GIANT ROBOTS OH EM GEE!
CLANG! BOOM! ZAP! PEW PEW BAM KABOOM! WEET WEET! BOOOOOOM!
Man, Giant robots are freaking fun, are they not? It’s just like, awesome. I know, for me, there’s nothing quite like a massive machine made of tons and tons of metal and guns just blasting the ever living crap out of stuff, and the best place to do that right now is definitely on MechWarrior Online.
The game, which is completely free to play (download it from mwomercs.com) is my current ultra obsession. That said, as anyone who’s played can tell you, it is really not easy for the new player to be successful. So this is the first in a series of handy primers to keep you from getting shot to scrap.Let’s start with picking your ‘Mech. As anyone who’s played any MechWarrior game or the Battletech boardgame (Origin of the term RifleDread!) knows, there are four classes of Mech in MWO: Light, Medium, Heavy and Assault. Each class has its own benefits and drawbacks based primarily on the most important factor of Mechbuilding, Weight.
Lights (20-35 tons): These are your scouts and sneak attackers. Due to their low weight, Lights usually can’t mount the heavier ordinance and armor of other mechs, and if they can (Raven-4X I’m looking at you!) a lot of sacrifices have to be made in exchange. That said, Lights are only about half the height and width of Medium ‘Mechs, and move like a bat out of hell, so they’re extremely hard to hit. They’re excellent at capturing enemy bases in Assault Mode or Resource Points in Conquest.
Most Common Light: Raven 3L. Arguably the best ‘Mech in the game, and definitely the best Light, the Raven 3L can mount two missile weapons and three energy weapons, and with the right engine is the second fastest Mech in the game. Add in the fact that it comes standard with an ECM Suite (a must have for most lights) and you’ve got a hell of tactical machine that, while it won’t stand up in a drawn out Brawl, can easily pick and choose its targets from the slow or wounded.
Mediums (40-55 Tons): While in the tabletop Mediums are considered the workhorse of the system, in MWO they’re very much second line combatants, usually relegated to Brawler roles. The Mediums come in once the Heavies and Assaults have Engaged and provide fast moving firepower that can cover flanks or backup outnumbered allies. Mediums can get as fast as lights or as destructive as heavies, but never both at the same time.
Most Common Medium: Hunchback-SP. The Hunchback has more variants than any other Mech in the game, but the SP stands out due to good firepower and increased survivability. While on the slow side for a Medium, the SP can mount 5 Energy Weapons and 2 Missile Weapons, making it devastating in its weight class, and unlike other Hunchbacks, its weapon slots are spread out all across its body instead of bunched up in an easily destroyed Right Torso.
Heavies (60-75 tons): Heavies are where the really specialized builds start coming into play. While usually not very fast, heavies are surprisingly mobile due to jump jets on many of the Cataphract and Catapult variants. Due to their large number of often symmetrical weapon slots and large weight capacities this where multiple heavy weapons begin showing up, such as dual Gauss Rifles, twin AC/20s or triple PPCs. This allows heavies to start being fully specialized in their roles by mounting large numbers of similar weapons with similar range profiles.
Most Common Heavy: Cataphract 3D. Cataphracts are the most common of all the heavies, and the 3D is one with the plan. Mounting 4 Jump Jets, 4 Energy Slots and 2 Ballistic Slots, this version of the Cataphract is the premier sniper ‘Mech of the game. The most common build of this mounts 2 PPCs and a Gauss Rifle along with its jump jets and is lovingly called the “Pop Tart”. It pops out from behind cover on four jets of superheated plasma, then delivers three shots of high damage pinpoint accurate long range fire before dropping back behind cover before the enemy can retaliate.
Assaults (80-100 tons): The Assaults are the big badass bruisers of the game. Capable of mounting more weapons and more armor than any other class, they suffer from low maneuverability and massive size. Assaults are easily the largest targets on the field, often dwarfing even Heavies with their height and wide stature. One on one, an Assault will generally annihilate any other ‘Mech on the field within seconds if allowed to pick its own battlefield, but they are quickly taken down and rendered helpless when surrounded or taken by surprise.
Most Common Assault: Atlas D-DC. This is the biggest of the big boys. At 100 tons the Atlases are the tallest, widest and heaviest ‘Mechs in the game. To make up for it, they also carry the most armor and devastating arsenals, and thanks to the D-DC’s ECM it can usually avoid taking incoming fire until it closes into its optimum range. Usually seen sporting 3 SRM6s, an AC/20 and 2 Medium or Large Lasers, the DDC is a Brawler’s Brawler. At its best in the close ranges of urban warfare, the DDC can level any other ‘Mech with little difficulty. Its only weakness is its comparatively thin rear armor and reliance on torso mounted weaponry, which mixed with its slow turning rate make it easy to flank.