Even a game about titanic, stompy robots with laser cannons and violent paint jobs isn't immune to the challenges of multiplayer matchmaking. Piranha's MechWarrior Online is loads of fun of the heavy metal variety, but balancing various weight classes and pre-formed groups against public players sometimes delivers some frustratingly lopsided rounds. Pilots should scratch the date of April 29 into the side of their cockpits, as that marks the new Launch Module's, well, launch. The module will overhaul MechWarrior's system for matching similarly skilled players together in evenly balanced teams. It's all explained with plenty of text and pretty charts in an official forum post .
As Piranha details in its post, the core of its vision is to smartly place players in a match with other players of equivalent Elo sorted by weight class. What the studio doesn't want to see (which can sometimes happen in MWO's current live version) is team setups skewed towards heavy bruisers, foregoing balanced equipment loadouts for sheer firepower. The solution: weight class restrictions.
Through the Launch Module, players using mechs of certain weight classes will match with players on an opposing team of the exact same classes. In other words, if you're using a Medium weight mech, you're guaranteed to see a Medium mech on the other team during a round.
The Module will also limit each weight class in a lance squad. Every weight type gets one slot in a lance. That'll get you lance compositions of one Light, one Medium, one Heavy, and one Assault. In a full team of 12, that's three lances with even blends of mobility and weaponry. Not even a puppy juggling eggs and spinning plates on a tightrope can achieve that level of balance.
Piranha also wants to combat multiple pre-made groups being matched against teams of solo players. The Launch Module will place one group of any size—and one group only; it's a hard limit—per side to help boost communication and strategizing. A much-needed change, I wager, to improve a mostly solo team's chances and tactics beyond balling up into a confused cluster and hoping for the best.
Lastly, the Launch Module will also include two new modes, Free Private and Premium Private Matches, with an extra set of options for custom-tailoring a battle. The Free Private Match is a straight-up invite-only affair where the creator brings in his or her buddies and jumps into a game straight away. Premium Private provides a few more customization options such as choosing round type, maps, or locking the view to 1st or 3rd person, a nice boon for competitive teams or for forming custom campaigns. Both modes importantly switch off the Module's matchmaking system, so the game won't yell at you if you want to do something crazy like a 12-on-12 Jenner beatdown. (If you do, please record it.)
Head over to MWO's official forums for more info on the Launch Module. If you'd like to see more giant robot pew-pew, be sure to follow our Twitch channel for occasional MWO broadcasts from Editor-in-Chief and resident mech-master Evan Lahti.