Preview: Mechwarrior

Reoh | 11 July 2009 | Comments off




The new Mechwarrior is considered a complete reboot of the series which takes us back in the game's timeline of 3015
As many of you may have read by now, IGN have both confirmed and released an interview with Smith and Tinker co-founder Jordan Weisman and Russ Bullock which details their up and coming title Mechwarrior. Although this will be the fifth installment in the critically acclaimed series, the new Mechwarrior is considered a complete reboot of the series which takes us back in the game’s timeline of 3015; a surprise for many fans as previous editions occurred half a century later. The game will be launching on both PC and Xbox platforms, and the developers haven’t ruled out both segments of the gaming community playing together on the same servers.

It has been a long wait for Mechwarrior series fans, the last edition was released back in 2000 with a pair of expansions released over the following two years, along with some additional DLC “mechpacks” which expanded the battlemechs available to players. Since then the rights to the game have passed back and forth between several hands before finally returning into the control of Weisman and Bullock.

...this game is very early in its development cycle ... and many of the things that the developers have discussed may change
Readers should keep in mind that this game is very early in its development cycle (starting only October 2008.), and many of the things that the developers have discussed may change, be removed, or added onto before the title is finally released.




What the game is...

A Mechwarrior is the pilot of a Battlemech in the Battletech gameverse, which are up to forty foot tall machines often shaped into a humanoid appearance. Thickly armored and bristling with weapons they are the futuristic knights of the battlefield and gladiatorial arenas. Players will be piloting a mech on the battlefield, and quite likely to also command fellow “lance-mates” as has been available in previous editions. The Mechwarrior titles are often referred to as Action Simulators, where players balance the heat generation and negative effects they create, ammo resources, and most importantly; killing the enemy before they kill you!

The developers are using the tried and tested Unreal3 engine, and Mechwarrior is looking phenomenal.
The developers are using the tried and tested Unreal3 engine, and Mechwarrior is looking phenomenal. The leaps that technology have taken since its predecessors will permit gamers to experience an all new Mechwarrior with combat options unheralded since the tabletop days of its Battletech predecessor. New features such as the heat shimmering in the cockpit as it rises will also give gameplay effects as it becomes harder to distinguish opponents and target the enemy. Deployable Drones will search the immediate vaccinity and attempt to lock onto enemy targets that might otherwise have been hidden by the world environment.




A brief history...

Set over a millenium into our future, humans have left the earth and stretched out across the galaxy for hundreds of light years. While once united under the banner of the Star League, its collapse began the Succesion Wars. Three of which will have taken place at the time of this game, although it should be noted there are numerous border disputes even during the ‘peaceful times’. There are other significant powers involved in the world too, from the neutral Comstar communications network to the periphery states of humanity’s edge. Mercenary units play a big part of the war’s and civil war’s are not uncommon as factions arise from within the great houses themselves.

The developers are using the tried and tested Unreal3 engine, and Mechwarrior is looking phenomenal.
Through these many centuries of battle the level of technology available to humanity is an odd blending of futuristic sci-fi staples (faster than light travel, instantaneous interstellar telecommunications, and medical technologies) and archaic ‘currently modern’ era technology (cars, bars, and the basic social structures of modern life) still in use. Many things have reached the point where they can no longer be replaced, like interstellar jumpdrives, and the Battlemechs are so valuable they are passed down through many generations of a family… that is if they don’t get blown up beyond repair.




Story arc for game (spoilers)...

While only a little has been revealed, mainly concerning the game’s beginning; readers should skip this section if they don’t want to know details about the game’s storyline. The protagonist’s family controls a planet on behalf of House Davion, which is located in the Draconis March on the border with House Kurita.. The lead character is fourth in line, and freed from the political necessities of his elder siblings he has partied and wasted away his life. Thought a naturally gifted mechwarrior, he hasn’t taken his obligatory training seriously and as the game launches is out trying to re-sit yet another missed exam. This is when House Kurita launches an invasion which results in the deaths of his family. Suddenly thrust into a position of command, he must fight off the Kurita advance and seek revenge.




