PC Gaming

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The MechWarrior series first came to prominence in the 90s that was set in the BattleTech universe with its formidable mechs and deadly weapons. Over the years, the series gained quite the following with MechWarrior 2, 3 and 4 and MechWarrior Online titles on numerous platforms. Following its timed exclusive release on the Epic Games Store in December 2019, MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries is finally available on Steam, GOG, Xbox One and the Xbox Series X/S. 

The game casts you into the shoes of Commander Mason in charge of a mercenary unit, Nik’s Cavaliers, with their home base on the Federated Suns world of De Berry. These events occur in the year 3015 and in the final decade of the Third Succession War leading up to the Clan Invasion in 3049. During a standard training mission with Mason’s father, Nikolai Mason, they fall victim to a surprise attack by an unknown mercenary group that demands classified and confidential information. Refusing to cooperate with their interrogators, Nikolai orders his son to leave immediately via a dropship and ultimately sacrifices his life to secure his escape. Commander Mason enlists the help of Sebastian Spears, a trusted agent of Interstellar Expeditions to quickly go incognito, relocate his remaining forces off the grid and seek answers to avenge his father’s death.   

 

Gameplay incorporates tactical elements as you carefully pilot the battlemech in your immediate surroundings. Maneuvers need to be executed in timely fashion with the torso and legs operating independently with their own unique controls. Acceleration is handled independently with the ability to control how fast the mech moves in a specific direction while firing its primary weapons. A watchful eye is needed to reduce the likelihood of overheating and critical system shutdowns that make your mech extremely vulnerable on the battlefield. Those looking for a guns blazing arcade title might be disappointed as the game is closer to that of a strategic simulator.   

As you engage enemy mechs in combat, you’ll come across important decisions with respect to salvaging machine parts. Depending on how you took down your foes, replacement parts could be harvested if the damage is not too severe. Limited funds and the option to upgrade guns, repair gear or acquire new mechs entirely lies solely in your hands amidst the grave realities of war. In the absence of human companions, the A.I will accompany your battlemech as you complete mission objectives with the option of pursuing side quests along the way. Prior to each mission, negotiation events may occur to grant opportunities to salvage more items or acquire larger C-Bill rewards where possible.

 

Campaign missions manage to keep you on your toes as the terrain ranges from relatively peaceful to outright chaotic with lasers and bullets flying from every direction. The A.I. allies and opponents won’t always have a firm grasp of their surroundings as smashing into buildings or getting impeded by obstacles is a common occurrence. Having a good idea of the range and trajectory of your weapons will aid your efforts in battle, especially with one on one mech assaults. The navigation map is your handy tool to navigate, identify and destroy remaining enemy units hidden from sight in the midst of intense gunfire battles. Trial and error will be expected as figuring out the best way to engage, defend and retreat while accomplishing your objectives is paramount to successful outcomes. 

Within the Instant Action mode are specific scenarios that allow you to jump in and experience most of what the game has to offer instantly. It will certainly appeal to players looking for a break from campaign mode as well those eager to enjoy quick bursts of gameplay with far less restrictions. Moreover, the Heroes of the Inner Sphere DLC is available for purchase that opens up the career mode for a full fledge mercenary management experience. You can explore new warzones, missions, quests and follow your chosen path from War Dog to Treasure Hunter that spans the full breadth of the Inner Sphere. Starting a career from scratch or importing saved data from the Campaign mode is entirely at your disposal with seven new heroes, seven new mech’ chassis, 50 new variants, new Extra Solar Moon Biome, new procedure mission type, Beachhead, as well as new weapons and equipment.

 

The narrative is somewhat lacking with the characters and dialogue being mostly forgettable in the grand scheme. Thankfully, it does not detract from the overall appeal of the game as the combat is where the game shines with its destructible environments, special effects and mech combat warfare. Though the story is somewhat predictable, there is plenty to do and salvage with rare weapons, equipment and mechs waiting to be discovered. The pacing is slow and steady but gradually picks up as you enlist more allies, progress through the campaign and unlock further customization options. 

MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries is a fitting return to the MechWarrior series with its deep customization options and engaging gameplay. Though the narrative leaves something to be desired, the game is faithful to the series’ roots with tons of campaigns and missions to keep players busy for many hours. It initially starts off slow but gradually picks up the pace with plenty to offer in its Instant Action mode and spectacular Heroes of the Inner Sphere DLC. Those looking for a satisfying and adrenaline-filled mech combat simulator will find that and more with MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries.

 

PROS (+): Engaging Gameplay, Deep Customization, High Replay Value

CONS (-): Lacking Narrative, Steep Difficulty

 

SCORE – 8.0/10 

This review is based on a digital copy of MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries on Steam provided by the publisher.

 

 

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