Resistance Pack 2 impressions

As the Tukayyid event was nearing its end yesterday, PGI uneventfully revealed their next 'Mech pack with a simple tweet from Russ. It consists of another set of 4 classic IS 'Mechs which made many nostalgic MechWarrior fans weep in joy. When it comes to MWO however, I am very resistant to nostalgia and I tend to look at things from a gameplay perspective. Let's take a look what Resistance Pack 2 has to offer:

The Wolfhound (35t)

The Wolfhound looks like a sturdier version of the Panther. It also seem somewhat smaller and narrower than it to compensate, but without the actual 3D model it's hard to say for sure. To be honest, I'm a bit disappointed that PGI chose to give us yet another humanoid 35 tonner instead of giving more love to the 20-25t bracket which lacks diversity. It will be our 5th 'Mech at that tonnage and it's becoming increasingly harder to differentiate releases in this crowded category. 

So what niche (if any at all) does this 'Mech occupy? Let's take a look at the hardpoint distribution to get a clear picture:

As you can see, the Wolfhound is a pure energy boat. This immediately puts it in competition with 35 ton energy monsters like the Firestarter which can boat up to 8 energy weapons with JJs and the infamous Jenner-F with six high mounted energy hardpoints. The Wolfhound unfortunately has no JJs so it already at a big disadvantage in comparison. Its hardpoint count is also lackluster in comparison to the FS, capping at 6. However its weapons are mostly housed in its torso which will make it harder to disarm compared to the FS. Still, the most popular two FS variants also have numerous hardpoints in their torsos (3 for S and 4 for A) so it's not that big of a niche. Also let's not forget how annoying and limiting it is working with torso mounted weapons in lights. On the good side the torso hardpoints seem to be higher mounted than the FS' annoying belly mounts.

How about the engine cap? Currently the Jenner is the only 35 tonner that can mount an XL300 which makes it faster and potentially the coolest one due to the extra internal heatsink slot it gets. Maybe the Wolfhound can find a niche as a heat efficient 35 tonner? (still hard considering the FS9-S gets a whopping 30% heat reduction for MPLs). Well, most of the variants are capped at 295 engine rating which is equal to what the FS gets.

The only Wolfhound variant that caught my eye is the WLF-1 with its raised engine cap (315). This will make it the fastest and most responsive 35 tonner at roughly 160KPH and it will be able mount two internal heatsinks. 

Still, the WLF without quirks looks pretty underwhelming on the paper. Balanced hitboxes might give it a niche as a tanky 35 tonner, but even the FS does it well. It will all depend on the quirks but then again no quirk makes up for the lack of mobility lost due to JJs.

The Crab (50t)

The Crab is another 50-tonner BT classic. The design looks pretty oldschool compared to Alex' other designs and it closely resembles the TRO look. However cool it may seem, I am immediately alarmed by its elongated torso structure. 'Mechs with elongated torsos are a big no-no in MWO as evidenced by the fragility of the Catapult and the Raven. It makes the most basic defense — torso twisting ineffective (and even a bad idea). The circular shape also gives it more surface area compared to the usual rectangular torsos. It's hard to see it from this picture, but I hope the scale is relatively small (BJ small) to make up for this. The CT diameter also needs to be kept small so that when you're staring at a target, it will expose them a smaller cross-section compared to the other 50 tonners.

Let's take a look at the hardpoints to get an idea about its capabilities:

Just like the Wolfhound, the Crab is a pure energy boat. The hardpoints are spread all over the 'Mech with the CT and the arms getting the occasional two hardpoints. You usually want all of your hardpoints bunched up so that you don't have to expose more of your 'Mech and have good convergence. However from the artwork I can see that the torso hardpoints are relatively high-mounted so we can infer that it'll be good at hillhumping. Considering this 'Mech will have a small cross-section when staring at targets (just like the Stalker and the Raven), this is a good quality to have. This 'Mech will likely hang-out behind the front-line in cover and will just pump damage popping-in and out, which is currently a very strong playstyle.

