Straight out of the gates, yes, “MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries” (which is the latest addition in the long-standing “MechWarrior” franchise) does indeed hold up on its own well enough to merit extensive play and its launch pricing.
Right off the bat. No, “MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries” is NOT a simple port of “MechWarrior Online” to a single-player game. Furthermore, “MechWarrior 5” features several much-requested improvements.
However, even though the game is worth a buy, there are still some disappointing misses that are worth mentioning.
With that said, if you have played “BattleTech” (the ‘mech strategy game by Harebrained Schemes), this story is uninspiringly similar to it. It’s a typical revenge arc with a sinister evil “mastermind” that you eventually run into and try to defeat.
Well…It bears mentioning that there are no special “storytelling” mechanics in this title, meaning that aspect of exploration and deep-diving into lore through gameplay is missing.
And If you’re wondering why this bears mentioning – the “BattleTech” franchise was born out of novels and stories. Although the “MechWarrior” franchise is not traditionally a bastion of lore, it sometimes used the events in “BattleTech” lore to move its story and involve the player in the wider universe.
So if you were a fan expecting some innovation, this game did not innovate in the lore direction for you…
Furthermore, sadly enough, it seems that the term “mercenaries” continues being synonymous with “loreless”. MW5 continues the trend of casting the player character as a generic merc commander that’s only as important as their own isolated story.
As for the gameplay itself – You’re able to walk around outside your mech only has no major gameplay ramifications. There’s no elemental suit, no exploration, no nothing. It’s just novelty and perhaps a cut feature that might (hopefully) resurface in the shape of DLC updates/expansions.
Being a competent pilot is the main part of the game, and it’s pretty challenging for several reasons. ‘Mechs are hard to control, namely the lack of mouse stabilization when you’re trying to turn fast and shoot.
For example, rotating your legs affects your aim adversely. In other words, don’t bother trying to be an ace pilot that runs circles around your enemies – it’s simply not part of the game mechanics.
However, once you get the timing and controls down, it is an incredibly rewarding experience as you burn down your enemies in a systematic fashion.
A huge part of the gameplay loop involves you modifying your mechs, finding the weapons you want and hunting down pilots. The third part is actually one of the more frustrating things to try and deal with through the campaign.
Other than that, you can salvage most generic enemy mechs and their weapons you run into with a few exceptions. First, you need Salvage shares, then you’ll need to either destroy the legs or the head of the ‘mech you want to salvage.
Salvage shares are negotiated during pre-mission, and mechs require a substantial amount of salvage shares to obtain depending on their tonnage. Expect to salvage only 1 ‘mech each mission, plus a load of random weapons.
Note that I said generic because in certain mission types, some enemies are not salvageable at all no matter what you do.
It’s difficult but possible to play ‘mech collector in this game – you’ll be severely hampered in terms of economy. The main way you make big C-bills quickly in MW5 is by selling your spare ‘mechs once you don’t use them anymore.
So, why do you need to hunt pilots then? Because each pilot has a natural cap – Piranha’s way of telling you that each pilot has a different aptitude, I guess. What this does, sadly, is that it destroys any form of emergent storytelling.
Instead, you have to roleplay a CEO of a late-stage capitalistic merc company, where pilot loyalty is rewarded with a permanent shore leave and new, inexperienced pilots are a constant.
So you’ll have to fire pilots left and right in order to progress through the story (save for a few high-cap pilots you obtain though the storyline) or you’ll hit a brick wall!
The lack of difficulty options might present a problem for people wanting to progress through the story (the previous “MechWarrior” titles had an invincibility option, but MW5 does not). You aslo got no aim assist as well, so you’re going to have to either stand still to hit targets more reliably or simply get up close and personal.
“Mechwarrior 5: Mercenaries” has some glaring weaknesses in terms of story and meta-gameplay for new players and even long-time fans – but it’s a competent ‘mechwarrior simulator, strictly speaking.
The frustrations of operating a huge, bulky machine are here for you to struggle within glorious modern-day graphics. So don’t expect impressive storytelling – as the game wasn’t designed for it.
So all in all, “MechWarrior 5” is a time-demanding but action-intense Battle-Mecha game that has a lot to offer. However, since the game also suffers from quite a few downsides, you might want to weigh all of that in before picking this game up.
+ Challenging ‘Mech simulation
+ Amazing soundtrack and sound design
+ Very few gameplay bugs, if any.
– Game is demanding on systems due to how crowded later missions can get.
– The narrative is not engaging
– Meta-gameplay breaks any form of emergent storytelling
– Having to cycle between warzones and industrial areas breaks pacing constantly
Sound and music: 5/5
Replay value: 2/5
MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries is worth its weight in terms of gameplay, but not much else. So if you’re a lore buff, then MW5 misses on all counts. So if you wanted “MechWarrior 4″ but with a modern look to it, then this is definitely it.
Other than that, you should get this game because you know you’ll be able to play an unlimited number of randomised missions and scenarios while being able to shout at your friends in co-op!
Title: MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries
Developer: Piranha Games
Genre: Mecha action/Simulator
Resolution: Highest possible on PC
Release date: 2019-12-10
Spent time: +31 hours
Average grade internationally: N/A
PEGI age rating: 12+
Price: 41 Euros via the Epic Games store
Robin Ek – Editor
The product was provided by Piranha Games, and this game was reviewed on a press build of MechWarrior 5 Mercenaries.
The Gaming Ground
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