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I'm a huge fan of the Bushwacker. Just, in general, it's always been one of my favorite designs. I think a huge part of that is the MechCommander 2 is possibly my favorite game of all time (yeah, probably 95% nostalgia), but it's also just always had one of those most interesting and MechWarrior-y aesthetic, up there with the Mad Cat. Honestly, in this game, something about the Bushwacker doesn't sit right with me. Maybe it's just a bit too long, or maybe it's that right torso, but something looks off. Not the end of the world, though, it's just a bit of a unique case because I'm usually a huge fan of the way mechs turn out in MWO (but I might be alone in this, too).
I found it fun to play, at least. It's not a revelation, and I've been a bit disappointed by those builds I was most excited for, but overall it feels good to play the Bushwacker. I think I'd describe it as a budget heavy more than anything else - I really do feel a bit like an Ebon Jaguar in this mech (which is totally appropriate), but a bit slower, more fragile, and less heavily armed. That being said, it's been doing pretty alright for me. I'm not blown away by its power, which I think is definitely appropriate for a medium, but I've been able to do work in quite a few games with some reliability.
It does have hitbox issues (I haven't died that often but I don't remember any of my deaths being to CT), but I think that could be easily addressed in a patch, and even without that, I was able to take a few more hits than I would be able to in other good mediums like the Enforcer.
I've found that the Bushwacker finds its niche at mid or short range. I tried out some more long range builds, including dual gauss, but I wasn't a huge fan of those builds. The Bushwacker looks a lot like the Ebon Jaguar, but it does not share its proficiency for trading.
So let's look at some of those builds. I might not talk much about every variant, but rather focus on the few that I really enjoyed.
This is the prime variant. The tradition has historically been for the prime variant of each mech to be the most boring with the least options, but I think this is actually one of the better variants for the Bushwacker. 3 ballistic torso hardpoints is enough to make it unique in a good way, and the quirks aren't horrible (relative to the other Bushwacker). I went with this build:
3 AC/5s isn't the greatest build ever, but for a medium, that's pretty badass. In fact, the only other medium mech that runs this build is the SHD-2H, and it has to make massive sacrifices to do so due to needing a standard engine. The minimal offensive quirks on the BSW-X1 make sure that it's not overwhelmingly good, but it's still good enough. I also liked the 4x AC/2 build, but not quite as much. And they both have ammo problems.
I think this might be my favorite variant. Not necessarily the best, but most appropriate for the way I like to play. And also, probably one of the best.
This variant's hardpoints are decent, but not super interesting to me. However, it does have the best agility quirks out of the bunch, which makes it my top choice for some of the more universal Bushwacker builds that can be done on different variants. Such as...
Man, I was so pumped for this build when the Bushwacker was announced. Double AC/10s has been effective on mechs like the WHM-6R for me, and I've really enjoyed them, but I haven't been able to make it work yet. It's still fine, but it gets destroyed in trades and DPS fights, and it's too big to be easily ignorable. I'm probably going to keep trying to make it work, though.
I think that this is the most versatile variant, and one of the best, but it also didn't have anything special on it to really get me carried away.
This is one of the two variants that I was really not feeling. It doesn't have much to set it apart from the other Bushwackers (the BSW-P1 puts it to shame), and it didn't even feel like it had a reason to exist when there are mechs like the GRF-2N. I ran this brawler build:
And I really didn't feel anything special come out of it. Did alright, I suppose, and you might want to try it with flamers instead of mediums, but nah.
Speaking of brawlers...this one is the bomb. The 6xSRM4 build leaps off the page, to be sure, but what I love about this variant is the number of ways you can actually build it out to brawl. So yeah, this is the obvious option:
But there are lots of other builds out there. My personal love right now involves LBX and Artemis, resulting in a much tighter spread. And I've heard people complain about the spread on this mech, but really, I didn't have that issue. I'm not normally a huge fan of brawling mediums in PUGs, but man, this thing made it work for me.
All in all, I'm calling this the best Bushwacker variant. Not my usual style, but that's not a bad thing.
The energy hardpoints and heat gen quirks give this a clear niche, but I honestly wasn't a huge fan of it. You can run it with PPCs, full laser vomit, or hybrid without much issue, but this is the one that I definitely liked best:
The punch is pretty decent, but it's not great and it's not all that interesting. Definitely one of the bottom 2.
The hero is very similar to the archetype of hardpoints established by the BSW-X1 and -X2, and runs mostly the same builds. Almost every build you run on the High Roller can be done on those, sometimes done better, unless you're stacking energy weapons, in which case you can look at the BSW-P2. That being said, the quirks do provide opportunities to optimize certain builds, such as this one:
You can run the same exact loadout on 3 other variants, but I think that the High Roller's energy range and turn speed quirks make it the most appropriate choice. And it's just a straight-up solid build. Nothing to really write home about.
This variant is probably middle of the pack...don't feel obligated to buy it if you haven't yet.
I'm a big fan of this chassis for a few reasons. It's got a great nostalgiac factors, it has some unique builds for its weight, and I have generally had a good time with it. That being said, it's not the strongest mech in the game. The Hunchback IIC reigns supreme, and that is also a very fun mech.
I think we might see as many as two or three of the variants in Tier 2, but the bulk will be Tier 3 at best.
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!