Making the most of your death

What do we say to death? "Not today."
It is a familiar scene; you're doing the dance of death with a victim at close range in your brawler, and he's about to go down. Yet, more and more enemies keep joining the fight and now you're also being showered by missiles. Meanwhile, your teammates beside you are either dying or fleeing. There's no help and your armor starts to crack open everywhere. Your weapons are being stripped, your limbs are being torn off, your 'Mech is giving up. The death is certain, what do you do? How can you make the most of your sacrifice?

Of course, the best thing to do is to not get into those situations at all. Sticking with your teammates, disengaging timely and keeping track of enemy movements on the map are standard precautions. Even so, there are times when dying is unavoidable even with exceptional situational awareness. This happens mostly when your team folds during an enemy push, when your own spearhead during a push loses steam or when a separated group of your team gets overrun by the enemy main group. Whatever the reason, you're going to be facing a numerically superior enemy and an increased amount of focus fire from multiple directions with little to no help from your team.

My suggestions below are for those moments when the death is certain. If you think that you can save your 'Mech and bring it to safety without leaving both of your side torsos behind, by all means do it. There are also times in certain game modes like Conquest and Skirmish when it's better to take your chances at running and buying time, even if they're slim.

Prepare and Position Yourself

You smell something fishy in the air. The kill counter is going crazy and you see fever and fever teammates around. The enemy is coming closer with unstoppable momentum and you feel like the end is near.
  • First of all, before the enemy hammer strikes down, make sure to inform your team about what's going to happen. Let them know that this is it and you have to make a stand. More people turning and returning fire means the enemy will be less hesitant to swarm you and they'll have to divide their firepower between more targets. If you can focus a few of them down, you might even force them to retreat.
  • Afterwards take a good position, possibly a place where you'll be difficult to engage with many 'Mechs. Place yourself between two buildings, get into a tunnel, stay by the side of entrances, hug the hill where the enemies are coming from to make aiming challenging for them. Anything to reduce your exposure.

Identify and Focus

A red CT Timber Wolf joins the fight to kill my doomed mech, it doesn't go as planned for him

Accept your death. Accept that there's no way you're going to save your 'Mech and trying to flee while taking massive damage is wasting your damage potential. If the death is certain, you want to trade damage and hurt something as much as possible.
  • Now that you've accepted death, you have to do some damage and even get kills. To do this, you need to identify weak enemies. While you still have armor and weapons, do a visual check on the enemies near you. Is anyone smoking? Any mechs around without arms or legs? This is important, because if the enemy thinks you're an easy picking, they'll join the fight and get into your face even if they're just a laser swipe away from death. The lust to kill takes over their instinct to hide and you should use this to your advantage. If you see one, immediately start firing and lock them up. Though, looks can be deceiving. Most poptart builds run with reduced armor on the shield arm, so don't get your hopes up when you see a SHD, CTF, TBR or VTR with a smoking arm.
  • If you can't visually identify a weak mech, quickly switch your locks between them and check their paper dolls. Your priorities should be mechs with hitbox weaknesses. The easiest pickings in this category are RVN(legs), DRG(CT), CPLT(CT), JM(sides), AWS(extremely easy to hit anywhere), and BLR(CT). If you have a decent alpha, you might be able to take out these mechs in 1-3 volleys depending on how damaged they are.

Keep Shooting

Do not stop shooting. Keep pumping damage while doing the things above. Is a light 'Mech passing in-front of you? Let him have an AC round. Did you come across a meaty target while twisting? Let him have some SRMs. Does that Catapult look suspicious? Drill into his CT with your lasers. Do you have a lot of LRMs and your backup weapons are pitiful? Look for targets in the distance and try to damage them. If not, proceed to the next step.

Make them work for it

Dancing with death

Lastly, make the enemy blob work to kill you. I can't stress this enough. Sometimes this will mean that you have to forgo doing damage and focus on tanking and moving instead. The longer you can keep the enemy team focusing on you, the more you stall them. This can give crucial time for your teammates to disengage and re-position, or simply let them do free damage to the enemy.
  • Make sure you maintain some speed and keep turning at all times, preferably at your top-speed. Even as an Assault, maintaining a speed and angular velocity will enhance your durability greatly. As you're being focused by many mechs, you will get shot from all directions. Moving and turning helps you spread damage evenly. You just have to be careful about showing your back as that is your weakest part in this kind of situation. That's why you need to torso twist on top of this to keep your back pointed away from high damage dealers as much as possible.
  • High alpha mechs with AC40, dual Gauss and such are your worst nightmares and if given no attention, they'll pop you in just a single volley no matter what precautions you took. Try to identify them, track their cooldowns and offer them your limbs by jumpjetting or twisting right before they fire. If you see a Jagermech or a Dire Wolf not spitting continuous stream of lead at you, then they're most likely equipped with one of these builds.
  • If you have jumpjets, you instantly become hard to kill. While jumpjetting your legs start tanking, so you gain additional hitpoints which are otherwise useless. Plus, you can use your jumpjets while you look for weaker targets to get some time to breathe and cool down. While recharging, spam your jumpjets by tapping spacebar to trigger the "falling" animation. This is extremely annoying for your enemies and puts off their aim(this is a questionable mechanic though).
  • You can also use your surroundings to annoy your enemies and pull them out of position. Is your 'Mech about to go down? Jump down from that ledge and watch half of the enemy team drop with you just get that kill. Drop into the water in River City which is a pain to get out of without jumpjets. Drop down to the basement in HPG. If you have a fast-ish mech, kite them away from your teammates to the corners of a map.
  • Lastly, try not to overheat. Panicking and overheating pretty much guarantee your death. It's better to keep moving while cooling down. If you believe you can finish off a mech or it is your last seconds, go for it though.

To me, MWO is a game where there is always constant improvement. Unlike many other games, properly dying is also one of them. I hope I could stir up some thoughts and discussion about this. If you have something to add, please post them in the comments below.
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About Rak

I'm an engineer who likes to write extremely long articles about games that border simulation and mainstream.
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