The Bushwacker hits my nostalgia particularly hard based on my memories of it from MechCommander 2 and MechWarrior 4 - I'm not sure if it was particularly good in those games, but it was one of the mechs I used the most so I'm happy that it's coming to MWO (and I think it was a much better pick for a fancy reveal than the Linebacker was).
That being said, there has been a definite increase in the "not another mech pack!" sentiment around the community. Which I absolutely get, but I'm not sure why this has been exploding around the Bushwacker of all mechs. Not only is it a relatively yearned-after mech (not Mad Cat MK II levels, but still one of the cooler IS mechs imo), but it also has more uniqueness to it than many mechs in the game (more on this in the builds section, of course).
Still, just want to re-iterate my schtick about how I'd never tell you whether or not to buy things. My goals when writing these are to a) have fun, b) educate people as best I can about what these mechs will be capable of, and c) try to highlight the best values if you do
want to spend money.
Another conversation that's been elevated by the Bushwacker is the ever-present question of a timeline jump (in terms of tech). There are good arguments on both sides of this issue (adds variety, raises massive balance concerns, etc.) but if PGI does decide to go with it, there are a few guiding principles that I'd like them to consider.
First, introduce new tech slowly - just one or two things per patch. Dropping a steaming pile of new tech on the playerbase could easily cause massive balance issues and complaints everywhere, whereas gradually introducing this new content allows you to balance the new tech as it comes out.
Second, make sure that the tech is distinct based on mechanics rather than just numbers. The introduction of Clan tech had successes like the Clan UAC and LRMs, but for the most part, the only changes many Clan versions got were numbers (duration, range, etc.). You can absolutely balance things like the RAC/5 and Heavy Laser, but make sure that they get something to really distinguish them from the toys we already have.
And finally, give us a reason to get hyped about it. Release the weapons by putting out new variants of chassis that are already in-game which already have those weapons equipped - that way we get fresh mechs with fresh weapons and everything can feel much more new. I think the AS7-S2 with its Heavy Gauss, or the RFL-8D with its Rotary AC/5s could be great ways to experience the weapons for the first time.
But enough of that, let's talk about the Bushwacker.BuildsBSW-X1
- Endo, Standard Armor (arms at 0, legs at 48, head at 16, max elsewhere), XL225 (71.2 KPH)
- 3x AC/5 (side torsos), 8 tons ammo
- 10 DHS
This is one of the builds that makes the Bushwacker unique as a medium mech - 3 AC/5s isn't an outstanding amount a firepower, and it does have to slow down to equip it, but it is still the only IS medium that can carry it reasonably
(the SHD-2H sadly doesn't work well, though I do love the build). If it's well-quirked (which it probably won't be), it could be pretty sweet.BSW-X2
- Endo, Standard Armor (arms at 3, max elsewhere), XL255 (80.7 KPH)
- 2x AC/10, 6 tons ammo
- 10 DHS
And this is the most exciting (to me) build for the Bushwacker. I could see this being quite good, and it doesn't really have to sacrifice anything to mount these guns. This build can also be run on (and will likely be the best option for) 4 of the 6 Bushwacker variants we're getting, but I'll still be listing a build for each of them.BSW-S2
- Endo, Standard Armor (RA at 2, max elsewhere), XL285 (90.2 KPH)
- 4x SRM6 w/ Artemis, 5 tons ammo
- 2x Flamer
- 14 DHS
It's nothing special for a brawler, and the GRF-2N is just going to be directly superior for the most part, but it could be interesting to see if it gets any special quirks or if its hitboxes are just stupendous.BSW-P1
- Endo, Ferro (RA at 6, max elsewhere), XL345 (109.2 KPH)
- 6x SRM4, 5 tons ammo
- 14 DHS
Now this is
something special. It still is likely to be an inferior product when compared to the GRF-2N or the upcoming Huntsman, but on its release it will have the most missile hardpoints for an IS medium mech, which means that it will be a pretty brutal brawler. And you can fit SRM6s in there too, but with some significant losses in speed and heat efficiency.BSW-P2
- Endo, Armor (arms at 0, legs at 48, head at 16, max elsewhere), XL200 (63.3 KPH)
- 2x Gauss Rifle, 3.5 tons ammo
- 10 DHS
This is one of the variants where your best bet is to run dual 10s, but...I can't not mention this option. As is the theme with this mech, this is the lightest IS mech where you can run this build, but the HBK-IIC did beat it to the punch a bit. Still, it's a fun little option if you don't mind dying really quickly.BSW-HR
- Endo, Armor (arms at 3, max elsewhere), XL255 (80.7 KPH)
- 2x UAC/5, 5 tons ammo
- 1x LPL
- 10 DHS
I actually rather like the look of this build. It's a pretty reasonable alternative to the AC/10s build and it should have slightly better DPS and alpha than the 3x AC/5 option you get on the BSW-X1. And you can run it on 4 of the 6 Bushwacker variants, so that's just a sweet bonus.Value
If you do decide to buy the Bushwacker, I think you can get a lot out of just the $20 pack. The BSW-X1 runs 90% of the cool unique builds that can even be done on the chassis in general. Of course, it could end up having crappy quirks, but if that's not the case, this base variant should be the most useful one, which is a refreshing change of pace. Which also could mean that you might want to buy the $40 pack (not something I usually recommend, but if you expect you'll play it a lot...)
If the variant with 6 missile hardpoints tickles your fancy, it might make sense for you to add it on too. I expect it will function as a super KTO-18, with (probably) better hitboxes, up to you whether that's worth 15 bucks.
I don't see a huge reason to spring for the Hero, though, since the only uniqueness it gets is 4 energy hardpoints - not enough to be a huge selling point in my opinion (2 UAC/5s and 4 medium lasers is the main build I can think of which uses them well).
So if you do decide to buy this pack, I recommend just going for the base $20, with maybe the $15 reinforcement pack if those really tickle your fancy.Predictions
The Bushwacker will eventually settle into its role as a mid-range fire support mech, mainly using dakka builds or AC/10s. With decent structure quirks, we could see it being a mainstay in PUGs at least, though it's hard to see it supplanting the Hunchback IIC in more competitive environments. This also does mean that it could have a high CW potential for people interested in that gamemode - I actually could see it being the best IS medium for that mode.
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!