MechWarrior Online’s open beta begins today, and the game’s makers have every reason to anticipate busy servers. Over 70,000 people have already engaged in the game’s Founder’s Program, which raised between $30, $60 and a whopping $120 from keen fans of this august shooting franchise.
Speaking to IGN, Kelly Zmak, president of publisher Infinite Game Publishing, said that about a third of Founders had split into each package-group, picking up goodies that included exclusive mechs, elite game access and in-game currency.
We’ve been watching this free-to-play title for the last few months, and have been impressed with its adherence to giant-mech shooting’s core advantages of deep strategic thinking, detailed individualistic build-outs and a uniquely clumping, thumping heavy feel to manoeuvre and movement. If you want to play fast and fleet shooters, there are plenty of those available elsewhere.
In a preview earlier this year, IGN’s Anthony Gallegos wrote, “MechWarrior Online makes every action you take feel more important than other shooters, and no one should confuse the experience it offers with other first-person games. You’re controlling a massive, multi-ton vehicle engineered to take a beating and keep on standing, and maneuvering it and using it effectively requires a different skill.”
Zmak says, “I do believe it is a thinking man’s shooter. It’s a game that allows the player to do what they want. If they want to go rogue, if they want to be their own element, they can select a Jenner [mech-class] and be a scout. If they want to participate in the core of the battle, they can go in with an assault-class mech, an Atlas, teaming up with two or three guys, and all of a sudden the dynamics of the gameplay are absolutely different.
“Everything is changing rapidly based on the conditions of the experience. That’s one of the advantages that’s unique to that experience. Inside the game, depending on the choices you make, and depending on the people you team up with, you can get a very different experience as you go through. It requires that pre-game strategy, the in-game execution, and the post-game review of the experience that leads you back into the game.”
Each mech-class has its advantages, no matter what its size or weaponry. It’s not just about upgrading to the biggest mech you can build. Zmak adds, “It’s really not an arms race. Each mech has its own purpose on the battlefield, and they can be equipped to complement others. That’s a tremendously powerful tool, especially for players who form their own teams and work together going forward.
“We saw a lot of that in closed beta – groups and communities forming their own teams, their own friends lists, going into battles together within the matchmaking system. We continue to see it becoming more robust. We’ll continue to add features to make those systems easier for people to be involved in, and also give them greater flexibility.”