A blog about tabletop hobby and or strategy games, with a side order of electronic turn based goodness here and there. Now with tons of retro gaming content both electronic and tabletop. Also with 20% more self loathing douchebaggery!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Mechwarrior Online Update

Well, we have had three updates since my last post on this game, and it has been a mixture of mild changes, balance tweaks that only usually fail miserably, and a couple new robots you don't want.

And in one case we had to wait THREE weeks for it.  Oh, and a couple new maps.

I would ask folks' forgiveness and understanding if my photos are not properly in chronological order.  These updates have been the worst overall time for this game and for whatever reason I didn't have the heart to post each update on their own.
 Even when things look pretty like this.

One of the new additions is this 45 tons of mediocrity, the Blackjack.  It is like a baby Hunchback or a baby Cataphract.  And like most mediums it just doesn't have a place in the current game.

I wasted in game money and not real money on a couple of these things.  This was a bad decision.

They look cool enough, but neat looking robots is something MWO has always done well.  In fact they are VASTLY superior to the original designs.

We have also gotten a great new map, Canyon Network.  A mixture of hills, canyons, and plateaus makes for some nice battles.  Or it should if the game weapon balance wasn't as messed up as it is.

It is a lot of brown but it is NICE brown if that makes any sense.

A very cool industrial zone with some bridges to look at or hide under, both manmade and natural rock formation.

And if you are Weird Al in an animated Transformers cartoon?  GARBAGE!

And lots of lovely rivers so you can be like James May and try to find the river source instead of blowing up robots.

We also now have nice damage mapping with all the paint ripping off into grey, pockmarked metal.  

ECM in it's continued nerfing (Beagle Probe and PPC changes seriously hamper it now.) also requires a certain slot on each mech capable of carrying it, giving skilled players (and the Aspergers (internet version) types who play this game as is Battletech's wont) knowledge of where to shoot to eliminate the ECM module in the heat of combat.

Because of the ridiculous failures to balance weaponry sometimes one has to take drastic measures to deal with lines of mechs who who nothing but camp and shoot LRMs or PPCs.  That measure usually involves playing super fast scout mechs, getting within minimum range, and shooting quickly and rapidly at mechs whose weapons are not designed for close quarters combat.  Real men get stuck in.  There is only one cool sniper.  And he was in Saving Private Ryan.  Mechwarriors and games involving them should not be about hiding and firing missiles and PPCs from long rage and then hiding again.

We also have a new hero mech, the Misery.  It is like most hero mechs and is a sign of who has more money than sense.  For the REAL MONEY price of the Misery I can buy actual video games for my various systems.

Pictures showing the new hero mechs, new cockpit toys, and paint schemes.

Another nice enhancement is on the map loading screens you get little tips about gameplay.  For something as complex as this game I highly approve.

They have now made group chat look somewhat respectable and this also helps people know it is actually THERE.  Not that anyone I play with uses it (hello VOIP stuff) but it is nice to have.

We also have more consumable items with their GXP costs for the GOOD versions, MC costs for the really really good versions, and C Bill costs almost always no matter what and you still have to go into the Mechlab to replace them.  They haven't yet just put in a dialogue box asking you if you would like to refresh and rebuy them.  Even though there is probably still code for it from when the game used to have repair and rearm costs.  Oh yeah, the UAV is like a little hover drone thingie.

We also have Target Info Gathering to find stuff out about your enemies faster, and the Seismic Sensor which is quickly becoming a MUST HAVE item.

Someone moving around you?  The Seismic Sensor lets you know about it.  VERY useful.

Also useful is the PGI logo for MWO developers and employees who you can then see them online and harass them for whatever the game screwed up this patch.  (Usually LRMs.)

Unlike the Artillery Strikes which continue to be useless, Cool Shot 9 by 9 has quickly become a lifesaver for me.

They also have been slowly including the code for the future 12 a side games which leads to some lances having 2 or 3 players in them as opposed to 12.  Lance Chat and Lance Commands have been implemented though few people worry about them.

 Also I rarely pay attention to all the nice command bits which even include heads up on the screen and different chat colors.  But I have a tendency to get in there and fight like a man, even if I generally end up in Robot Valhalla more often then not.  (But maybe I just want to meet Valkyrie Lenneth.  :3 )

And last up is the new achievement thingie they are doing.  Play X number of matches under X conditions and win so many of them and get a little goodie.

 They are just little things but it encourages you to play ONE.  MORE.  GAME.  in order to get them before time runs out.

 You fight hard and the website updates with your percentage complete.  But in 15 minute intervals.

 And then the CHEEVO is yours and your imaginary E Wiener gets bigger.

 The Misery wasn't the only hero mech as I mentioned.  Here is the Firebrand.

 It really is an awesome paint scheme.  And now?  You can even take the paint scheme and change the colors to your liking.

And the other thing I mentioned, the Lance stuff.  You not only know where your lancemates are without having to ask, but the commander can give you orders.

(Also now what is nice is the game takes its own screenshots and I no longer have to just PrtScrn, paste into Windows Paint after the match, and save as a .png.  I can take as many game pictures as I want per mission now.

And that is basically all we got for the last three updates.  Bug fixes, a little bit of new content, and a ton of weapons tweaks many of which all but ruined the game.

See, Battletech has had weapon balance issues since it came out in the mid 80s.  MWO tries to keep as close to the tabletop as is reasonably possible.

But between their coding issues and the fanbase it proves many weapons are mostly worthless.  And the community will travel "lemming" like into whatever is the best weapons that require the least effort to use.  Which tends to cause the rest of the community to quit playing out of frustration and boredom.

Luckily this is a live electronic game played by thousands of people with recording of what happens in match so the developers can see what is and is not working and fix it in near real time unlike in tabletop hobby games where one overpowered mechanic can all but destroy a game's entire existence.  (One of Battletech's creators, Jordan Weisman, has had TWO of his other game designs destroyed by balance issues like this.  Mechwarrior Dark Age and Arcane Legions both died due to ONE THING BEING THE BEST EVER, killing both the game and the community.  By the time MWDA fixed that issue the game was effectively dead.  Arcane Legions never did fix it and is now out of print and its' community gone.)

I have gamed with people like this over the years.  Folks will look for whatever is the easy way to win and that is ALL THEY WILL PLAY.  It doesn't matter if it ruins the game, makes it predictable, boring, unfun.

MWO is merely another in a long list of games to suffer from this.  While they do keep tweaking, every time one thing gets fixed something else goes wrong or the playerbase cries it is not EXACTLY LIKE TABLETOP BATTLETECH.  

Which is both a game and a gaming community comprised almost exclusively of self absorbed, self declared Aspergers Syndrome patients whose only concerns and interests involve themselves and what they (and they ALONE) want, everyone else be damned.

Seriously.  One of these days I need to devote an entire blog post to the sheer awfulness of the Battletech fanbase.

But the Word of Lowtax helps make MWO fun enough for me, though I have to take breaks from time to time when it gets too screwed up.

 But don't worry!  With the magic of Ebay there are plenty of NOT ROBOTECH BUT ROBOTECH Robot games for me to play even if Harmony Gold doesn't want me to.

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