There was never much doubt about whether or not the Kodiak would be good. The question was not so much "will this be the best Clan Assault", it was "will this be the best Assault". And while the second question is still up in the air to a certain extent, it's pretty clear that we were all correct on the first one.
The Kodiak's most direct rival coming in was the Dire Wolf. The Whale still has unique options such as Dual Gauss & Laser Vomit as well as anything using 5 or more ballistics, but even these have a rough equivalent available. And those builds get run with higher mounts, larger engines, and sometimes even quirks.
It's more difficult to compare it with its IS rivals such as the Atlas, Banshee, and Mauler, as those mechs have different specializations that the Kodiak mostly can't match, and the others can't match the Kodiak's specializations either. But I can't honestly say that I think the Kodiak is straight-up worse than these mechs.
So is the Kodiak OP? Is it pay-to-win? These questions are very important to me in this game, as there have been a number of things that really straddled those lines, and in some cases crossed them. This has led to me getting very...suspicious whenever PGI announces a new mech for pre-release. So far, the Jenner and Hunchback IIC got close enough to make me uncomfortable, but they definitely didn't cross the line.
In keeping with that, the Kodiak is definitely not quite
overpowered. It's not the best mech in the game, and it's not better than any
of the current top mechs by a large margin. It fills the super-powerful Assault niche that has been vacant since the Dire Wolf's demise, but it doesn't do it as well as the Dire Wolf did in its heyday. It's certainly on the right side of the bell curve, but it's not an outlier.
I think it's time to talk specifics, though.KDK-1 & KDK-5
I don't usually group variants together, but this is a special case. The KDK-1 has a couple of extra missile hardpoints that you won't use and the KDK-5 has a couple extra energy hardpoints...that you won't use. I do give a slight edge to the KDK-5 as the extra hardpoints give you more flexibility in where you place the weapons, but it's just not a big deal.
Not long ago, having all those energy hardpoints would have made these variants the absolute best no matter what. However, in the current state of weapon balance, they're not even the best builds the chassis can run. Add onto that the fact that these variants don't get the quirks received by the others, and it's just game over. But you can still do crazy things
All that being said, even these worst variants are damn good, and they're not all that much worse than the others (probably a 3-way tie with the KDK-4 for last).KDK-2
This variant pretty much obsoletes the previous ones. It has a similar (though less extreme) mix of ballistic and energy weapons, up to 4 jumpjets, and of course, quirks
. All these things add up to make it the absolute most solid variant of the bunch, with a few great options for builds. Which kind of does make me a bit sad that I'm highlighting a Gauss Vomit build, but the Poptart
just isn't quite as good.KDK-3
So. Now we've arrived at the real stand-out variant of the bunch. There must be a dozen builds for this mech, all amazing and all competing for dominance - I haven't even been able to play all of them yet, and it seems like there's always another I need to try out. That sheer variety of amazing builds is what makes this my favorite variant, and the favorite of many others. So while you can run crazy stuff like Quad Gauss
, I always find myself coming back to Dakka.KDK-4
It doesn't have the brutality of the KDK-3, or the solid balance of the KDK-2, but the KDK-4 is powerful in its own way. It's pretty much on-par with the KDK-1 and KDK-5, but the quirks really do help it. Add onto that the fact that you're not shoe-horned into Laser Vomit (plus or minus a Gauss Rifle), and I already prefer it greatly to the KDK-1 and KDK-5. Plus, it gets to run one of my favorite builds I've played on the Kodiak. The problem is, the KDK-3 gets to run pretty much every KDK-4 build, and has more options. The KDK-4's main actual asset is that it doesn't have hand actuators, giving you a couple of extra slots to play with.Spirit Bear
The Spirit Bear is one of the most exciting mechs we've seen in a while. At its base, it already has brawling weapons roughly on part with the AS7-S. On top of that, it has a cXL400 and MASC to pump the top speed over 90KPH. Historically, the only mechs that have come close to this combination of speed and brawling firepower have been the Timber Wolf and Victor, and this is able to do it so much
better than either of those ever could. In a flat-out brawl, it will almost certainly lose to the AS7-S due to its superior quirks, but the Spirit Bear has a huge edge when it comes to actually closing on the enemy. It would have been my dread mech, a couple of years ago. Even now, it's definitely up there.
Not a lot of build diversity though. Oh, and the TCIV is meant to represent the MASC.Verdict
The Kodiak is a very strong mech, with a lot of very powerful builds at its disposal. It's not broken or P2W, but it is in the danger zone. The problem is that I'm expecting the Night Gyr to fall in there as well, and once enough pre-order mechs start to fall in that zone...
But it is not a mech without weaknesses. It is the most nimble 100-tonner in the game to be sure, but it's still a 100-tonner and it does suffer a bit for agility. It also doesn't have the best hitboxes - the CT is massive, and so are the side torsos. Anything that requires face time is definitely going to feel these issues, but anything that lets you shield will benefit a great deal from those arms. But these aren't crippling issues, more like mitigating factors.
Anyways, what the Kodiak really brought up to me is that big mechs need help for agility. The most relevant solution I've seen, which is widely supported by a number of intelligent people, is to unlink engine size and agility numbers. This would let PGI actually balance mechs, rather than having to give out pretty nasty agility quirks for big mechs to be not just good, but pleasant. But this is a whole topic in and of itself (and I haven't considered it enough to offer a full solution personally), so all I'm saying right now
is that something's gotta be done.
So now that I've got all that out of the way, let's score the bugger.
For what it's worth, I know these scores are silly, subjective, and just about irrelevant. Just kinda feels good to put abstract concepts into numerical form. Tickles part of my brain.
GMan129 is an officer of the Steel Jaguar competitive team, he is the owner of and writer for MetaMechs, and he does some writing for NGNG as well. He has been playing MechWarrior Online since the early days of closed beta, and has spent far too much time and money on this crap. If you're interested in supporting his self-destruction, consider contributing to his PayPal or Patreon!