Mechwarrior Relaunched as Free to Play Online Game

After nearly two years of silence, Piranha Games, developers of Duke Nukem Forever and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, have re-announced their next generation Mechwarrior game as “Mechwarrior Online”.

On the new game’s dev blog and a series of interviews with PC Gamer, Piranha games’ owners Bryan Ekman and Russ Bullock explained why such a drastic change to the Mechwarrior formula was needed: Lack of publisher support.

“We knew going in, there were two major risks. No PS3 version due to a Microsoft restriction, and the epic market collapse and major recession. In the end, it was mostly the lack of a PS3 option that did us in. The scope and budget required to develop a console reboot needed the support of a PS3 SKU and we just couldn’t convince publishers to take a risk.”

To drum up excitement, the company has been slowly revealing an image which turned out to be a redesign of the iconic Atlas Mech. Contrary to earlier reports, it is concept art and not an ingame screenshot.

Other new announcements include dropping XBOX360 launch, moving the timeline to 3048 (instead of the Earlier 3015 date) and First Person cockpit view only.

Analyis: I’ll be honest. The first time I heard the words “Mechwarrior is now F2P” my heart dropped like a rock. I’m not a big fan of microtransactions in online games as they turn out to be ways to get an advantage over non-paying players, usually dubbed “pay 2 win”.

A few games get this right, namely League of Legends, Team Fortress 2 and World of Tanks but the pendulum firmly swings in the direction of poor implementation and even the aforementioned games don’t get it completely right. For example, while most of the “premium” tanks in World of Tanks are not much better than regular ones that everyone has access to but people can invest real life cash to get access to “premium” ammunition that does give them an advantage on the battlefield.

The biggest disappointment for me is the lack of a single player campaign. While most Battletech fans are all about the multiplayer, a lot of us enjoy the single player story lines.

While I am not happy at this development, I can see Piranha’s logic here. No publisher would bite and they had no choice but to release as a F2P game. If I had the choice between no Mechwarrior versus F2P Mechwarrior I would choose the later everytime.

In addition, they have mentioned in the PC Gamer interviews that microstransactions will not give you any tactical advantage in battle. Another good thing that came out of this was dropping Xbox 360 support. I don’t care how you try to rationalize it, the system would HAVE to be dumbed down in order to fit on a controller….unless you involve Kinect and that’s a whole other can of worms. The final thing that I like is the new art style of the game, which seems inspired by the art of Alexander “FlyingDebris” Iglesias: a Renowned artist in the Mechwarrior fandom. I’ve even heard he’s been hired by Piranha Games as a concept artist but could not confirm this.

So overall, I will be neutral and simply be “cautiously optimistic”.

Mohamed Al Saadoon

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