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The New Mechlab Heralds Major Changes

William Murphy Posted:
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It’s been a while since we heard from MechWarrior Online and its developer Piranha Games. There’s a good reason for that. Since last year, Piranha took over sole-ownership of the game and its development and has been focusing hard on delivering a stream of updates asked for by its players.  It’s been a difficult five months or so, but now Piranha is ready to show off all of its hard work and unveil plans for its latest big update.

Since September 1st of 2014, the Piranha guys have been 100% independent with their own data center, QA, customer support, marketing team and all of the usual stuff that Infinite Games Publishing (IGP) would have taken care of before.  It’s been hard work transitioning, but rewarding as there is no longer a middle-man between MWO and the fans.  The productivity of the Piranha guys has gone through the roof without having two different pipelines to funnel through. As such, there have been a massive amount of updates to the game since last year, including the first phase of the Community Warfare rollout.

Back in mid-December, the first phase of Community Warfare opened, and people responded really well. Lots of players returned, new players came in, and after the new year they laid out the roadmap for all of the new systems coming in 2015. The big one, Community Warfare Phase 2 with an all new Mechlab, launches today but we’ll get to that in a moment.

The new Mechlab in all its glory...

How about a nice laundry list of updates since January’s roadmap to May 2015?

  • Community Warfare is a faction based mode, but solo players can go in too as mercs.
  • There’s a new Queue “Call to Arms” System which has been improved, with notifications, when needed on various planets to fight the good fight and so forth.
  • They’ve also added a Queue Info screen: how many on each planet, what sizes, groups, solo, etc.
  • Faction Groups can play together and queue together.
  • Global Faction chat has been added to help coordinate.
  • Counter Attack game mode has been added to let losing factions try and take territory back.
  • Socially, they’ve added internal VOIP, using Teamspeak SDK integrated into the client.
  • Additionally they added a full FLG tool to find groups.

All of the above was just in the past four months.  They wrapped up Phase 1 of the Warfare beta with reenactment of the Battle of Tukayyid, which is crucial to the Mechwarrior lore. Obviously it had a different result than the books, but as it just capped the beta and reset the maps, it was a really fun way to end the first phase of Comm Warfare.

Today the second beta or Phase 2 of Community Warfare begins, with all of the aforementioned fixes in tow. But the big addition is the brand new overhauled Mechlab. This is the most identifiable feature in older MW games and one that’s crucial to getting the feel of the series right. MWO has a huge level of customization already, but Piranha has been spending the past 6 months getting player’s feedback on what we can add to make the most awesome Mechlab ever. This is the culmination of that feedback and hard work.

What sets it apart? From our past and other games – you’ll have easy access and an overall broad view to get to your entire mech. You can focus on one piece at a time (column view), but we also have a huge warehouse UI that allows you to sort through everything in your “garage”. Very intuitive and easy to pick up. It shows stats, let’s you narrow down piece by piece into other parts of your mech, all from one screen. The expanded view lets you see all seven components at once, with the warehouse, and you can drag and swap parts at will.  You’ll still need to go to another screen for painting and decking out your cockpit (one of the chief MTX sources of income for the game), but there’s hope to one day bring that into the Mechlab as well.

What’s next, you might ask, you greedy Mech Pilots? Well, you’ll be happy to know that with Phase 2 launching today, Phase 3 is already being worked on right now. 4v4 scouting maps, smaller group warfare options and all of that will be coming later this year.  You’ll also be able to differentiate easier between Faction loyalists, mercs, and lone wolves in Phase 3, but more details on all that will be coming later this year.

If there’s one last thing to add, it’s that Piranha feels like the underutilized aspect of MWO is the tournament and spectating side of things.  Esports as it were. We’re finally now able to spend time on that part of the game. Improving private match spectating, and tournament matches. More official tournaments are definitely coming, along with better tools for hosting and watching them.

So, has it been a while since you played MechWarrior Online? There’s no better time to return, as Phase 2 of the War begins today, with the overhauled Mechlab and all of 2015's major improvements.  Head on over to MechWarrior Online’s site to check it out and get playing.


William Murphy

Bill is the former Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He's been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.