My PTS Impressions - Clans and SRMs

Last night, there was a lot of excitement in the air. Not only we managed to crash the PTS server when it opened, we continued to inadvertently DDOS it with login requests. It took about 40 minutes before PGI fixed the issue(presumably by assigning more servers) but oh boy, it was worth it. Clan mechs and the equipment they come along with are the biggest changes and content pack to MWO ever since it was released. Naturally, I was expecting a completely out-of-whack balance and gameplay, but for the most part everything was fine and smooth. Let's get on with it!

Note: I do not have a clan mech. These are my impressions as an IS opponent, so please watch others' videos and read their comments about them if you're looking for more information! A good source for these are the VODs of the NGNG stream and other streams listed here. Close to 20 people were streaming last night, so there are a lot of footage to watch.

Clan Mechs - How are they different?

Clan mechs are obviously the main focus of the invasion. Let's start with the basics first. The clan mechs are using a modular technology called "Omnipods". What this means is that they have have different variants just like the IS mechs, but they can actually swap components between mechs. The exception is the CT component; which defines which engine the mechs comes with, if it's JJ capable and the number of engine heatsinks mounted.Otherwise once you decide on the CT component, you're free to swap arms, side torsos and even heads between each mech. This allows for incredible hardpoint flexibility and allows for a vast number of different builds without switching mechs. Clan mechs also come with Clan XL engines, which take less slots in side torsos and aren't as vulnerable like the IS XLs(two ST's need to be destroyed to kill a mech).

The disadvantages are that you can't change the engine, so you're stuck with whatever the stock engine the mech comes with. You cannot downgrade the engine for more free tonnage, or upgrade it in order to have more speed and mobility. You also can't change the upgrades and the components they come with, meaning you can't switch between Ferro and Standard armor or remove extra heatsinks for space. If your mech is tight on critical slots, you have to deal with it. Every Clan mech comes with an XL engine which lets them fight until both their STs are destroyed, but still it's not as survivable compared to IS STD engine usage.

We have the basics laid out and now comes the best part, the weapons. Clan weapons have a few general advantages; they're lighter, they require less critical slots, they usually have better optimal and maximum ranges and hit harder. In MWO Paul(the balance guy) opted to actually balance these weapons with their IS counterparts, so that both IS and Clan mechs can play together. What he did was adding some drawbacks and these are usually more heat, longer duration and longer cooldowns.

Alright, we know the basics now. Though, hitboxes and geometry make or break a mech in MWO. How are the clan mechs in this regard? I will talk about the mechs that I played against the most:

Dire Wolf

This mech was absolutely the most popular mech in PTS. The Dire Wolf has a menacing profile, it really looks intimidating. Rightfully so- it can have loads and loads of firepower(from 6xC-UAC5's to 2xC-ERPPC+2xC-Gauss combos) and has the armor of a 100 tonner. Though, they're limited to an XL300 engine and that's quite low for a 100 tonner. Even so, as far as I've seen from the streams, its torso is actually quite responsive, especially when mastered.

Though, as an opponent I found them rather easy to kill. Yes, they put out a lot of firepower, but their profile is absolutely huge from all directions. Their CT seems to suck in everything you throw at them and because of how most of the Clan weapons work(increased duration and burst fire), they have to stare at you to do damage. They're especially vulnerable to close range SRM brawlers, even more so if you have jump jets. I don't know if you noticed, but the DW has a huge "roof". When you use jumpjets or use elevation, that roof is extremely easy to hit. It's weapons are low-slung too, so they have to expose themselves to do damage.

Overall, this mech has a rectangular profile from all directions which makes it an easy target. If you manage to stay out of its sights and close range fast, you should have no problems taking them out.

Timber Wolf

The second most popular mech, for obvious reasons. Even though it's similar to a Catapult or Stalker, it's size seems to be spot-on when it comes to survivability. It stands tall and has long legs, but a relatively compact torso in comparison. This compactness contributes to its survivability. In fact, surprisingly, this was the most tanky Clan mech that I fought against yesterday.

It also had the most varied loadouts. I've seen pure LRM boats, PPC boats, Streak+SRM+Laser all-purpose builds to more meta-conforming 2xC-ERPPC+1xC-Gauss builds. It has excellent speed and mobility with fully articulated arms and I found them to be excellent killers. If I were to buy a Clan mech at the moment, I'd go for a Timber Wolf.


This is a truly creepy mech, not because of its weird small hands, but also because of its profile and animations. Just like the Timber Wolf, it has thin but long legs and stands as tall as a Summoner. It's upper torso is again compact and it's really fast, even faster than Clan lights.

I found this mech to be tanky as well. It seems to have balanced hitboxes and incoming damage seem to spread out nicely. I have seen one on Alpine that took the beating of a whole team for a good 20 seconds, finally giving up at 12%. I've seen varied builds on this one as well, from laser boats to Streakboats and even SRM brawlers. Though the lack of jumpjets will hurt its brawling potential.

Warhawk, Nova, Adder, Kitfox

I haven't seen many of these mechs around, so I can't comment on their viability or toughness. Kitfox looks really cute though and I'm surprised to learn that it can mount 3xAMS and an ECM as well. I've seen a few Warhawks around, but I remember anything particularly interesting about fighting them.

Weapon Balance

As you can see from my previous articles, I was really skeptic about these changes, thinking there would be massive balance problems at release. To my surprise, the gameplay felt actually balanced. This could be attributed to a good balance effort by Paul or due to people not min-maxing and mostly using stock builds. Either way, I didn't feel like my IS mechs were under-performing against Clans.

I think this is down to mostly increased duration and burst-fire mechanisms of Clan weapons. Yes, they do a lot of damage but the damage tends to spread out nicely. Two Clan weapons break this rule, C-ERPPC and C-Gauss. If you manage to combine both, you become a hell of an Alpha mech, IF you can manage the heat. I've seen Heimdelight absolutely ripping apart mechs on his stream in his Direwolf. The Direwolf can handle the heat because it can mount and absurd amount of heatsinks.

Another problem I had was with Clan LBX'es. I died to ammo explosions more than often, and I attribute this to the C-LBX20. It has minimal spread, and when it hits an unarmored(or armored, heck it does 20 damage) it rips everything inside and sets off ammo. I heard that Tracking Computers weren't functional in PTS, so I can't imagine what a crit-seeker dual C-LBX20 cando to the mechs after release. I heard they're not affected by Ghost Heat as well, so this is definitely an area Paul needs to look into.


Holy shit. The elusive Bucton fix was finally included in this patch and it made playing with SRM brawlers an absolute joy. When you unload your SRMs into the face of your enemies, they get absolutely devastated. I can safely say it makes more sense to bring SRMs into brawls rather than big ACs. A lot of missile-heavy mechs like Commando, Kintaro, Trebuchet have just become more viable.

The best thing is, SRMs also work on lights. With a good lead, you can shower them with SRMs and easily kill them. Lights will have to relearn how they fight brawlers.


I still think they don't fit in MWO. You just randomly hear these horns, at full volume and without direction up to a couple of hundreds of meters. They serve no purpose other than satisfy the user and maybe signal that somebody has just died, in case you're not watching the counter. I'd love to disable these for the sake of immersion.

Alright, that's all I have to say so far. Let's say, everything went smoother than I expected. I hope I could convey my excitement to you.
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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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