Do Not Ask for Whom the Baby Tolls
Before we get into the patch notes proper, I'd just like to briefly discuss the announcement of the upcoming Hero Mech, which is apparently going to be a Commando. Blue and white and apparently called the “Death’s Knell” (which feels like an absurd name for a 25 ton metal baby), the images so far make it look as though it has two energy mounts on each arm and there’s no sign of missile slots (which is generally the only reason to bring a Commando over any other choice of light mech). It really seems like a very odd choice for a Hero Mech, given how seldom used the chassis is, but if it’s cheap enough I’m sure they’ll get some buyers regardless. In fairness, aside from the Marmoset, PGI has a history of making Hero Mechs for the less-used chassis, so it's at least consistent. We'll hopefully be getting some time with PGI this week to talk about both this and the content in the upcoming patch. It'll be interesting to find out the reasoning behind this choice.
To the patch itself then - not a huge amount of new content this week. The most notable is the Spider, a 30 ton mech that comes in three variants. One can fit up to 12 jump jets (and a pair of energy weapons in the centre torso), making it superb fun but at great risk of breaking both your own legs on landing. One can mount ECM and three energy weapons, providing a cheaper alternative to the Raven 3L for those wanting a high speed ECM mech (though less capable in a firefight). The final variant comes with four ballistic slots in the arms, which is a bit of an odd choice right now given how little damage machine guns do, and how the rest of the ballistic options are a bit too heavy to be realistic options on a chassis this light. There are some balance changes to machine guns and flamers promised here that may make this variant more viable. Look for a more in-depth analysis of the Spider variants soon, but the quick version is "it’s a fun mech to drive, but you probably won’t be seeing any in serious business eight man games."
There’s also some new modules to buy. Target Decay slows the rate at which you lose sensor lock on a target moving out of sight and has two ranks available to purchase. There’s also a second rank now available to the exsiting Sensor Range module that increases your sensor range further. Both of these could prove helpful for LRM users, but they probably won’t be able to shift the ECM metagame very much. Oh, and there’s also a new Woodland Camo pattern available to buy for all mechs.
On top of that, there's been a few bug fixes, all of which are detailed in the patch notes here, but one that I find particularly interesting is that disconnecting from a match before dying will still now get a death logged in your stats. This will doubtless be a disappointment to all those players who Alt-F4 just before they get killed to protect their apparently precious Kill/Death Ratio.
Finally, something that’s not directly part of the patch: this weekend is going to see the first MechWarrior Online double XP event. From 10am PST on Friday to 10am on Monday you’ll be awarded double the XP for everything and it’s confirmed this WILL stack with premium and other XP bonuses. If you’ve got some bad mechs you want to get your basic/elite skills on and you’ve been holding off on it, this is the perfect time.
Overall, not a big patch, but once again it doesn’t seem to have broken anything, and the Spider is fun if nothing else. Here’s hoping the next patch sees the netcode improvements that PGI’s been touting on the forums for a little while.