MechWarrior Online's first developer blog is live, with info on the title's faction system and in-game timeline. “Each day that passes here on Earth,” explains developer Piranha, “also passes in the virtual MechWarrior Online Inner Sphere: Wednesday December 7th, 2011 is Wednesday December 7th, 3048.” Think you can get your head around that? Good, because geography and factions are a little more nuanced.
Above: The full-size game map (available from Piranha's blog) offers a wonderfully daunting level of detail
MechWarrior Online's Inner Sphere game-world is divided up into numerous factions, regions and sub-areas, all battling for the resources of planets. The game's persistent real-time timeline means alliances and the balance of power are constantly shifting, meaning every faction is always battling at least one other faction. Which, if you came to blow up other robots, is gravy.
Progress in MWO is all about earning Loyalty Points with the various factions. Players can choose to make a lasting alliance with a faction, throw in with a mercenary force or go it alone as a Lone Wolf. This latter option may sound romantic and dangerous, and is certainly a quick way to build experience – however, it comes at the cost of progressing through any faction's ranks.
The free-play MechWarrior Online is still due for launch in Summer of 2012, with plenty of developer info and content reveals before that time. Keep an eye on Piranha's blog for more updates.