Community-driven change is afoot in MWO! PGI recently acknowledged that the Trial Mechs currently present in MWO are bad designs to introduce players to their game. Currently, Trial Mechs are from the original 1980s BattleTech tabletop game. While they are fairly serviceable in a turn-based game, they aren't as effective in an FPS, especially with all the tweaks and balancing done by PGI.
Some users suggested that the community could create viable designs for Trial mechs. PGI listened, and thus we have this contest. Submissions were limited to the non-hero Heavy Mechs (Catapult, Cataphract and Dragon) - beyond that, all fittings were acceptable. The thread to collect the designs was quickly filled with over 700 different builds. Next, PGI employees went through them and selected the most acceptable for each variant of each chassis. This remaining lot was thrown up for a vote, which is now in progress. The winning entry will be available as Trial Mech for the entire month of April. In the rest of this article, I’ll break down the builds in the order they’ve been listed by PGI. Happy voting!
Catapults are one of two chassis in this Trial build contest on which an XL engine is well-protected. Thanks to a quite small LT and RT hitbox, it's much more probable to lose your Mech through destruction of the center torso or head. Catapults, in fact, have the biggest head hitbox of all heavy mechs.
The first Catapult is the A1 variant, which is supposed to be “well-rounded." One could also say it can’t do anything right. It has no mech upgrades and its armament consists of two LRM10, two SRM4 and two Streak2s. The ammunition for these weapons is quite limited and placed in locations which will certainly get hit. The creator of this build also failed to include jumpjets. All in all, this Mech is slow, runs hot and is underarmed - so it’s an equal to all other Trial Mechs we’ve seen up to now.
Our second entry is a Catapult C1. This one does at least come with an XL engine, DHS and Endo Steel. Apart from a TAG in the CT, it’s a somewhat solid build, featuring twin PPCs and a duo of SRM6/Artemis with a single Medium Laser in the CT. The available ammunition is adequate, though 2 PPCs can still be a bit tough on the heat, if one is new to MWO.
The third Catapult is the C4, and it’s another bastard build. It comes with the DHS, Endo Steel and Artemis upgrades. This robot is mounting two LRM10+Artemis, two SRM+Artemis and two Medium Lasers as its armament. The ammunition supply is adequate and “protected” by CASE. Though CASE prevents ammo explosions from reaching the CT, using it is pointless when also fitting a XL engine, since a lost LT and RT will be your end. This Mech does at least come with an XL. While the Artemis upgrade is certainly useful, it would have been sensible to use one LRM20 instead of two LRM10s to save tonnage and a critical slot.
Our last Catapult is the beloved K2 variant, most often employed as weapons platform using two Gauss Rifle or two AC/20s. This instead uses two AC/5s, one of the weaker autocannons; the addition of four Medium Lasers helps this build, and the 19 DHS are almost capable of completely venting the generated heat, but the overall firepower is quite lacking. At least the armor and ammo distribution is decent. Still, ripping out the AC/5s and upgrading the lasers to Large ones would be the more efficient choice. This build also demonstrates why the format required for posting builds was a bad choice. Probably due to a formatting error, the creator posted his design with 2 DHS mounted inside the engine. I just fitted the DHS into the left arm, which did have enough space. While it's not a serious issue, it demonstrates why the use of an online mechlab would have helped.