - Released April 18th 2017
- Javelin - On sale January 17th 2017 - Released May 16th 2017
Coinciding with the resurgence in development in 2021 was the introduction of the Booster Packs. Though lacking the resources to introduce entirely new chassis to the game, the much reduced development team were able to develop new variants with unique paint jobs and the additional return of unique geometry via the bolt-on system. Containing only two variants, reflecting that they are not not entirely new chassis, the Booster Packs are relatively lower cost at $20 USD per pack while including the normal Special variant and bonus items. In response to complaints levied at previous packs that disappointed upon release, all Booster Packs have a very lengthy Early Adopter Program that runs for an additional month after release to allow players to judge the released pack on its quirks and merits and yet not miss out on getting unique bolt-ons the variants included, extra GSP and C-Bill boosting cockpit items.
- Stryker Pack - TDR-10SE Thunderbolt and DRG-1G Grand Dragon - Released April 20th 2021
- Warden Pack - Timber Wolf Bounty Hunter and Dire Wolf C - Released July 20th 2021
- Hunter Pack - PXH-7S Phoenix Hawk and STK-7D Stalker - Released October 19th 2021
- Predator Pack - Blood Asp E and Shadow Cat D - Released January 18th 2022
Other 'Mech Collections
MWO has a selection of sixteen Trial 'Mechs, two per each weight class for both Inner Sphere and Clans technology bases, that can be used at no cost. This also offers players the ability to try 'Mech types and variants before outlaying money to permanently purchase them. The primary downside with Trial 'Mechs is that their loadouts cannot be modified, placing them at a disadvantage against the customized and optimized 'Mechs used by the majority of MWO players. Also, while Trial 'Mechs earn C-Bills and XP as normal, players cannot spend the MXP earned while using them until they purchase that specific variant, with Trial 'Mechs permanently functioning as if no skill trees have been unlocked.
Similar in concept to Founder's 'Mechs, Hero 'Mechs are exclusive variants which can only be purchased for MC rather than C-Bills, offering both a unique paint scheme, a per-match C-Bill booster (currently 30%), and a custom hardpoint layout. Generally the intention is to showcase known historical or notable 'Mechs and MechWarriors from the BattleTech universe, but new custom 'Mechs unique to MechWarrior Online have also been introduced.
Notably, for the limited selection of Hero 'Mechs with introductory descriptive lore texts, these have since been declared fully canonical for the BattleTech universe to the extent the 'Mech was not newly created for MWO. MWO Hero 'Mechs are invariably customized to some degree even when there was no indication in the original source material that the 'Mech in question was anything but a regular model, potentially creating a retcon.
Hero 'Mechs with Canonical Introductions
- Archer - Tempest (Morgan Kell)
- Bushwacker - High Roller (Valten Ryder)
- Cataphract - Ilya Muromets (Grigori Kovalenko)
- Catapult - Jester
- Cyclops - Sleipnir (Ariana Winston)
- Hellfire - Void
- Hellspawn - Paralyzer (Greta Halperin)
- Huntsman - Pakhet (Calvin Deleportas)
- Kodiak - Spirit Bear (Laurie Tseng)
- Marauder - Bounty Hunter (Bounty Hunter)
- Night Gyr - Jade Kite (Timur Malthus)
- Phoenix Hawk Kuroi Kiri (Shin Yodama) and Roc (Paul Masters)
- Raven - Huginn
- Rifleman - Legend-Killer (Gray Noton) and Dao Breaker (Philip Capet)
- Thanatos - Hangover (Felix Grimstead)
