Urban combat in Mechwarrior has never looked prettier than it does in River City.
Futuristic cityscapes are the best and the worst of all possible Mechwarrior settings. The best, because what could be cooler than blasting your way through claustrophobic city streets, jumping onto buildings and turning everything around you into rubble , while hot, searing death awaits around every corner? And worst, because no Mechwarrior game, at least none that I've ever seen, has ever come close to actually doing it justice. The best urban combat experience I've ever had in a mech, without exaggeration, came from the Battletech 3056 MUSE, which displayed events in top-down ASCII screens and left the rest to the imagination.
Will Mechwarrior Online be the game that finally brings those suffocating close quarters to life? There's no denying that the River City trailer is awfully pretty, and the map seems ideal for the up-close-and-personal knife-fighting and "death from above" tactics that city combat is known for. River City is a mixed-environment setting, with plenty of opportunities for long-range bombardments, but the focus is obviously on the city streets, which have been devastated by months of mech combat.
It looks and sounds pretty fantastic, but I'm a bit put off by what appear to be indestructible buildings and other structures. It's a small thing in some ways, but it's also very distracting when a poorly-aimed alpha strike slams into the side of a parking garage and absolutely nothing happens. The lasers sweeping across the face of the building at around the 2:08 mark of the trailer don't even leave a scar.
On the other hand, it's giant fighting robots slugging it out in a burning, blasted city. That's the sort of thing that buys a lot of forgiveness.
The free-to-play Mechwarrior Online is currently scheduled to come out later this year.