Let's start with the patch notes for the last 6 weeks or so and go from there.
From this week's patch we have unit command, readying up, and few minor balance tweaks.
The furthest back patch gave us an actual TUTORIAL OMG WOAHS.
This part here really improved the game. It brought the game from terrible to positive, even if some of these balancing fixes were needed MONTHS ago. The PPC changes now keep them from being the end all and be all of combat, the the Gauss change both improves that weapon and keeps it from being a perfect convergence fire with its PPC buddies.
You see before this, PPCs, ERPPCs, and Gauss were about all anyone ever used. Given the way this game works, pinpoint and instantaneous damage to one location on a mech at massively long ranges was the only strategy. A boring but completely effective one. Making all other choices sub par if not laughable. In tabletop Battletech damage locations were rolled and shots would go hither and yon. In MWO what you hit (well given lag anyhow..) is what you hurt with some weapons like lasers doing damage over time, and others being pinpoint. PPCs and Gauss are pinpoint. And long range. And had the same travel time to the target. Now this has been fixed.
The changes to the Advanced Zoom module are welcome as well. From being nearly useless ala Mechwarrior 3's zoom reticule to being more like 4's. An excellent change. This is really helpful for long range combat.
Now Trial mechs are Champions and provide some XP boost if you buy them. Another controversial addition has been a third person mode. The nerd rage over this has disabled this mode for 12 on 12 premade matches.
Flamers got a minor improvement as well. Yay?
Our new mech that started as a real money only Hero class before going into mass purchase mode, the Orion, here in the Protector Hero scheme. Looks nice.
It has a great paint scheme. Mediocre looks otherwise. I see no need for a 75 ton Heavy mech so I haven't even used in game money on these.
But note that other bit?
PGI wants so much of your money they added two more of the Dougram mecha into Project Phoenix for an extra 30 dollars of real money for fake robots. And I adore the Griffin but.. yeah. Not spending 20 for the smallest Project Phoenix package so I can spend 30 more. I will wait for the in game money ones even if the models are slightly different and they don't have these lovely paint schemes.
Also oh no have to wait till the middle of February for the regular Griffin instead of December. Big deal.
And remember, you have to spend 80 dollars to get the Battlemaster early. So 110 US dollars if you want the complete Phoenix package. I am typing this on a brand new Logitech mechanical keyboard. It has variable light settings on it's keys with two seperate settings so your WASD/arrow keys can be lit at levels different from the rest of the board. It has a key to instantly turn off the Windows keys. 6 handy macro keys with three or four bindings. Media keys to turn your music how you wish. And a roller for volume. I paid 112 dollars for this. Two dollars more than a bunch of virtual space robots for a videogame.
Going back to the tutorial I found this nice thing on PGI's site letting you know what all the keyboard commands are. Which can mostly be rebound. Note the mouse brand. There is some silly deal where you can get in cockpit hanging dice with that logo on it if you install some free audio software they make and register it. I don't think so Tim!
And another way to get something silly for your in mech cockpit. Operation 24! Just.. play 24 matches, win or lose. We must not be having a lot of players playing any more. Given how getting a match going can sometimes take 5 minutes or more for the system to find a game this is understandable. And sad.
It didn't take me too long. I have just had busy work schedules as of late so I haven't been playing every day by any means. Also I mostly played to get the double XP on my Kintaros to finish them up. The 18 finally got mastered, the other two chassis got sold, and now I mostly rampage about in a Catapult since the head hit issues got solved.
And a new champion mech, the Boar's Head. It is an Atlas without ECM. And a silly paint scheme. Pointless IMHO.
But we got an all new map this week and it is EXCELLENT.
It is a mix of River City and a touch of Alpine Peaks. Smaller than the latter though. Thankfully. Also unlike most of the existing maps this one has made Kappa the central fight hub instead of Theta.
Crimson Strait with the new lobby settings. See that green block in the upper right corner of the screen that is somewhat obscured by my Mumble overlay? You now have a button to press to ready up for the match which will start it sooner if all 12 of you hit it. Otherwise enjoy waiting for a minute. This is where the new Company and Lance Command options can get into play with Commanders switching around lances and other things that make people whine.
This is a great looking and playing map! Multiple levels and elevations to fight over! Small islands to snipe from (if you are a bad person), and plenty of bridges to hide under. I really like the blue leaves on the trees and the reddish water. Makes it feel like a somewhat alien world we don't entirely belong on. Ramps allow generally easy access to higher levels without needing jump jets like Canyon Network does.
You can also see a Boar's Head in the final picture above there. See? Bleh.
Though now you can recolor your hero mechs which is nice. Some paint schemes do look better in other colors. Here is Anders of the Violent Combat Robot Show podcast in his Muromets.
Though just because he is a podcaster and big up in the Word of Lowtax doesn't mean us old dogs can't show podcasters up from time to time. (I have had some really great matches in my K2 Catapult lately. AC5s and Ultra AC5s are quite fun to use. Had a match with over 800 damage today and another one with 5 kills on fast moving and tiny scout mechs!)
One of the coolest parts of Crimson Straits is this railway leading under a mountain. If PGI made scenario mode missions utilizing this terrain it could be amazing. Capture or destroy a train! Fights on top of cargo trains! Maybe even weapons platform trains shooting at enemy emplacements!
Sadly PGI just has KILL ROBOTS as a game mode. (Even the two different base capture forms a game can take right now basically ends up being KILL OTHER DUDES AND WE WIN.)
But User Interface 2.0 and Community Warfare do keep getting teased.
The problem is some of these things have been teased for over a YEAR now.