MechWarrior was officially confirmed on July 9th, 2009 at 12:01am by IGN with an Exclusive Interview on this "reboot" of the popular series based on BattleTech. The game was to be developed for PC and Xbox 360. However, after failing to acquire a publisher (in large part due to the inability to make a PS3 version as Microsoft owns the Battletech and Mechwarrior licenses for video games) the plans were scrapped and the game ended up in development hell. After their work on Duke Nukem Forever, the project was again greenlit and in October 2011 resurfaced as a Free to Play game for the PC called Mechwarrior online
The original game was to take place in 3015 on the Planet Deshler, in a war between House Davion and House Kurita. The player would have taken control of the character known as Adrian Kohl. The new game will start in the year 3049, with one day advancing the timeline one day (so August 31st 2012 will be August 31st 3049, and September 1st 2012 is September 1st 3049). This timeline is intended to follow the Battletech timeline, meaning the Clans will show up around 2013 and so forth.
The original multi-platform version was powered by, or at least intended to be powered by Unreal Engine 3. The reboot, however, instead uses CryEngine 3.
Since closed beta multiple limited time packages have been offered. On August 7 2012 the "Founders" program went on sale, consisting of 3 packages priced at $30 (Veteran), $60 (Elite) and $120 (Legendary).
On September 17 2013 Piranha Games announced the non-beta release of MechWarrior: Online.
Following a long presale campaign that saw increasing bonuses for sold milestones, the "Phoenix Project" became available on October 15 2013. Initially 4 tiers were available: Talon ($20), Storm ($40), Guardian ($60) and Overlord ($80). Leading up to release, the "Sabre Reinforcement" package was announced, priced at $30 and only available to those who purchased one of the 4 original packs.
On December 13 2013, the "Clan Collection" was both announced and available for purchase. Slated for a release of June 17 2014, the available packages are: Uller ($30), Black Hawk ($60), Thor ($90), Daishi ($120), Puma ($150), Ryoken ($180), Mad Cat ($210) and Masakari ($240). In addition to the 8 original packages, gold plated editions of each mech are available for $500 each.
Trying to combat the problems previous Mechwarrior games had of circle strafing and long-range sniping, Piranha decided the new game would take place in urban environments, thereby causing there to be things in the way to avoid this, as well as making radar etc weaker. Instead, the game now has "information warfare" meaning scouts and other ways to recon the battlefield will be important. The core concept of the game is still 'mech combat, with customizable 'mechs and played from the pilot's point of view. The original trailer showed off the concept of even being able to customize the cockpit by having a Hula girl on the dashboard.
Climate will affect heat management and other things, and overall gameplay seems to draw heavily from previous "proper" Mechwarrior games.
The game now has "pilot skills" in the form of a skilltree to specialize your Mechwarrior so that, for instance, his/her 'mech will be faster as a scout branch, and will place strong emphasis on team play, where a lighter 'mech can scout and send info to a fire support 'mech etc. There is a battlefield commander that can call in airstrikes, artillery and other forms of support, perhaps similar to the "commander" role in Battlefield 2.
Players form lances (units of 4) together and multiple lances per side seem to be able to partake in a battle, although no hard numbers have been released yet. Whether Clan units will instead form into stars (units of 5 for 'mechs) is still up in the air.
On a larger scale, the game will be about combat across the inner Sphere, and mercenary corps will fight for the right to defend and attack planets in the name of the Great Houses of Battletech.
For detailed information please check the "Guide" section.
"Ranging from 20-35 tons, these Light BattleMechs move fast and strike without warning. In order to get these high rates of speed, the Light BattleMech takes speed over armor and weapon systems. Don't let that fool you however, the Light BattleMech's speed and agility allow it to pick apart their opponents by doing high speed strafing runs which heavier BattleMechs can have a difficult time countering with their slower movement speeds. Light BattleMechs also make for great scouts and are capable of reaching the front lines quickly to start relaying target information back to the main battle group."
"These 40-55 ton brawlers are the versatile infantry of a battle group. It is the Medium BattleMech's ability to carry a very wide range of weapon systems, and balance of speed and armor, that make them unique and very dangerous opponents on the battlefield. While not able to match the speed of the faster Light BattleMechs, the Medium is still an agile foe to the Heavy and Assault class BattleMechs."
"The Heavy BattleMech weighs in at 60-75 tons. Speed and agility are not really at the top of the list when it comes to the Heavy BattleMech's defining traits. However, heavier armor and weapon payloads are. The Heavy BattleMech is capable of sustaining long-range fire support while keeping some mobility to deal with close quarter combat."
"The giants of the battlefield, the 80-100 ton Assault BattleMechs are the firepower kings of the battlefield. Sheering off armor and punching hole through components are what the Assault BattleMech is all about. Speed and agility are almost comical when it comes to configuring an Assault BattleMech but when it comes to armor and weapon systems, there is nothing funny about what they'll be bringing to the fray. An Assault BattleMech is something to be feared when one on one and when supported by friendly units, it will become your worst nightmare."
Related Franchise Developments
In honor of BattleTech's 25th anniversary, Smith & Tinker authorized MekTek Studios to distribute MechWarrior 4, along with its expansion packs, completely free on BattleTech.com. More information can be found on its game page.
On June 25th, 2013 Project Phoenix was revealed. The project announced the addition of 4 "Unseen" Battlemechs to Mechwarrior Online that are from the "Fang of the Sun Dougram" Anime television series. This was a huge announcement for fans of the franchise as it disclosed that PGI , the developers of Mechwarrior Online, are actively attempting to include the fan favorite "Unseen" Battlemech chassis .
On August 28th, 2013 the Sabre Reinforcement package was announced. An add-on package to Project Phoenix , it adds an additional 2 "Unseen" 'mech from "Fang of the Sun Dougram".