MechWarrior Online Advice for Newbies
MechWarrior Online Advice for Newbies by wanderer
First off, before anything else here: If you want to actually be able to play this game in a way that involves winning on a regular basis and actually learning anything more than “how to die quickly”, you can not randomly launch into groups.
Simply hitting the “Launch” button will drop you into what are called PUGs (pick-up groups). Frequently, these “teams” have players that are simply grinding C-bills and have no real interest in actually winning, only getting the match over with for their money. They have no real communication or interest in doing so, only going out, shooting giant robots, exploding, and launching again until they can afford whatever ‘Mech they desire. Do not, I repeat DO NOT simply launch into the game if you desire an actual team to play with. Instead, read this:
This is the most important topic on the forum. Period. Bar none. By reading it and getting on Teamspeak, you will be able to find groups that actually desire to play the game together, get real-time advice as you need it, and enjoy MWO as it is at it’s best- a teamwork game where you get to blow up giant robots and have fun doing it.
Second, do NOT start with the assault Trial ‘Mech. Not only are they frequently the hardest to learn on, they also give the other side an assault- and frequently, that’s a 100 ton Atlas vs your Trial 80-ton Awesome. If you don’t know what you’re doing, this basically means you’re giving the other side a massive advantage. Stick to lights, mediums or heavies until you’re comfortable with how MWO works.
Third, heat management is the biggest enemy of the newbie. The temptation is to fire your weapons whenever they recycle, or all at once in an “alpha strike”. This is a trap. You’ll end up overheating, shutting down, and being a sitting duck as the enemy blows you to bits. Trial ‘Mechs have weapon groups set up, but you can refine that further- highlighting a weapon group and hitting the Backspace key will change it from firing all weapons in group (solid unblinking numbers) to “chain fire” (slow blinking numbers). Chain fire will fire one weapon at a time, working your way down from top to bottom in the group each time you hit the fire button for it. This smooths out your heat spikes and makes it easier to avoid shutdown and correct your aim between shots, rather than spiking your heat and frequently whiffing while frantically awaiting all your guns recycling. You can hit Backspace with the group highlighted to revert to “fire all weapons in group” as well, but do so with caution. Remember- shutting down is death. Unless you’re killing the other guy and nobody else is nearby to take advantage (or you’re surely gonna die), wait a bit and cool between shots when your heat bar is near 100%. In addition, some maps have “hot spots” and/or actively higher heat levels- Caustic Valley, namely – which will mean you heat up faster- especially in spots like gas vents or atop the “mountain”, an active volcano. Likewise, some maps have cold spots- usually water -or sink heat better – Frozen City in this case is the best known. These will let you fire a bit faster, but still- watch that heat.
Fourth, actively target your opponent- you can cycle through visible targets with the “R” key. If you leave a ‘Mech targeted in this fashion, in a few seconds (the closer the target, the faster it works) a layout of the enemy ‘Mech, including it’s weapons and damage will appear. This is critical- it tells you where any weak points on opponents are and what to expect firing your way and allows you to maximize your fire by aiming for those spots. R-targeted ‘Mechs your team is already aiming at have a solid red triangle over them- if you can fire at targets your team is already engaging, you will kill them faster and hence, you will live and win more often. Watching a newbie randomly shoot a nearly crippled target in all the undamaged spots is sheer torment for an experienced player. Use the R key, know where to shoot, stop wondering why the other guy can pick you apart like a cheap toy.
Fifth, know your ranges. Weapons in optimum range of what you have in your crosshairs (note: NOT what you have R-locked, what you actually are sighting in on- it’s not always the same) will have a green lit name. Weapons that are at extreme range (reduced damage) will have a yellow lit name. Unlit weapons are OUT of range and are wasted shots to be firing, only expending ammo and heating the ‘Mech for no reason. LRM racks will deal zero damage inside 180 meters, PPCs (not ER PPCs) will deal less and less damage from 90m or less to near zero at point-blank range as well- what is called “minimum ranges”. Again, it’s a waste of heat and ammo firing inside minimums, just like firing an out-of-range weapon.
PPCs, Gauss and most autocannons deal their full damage to a single spot in one hit from the projectile. This is not instant-hit: Moving targets will need lead time. Ultra AC/5’s can jam if fired faster than the red bar (cooldown) allows, the “ultra” or “double-tap”. If so, you’ll need to clear the blinking 1-6 on the UAC bar by using the right-ctrl key on each, then reassigning the UAC to a weapons group, thus clearing the jam. Otherwise, the gun will remain useless. As a result, use of UAC/5’s is strongly suggested for experienced players only, as keeping one jam free is an art unto itself. Likewise in the opposite direction, Gauss rifles are notably low-heat, high-damage, and very effective.
LB-10Xs fire a “spread” of smaller hits instead as their projectile. Non-Streak SRMs do much the same, and both spread damage in a wider area as range increases. Despite their reach, they’re much more effective at near point-blank range- like a shotgun.
Lasers are damage-over-time: the beam delivers X part of it’s total damage over each “tic” the beam has- like a stream of bullets. If the beam doesn’t stay on target the entire time it’s fired, you’ll only deal damage for the time it does. Pulse lasers do their damage in a shorter period of time, meaning you need less time on-target to deal full damage. This damage-over-time effect can be helpful on fast targets you can’t hit otherwise: sweeping the beam over them as they pass means you inflict some damage….which is better than zero for that SRM rack you can’t quite get a clean shot with.
MG’s and Flamers are annoyance weapons. MG’s deliver minimal DoT damage at very short ranges, the only real virtue being no heat. Flamers deal similar damage and heat the enemy ‘Mech SLIGHTLY while obscuring their vision. Right now, they’re junk. When you have your own ‘Mech, don’t even bother.
LRMs and Streak SRMs are “lock-on” weapons. R-lock a target and keep your crosshairs on it- you’ll see a set of sights go from yellow to red. When red, your missiles are now ready to go- firing them will send them auto-tracking to the locked target as long as you keep it centered and they remain in line-of-sight, though it’ll forgive you briefly going off-target. Fast opponents or smart ones can still dodge or use terrain to detonate these missiles, so it’s not a sure thing- but lock-on weapons are handy, especially if you’re better at getting into a position than aiming once you get there. If you lose lock, the red crosshairs vanish and Streaks will no longer fire (until you lock again), while LRMs in the air will go to the last location they had lock- or if fired with no lock, at the spot your crosshairs currently are aimed. Remember that range still applies- firing Streaks locked at a target past their range will cause them to explode harmlessly mid-air, likewise LRMs – and even locked LRMs inside 180m won’t arm and bounce harmlessly off their target. LRMs can be fired at targets you can’t see directly- the missiles will with some trouble try to avoid terrain- but it’s a tempermental process. Practice finding out how and where it’ll work well and where it won’t. Streak missiles home in on the center torso, but depending on angle will hit other parts instead. Again, practice.