The boys in the MechLab are ready to show off the detailed customization options in Mechwarrior Online.
Customizing mechs in Mechwarrior Online might seem a bit intimidating to newcomers but it's actually a relatively straightforward process. Put simplistically, everything in the game - guns, armor, miscellaneous equipment packages - weighs a certain amount and takes up a specific amount of space, and each mech can hold a certain amount of weight in a specific number of places. The idea, then, is to cram in as much stuff as you can to fit your particular purposes or play style: mobility, firepower, survivability, or whatever it is you think will keep you alive and in the fight. Think of it as kind of like dressing up a paper doll, except the paper doll is 85 tons of towering death and the cut-out clothes are autocannons, heavy lasers and LRM launchers.
A more detailed breakdown is contained in the latest Mechwarrior Online dev blog, which explains the game's hardpoint system, component swapping, armor distribution and more. Basic customization options are universal - if you can cram it in, you can have it - but some components, like jumpjets and upgrade modules, are chassis-specific. There are plenty of visual modifications on the table too, from basic colors to camo patterns, decals and premade skins, although the tutorial offers an unusual warning to anyone thinking of making their mech a little too fabulous for the field. "Selecting bright pink as any color level results in Paul's weapon systems automatically locking on to your 'Mech whether visible or not," it says, referring to Lead Designer Paul Inouye. "Just a heads up."
The process actually appears quite similar to that of the original P&P game, so old-time Battletech fans should feel right at home. And while customizing mechs can give players a big edge on the battlefield, trying to come up with the ultimate killer design is also a fun way to indulge your inner ultra-nerd, for whom merely stomping around a fictional battlefield in a pretend giant robot doesn't quite cut it. Autocannon or PPC? Jumpjets or more armor? CASE or the power of prayer? These are important decisions, people!
Mechwarrior Online, the free-to-play multiplayer resurrection of the classic Mechwarrior franchise, is in development now at Piranha Games and slated to come out later this year.