(using Mechwarrior3 as the background for this writing.)
Greetings and well met to you all.
You are here because you are ready for the next level of MechWarrior Play. You have played the standalone, and have conquered. But can you do the same in the adrenaline filled, online rush, that is Multi-Player?
What will happen here is a comparison of the online version of the MechWarrior games to the standalone games. This will be an introduction of what you can expect to see.
The first and most obvious difference is the maps. In the Standalone Campaign game, you have many more maps that cover almost the entire peninsula of a continent. The Area covered is roughly the size of Northern Europe, or at least Northern France. The campaign leads you through the story line of the game that takes place during “Operation Serpent” which is detailed in the BattleTech books “Twilight of the Clans”, a total of 7 books. In the campaign you are part of a diversionary force that is to force Clan Smoke Jaguar to split their forces.
The instant action portion of the games take 4 of the separate maps, and shifts them just a bit. In the online version of the game, again we are lacking the abundance of stock maps that is in the campaign. Notice the use of the word stock. There are some fine maps that have come out, some “authorized”, and some totally freelance, that make up the difference and add quite a bit to the online game. I will not talk about the individual maps here; this is to give an overall feel for the game, not to point details.
The next difference in the games, from this point forward I will refer to the standalone campaign and instant action as the standalone together, is the action of your opponents.
As you will, or may have noticed, that the Mechs in the standalone, seem to “patrol” a specific area. The Mechs in a standalone game will not aggressively come after you until you “invade” their patrol area. Then they will be as aggressive and as tough as you have set the game. If you manage to leave the “patrol” area the Mech will drop off pursuit after you get past an envelope.
Playing the game online, you are facing opponents that are unpredictable, as wily, as cunning, as skillful as you, if not more so. They have also conquered the Standalone; they have also explored the maps and know every nook and cranny. They are you after sometime online getting past the shock that you cannot standoff with your PPC’s and LRMs picking off unsuspecting Meshes.
There are some “mechanical” differences to the game as well. All of a sudden that 4 PPC TimberWolf (MadCat for you Inner Sphere types) which you had tweaked and balanced just right where you could run at the edge and wipe out everyone, runs hot and shuts down after every other shot. That same TimberWolf, which crushed lesser Mechs (and they ALL were lesser Mechs were they not?) is suddenly losing armor faster than a molting bird looses feathers, to this little pip squeak, ankle biting, 35 ton Mech with Extended range small lasers.
You get over the disappointment that your “killer” machine is so much of a decoration on the landscape and, being the designer that you are come up with another Killer. You come back to face your foes again, only to find that while you SEE your shots hitting, they apparently are doing nothing. There is no armor being pitted, there are no broken and mangled Mechs littering the battlefield at your feet. More often than not, you are the one that is looking at the dirt or the sky. Congratulation, you have met “Lag”.
Lag is that unfortunate by product of many people coming together with many different computers with many different capabilities. Lag is properly termed latency. It is the physical time that it takes for the information to be transmitted around so that you, in your Killer Mech, can see your target and they can see you. This has been with the online game since MechWarrior 2 and NetMech. It is one of the things that must be learned and mastered to turn you back into the Scourge of Mechdom that you know you are. Exactly how to do that is for a later time.
The last thing you notice, or perhaps the first, is that you spent time coming up with the coolest, most impressive, most awe inspiring Call sign/onscreen name. You get online, and low and behold you see names like, CCW_UlricKerensky, DHG_MechKiller, and others, too many to mention, and you look at your name and think, ‘what is this…’
You have just run into the online Clans, House Units, and Mercenary units. Not only are your adversaries good, they have adopted roles from the BattleTech Universe. Clan Wolf, Davion Heavy Guard, Hell’s Horses, Wolf’s Dragoons… they are all here. Now you wonder…do I join?
That is up to you, stay a free agent for a bit, look around you may not want to be tied to anyone group, you might just want to play. You will play enough; most people are on to play the game. You may find a group that appeals to you, thinks the same way you do...find that they fight like you. If you join, you find that you have suggestions, help.
One day, you will be online waiting for a game to get started. You drop for a game, and discover one of the names on the list, is a newbie, in this ridiculous Mech configuration, that is getting sliced to ribbons…you pause, then offer a few words of help, a few words of encouragement, because suddenly, you realize that it is back to the future for you… this was you, not so long ago…