Piranha Games and Infinite Game Publishing have finally officially announced their MechWarrior reboot... and revealed that it will be free to play. MechWarrior Online will be the first officially licensed free-to-play title in the dormant (and long-missed) franchise, and is primed to launch in the second half of 2012. This ties in with the recent revelations that the project would be a PC exclusive as opposed to a suspected multiplatform release.
Set in the year 3049 during the early stages of a massive interstellar war, MechWarrior Online puts you in command of the most powerful war machine to ever walk the field of battle: the mighty BattleMech. Players will be able to lead their and upgrade their mechs in a "dynamic and ever-changing universe." We've got more details after the break.
Mechwarrior Online will offer head-to-head online multiplayer combat in Conquest and VS modes. We'll be able to band together and form our own Mercenary Corp, invite friends and battle other player-made Merc Corps for prestige and power. The press release commands us to "pledge your allegiance to one of the five great houses and fight for control of precious Inner Sphere planets," which sounds good to us.
Apparently, the multiplayer battles will affect a "dynamic and ever-changing universe where player exploits impact the world around you and daily story updates and frequent content additions create epic changes to the Inner Sphere universe and its many inhabitants." I suspect that we'll be able to select and contest areas to battle in, with the victors gaining the territory for their faction.
Customisation will play a key role in the gameplay, and you'll be able to buy and customise your BattleMech in terms of weaponry, armour and onboard systems. Which, of course, provides scope for a fair few microtransactions.
We’re excited to lead the MechWarrior franchise online for fans of the series. We’re proud to partner with Infinite Game Publishing, and are thankful for the fans of the MechWarrior series that have been so patient for the next MechWarrior game to arrive. Infinite Game is a partner who understands both the world of games publishing and the crucial technical needs of today’s AAA online gaming experiences. Together we are bringing fans epic next-generation Mech combat online in 2012. - Russ Bullock, co-founder of Piranha Games
It's an exciting announcement, but it's definitely not the reveal we were expecting. Or hoping for, in many ways. Let us know what you make of it - and check out a dev diary over at the official site for more details.