MechWarrior Online's upcoming Community Warfare expansion detailed

New information on MechWarrior Online's Community Warfare came to light at the game's launch event in San Francisco last week, describing for the first time how the upcoming expansion might function. MWO creative director Bryan Ekman said faction warfare will add a leveling system and affect multiple areas of the game's economy as well as territory on its Inner Sphere star map.

After a long open-beta process that resulted in an official launch September 17, Community Warfare represents a major addition. The free-to-play game currently supports 12v12 play in two different game modes, but the expansion should bring an added level of significance to each battle as its content is unveiled over the next six months.

"Every single match has a reference now, a meaning, a purpose," Ekman said about the eventual introduction of faction warfare.

Mercenary lone wolves represent the first role envisioned by the MWO developer Piranha Games. These players play primarily on public servers and are not allied with any specific unit or Battletech faction in the game. Loyalist faction players, the second proposed role for mech pilots in MWO, will gain prestige within that faction by earning loyalty points and additional ranks. The third and final role is the mercenary unit player. This is a mercenary who wants to have a more structured approach to the game than a singular lone wolf, in that the pilot can gain prestige by completing group contracts with other members of a particular Mercenary Corporation.

Ekman said the contract system is designed to be a stable addition to the game, but at the same time the developers didn't want to build any kind of public auction house. "We made contracts a personal matter," he said. "This is something you do as an individual or you're in a merc unit as one of the leaders who is entitled to actually try to acquire contracts."

Successfully completing contracts earns an individual, a unit, or a faction loyalty points, XP, and C-Bills, MWO's in-game currency. C-Bills shouldn't be confused with MC, the game's real-money credit system. As a pilot or a faction finishes contracts, better contracts should become available in the future, according to Ekman. There's no limit to the number of contracts players can accept, but failing to complete a contract may result in a penalty. Ekman pointed out that the penalty system is not fully designed yet and he didn't elaborate on what those penalties might be.

The types of contracts mentioned by Ekman included planetary assualt/occupation, which asks players to assist occupying a particular territory in-game. There are also skirmish contracts, which will pit groups of players against each in specific battles. The final type of contract described by Ekman are bounties that offer rewards for the elimination of targeted pilots might come-across in MWO.

Community Warfare will be delivered in three phases over the next six months, Ekman said. For more on MWO's upcoming Community Warfare expansion, check out the full video here . The video also features some footage of MWO's upcoming revamp of its interface system, UI 2.0, which is set to be released in the next four weeks, according to Ekman.