- Vindicator - St. Ives Blue (Michael Jones)
- Viper- Medusa (Dwillt Radick)
- Warhammer - Black Widow (Natasha Kerensky)
Hero 'Mechs with Non-Canonical Introductions
- Corsair - Ravager (Jake Kalmar) 
- Roughneck Reaver (Anaya Kone) and Powerhouse 
- Sun Spider - Manul (Tabok) and Vanguard 
Other Hero 'Mechs
- Adder - Cinder (Dirk Radick)
- Annihilator - Mean Baby
- Arctic Cheetah - Shard (Eva Hordwon)
- Arctic Wolf - Blood Kit
- Assassin - DarkDeath (Dale Sandstrom)
- Atlas - Boar's Head and Kraken
- Awesome - Pretty Baby (Danielle Peterson)
- Banshee - La Malinche and Siren (Victor Vandergriff)
- BattleMaster - Hellslinger
- Blackjack - Arrow (Michael Ubodo)
- Black Knight - Partisan (Ian McKinnon)
- Black Lanner - Bellonarius
- Champion - Invictus
- Crab - Florentine (Judith Faber)
- Centurion - Yen-Lo-Wang (Justin Allard)
- Cicada - X-5
- Commando - Death's Knell (Bono Duganmare)
- Cougar - Blood Adder
- Dire Wolf - Ultraviolet (Jin Mehta)
- Dragon - Fang and Flame (Donald Takeda and Martin Takeda)
- Ebon Jaguar - Esprit de Corps (Vesper Beckett)
- Enforcer - Ghillie (Daniel Waylen)
- Executioner - Cherbi (Gorman Bekker)
- Fafnir - Wrath (Peter Steiner-Davion)
- Firestarter - Ember and Firestorm (Capellan Mafia)
- Flea - Romeo 5000
- Gargoyle - Kin Wolf (Ulric Kerensky)
- Grasshopper - Mjölnir (Tor Miraborg)
- Griffin - Sparky (Elle Bennett) and Ares (Peter Armstrong)
- Hellbringer - Virago (Joanna)
- Highlander - Heavy Metal (Rhonda Snord)
- Highlander IIC - Keeper (Hazel)
- Hunchback - Grid Iron
- Hunchback IIC - Deathwish (Star of Rage)
- Ice Ferret - Rainbow Crow (Karl Devalis)
- Incubus - Sabre
- JagerMech - Firebrand
- Javelin - Hi There! ("Wildman" Bill Wilkes)
- Jenner - Oxide
- Jenner IIC - Fury (Zane Nova Cat)
- King Crab - Kaiju (Ivo Greenburg)
- Kintaro - Goldenboy
- Kit Fox - Purifier (Brett Andrews)
- Linebacker - Redline
- Locust - Pirate's Bane (Lori Kalmar)
- Mad Cat Mk II - Deathstrike
- Mad Dog - Bandit (Russou Howell) and Revenant (Garrett)
- Marauder IIC - Scorch
- Mauler - Knockout (Zachary Miles Hawkins)
- Mist Lynx - Ebon Dragoon (Sumner Osis)
- Nightstar - Wolf Phoenix
- Nova - Breaker (Mar Helmer)
- Nova Cat - Cobra Cat
- Orion - Protector (Aleksandr Kerensky)
- Orion IIC - Sköll (Jaela Ward)
- Osiris - Sekhmet
- Panther - Katana Kat (Minobu Tetsuhara)
- Piranha - Cipher
- Quickdraw - IV-4 (Ivy Upsalom)
- Shadow Cat - Mishipeshu (Lucian Carns)
- Shadow Hawk - The Gray Death (Grayson Carlyle)
- Spider - Anansi
- Stalker - Misery The black color scheme and name hint that this is the personal mech of J. Elliot Jamison
- Stormcrow - Lacerator (Barbara Sennet)
- Summoner - Pride (Aidan Pryde)
- Supernova - Boiler
- Thunderbolt - Top Dog (Mary Tallman)
- Timber Wolf - Warrant (Vlad Ward)
- Trebuchet - Loup de Guerre
- UrbanMech - K-9 and Street Sweeper (Capellan Mafia)
- Uziel - Belial
- Victor - Dragon Slayer (Ardan Sortek)
- Vulcan - Bloodlust (Sondra Stoverston)
- Warhawk - Nanuq (Hunter Tseng)
- Wolfhound - Grinner (Phelan Ward)
- Wolverine - Quarantine
- Zeus - Skokomish (Sealth)
A midway point between MWO's stock 'Mechs and Hero 'Mechs, Champion 'Mechs are variations of a specific standard variant with a custom loadout and include a 30% XP bonus, purchasable only with MC. While the included weapons and equipment of each Champion variant differs from their standard counterparts, with loadouts based on the most popular or successful custom loadouts developed by players, they feature the same hardpoint layout as the variant upon which they are based unlike the unique hardpoints of Hero 'Mechs.