Gameplay...

This edition of Mechwarrior will be featuring singleplayer, co-op, and multiplayer gaming options. Unlike previous mechwarrior titles where the players goals were often to work up to the largest battlemechs possible, this version will feature RPG elements that improve a players abilities with any model of mech. As they play a model they will first unlock the full power of that mech’s abilities, and then possibly even fight above the full potential as they become true masters of their preferred model; whether that be a light, medeum, heavy, or assault class of Battlemech. Each class will feature benefits to make them valuable on the battlefield, and technology to support these roles over and above the familiar equipment that players may be used to customising their mech’s from earlier chapters in the series.

This edition of Mechwarrior will be featuring singleplayer, co-op, and multiplayer gaming options.
Some changes players will notice is losing sight of the enemy will drop target, whereas previously once targeted an enemy was always selected. This in conjunction with dense city-warfare maps will allow mechs to duck in and out of cover. Smaller faster mechs will be needed to scout out and find the enemy and can then use this cover to provide hit and run assaults to take down more stalwart opponents.

The developers are also hoping for a rich singleplayer experience. It will not feature a diverse set of choices, being of a more linear progression; however how each of these battles will adapt to the choice of mech being employed by the player. Whether piloting an Assault, Light or other mech class the objectives will switch to become something most suitable to the mech’s abilities and role on the battlefield.

Co-operative multiplayer games should also be featured, as players band together to fight through the singleplayer missions together. Players will be able to pilot different classes of Battlemech and work together to complete battle objectives. This they are hoping, will help improve the replayability of the initial experience which often gets left by the wayside as people stick with other multiplayer options afterwards.

Pilots are said to be able to play on behalf of any major house, and compete on multiplayer maps which will earn victory points in the succession war
Further multiplayer options hope to be featured, with some persistent elements that I am quite interested to hear more about. Pilots are said to be able to play on behalf of any major house, and compete on multiplayer maps which will earn victory points in the succession war. The battles available may even be dependent on what planets are being assaulted on a global scale to spice things up and shape the gaming experience. This is one feature I’m truly hoping will not be dropped along the way to launch.

Later DLC options wouldn’t surprise me, as they have often been a feature of the title. While not a promise, I would expect to see new battlemech models become available, and also new maps for multiplayer, if not co-op modes as well. Full expansions may also make an appearance to progress the storyline and add a little into all aspects of the game.




Conclusion...

I played the first mechwarrior and it was groundbreaking, the second was awesome and I quite literally rode two computers into smoking, sparking piles of melted GPU goo. As with many fans of the series this game is eagerly awaited by me, and if I was a producer I would be doing everything in my power to support Smith & Tinker to get this game launched. This IP is practically a guaranteed hit just waiting to happen.

The Modern re-invention of this classic game shows a lot of promise too, which is supported by some talented and experienced developers. The multiplayer co-op and succession war style games sound intriguing and I know of many others who can’t wait for this to launch. I think I can put my excitement into this simplest expression, when watching the video for the first time I caught myself making panting noises. PANTING NOISES! I can’t remember the last game that did that.




Smith and Tinker’s new bag of tricks...

While nothing much is likely to be done on the other Intellectual Properties that Smith & Tinker acquired along with the rights to make new Mechwarrior games, it should be noted that we may see other games being announced from them in the coming years. After Mechwarrior, my personal vote would be for a new Shadowrun game.! Oh and if we’re talking MMORPG’s here, both Mechwarrior and Shadowrun are on my shortlist for most wanted to see announcements.

Free Mechwarrior 4 Giveaway...

As part of the celebrations, with Battletech’s 25th and MekTek’s 10th Anniversaries, Mechwarrior 4 is going to be distributed completely FREE including all expansion packs. Keep tuned to this website for further details on how to obtain your copy.

See you on the battlefield, friends… hopefully before you see me!


[IN GAME FOOTAGE]



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