--Posted by Riposte101 @ 10:17 PST.
It is a testament to how well made and balanced MechAssault
is that after a year since its launch my interest and playing time
in this game has not waned. No game since Everquest has held
my attention and interest so completely and over such a long period
of time. I still find myself logging several hours almost every
night. The game, while by no means perfect, still manages to be
insanely fun, addictive and incredibly deep. Almost daily, I am
still discovering many of the endless nuances to the game in terms
of tactics, strategy and individual mech play. If you have not already
picked up this game I would highly recommend that you do so. It
is also going to come packaged with the $70 Xbox Live starter kit.
With that I give you a few proposals for expanded features and fixes
for a future patch or for the inevitable sequel. Some of the points
of discussion in this article have already been areas covered in
my older articles, but are relevant all the same.
This Feature is Working as Intended:
= Good. Wall climbing is the ability for a mech to scale surfaces
that are usually unreachable by non-jump capable mechs. This is achieved
with the correct application of a cadence of running straight at the
surface you are trying to climb, then going right or left then up
again, repeat as often as necessary to reach the next flat area. Wall
climbing takes a bit of practice to master, however once learned,
it is invaluable. The designers may not have originally intended for
wall climbing to exist, however, it goes a long way in balancing the
game. As is evidenced by the selection of mechs by top tier clan matches,
lighter mechs do not match up favorably to their heavier counterparts.
The benefits of wall climbing are numerous especially for the faster
mechs. This enables the lighter non-jump capable mechs to become the
destructive nuisances that they were originally intended to be. Take
for example the Hackman (my favorite mech in non-serious matches)
and its compliment of speed, one gauss riffle and pair of crossbows.
As many can attest to in facing my Hackman in Junk Yard, Demolition
Town and Frosty, a pilot can wall climb up, fire off its weapons then
hop to safety only to repeat the process. You can also escape from
non-jumping slower mechs by wall climbing to safety. Wall climbing
can also save your mech should it fall into one of the errantly misplaced
lava-filled pits in the Number 51 map. Jump jets still provide a huge
advantage over non-jump jet mechs in that they are faster (clock yourself
wall climbing with a Catapult as opposed to simply jump jetting next
time) and permit mechs to leave the surface. A common tactic in Junk
Yard with a Catapult is to target jam then fly high enough to target
and fire javelin missiles on opponents hiding behind the hill. Abilities
such as these are not possible with wall climbing. The other benefit
to jump jets is the mobility they afford to crippled mechs.
Radar: You will hear many of the top players state that "the radar
is absolutely useless except for telling you youíre too close." This
is of course an exaggeration, however I believe that the radar in
MA covers just the correct radius. In the intense sniping matches
that are played out in maps such as River City and Stone Cold, having
your lock-on range just outside of the radar range builds suspense.
There is nothing like walking forward seeking out the enemy and seeing
volleys of javelins and gauss nail you from out of the mist. The opposite
of that is true also. When I inch forward trying to spot an opponent
and when finally doing so, letting go with everything and then backing
out of range of their counterattack, it brings a smile to my face
The one tweak I would have in this department is to have the option
for toggling on or off or to have the radar be team only. Having the
radar off or team only mode would promote different angles of attack
in the attempt to avoid detection by the enemy. Team communication
in these matches would become even more important as teammates would
be forced to alert each other of enemies in their midst that are out
of an individualís cone of vision.
Customizable mechs: Many people have been clamoring for customizable
mechs, but I do not agree with the implementation of this feature.
Not only will this make the game less accessible to the new player,
it will prolong the start time of games. Players have a hard enough
time selecting their mech from the available choices now without having
to choose between chassis, weapon layout, jump capability and defensive
measure selections. If this was implemented we would never be able
to start a game.
The Health Glitch (Bug): This is unforgivable. For those of you who
do not know what this is, it is a bug that nullifies your health pick
up if you are hit at the moment of picking up the health.
Fix the dropping issue! Specially the cursed two slot in the lobby.
When the host drops all the remaining players should be brought back
to the lobby.
The boot feature needs to be accessible during the game. A system
like the voting done in Return to Castle Wolfenstein would be preferable.
A ban feature both in lobby and in game needs to be implemented. Again
this should be handled similarly to the voting system in RTCW.
Names of people sending you an invite you should be displayed on the
top left side of the screen, so as to not to obstruct your display
of who is chatting and more importantly so you do not have to press
start in the middle of a game and check your friends list to find
out who sent the invite.
Remove the indestructible terrain like the trees in Midtown Mayhem
Maps should affect heat dissipation in mechs differently, i.e. a mech
in Ice Pack should cool down faster than a mech in Hell's Kitchen.
This would add another dimension to mech/map selection.
