In a continuing effort to create a more effective and dangerous opponent, the following primer is intended to describe some of the basics that any MWO player needs to maximize his or her time on the battlefield and minimize the time spent watching others play. It is in no way exhaustive, but if you follow these general rules you can vastly improve as a teammate.
As Mechwarriors with machines that have iconic hardpoints already know (Hunchback and Atlas, I’m looking at you), protecting the sensitive areas of your Mech is important. In most cases, it is so critical that you should use less necessary parts of your Mech to shield them. This is done by torso twisting away from incoming fire so that shots on you go somewhere other than where the person firing intended. This general rule is easily expanded to all Mechs that find themselves nearly cored out in a specific area and don’t wish to die with most of the Mech intact.
Torso twisting is a common sense way to spread damage across all areas of your Mech, especially when dealing with an opponent using standard lasers. Any time you aren’t actively firing on an opponent, you should be turning one way or the other so that he doesn’t get the opportunity to return fire into your sensitive bits. It can make the difference between dying in a brawl with that Stalker or being the one to put it down.
Limiting Line of Fire
Exposure is important. More importantly for MWO, limiting your exposure is crucial to surviving and staying in a fight; this goes beyond simply finding cover behind ridges and buildings. The fundamental idea is to use the geography to limit the number of enemy Mechs that can fire upon you while maximizing your options to bring fire upon your target. A good example of this in action is the upper spawn point on River City. When attacking this point, the tendency for many is to stomp right in as a group, then wait for the other team to either get into a cap race or return for a brawl.
If the opposing team commits to a fight, standing on the cap becomes less important and finding cover to limit the incoming fire becomes crucial. Many an attempted quick cap has been foiled by counterattacking Mechs descending upon their base, knowing exactly where their targets are waiting. With that in mind, don’t stick around. Find a location near the cap that offers cover from one or more major entry points to the area, while giving you a good line of fire on the others.
Knowing your Environment
Key to success on the battlefield is knowing your way around the relatively small number of maps available in MWO so far. You should know what to expect when you crest a ridge, turn a corner, or climb out of the stream on Forest Colony. This includes geography that can limit line of fire and locations where enemy Mechs tend to be. These are things that are learned through experience and deliberate effort.
After every match you should take a moment to think about one thing concerning where you went and what you saw upon which you could have improved. “He just got lucky” rarely describes the actual cause of a death. There’s always something you could have done differently to better avoid it.