The following article is an opinion piece by BattleBunny, who is one of the leaders of my unit BMMU and the owner of a YouTube channel full of gaming nostalgia and MWO. He is the first guest writer on this blog and I'm very happy that we managed to finally publish this article. Enjoy!
Introduction & resuméGreetings. My MechWarrior-alias is BattleBunny and I have been a very active player in the game for a little over a year. I have not read any of the BattleTech books, but I have learned a lot about the BT universe from playing MechWarrior games, both single player and online, ever since the early nineties. I was lucky enough to be in the position to start a unit back in December 2014, together with some fine gentlemen. This unit has been slowly growing ever since and reached 38 members this week, most of which are active players. We work hard on our teamwork and we are slowly entering the competitive scene at this time. The unit was formed because Community Warfare was (suddenly) released earlier that year and you could (back then) only play in it if you were part of a unit. I suddenly found myself without friends to group up with, since most of them were in units checking out CW. The group queue was a very lonely place all of a sudden. I grouped up with the other unitless friends I regularly played with and formed “Battle Magic Mercenary Unit” , the BMMU.
The promiseCommunity Warfare was announced as being "the end-game content" where big units could join factions and fight over dominance of the Inner Sphere. Russ Bullock, the president of PGI, called it "hard-mode". Since there is no matchmaker in CW, everybody can possibly face everybody else. Unit coffers were introduced and I started saving up C-Bills to eventually buy cool stuff for the unit when cool stuff would come out. The concept of Community Warfare is great and its potential is truly amazing.
BMMU in CWLike I said, I have not read "the lore" so I personally don’t have any affiliation or preference for any faction, even though some of my unit-mates do. Since most of us want to play with all of our ‘Mechs, the BMMU changes contract as if they were mercenaries in the BattleTech Universe. We go where the quick match and the sweet C-Bills are to be found. Which necessitates switching from clan to IS and back again with every new contract.
The experienceWhen I group up with my fellow unit members and meet a decent team on the other side, the matches can be really fun. Because each player can bring multiple ‘Mechs, there can be swings that tip the match in somebodies favor. There are some tactics involved, now that rushing the objective has been made more difficult.
However, so far Community Warfare seems more like a farming simulator. As there is no matchmaker, we seldom find a good team on the other side. What we often find is a disorganized blob that present us trial ‘Mechs, silly builds and lots of LRM ‘Mechs. I see players that don’t twist at all to spread the damage, people that are face tanking their targets with ERLL boats and ‘Mechs running into a firing lines alone while complaining about getting no support . Players doing less than 300 damage with 4 ‘Mechs, and then talk about being let down by the team.
Sometimes we get yelled at. Once we were called “the cancer that is ruining community warfare” when we were winning big. I see people rage quit and disconnect after the first wave of ‘Mechs are killed. Sometimes even right at the start of a match when they see a big team on the enemy side. It's not rare to see ‘Mechs yoloing towards Omega on counterattack while their team is 15 ‘Mechs down.
What’s worse is that these players are getting lots of help. The dropships have been buffed to levels that a disconnected player with 4 ‘Mechs left can do more damage to the enemy team through them than he probably would have done if he had piloted his mech. On counterattack you have to kill all the enemy ‘Mechs so the dropships will be a factor if you don’t have the range to take out disconnected ‘Mechs from safety. Even worse, on Vitric Forge you have to wait out the game if none of the surviving ‘Mechs have jump jets as the spawn points are inaccessible without jump jets.
It seems it’s a PGI policy that everything has to be balanced, but this was supposed to be hard-mode. Why are bad teams being rewarded and good teams being punished? Where are the big units and large teams in CW? Why are lone players (pugs) playing it and not the big teams of the big units? What went wrong?
My answerCommunity Warfare doesn’t mean anything. All of the planets are the same and having more or less planets under control has no effect on the unit or the faction. There is nothing to fight for. It’s the same maps with the same objectives all the time, no matter where you fight in the universe.
The map looks like it’s being conquered by drunk warlords that have no clue where they should go. Massive beelines from the top of the map to Terra might be lore-friendly but it turns the map into a jigsaw puzzle that looks ridiculous.
I understand that some of the die-hard BattleTech fans might get enough satisfaction out of CW because the names, logos and factions are the ones they know and love from the books. For me it just feels empty and meaningless.
I play it mostly because of the free Mechbays we get while playing for different factions. Sometimes the longer games and slower pace of CW can be a relaxing break from the group queue where the matches are quick and fierce and the search time is often longer then the match. However I always feel a little dirty afterwards when I play with a good team in CW against pugs.
I drop solo sometimes to grind as much damage as I can. I sometimes try and herd the puggy team into general directions but often I don’t bother as they either don’t listen or argue a lot. I just try to damage and kill as many enemy ‘Mechs as I can to get the loyalty points for my Mechbays. I don’t care much if the planet is conquered or not, as it doesn’t change anything except a line on a map.
The dreamBoy that was a lot of negativity. The thing is, I really WANT to love this game mode. I want Community Warfare to be awesome. So what needs to change? Here is my take on it:
The universe needs to come alive for CW to be fun. The options for immersion have to increase dramatically.
Planets themselves need to mean something, owning multiple planets needs to mean something. Perhaps a formula that makes the planets give the unit that holds them a small percentage of loyalty point bonus. (something like planets owned / unit members * 25 = loyatybonus%) Whether or not a faction’s player base is large or small should mean something. Give a C-Bill bonus to owning and keeping certain important planets. Give discounts on certain ‘Mechs to units owning planets with certain ‘Mech Factories on them. Make the unit coffers mean something. Give us things to buy with it such as different kinds of dropships, fortifications on planets owned, unit colors and camo’s, anything.
Make the biggest, most influential loyalist units decide which planets can be attacked so that the map is in human hands and not in the hands of a beeline-to-Terra-algorithm. This will open up a lot of diplomacy and politics , which will greatly enhance the experience of community warfare. Big loyalist units like SWOL (Wolves), 12th Donegals (Steiner), RRB (Davion) and many others should dictate where the fighting takes place. This will also reduce the number of possible planets that can be attacked/defended which will shorten queue times in general. The mercenary units will follow to where the fighting is taking place. Maybe the skilled mercenaries can even be hired by some of the big loyalist factions to tip a border dispute in their favor. Maybe this way the unit coffers can mean something more to the loyalist factions as they can use it to hire mercenaries.
And last but not least, stop trying to balance the game mode. If it is a simulation of war, some battles simply will not be fair. A faction with more resources in an area should be able to bring more and better ‘Mechs to the battlefield. Huge factions should have problems with supply lines and long borders, so it’s fine if they have less tonnage or less turrets and so on. Perhaps it’s better to find a balance on a larger scale. Huge factions have long supply lines so they cannot drop with as much tonnage as a faction that is defending a border closer to its capital.
The battles are not balanced anyway since sometimes organized teams will face disorganized pug teams. Stomps will happen regardless of any balancing that is done to the gamemode, as some teams are simply better trained and tuned then others. So we might as well not balance it at all and focus on the larger scale of the project.
This is my personal opinion and view on the whole thing, nothing less. I wish PGI much wisdom in their decisionmaking. I hope they continue to try and improve CW and the overall gaming experience of it.
I am still saving up C-Bills to buy cool stuff for my unit when cool stuff comes out. I am well over a billion C-Bills and still waiting . . .