The hardpoint count is nothing special though. Three of them cap at 5 and one of them caps at 6. The lack of hardpoint count will force this 'Mech to bring heavier energy weapons like LL/LPL/PPC to compensate. This will probably force it to bring XL engines and considering its huge side profile, therefore it'll likely to be an easy target to get rid of at close ranges.

The variants are slightly more distinct compared to the Wolfhound. To sum up:
  • CRB-27 is the baseline variant and only offers dual AMS as an incentive over the others.
  • CRB-20 has a bigger engine cap at 350. This'll unlikely to be a good thing as 50 tonners' firepower starts to suffer after XL300 as the balance rapidly shifts towards mobility.
  • CRB-27B has the most hardpoints and 4 of them are arm-mounted. I can see this becoming very popular due to the increase in firepower.
  • CRB-27SL has JJs. 
Overall, the Crab can find a niche as a nimble hillhumper and as a heavier alternative to the Blackjack in that role. Let's hope it gets good quirks as the bar has been set really high by the BJ in that aspect.

The Black Knight (75t)

When Russ brought up a poll for to decide between the heavy 'Mech for the first Resistance pack, the Black Knight lost by a small margin. There were many arguments from the both sides, but in the end it was decided that the Grasshopper was a more interesting choice due to its jump jet capability. Both 'Mechs are indeed very similar, but let's take a look at the model first.

I think the 'Mech looks simply fantastic. It's sleek, athletic and powerful unlike the rather anorexic looking Grasshopper. The arms (especially the right arm) look like they will tank a lot. The head area reminds me of Gipsy Danger from Pacific Rim and the head-mounted laser resembles the Predator's laser pointer. This thing is giving me all kinds of good vibes. The only thing I'm concerned of is the potential width of the torso. It's hard to tell from this perspective, but looks like the Black Knight will be wider than the Orion and the Grasshopper. If it turns out to be too wide, PGI can always give it some extra armor but it's an area of concern. Still, PGI has been on the ball about 'Mech scaling lately so it probably won't be a huge deal (fingers crossed).

Let's take a look at the hardpoints:

Surprise, surprise! The Black Knight is yet another pure energy boat in this pack. The energy hardpoint amount changes between 8 and 9 and according to the artwork they are belly-mounted just like the Grasshopper. It's a very annoying place to have hardpoints as you're forced to present yourself fully to your opponents in order shoot them. Now, the Grasshopper can get around this problem by using its JJs to shoot over obstacles or generally put itself in favorable places to shoot from. The Black Knight won't have that luxury and just like the Orion it have to seek favorable face-to-face engagements, which don't happen very often.

Aside from exposure, things are looking rather good. When you combine a lot of tonnage with a lot of energy hardpoints, magical things start to happen in MWO. Energy weapons don't cost much tonnage, so it's very easy to make very fast STD/XL builds with a great punch. The Orion in comparison has to bring a heavy ballistic weapon and that severely limits its mobility. The Black Knight will run faster and therefore have a better speed tank. Again though, the Grasshopper also performs very similarly in this aspect while being only 5 tons lighter.

When we look at the variants we can see that the main differentiator is the hardpoint count and locations.
  • BL-6-KNT (what's up with the weird designation for the Knight?!) is again the baseline configuration with dual AMS, just like the Crab's 27.
  • BL-6B-KNT ups the hardpoint count to 9 with 4 of them being mounted on its arms. Perhaps a better close-range candidate.
  • BL-7-KNT is virtually identical to the 6B, but moves an hardpoint from the LA to the RT. This hardpoint will most likely going to be high-mounted.
  • BL-7-KNT-L (I give up) is identical to the baseline 6-KNT, but it has a raised engine cap at 385. With this engine it'll be able to reach 91 KPH, slightly more than a TBR.
Overall the Black Knight seems like it's going to be an agile laser brawler/skirmisher, but if you already have the Grasshopper it probably won't be a very unique experience.

