MechWarrior Online announced

Free-to-play PC battler due late 2012.

MechWarrior Online, the first full entry in the combat series for nearly 10 years, has just been announced for PC.

Developed by Piranha Games and published by Infinite Games, it's a free-to-play team-based take on the long-running franchise due out in the second half of 2012.

Set in the year 3049, you'll take control of a BattleMech during the early stages of a massive interstellar war. The action will play out in real time.

You'll either join or establish a Mercenary Corp, pledge allegiance to one of the game's five opposing factions and then scrap it out for control of planets within the Inner Sphere.

Piranha is promising plenty of gameplay options, including Conquest and VS modes, along with the standard array of character customisation and upgrade systems.

Visually we've not got much to go on yet, other than the game's official site.

"We're excited to lead the MechWarrior franchise online for fans of the series," commented Piranha co-founder Russ Bullock.

"We're proud to partner with Infinite Game Publishing, and are thankful for the fans of the MechWarrior series that have been so patient for the next MechWarrior game to arrive.

"Infinite Game is a partner who understands both the world of games publishing and the crucial technical needs of today's AAA online gaming experiences. Together we are bringing fans epic next-generation Mech combat online in 2012."

The reboot has been a long time coming. The last proper installment in the series was MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries in 2002.

Piranha first announced plans to tackle the franchise back in 2009, though little has been heard since. The Canadian developer's CV includes work on Duke Nukem Forever's multiplayer, as well as PSP ports of Need for Speed: Undercover and Medal of Honor: Heroes 2.

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