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Published May 23, 2013

Right, let's start with the best news - this patch brings with it the new Canyon Network map, which is pretty damned sweet. Lots of narrow passages that funnel you from place to place, a train track that cuts across one side, and some seriously lovely views. Oh, and space dump trucks. Honestly, I think PGI have only dropped the ball mapwise with Alpine so far; the maps are almost always something to look forward to. It looks at the moment as though Canyon Network will support a bunch of different strategies, rather than leaning towards brawling or sniping, so that's welcome.

If you're looking to spend some MC, the Champion Jenner is now available to buy. Coming in at 25% over the cost of a stock Jenner F (called in the piece on cost/benefit analysis) it's extremely good value for money. If you don't have an 300XL engine already, this is a total no brainer. If you DO have one, but you're looking to get into Jenners, then it's still a good buy. Honestly, the only people I wouldn't recommend it to are people who have already mastered Jenners - and even then it might be a nice idea if and when the Dropship mutator makes it in.

In "not quite as horrible as I was expecting" news, the Blackjack also available for purchase. Weighing in at 45 tons and coming in four variants, I'd anticipate seeing this mostly in energy boat roles. The minimum energy mounts you get on one is four, with two having six and one having eight. I suspect the two you'll see the most on the battlefield are the BJ-1X and the BJ-3 - the former because if can fit a 295 engine and eight energy weapons (making it the closest you'll get to the old Super Lunchback), and the latter because, while slower, it fits six energy weapons, jumpjets, and has a 15% faster torso twist speed than the other variants. Is it a good robot? I've not seen it enough to judge, but I suspect it'll go in the "it's alright I guess" pile rather than than the dustbin - which certainly exceeds any expectations I had of it.

We get a couple of new modules too - seismic sensor lets you turn your minimap into the motion tracker from Aliens, with blips appearing on it whenever someone moves within 200m (400m if you buy the upgrade). There's also the UAV consumable - it fires a drone straight up to 150m above your mech where it will hover for 45 seconds, targeting any enemies within 240m and burning through ECM protection. The MC purchasable version lasts for 60 seconds rather than 45, and the cbill version has two optional upgrades. One increases the duration to 60 seconds to match the MC version, and another ups the range of both to 300m. Both the UAV and the seismic sensor look like they could be of real use for scouts. A mech with ECM, seismic sensor, and a UAV can potentially make a poptart team's life miserable by working out where they are without exposing themselves, lobbing a UAV in the air and letting their teammates rain LRMs down with impunity.

Balance wise, there's lots of changes this week. The LB 10-X now has a 25% reduction in pellet spread, so you're more likely to hit the same location with every shot you fire (still not that useful). Both PPCs have had a 25% increase to their refire rate, the AC/5 gets a range buff (pointless) and a firing rate increase (welcome but probably not enough to make it worth taking vs the UAC/5), and ECM is now completely countered by BAP within 150m. Stacking ECM with BAP will not mean you can leave your ECM set to disrupt and have the BAP act as a counter, though; you'll still need to flip your ECM to counter if you want to shut down another ECM. The flamer gets a big rework and will now raise the target's heat exponentially over time, up to a maximum of 90% of the target's capacity. It remains to be seen whether or not that'll cause them to get more use, but it's at least an interesting move. Machine guns have had their damage doubled and effective range upped by a third, so now it's just about on par with the Small Laser, which seems fair. NARC received a range increase, ammo per ton was doubled, and duration was increased to 30 seconds. Everyone will continue to use TAG instead.

And now the biggie - LRMs got a missile speed increase of 20%, a damage increase from 0.7 to 0.9 per missile, and a massive change to the firing arc. Indirect fire with a spotter is particularly effective, as the missiles take a much steeper arc. From a brief play with LRMs on patch night, they felt like they were actually worth taking, and could be a viable counter to poptarting. However, it turns out that LRMs aren't working as intended - according to a post from Paul, the missile arc is wrong and LRMs are doing too much splash damage right now. Oh, and the splash damage is all going on the centre torso. All of these might be hotfixed, or we might be waiting until the next patch at the start of June. Hopefully, changing those things won't nerf LRMs back into being a waste of space - as much as I dislike LRMs, I'd much prefer them to have a place in the meta instead of being a punchline.

All told, not a bad patch at all, and hopefully the LRM issues won't cast a shadow over the rest of the content. The new modules and BAP changes potentially alter the information warfare dynamic (even if ECM didn't really need a nerf), the Blackjack isn't as horrible as it might have been, and the map is pretty great.

Full patch notes are on the MWO site.

I've been writing words on the internet for years at, but until I came to, no one bothered to read them. I like robots, space and the internet and am therefore perfect for the MWO desk.

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