The Mauler (90t)

Just like how the Hellbringer out-shined everything in Clan Wave 2 pack, I'm expecting the Mauler to do the same. It has a very distinct and intimidating look with those vertical missile-pods while having Awesome'esque weapon arms. It's also surprisingly a 90 tonner and it's a welcome alternative to the HGN which is suffering from serious drinking problems after its fall from spotlight (so I heard). Otherwise the design looks rugged and lean if not a bit blocky. It doesn't seem to be very wide but the perspective could also be deceiving me. I just hope those missile pods disappear when not used.

So why am I expecting this thing to be the destroyer of worlds? Please, after you:

The hardpoint placement and numbers are simply amazing. This is the first IS assault with ballistic hardpoints in each torso. The KGC comes close with its ballistic arms, but I feel ballistic arms are usually very annoying to work with. They're very wide apart from each other so you run into all sorts of convergence problems. Not to mention it's rare being able to use both arms in a gigantic assault. With the new Mauler? Not a problem. We'll tuck all of those neatly inside the side torso for better convergence and more slots to work with.

The hardpoint positions are fantastic as well. Granted they're not very high mounted, but they're not low-mounted either. They sit perfectly in the middle of the torso. The arms also don't hang low and they're located right next to the torso hardpoints, which is ideal. I'm very pleased with the hardpoint placement.

The Mauler doesn't come with any JJs and has a relatively low engine cap of 325 (same as the HGN). With a STD325 it will have about 38.5 tons and 34 critical slots to work with. It may seem plenty, but remember this is a ballistic-heavy 'Mech and those tons and criticals will fill-up really fast. The low engine cap and slot-hungry weaponry also means the MAL will run into heat-efficiency problems due to the limited number of DHS it can bring. 

Yes, it'll likely going to be sluggish and hot but unlike the HGN and like the DWF, it will have a lot firepower to compensate. Every single variant comes with 10 hardpoints at your disposal ranging from 6xE, 6xB and 4xM. This lends itself to a variety of builds and versatility that no other 'Mech in this pack can offer. You can make builds ranging from dual-Gauss/AC40/4x(U)AC5 ballistic monsters to 6xLL drills and 4xSRM6/4xLRM missile boats. Whatever the meta will be, the MAL will always going to be able to participate. I love when 'Mechs allow me to do this as this means I can just stick with a single 'Mech but keep on experimenting and discovering new builds.

Let's take a look at the variants:
  • MAL-1R this is the ballistic and missile heavy variant. It'll probably get the best ballistic quirks of them all.
  • MAL-MX90 is the dakka-deluxe version. You'll be able to go wild with 6xB and I will personally congratulate the first person who come up with a 6xAC5 build for this.
  • MAL-1P is the generalistic variant. It has some of everything and it'll probably get general quirks to emphasize this.
  • MAL-2P is the energy variant. I'm personally very excited for potential brawling builds with this one.
Overall, the Mauler is shining like a pearl. 90t is pretty close to the sweet spot of mobility and armor for assault and the Mauler has everything to take advantage of it . . . other than the engine cap.


Resistance 2 pack reminds me of the Clan Wave 2 pack which had mostly forgettable 'Mechs rather than the Wave 3 pack which can only be described as "OMG TAKE MY MONEY". It's very doubtful how much variety can the energy-bound Wolfhound, Crab and the Black Knight can bring on the table but the Mauler alone can grant a purchase for the hardcore fans.

I'm personally looking forward to see how the Black Knight and the Mauler are going to turn out as they seem to fit my personal playstyle a lot.

Is it worth the money? Well, I can't exactly give you a thumbs-up or down. The viability of these 'Mechs will depend on many things such as the state of the balance, hitbox placement, 'Mech scaling, the intensity of the quirks and 'Mech mobility (torso twist range, rate). A perfect example of this is the Panther from Resistance Pack 1, everybody (including me) was very pessimistic about this 'Mech, yet it turned out to be a pretty impressive ligh with a unique gamestyle.
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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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