- Atlas AS7-RS(C)
- Banshee BNC-3M (C)
- Blackjack BJ-1(C)
- Cataphract CTF-3D(C)
- Catapult CPLT-A1(C)
- Centurion CN9-A(C)
- Cicada CDA-2A(C)
- Dragon DRG-5N(C)
- Firestarter FS9-S(C)
- Griffin GRF-1S (C)
- Highlander HGN-733C(C)
- Hunchback HBK-4P(C)
- JagerMech JM6-A (C)
- Jenner JR7-F(C)
- Kintaro KTO-18(C)
- Orion ON1-K(C)
- Quickdraw QKD-4G (C)
- Raven RVN-3L (C)
- Shadowhawk SHD-2H(C)
- Spider SDR-5K(C)
- Stalker STK-3F(C)
- Thunderbolt TDR-9SE (C)
- Trebuchet TBT-7M (C)
- Victor VTR-9S(C)
- Wolverine WVR-6K (C)
Sarah's Jenner (also referred to as "Sarah's 'Mech") was an exclusive charity offering by PGI in 2013 where all proceeds were donated to the Canadian Cancer Society. Between the beginning of the campaign on 23 July 2013 and its closing on 20 August, it raised 122,200 US$. It was named for Sarah Parries, a girl who had died from cancer at the age of 5 and who had liked to play MWO (particularly the Jenner) with her father.
This 'Mech, designated JR7-D(S), is technically a JR-7D Jenner (in the MWO sense, featuring a 300XL engine, Streak SRMs, and a Beagle Active Probe in its basic configuration) with some minor quirks, and its camo pattern includes teddy bears, unicorns, rainbows, and similar imagery. As far as can be determined, it is not a Hero 'Mech but a special 'Mech unto its own.
Customer Appreciation - Loyalty 'Mechs
Starting in 2014, PGI celebrates the date MechWarrior Online left Open Beta as the game's effective birthday with in-game gifts provided to both active players and paying customers. Players who have played at least 100 matches within the eligibility date receive two million C-Bills, a 'Mech Bay and a birthday cupcake cockpit item. Those who purchased MC or had purchased one of the preorder package within the eligibility dates also receive exclusive Loyalty 'Mechs, variants of existing or soon to be released 'Mechs which feature Special/Hero 'Mech style unique paint or geometry and 30% C-Bill bonus. The non-Loyalty versions of these variants are normally released in the lead-up next anniversary event. Previously if a player missed out a specific tier in that year there was no way to acquire that Loyalty variant, but following the move away from active development for MWO in the run-up to release of MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries PGI reoffered them for the 2019 program.
