New Player Guide
Welcome, MechWarriors! MechWarrior Online (MWO) is a tactical, 'Mech-based, massive multiplayer, first-person vehicle online shooter set within the lore of BattleTech. Here you can engage in 12-v-12 company-sized battles or 1-v-1 and 2-v-2 gladiatorial personal duels. This guide is intended to familiarize new players to MWO; no previous knowledge of BattleTech in its many forms is expected.
First, we recommend you read the below wiki sections at a minimum. They define many terms this guide will be using. If you find terms you do not understand, please consult the Glossary of Terms. This guide assumes you have read the below wiki sections.
In MWO BattleMechs weigh between 20 and 100 tons, and fall into one of four weight classes:
- Light 'Mechs range from 20 to 35 tons
- Medium 'Mechs range from 40 to 55 tons
- Heavy 'Mechs range from 60 to 75 tons
- Assault 'Mechs range from 80 to 100 tons
Smaller 'Mechs are typically faster and more maneuverable than heavier 'Mechs, but heavier 'Mechs can carry more weaponry and equipment. MWO's match maker (MM) tries to keep the same number of each class of 'Mech on each team when setting up Quick Play matches. The standard composition for a match is 3/3/3/3 - three of each 'Mech class (light/medium/heavy/assault).
The BattleTech lore universe spans over five hundred years, and ever since the first BattleMech was built in 2439 (the "Mackie") hundreds of different 'Mech designs, or "chassis", were produced. MWO has over 100 different 'Mech chassis in-game, including Inner Sphere and Clan technology base. Each 'Mech chassis has several variants.
A BattleMech variant is a version of a 'Mech chassis with different hardpoint layout. Differences include weapon types and location, allowance for equipment such as electronic countermeasures (ECM) or anti-missile systems or the size of engines.
'Mechs are typically identified by their chassis followed by their variant. Each 'Mech chassis also has a nickname, and Hero variants have unique names.
For example: The AS7 is an Inner Sphere 100 ton assault 'Mech chassis, which has the nickname "Atlas". Variants include the AS7-D, AS7-D-DC, AS7-K, AS7-RS and AS7-S. Atlas hero variants are the "Boar's Head" (AS7-BH) and "Kraken" (AS7-KR). There is also a champion version of the AS7-RS, identified as AS7-RS(C).
Within MWO every player can freely change their 'Mech's configuration, so long as they follow certain rules. Such configurations are typically called "builds". A BattleMech is built by placing components within its eight internal locations: left, right and center torso; left and right arm; left and right leg and head (cockpit). Each location has a number of critical slots which hold components- six slots for the head and legs, twelve slots for all other locations. Components are weapons, ammunition, and equipment. Constraints to building a 'Mech include:
- Hardpoints: Different 'Mech chassis and variants restrict the types of weapons or utility components in each location
- Component weight: Each component's weight is described in tons- usually whole tons, but sometimes partial. Each 'Mech chassis has a maximum allowed total tonnage.
- Component space: Each component's size is described in whole slots. While components may occupy the same number of slots, they could have different weight.
- Armor: Standard armor is secured to the outside of the 'Mech, so does not take internal space. Every 30 points of armor weighs one ton. A location can carry a maximum armor value of double its internal structure.
- Fixed components that cannot be changed or removed.
Within the Mech Lab each 'Mech is displayed as a schematic with every location's slots available for use. For example, Figure 1 shows a new Atlas AS7-D-DC. Stripped of all components and armor the 'Mech weighs only 10 tons due to its internal structure and fixed components (actuators, gyro, life support, sensors and cockpit). Its hardpoints are:
- Right arm: one energy weapon
- Right torso: two ballistic weapons
- Left torso: three missile weapons, one electronic countermeasure (ECM)
- Left arm: one energy weapon, one anti-missile system (AMS)
Figure 2 shows the same Atlas built for short-range combat. Now weighing its full 100 tons, it carries:
- Right arm: one medium laser
- Right torso: one autocannon 20 (AC/20)
- Left torso: Three short range missiles 6 (SRM/6), one guardian ECM
- Left arm: one medium laser
In addition, it has ammunition for the AC/20 and SRM/6s, double heat sinks and a standard engine 350. The SRM/6s have the Artemis option. To carry all this the player upgraded its structure to endo-steel, gaining tonnage but losing slots.
Certain Clan 'Mechs use "Omnimech" technology, which allows one 'Mech variant to use the locations (arm, leg, side torso or head) of another 'Mech variant of the same chassis. This allows a 'Mech to change its hardpoints.
While Inner Sphere and Clan BattleMechs differ in chassis design and component sizes/weight, a 'Mech will not be allowed on the battlefield without an engine, at least one weapon and at least 10 heat sinks.
- Engines are described by their rating - typically from 100 to 400. The higher the engine rating the faster the 'Mech can travel, however the higher the rating the more the engine weighs. No 'Mech can fit all engine ratings. There are three types of engines: standard, light and extra light. Light and extra light engines weigh less, but offset that weight savings by being larger. See Movement for more information.
- There are three types of weapons a 'Mech can equip: ballistic, energy and missile. Each weapon type vary in size and tonnage based on damage and range. See Weapons for more information.
- Moving at top speed and firing weapons generates heat. Heat sinks dissipate this heat. Engines come pre-equipped with four to ten heat sinks, depending on the engine rating. Engines above 270 include free slots for optional additional heat sinks. Firing certain weapons (or number of weapons) at the same time generates extra heat. If a 'Mech gets too hot it will shut down until its heat is again below its threshold. See Heat for more information.
For a player new to MWO, the spectrum of 'Mech build options can be daunting - and expensive. We recommend starting with the free Trial Champion 'Mechs. These are 'Mechs whose builds have been designed by the MWO community to fit certain play styles. Typically there are one Trial 'Mech for each class and technology base. You cannot edit the build or cosmetics of Trial 'Mechs, but your experience in that variant is recorded for use if you purchase it later.
Use Community resources to explore the different 'Mech builds for different situations and battlefield roles. Initially focus on a preferred class as you learn to configure your own 'Mechs.
New Player Guide, Part Two: Damaging 'Mechs