The Zeus — The tankiest Assault in MWO?

Excellent Zeus poster from Reddit user JennerCrusher (original image by Lordred)
The Zeus has quickly become one of the 'Mechs which I absolutely hate coming across on the battlefield. It reminds of the times when the Clan flood gates were opened and the Stormcrows started appearing in big numbers. With a combination of good hitboxes and a speedy chassis, those things sucked everything I threw at them and still kept going. I avoided fighting them head-on on the battlefield for a while.

Right now, I have the same problem with the Zeus. Traditionally in MWO,  the 80 tonners have been very fragile 'Mechs with serious problems in the survival department. Just take a look at the Victor and the Awesome. Those things are so badly scaled for their tonnage that they're one of the easiest 'Mechs to deal with. When a 'Mech is badly sized in MWO, specific components start taking more damage rather than "naturally" spreading the damage. If you dump an alpha into an Awesome, you will immediately notice one of its sides losing a worrying amount of armor. The 'Mech simply doesn't have the armor density to be survivable in that size. The Victor is less affected by this because of its speed due to XL builds and better hitboxes, but speed tanking gets you only so far.

The Zeus is an exception. PGI has been nailing the scaling of 'Mechs in the Resistance pack and the Zeus is one of the best among them in that regard. It's scaled closer to the 75 tonners rather than 90+ tonners which makes it immediately more survivable. It also doesn't have any apparent hitbox weaknesses like a protruding CT or a wide body. The torso can even be classified as "narrow" in comparison to the other Assaults. The CT or the side hitboes are also not easy to make out at a glance, so you will have some difficulties focusing down a single component just like fighting a Thunderbolt. It's overall a very sturdy looking 'Mech.

The scaling and the hitboxes are good, but what makes this 'Mech truly unique is its armor quirks. It gets a whopping +17 armor for every component except the CT and the arms, while the CT gets a +15 armor increase. All of this extra armor is added to the front. I was curious about how much this bumps the Zeus in terms of protection in the realm of assaults, so I did some comparisons yesterday.

All of the comparisons are made with the same rear armor values (8 STs, 10 CT).

Zeus armor values:
CT front: 90 standard + 15 quirk = 105
ST front: 60 standard + 17 quirk = 77

Atlas armor values:
CT front: 114
ST front: 76

Banshee armor values:
CT front: 110
ST front:  72

Highlander armor values:
CT front: 106
ST front:  68

I think you get the point. The Zeus has better side torso protection than a 20 tons heavier Atlas while having the CT protection of a 90 tonner. Combine this with its slim profile and mobility it has due to being an 80 tonner, the Zeus is one of the tankiest 'Mechs you can encounter in the game. Though it must be stated that the heavier assaults still get the upper hand in tanking due to its vastly better internal structure HP. Still, when a 'Mech has an open component it's half dead anyway as nasty things like crits and explosions start to happen.

As an opponent, it certainly feels like a tough opponent. Many times I've dumped ridiculous alphas into them only to see their paper doll showing they just lost a pint of armor. For this reason I really don't want to fight Zeuses. Not because they deal ridiculous damage, but because they take an effort to down. By the time you finish one off, you'll be either heat capped or almost dead due to the exposure to the other enemy 'Mechs.

On the other hand, I've been slowly learning how to deal with this little rock as it indeed does have some weaknesses. Going for that left torso which holds almost all of its firepower seems to be the best way to disable one really quickly. Trying to kill outright it is a bad idea as they will tank for days. Therefore I think these things make exceptional first-line assaults for group queue pushes or CW gate busts. Send in the Zeuses to soak damage while dealing the damage with second-line 'Mechs like Banshees. 

Yes, its offensive capabilities leave something to be desired but they don't seem to be the point of this 'Mech. The keyword seems to be "persistence".

I can't wait for the C-Bill release of this 'Mech even though it still a ways off from release (June 16th). I'm thinking about A La Carte'ing it with my donation fund but it's not there yet (at 18$ currently <3).
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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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