First things first, I am hardcore digging the aesthetic
. I'm having a tough time describing the mech's looks and relating it to other things (maybe a bit of Tau
? Probably just wishful thinking), which means it's wonderfully unique. And in this game, same-y mechs are the absolute worst (lookin' at you, Battlemaster).
It seems like that uniqueness may carry over into the way the mech plays. I've been seeing a lot of comments on how it's just a Nova dupe, but endo, ferro, and 8 missile hardpoints really crush all that (as many have thankfully been pointing out). Unfortunately, you can only get 8 missile hardpoints if you pre-order both the reinforcement pack and the hero.
In fact, even the missile builds which don't use all 8 missile hardpoints still
require both of these add-ons to be run optimally, and almost all of them require one or the other for it to be run at all.
This does not
make me a happy camper.
But ranting and raving about PGI monetization has never accomplished anything in the past, so let's talk about the actual mech, shall we?
As I said earlier, it has some unique options available to it, and it reminds me more of the Archer than of any of the other mechs it is commonly compared to. This sounds really bad at first, since the Archer is the worst chassis to be introduced since...gee, I don't know when. But there are a few very particular missile builds that the Archer runs really well, and it seems like those are the sorts of things we'll get out of the Huntsman...with jump jets.
Those are certainly not your only options, though, as you have plenty of energy and ballistic hardpoints too. But those builds seem to be almost universally better suited for mechs like the Hunchback IIC, so they seem more like backup builds in case the more niche ones fall flat.
But enough chit chat, nitty gritty time.Build 1: SRM Boat
- 20 armor on dead arm, max elsewhere
- 6x SRM6 w/ Artemis, spread over each side torso and one arm, 6 tons ammo
- 13 DHS
I'm looking forward to trying this out. It has the high-ish torso-mounted group of four, and then another group of four for corner-peeking, and you get to use all of it in a brawl for ridiculous DPS. Sure, you could do 8 SRM4s w/ Artemis and 12 DHS, or 8 SRM6s with no Artemis and 16 DHS, or 4 SRM6s w/ Artemis and 3 small pulse (the list goes on), but I think this build is a really healthy balance between brutality and heat management.
Oh yeah, and all those super exciting builds? You gotta get at least
one of the add-ons for most of them, but some need
both and all of them need both to be run optimally.Build 2: Dakka
- 46 armor on each leg, 16 on head, max elsewhere
- 2x UAC/10, 5.5 tons ammo
- 10 DHS
It's just purely worse than the Hunchback IIC. Well, maybe we'll see something interesting from quirks or hitboxes...but I doubt it.
Even this build requires the reinforcement pack, since there aren't enough slots in the RT for both UAC/10s. You can do it with 5s and a couple of meds with just the base pack, I suppose.Build 3: Laser Vomit
- 20 armor on dead arm, max elsewhere
- 2x cLPL
- 3x cERML
- 18 DHS, TC1
Super original, I know. Also, worse than the HBK-IIC-A in every way (barring unannounced/undiscovered stuff like quirks and hitboxes).
But at least it doesn't require
more than just the base pack - it fits better with the reinforcements add-on, but not by much.Build 4: Poptart
- 14 armor on LA, 0 on RA, max elsewhere
- Gauss Rifle w/ 3 tons ammo
- ER PPC
- 12 DHS, TC2
This build actually does kind of tickle me. It has an extra jumpjet over the Hunchadoozie (helpful for a poptart, though 5 is kind of unnecessary), and it doesn't really sacrifice anything.
Perhaps best of all, it runs great on the base variant, and doesn't get any better with the add-on packs.Build 5: Streaks
- 1 armor on dead arm, max elsewhere
- 6x SSRM6, 5.5 tons of ammo
- 10 DHS, BAP
Hahaha. It's like a super-hot Mad Dog with jumpjets. So dumb. You can also do it with streak 4s or 2s or some mix of the two for more DPS, but I'm really not feeling it.Build 6: Gauss Vomit
- 20 armor on LA, max elsewhere
- Gauss Rifle w/ 3 tons of ammo
- 4x cERML
- 14 DHS, TC1
Here's another thing it can do semi-uniquely. It's the same build as the classic Gauss Vomit Stormcrow (more or less), but it gets a lot of jumpjets. There are plenty of variations on the theme with different lasers and stuff, but this is a pretty generic example.
It does need the reinforcement pack, though...Value Assessment
The most badass missile builds will require the Hero and the HMN-P from the reinforcement pack, and those missile builds seem to be the only super-special thing about the chassis.
It makes sense to get only the base pack if you really like the way the mech looks, or love the Huntsman outside of MWO. But the poptart, laser vomit, and UAC/5 builds are the only ones that really seem to be big options with just that pack, and as it stands now, those things are all done better on the Hunchback IIC.
So if you are going to get the Huntsman (and I make a point to not say whether you should or shouldn't buy a pack), I think the best value will be the base $20 pack, with the reinforcements and hero added on. I don't see the need for the "special" version of the Prime variant if you're already getting the Hero. But man, I really don't like the way the variants are distributed, with the P and Hero being so clearly vital. Really wish PGI would at least let you choose
the two non-prime variants in the base $20 pack.
I guess it is worth noting that, in terms of $$/C-Bill conversion, it's not great, but that should be obvious since it's a 50-tonner. You're paying to fund development, and for early access.Predictions
I'm gonna start doing little predictions for where mechs will end up in the meta. Obviously, this is without knowledge of quirks, hitboxes, and actual experience playing the mech (and I have a feeling the ghost heat replacement will be implemented before this thing is released), but I figure it could be a fun little thing to do...After its initial burst of popularity on release, the Huntsman will be seen little more than the Nova, due to it being just a bit worse than mechs like the Hunchback IIC. However, some players will cling to its absurd brawling builds, which will even be found in competitive play. These brawling Huntsmen will only fit into very specialized drop decks, but will absolutely have their place alongside the Griffin, and will replace the Griffin in heavier drops. But it's not going to be a particularly good mech in the public queue.
Also, that jump sniper is going to be referred to as a "HuniePop".
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 checking out his Patreon!