Ten tips to help you with MechWarrior Online

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posted 12/28/2012 by Charles Husemann
other articles by Charles Husemann
Platforms: PC
When the folks at Piranha Games Inc. announced their founders packages for MechWarrior Online earlier this year, it was a matter of “when” and not “if” I would join in.  The world hasn’t had a MechWarrior game in over a decade and there was no way I wasn’t going to get in on the action.   So back in August I put down $60 on the mid-tier Founder’s package and have been enraptured with the game since.

The beta has had a few rough spots but now that it’s in open beta and I can talk about it, I thought I would share some of my hard lessons learned from playing the game.  Some of these are obvious, some of them are not, but they should serve as a decent set of ideas for those who are just now getting into the beta or have been playing it for a while.  There are plenty of other tips guides including the official MWO website and this excellent post from the folks at the Penny Arcade Report.  Below are my set of tricks which have been looked over by  Paul Inouye, the lead designer of the game.

1. At the start of each match, hit the "Q" key and look around at your team.  The matchmaking system usually creates teams based on Mech size/category so your team composition will be very similar to your opposition.  This will help you plan your strategy, especially if most of your team is dominated by one class of Mechs.

2. There are two ways to win the match – kill everyone on the opposing team or capture their base.  A lot of people forget the second criteria and leave their base undefended.  Make sure your team has at least one or two Mechs hanging back near the base to defend in case your opponent tries to sneak a scout Mech past your team.

3. Communicate with your team. Instead of asking if there is a plan at the top of the match sometimes it is best to state your idea for a plan and see if people want to join or not.  Just asking “Plan?” or something similar will usually be greeted with silence while saying “Let’s hang back and defend” or “Line rush E line” tends to elicit more of a response.


4. Retreating is a valid strategy.  If you’re Mech is heavily damaged or surrounded, try to get away by fleeing towards teammates or by running into heavily covered area.  The goal is to make targeting your Mech harder so you have time to cool your Mech or hope they lose interest in you.

5. Patience is the biggest virtue you can have in MechWarrior Online.  Sure you can do a team rush to try and kill everyone on the opposing team, or you can hang back and wait for them to come to you. One of the best strategies I’ve seen is to sit back behind cover and wait for the opposing team to come to you. 

This is also true when it comes to combat as you have to have the patience to not keep pulling the trigger and causing your Mech to overheat.  Be sure to pace your shots as it is very easy to get excited when you are close to killing an enemy Mech only to have your own Mech shutdown.

6. Unless you are a scout Mech, stay with at least two or three other Mechs on the battlefield. Moving alone is a recipe for a quick death in MechWarrior Online as you can quickly be surrounded and overwhelmed by your opponents.  Plus staying with a group means you can team up on those that ignore this advice.

7. Follow the Atlas.  If you’re team has at least one Atlas on it, stick on them like glue.  As the biggest Mech on the battlefield they will immediately draw all of the fire leaving you clear to engage without being targeted.  It’s also a good team thing to do as you can help keep them from being swamped with smaller Mechs.


8. Group your weapons – there are really only a few situations where you want to fire all of your weapons at once.  Be sure to group your weapons and know how much heat each group creates when firing. Personally I bundle my lasers into groups of two and then have groups for my ballistic and missile weapons. You can also create groups based around re-charge rates so that you are always able to deal damage.

9. Heat is king– I touched on this in the last point but tracking your heat is critical as you don’t want your Mech to shutdown while you’re in the middle of a fight.  Get the two Mech enhancements for heat as soon as you can.  One of the things I always do with a new Mech configuration is fire the weapons a few times to get an idea of how often I can fire them before the Mech overheats down.  That way I have a feeling of how often I can fire and when I need to cool my guns, so to speak.

10. Constantly evaluate your Mech configuration.  One of the joys of MechWarrior Online is that you have a ton of different ways to configure your Mech. Get into the habit of looking at your Mech after each battle and ask if there are any things you can do to improve it for the next battle.  Did you overheat a lot?  Maybe it’s time to swap lasers for heat sinks.  Did you run out of ammo?  Maybe it’s time to find ways to add ammo to your Mech.  Get pelted with LRM’s?  Maybe it’s time to add an Anti-Missile System (AMS) to your Mech.

One of the best ways to get info on how to improve your Mechs is to look at what the other players on your team team are doing.  Instead of rage quitting after I die I usually will spend a few minutes cycling through my teammates to see how they’ve setup their Mechs.  You can also see the layouts of other Mechs when you target them.  Of course there are dedicates websites like MechSpecs where you can go and share your Mech “recipe” with others.

If you've got other tips about the game be sure to leave them in the comments.
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