Today the next big thing happened in game, but to appreciate this, you'll need a brief understanding of where PGI has come from since the game's inception.
Here we go...
It started with a Beta...8 versus 8, with 3 basic maps and 4 or 5 mechs. Units began forming up quick, but there were still a lot of people just dropping solo. We refer to those individuals as "pugs", short for "pick-up-groups". The game had a lot of bugs with collision, "rubber banding", and the mech lab UI. However, it INSTANTLY captivated everyone who has enjoyed the MechWarrior or BattleTech series over the years. Also, and important to note, throughout the Closed Beta, they often reset your experience, your purchases, your mechs, and your in-game money. We all knew we were playing just to hone our skills, since we didn't get to keep any of our Pilot Skills that we had purchased.
The game progressed as they introduced new mech chasses and variants, balanced out weapon strengths, and even added some maps. As they neared the Open Beta, some big changes started coming that affected the dynamics considerably.
They introduced "balanced drops", which meant the other team had a similar weight to yours. So, for every one of your Assault Mechs, they had one too. They took out collision, which means that a big mech can no longer tackle a small mech, or knock it down. They added new systems, such as Artemis and TAG. Eventually, they added some decent modules, such as 360 degree targeting, etc.
They also made a huge change to the drops, perhaps in an attempt to even out the competition...the max group size to queue was 4 people. So, in each drop, you would have 4 teammates you could not account for.
Over the months that the game has been out, different variants have been popular choices during certain times. After one patch, LRMs had a considerable advantage, and most rounds found us facing off against 3 or more LRM Catapults. At other times it has been Gauss Rifle Catapult K-2s, and eventually Streak SRM Catapults. When they released the "hero mech" Yen Lo Wang, we saw a surge of those on the battlefield. Everybody seems to jump on the newest bandwagon. Some units, like Goon Squad, will happily exploit any strength in the game to gain dominance.
Today, the patch introduced some game-changing differences. ECM is the new craze, and 8-man groups are back. However, each 8-man team will face off only against other 8-man pre-made teams. No more facerolling enemy teams made entirely of pugs. And we're seeing a ton of ECM-heavy teams that are exploiting the newfound strengths.
On a personal note, I'm a few thousand XP away from being done with Elite on 3 different variants of the Hunchback, which is odd since Skirmisher is not my strongest role. I chose this because I was interested in playing a versatile and fast-paced mech. This will NOT be my final answer. I am less than pleased with the ability to bring down enemies, even lighter mechs. I anticipate my next real chassis will be the Catapult again.
Also, the Templars are shaping up to be a top-tier unit. Their structure, training, and leadership are fantastic. While I've had a few frustrating nights, I have more often found myself gliding through rounds with excellent scores and a true sense of teamwork. I highly recommend them, and anybody can apply at thetemplars.net
Until next time.