The human camera in Last Man Standing/Grinder should move exactly
like a regular mech, meaning that you should be able to back up, turn
Posted 11/18/03: Stats should be updated even on droppers. This would
prevent many gamers from dropping at the last second to preserve their
Posted 11/18/03: Fix the glitch that boots everybody out of the game
when a player drops out of a game at the exact moment that he dies.
Posted 11/18/03: Patch the bug that prevents players from hearing
each other in the lobby until they unplug and replug their headsets
into the controller.
Posted 11/18/03: There is a severe problem with jump jets and third
party controllers. When certain third party controllers are used in
conjunction with jump capable mechs in a diagonal motion the results
are that they cause mechs to move faster as well as appear to lag
on other players' screens. These third party controllers enable players
to unfairly move faster as well as making them more difficult to hit.
This is a theory forwarded by OMJ as to the cause of the irregular
movement. "The reason that 3rd party controllers cause you to move
faster is that they are less sensitive. The lack of sensitivity makes
them surge forward faster than normal. The game is not meant to have
mechs moving this fast and this causes the person using it to skip
ahead on otherís screens. The game cannot keep up with the speed the
controller gives the mech; therefore you skip forward and appear to
be lagging. This lag effect usually happens once every three seconds
or so but it depends on the controller." While I am not sure of the
cause, I can however vouch for this phenomenon's validity. I can duplicate
this glitch with my Mad Catz controller and can say with certainty
that it is in some way related to the use of third party controllers.
Posted 11/23/03: Stone Cold is the same map as Ice Pack. Look at the
maps and you
will notice they are the exact same shape. This is a moot point because
they both play very differently, however as they use the same template,
Stone Cold shares the same glitch that Ice Pack has. This bug is that
powerups occasionally disappear below the ice (ground). While they
are still there and if you run over them you can pick them up, this
is annoying because in the heat of battle they are not easily discernable.
The importance of this on a game should not be dismissed because a
missing set of health and powerups can turn the tide of a match.
The standard lasers need to be faster and more accurate. They are
high heat weapons with moderate damage (when you hit) and are very
inaccurate due to how slow their projectile speeds are coupled with
their lack of tracking. This all adds up to a very lackluster weapon
that needs to be brought in line with the other weapons in the game.
Warhammers: They require no skill to use at level three because of
their huge explosion radius. What I propose is that the level one
and two remain the same, while the level three is downgraded to the
same explosion radius as a level two. This will leave the damage level
of what is the highest damaging weapon in the game intact while requiring
of the player a modicum level of skill as a trade off for the insane
damage of the weapon.
There should also be a dumb fire option for warhammers. The computer
automatically targets warhammers at the head of the mech. This is
not only the smallest target on the mech, but also the part that moves
the most. I would trust my ability to aim and to lead the target over
the computer's any day of the week. At level three this does not matter
(explosion radius), but at level one this is especially important
because precision is so much more important. There should never be
a time in the game where target jamming is more of a benefit to your
opponent than yourself. I laugh at people who help me hit them with
warhammers because they turn on target jamming.
The flamethrower should have splash damage and raise the heat on the
opponent. Not only would this make sense from a logistical standpoint,
but also it would make the mech more effective against the shield
defense employed by the Ymir and Ragnarok.
Defensive Measure Fixes:
Null signature should cover the glow of the PPC on the Puma.
AMS should work instantly and missiles that are shot at you should
be diverted at the moment the player uses AMS (chaff). See my additional
reasons in the "new features" section of this article.
Fixing the flamethrower would go a long way in helping the Hellbringer,
but it is still not enough. Sniping with one javelin missile is the
biggest joke going in MechAssault. Put another javelin in to
make it have a respectable total of two.
Elementals should be made untargetable by the computer. You can still
shoot them, just without the aid of computer targeting. This change
would make Elementals the annoyance that they were originally intended
The Timberwolf needs a slight increase in heat dissipation. Their
amazing weapon selection is nullified by not being able to fire any
of it because of constant heat issues.
The Mad Dog is underpowered, especially with the addition of the Loki.
Furnish it with another autocannon (bringing its total from one to
two) and give it some jump jets and if only to differentiate it from
The Vulture leaves much to be desired. Try comparing the Vulture to
a Catapult and there is little reason to ever use a Vulture. A remedy
would be to give it another laser (raising its total from two to three)
and adding another machine gun (to deal with close ranged fast mechs)
to its arsenal.
The Uller is little more than a nuisance. My suggestion would be to
make it an even greater nuisance by giving it a ballistic weapon,
like a machinegun. This would improve its survivability because it
would not leave ballistic upgrades around to be used against itself.