- 2014: CN9-AH(L) Centurion (Purchased MC) - AS7-S(L) Atlas (Purchased any pre-order collection) - KGC-000(L) King Crab (Purchased any top tier collection)
- 2015: CDA-3F(L) Cicada (Purchased MC) - WVR-7D(L) Wolverine (Purchased any Inner Sphere collection/A La Carte) - Nova-D(L) (Purchased any Clan collection/A La Carte) - ZEU-9S2(L) Zeus (Purchased top tier IS collection) - Executioner-C(L) (Purchased top tier Clan collection)
- 2016: BJ-2(L) Blackjack (Purchased MC) - CTL-3L(L) Cataphract (Purchased any Inner Sphere collection) - Hellbringer-F (Purchase any Clan collection) - STK-3Fb(L) Stalker (Purchased 1 Top Tier or 2 IS Collectors Level Inner Sphere Pack/s) - Summoner-F and M (Purchase top tier Clan collection/2 Clan Collectors packs) - Ultimate Reward (Top Tier IS and Clans)
- 2017: UM-R68(L) UrbanMech (Purchased MC) - GRF-5M(L) Griffin (Purchased any Inner Sphere collection) - Kit Fox-G(L) (Purchase any Clan collection) - VTR-9A1(L) Victor (Purchased 1 Top Tier or 2 IS Collectors Level Inner Sphere Pack/s or six Resistance Hero 'Mechs) - Linebacker-H(L) (Purchase top tier Clan collection/2 Clan Collectors packs or 6 Clan Hero 'Mechs) - Ultimate Reward (Top Tier IS and Clans)
- 2018: JVN-11F(L) Javelin (Purchased MC) - RFL-8D(L) Rifleman (Purchased any Inner Sphere collection) - Night Gyr-H(L) (Purchase any Clan collection) - WHM-4L(L) Warhammer (Purchased 1 Top Tier or 2 IS Collectors Level Inner Sphere Pack/s or six Resistance Hero 'Mechs) - Marauder IIC-2(L) (Purchase top tier Clan collection/2 Clan Collectors packs or 6 Clan Hero 'Mechs) - Ultimate Reward (Top Tier IS and Clans)
- 2019: Selection of one IS or Clan Light Hero 'Mech or Loyalty 'Mech listed above (Purchased MC) - Selection of one IS Hero or Loyalty Medium 'Mech (Purchased any Inner Sphere collection) - Selection of one Clan Hero or Loyalty Medium 'Mech (Purchase any Clan collection) - Selection of one Heavy IS Hero or Loyalty 'Mech (Purchased 1 Top Tier or 2 IS Collectors Level Inner Sphere Pack/s or six Resistance Hero 'Mechs) - Selection of one Heavy Clan Hero or Loyalty 'Mech (Purchase top tier Clan collection/2 Clan Collectors packs or 6 Clan Hero 'Mechs) - Selection of one IS or Clan assault Hero or Loyalty 'Mech (Top Tier IS and Clans)
Official Web Resources
- MechWarrior Online
- Official MechWarrior Online Game Guide
- Official MechWarrior Online Wiki
- MechWarrior Online store page on Steam
- MechWarrior Online's Facebook
- MechWarrior Online's Twitter
- MechWarrior Online's YouTube
- Chat transcript found here; see also transcript on this article's Talk page
- In this thread on the forum for the BattleTech game by Harebrained Schemes (which is a different computer game from MWO, though the developers cooperate); see also transcript on this article's Talk page
- Archer Blueprint and Lore
- Bushwacker Lore and Blueprint
- Upcoming Hero Mech: Ilya Muromets
- Catapult Hero - Jester
- Cyclops Lore and Blueprint
- Hellfire Lore And Blueprint
- Hellspawn Lore!
- The Huntsman Lore and Blueprint
- Kodiak Lore And Blueprint
- Marauder Lore and Blueprint
- Night Gyr Lore and Blueprint
- Phoenix Hawk Lore and Blueprint
- "Huginn" Raven Hero Mech Now Available!
- Story of the Legend-Killer
- Thanatos Lore
- St. Ives Blue - VND-1SIB
- Viper Lore and Blueprint
- Warhammer Blueprint and Lore: Story of the Black Widow
- Charity Fundraiser on the MWO homepage
- IGN MechWarrior Q&A with Smith and Tinkers' Jordan Weisman and Russ Bullock of Piranha Games
- MechWarrior Trailer
- IGN Rewind Reveal Video