It’s the moment that many of the original founders of game MechWarrior Online has been waiting for. PGI finally released what they are calling a beta of community warfare. This community warfare allows planetary capture, adds the new dropship mode to the game and adds 2 new maps. The first thing you have to do is align yourself with a faction. This can be as a temp contract such as a mercenary or become a loyalist and pledge pure loyalty to the faction you wish to join. While you are doing small contracts you earn less loyalty points than if you commit to bigger contracts. So far though loyalty points have no true meaning in the game but something we will see in phase 2 or 3 of community warfare.
I pulled up my Techgeekdad account to see if I could in fact join community warfare with an account that has pledged no money to the game. Some folks say that community warfare is only for those dedicated players and not for the casuals. So I’m expecting to have a bit of a challenge considering the game requires 4 mechs to drop with and this account only has a few heavies on it that I earned with Cbills. Again I don’t play this account and spend most of my time on my main account so we should see if a new player could in fact play community warfare. First thing I noticed is that I wasn’t pledged to a faction. When going to the faction tab of the game it will prompt you for a faction. I went ahead and signed a 7 day contract with house Steiner just to see what would happen. After joining the faction I took a look at the star map to see what was there for me to join. You don’t have to fight on a planet specifically for the faction that you pledged for. You can earn other faction points by fighting on other planets. For instance in my drop I went to a FRR planet that the clans had been taking over and participated in a counter attack match where our group was going to try to fight back for the planet.
Even though I didn’t have the 4 necessary mechs to participate in the fight I was able to use trial mechs. There were about 8 trial mechs that I was able to choose from and the game initially choose two lights and two mediums for me. I ended up switching them out to one light which was a Jenner, a medium Centurion and I picked two heavies a Cataphract and a Dragon. I knew that dragon trial mech had some long range weapons on it such as 2 larger lasers and a gauss rifle. From playing on my other account I knew that in order to attack the gates it was easier to pop the power grid with the large lasers than the medium that came on most mechs such as the Jenner. I still came out first though with the Jenner to do a little scouting and taunting of the opponent. The other interesting thing is the planet I decided to counterattack on was occupied by Clan Wolf which in battletech lore have better mechs, weapons and pilots. In MechWarrior Online of course the clanners can equip more weaponry than their Inner Sphere counterparts but balanced in other methods such as extra heat and longer burns on lasers.
If you are the attacking force you must break through the gates by destroying the power grids that control the gates. You then must push to an orbital cannon and destroy it. Recently a change was made were there are shield generators for the cannon. You must destroy all three generators before attacking the cannon. This change was made to prevent a group of lights racing in and speed capping everything. The enemy will normally be on the other side of the gate taking shots at you to prevent you from opening the gate. Once the gate is open you could rush in force and stomp the enemy. Once you destroy an enemy mech he must respawn if he still has available mechs. Just be sure to not be waiting on the drop off point as the drop ships do attack back and have been known to kill mechs attempting to get in quick hits on the enemy. The defender has an easier job as they can either win by lasting 30 minutes without the cannon being destroyed or they can destroy all enemy mechs to end the match quicker. If your mech becomes disabled or weaponless you now have the option to eject from your mech so that you can grab your next available mech. If you run out of mechs then you get to go back into spectator mode to watch the match.
So now with this new mode it appears that MechWarrior Online has breathed some new life back into the game. Some of the inactive players have been showing up to play with their teams and help capture a planet or two. The forums have been fairly active too now that the faction warfare has excited some of the players. The only downside I have seen in Community warfare is that I cannot join with a group of friends to drop unless we are all in the same unit. The best we can do is agree with which planet we will be on and queue up for the planet and hope for the best. I’m hoping that in the future PGI will add an option to allow you to join with folks that are in the same faction to help organize the battles faster since some of the queues for planets can still last 10 or so minutes causing many to stay out of community warfare until a better matchmaking system is in place. PGI has made some changes to let you know how many attackers and defenders on the planet but there’s not a way to tell how quickly you will be in a match if you join that planet. Then again as PGI said this is beta and they did rush to get it out for the holidays. I suspect in the next few weeks we will see some new fine tuning of the system. Until then see you on the battlefield.