Not gonna lie, I didn't have terribly high expectations for the Huntsman. Basically, I was envisioning a mech that was slightly inferior to the Hunchback IIC in most regards, but with a few extra missile builds. This was actually kind of an exciting prospect for me; I've always been a big fan of SRMs, and since the Hunchback IIC's release, it's been easily one of my favorite mechs in the game. But it turns out, it's not that much worse than the Hunchback IIC at many of the classic builds that chassis excels at, and adds a fair few that aren't just SRM brawlers.
That being said, it is still very similar to the Hunchadoozie in many respects. The fragility factor is absolutely still there, and the agility is hardly changed (most Hunchback IIC builds end up going a skosh faster, but have one less jumpjets). The big drawback to the Huntsman ends up being the usual story with omnimechs - an inability to customize the engine and equipment, leading to less room (both in terms of tonnage and slots) to fit guns. But the available hardpoints do a lot to redeem this mech - depending on the level of pack you purchase, the mech can have up to 8 missile slots, or 5 ballistics, or 9 energy hardpoints. Which is a pretty stupendous amount, and very few builds actually end up approaching hardpoint saturation. But on top of that, it also ends up having superior torso twist and usable arms, which ends up providing great utility.
Which does bring up one of the greater issues I have with the Huntsman - not the mech itself, but the pack. If you just purchase the base 3 variants, you could have some fun with a couple of cool poptarting builds, even one or two pseudo-dakka mechs can be made to work. But there's not a whole lot available that is both unique to the chassis and good (the fun bit is a bit more subjective, but I wasn't blown away by any of it). Buying the hero pack does open up a couple more options in terms of SRM boats, including the build that I've had the most fun with so far, but the big draw of 8 SRM launchers is locked behind buying both the hero pack and
reinforcement pack. It's hardly the first time it's happened, but it's not like I'm just gonna stop complaining about it.BuildsSRM Boat
With a weapon density that rivals even the Splat Jenner, this Huntsman build miniaturizes the dumbest of ARC-5W builds into a compact and sexy package. With tactics ranging from flanking to short-range poptarting, the splat Huntsman is sure to tear through even the sturdiest assault mechs with ease. Sure, maybe it can't focus on components very well, it might not have enough ammo to last through an extended fight, and perhaps the heat is a bit ridiculous, but...8 SRM6s, yo.
I was actually expecting to prefer the SRM4A build
to the SRM6 version, as its missiles come out in a pretty tight grouping, but it really just lacked the brutality that I was looking for. That being said, the Pakhet build
took the cake for me personally, as it's set up perfectly for SRM poptarting (my favorite style of play right now) and its DPS, longevity, and quirks all felt superb.Poptart
This is one of those builds that was certainly doable on the Hunchback IIC, but never got a lot of attention due to how low-mounted the PPC ended up being, and so both the the dual PPC and dual Gauss versions were favored. But on the Huntsman, these weapons are all in the top mounts, so you don't have to worry about that. And as a nice little bonus, this build (and many variations on it) is completely doable on just the base 3 variants.
Speaking of variations on it, I had a good time in the UAC/5 version
of the build. It wasn't as sleek-feeling, but the extra DPS was greatly appreciated. There's also the dual PPC build
to consider. It doesn't have the same oomph behind it as either of these, but it's popular on the HBK-IIC-A for a reason, and those reasons mostly carry over here.Dakka
This is honestly the style of build I was least impressed with. Sure, it's doable, but you generally have to skimp on firepower, ammo, TC, or all of the above. Certainly one of those situations where the HBK-IIC builds are far superior.
But there are a few neat little things you can do with the mech to get some uniqueness out of it, like this dakka/brawler build
I slapped together (just be careful of the heat).Lasers
It's not the most creative build, and it's certainly not my favorite, but it works fine all the same. If you've played MWO in the last couple years, you probably have some experience with the style, and there's not much more I can tell you other than that the Huntsman can do it perfectly fine.
You can mix it up a bit too, but it's still going to be kinda disappointing if you're coming from the HBK-IIC-A.Streaks
Probably my least favorite build I've run, but I did it. it's obviously devastating to lights, and it's not bad against other soft targets, but it's nothing to write home about. If you can get a pre-lock as you poptart, though, it can be absurd. You'll just have to deal with the heat.Final Thoughts
While it doesn't quite hold up to the Hunchback IIC, it's a good enough mech that it will likely be seen in competitive play in a brawler/assassin type role. I recommend that, if you are planning on buying it, you go for at least the Hero pack and maybe even the reinforcement pack. Otherwise, you're not going to get much out of it that you wouldn't get out of the Hunchback IIC. At least that does mean that it's not OP or P2W or anything.
The SRM builds are quite fun; probably the most fun I've had playing SRMs in PUGs in a long time. But it's quite the investment to get to that point, so I don't think waiting for the C-Bill release is a bad idea at all.Scores
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 checking out his Patreon!