While this mech already has decent heat dissipation, it needs a higher
ceiling for its max heat to be able to dish out more damage in the
initial exchange. Lastly, I would shore up its vulnerability to other
light mechs by giving it another crossbow missile (raising its total
from one to two.)
The Raven is ass. Let us compare this mech to other light mechs that
are equipped with a pair of machine guns (Puma and Owens) and see
what we come up with. The Raven ranks last in armor giving up over
three hundred points to the Owens. Its speed is in the middle of the
pack and heat issues are negligible on the three. The Raven's laser
(you do not want me to start on the poorly conceived design of the
laser), two machineguns and one crossbow is comparable to the Owens'
two machineguns and two crossbows, but is a travesty when you compare
it to the PPC, two machineguns and two crossbows of the Puma. The
Owens makes up for this deficiency with two hundred points of armor
on the Puma and the strongest defensive measure in the game, target
jamming. The Raven has double duration null signature to the Puma's
standard null signature (see my thoughts below on null signature).
The longer duration null signature does not begin to close the ground
between the weapon payloads of these respective mechs and throw in
jump jets on the Puma and now you are beginning to understand the
lamentable inadequacies suffered by the design of the Raven. A start
at staunching the wound would be to give the Raven four-second duration/two-second
recycle jump jets.
Cougars are essentially free kills. Improve their survivability by
giving them target jamming.
The Ymir needs higher heat dissipation! This mech has the worst heat
dissipation in the game, yet employs the three highest heat-generating
weapons in the game. This all adds up to make this mech the garbage
that it is.
Nothing leads to more arguments in Mechassault then what many
call "kill-stealing." This occurs when a player has worked his opponent
all the way down and a teammate shoots once and finishes off the opponent
and notches the kill. This skews the final results of how an individual
player did in many matches. The way I would address this issue is
to have the kill awarded to the player that did the most damage to
Another way to tackle this problem and promote positive discussions
and camaraderie amongst players is that at the end of the game the
statistics should be more in-depth. The end screen ought to have not
only the kills listed but also the map played on, the color, the mechs
used, overall damage done to opponents, overall damage received and
overall friendly fire damage. This will have the added benefit of
assisting in the process of organized clans keeping track of their
records. The more statistics available in a game the more discussion
there will be about the game.
A lot more mechs!
More maps with water!
More city maps!
Online and offline CO-OP play through the campaign mode.
Posted 11/23/03: One of the faults that MA has is a mediocre soundtrack.
The easiest way the remedy this would be to hire the original team
(Kelly Rogers, Gregory Alper, Jeehun Hwang) that created the greatest
video game soundtrack of all time in MechWarrior 2. Also allow
players to create their own customizable soundtracks.
Posted 11/23/03: The game should be Xbox Live! aware even in the campaign
mode. This way the player will not miss any invites while playing
the campaign mode.
10 player connectivity: It is my belief that adding two more players
to the current limit would not drastically affect the lag nor crowd
the maps beyond what they can support.
Clan Flags need be added to Xbox Live.
Customizable mech logos.
Melee weapons for mechs.
Posted 9/23/03: New Game Mode: Add a game mode that will have two
teams compete for control of different strategic points in the map.
One team must defend these points, while the other team must destroy
them. If time runs out, the defending team wins, while the attacking
team wins by destroying all of the defense points.
Posted 11/23/03: MA2 should take the next logical step in its campaign
mode and bring the squad based tactical feel of the online game play
into the single player missions. Here you can command your lance of
mechs strategically while utilizing your voice communicator to issue
Posted 11/23/03: The game should be live aware in the campaign mode.
This way the player will not miss any invites while playing the campaign
Posted 11/23/03: MASC: A defensive measure that allows your mech to
move at 1.5 times faster for a short duration of time.
Posted 9/23/03: The lack of purpose built strategic mechs that promote
team play has always been a fault of MechAssault. These following
new items would help in the creation of complementary mech role.
Beagle Active Probe: Light mechs equipped with this can pierce through
the defensive measures of target jamming and detect null signature
in a small radius around the mech. This will enable teammates to target
these mechs so long as a mech with the Beagle Active Probe is close
to the opponent.
Target Acquisition Gear (TAG) the MechAssault 2 version: Laser
designators equipped on light mechs such as the Corvus and Raven that
can paint a target so that team mechs can target them from afar with
missiles. To balance this new offensive capability AMS should work
instantly and missiles that are shot at you should be diverted at
the moment the player uses AMS (chaff).
In serious match play, a general rule should be that the host not
be allowed to use a Ragnarok, but anybody else is still allowed to
do so. This will go a long way in nullifying the gross advantage that
When somebody complains about sniping, I tell them, "I just beat the
game and one of the missions told me to use cover to my advantage."