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6 Ways MechWarrior 5 Mercenaries Is Our Dream Mech Game | MechWarrior 5 Review (PC)

6 Ways MechWarrior 5 Mercenaries Is Our Dream Mech Game | MechWarrior 5 Review (PC)


Confession time: I’ve not played a MechWarrior
game before MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries, but I’ve always seen the appeal. There’s a
romanticised cool-factor about being a mech pilot, gearing up and popping yourself in
the cockpit of a giant, stompy, metallic death machine. In a vast majority of ways, MechWarrior
5 delivers on that feeling. I love it to pieces; lots and lots of tiny little shrapnel pieces. MechWarrior 5 is the first single-player MechWarrior
game since 2001, and I’ve played it for the last few days to get an idea of how it
fares. It’s a big game, so I haven’t yet reached its conclusion, but I’ve played
enough to know that I dig it, and that I think you might dig it too. So, let’s get into
the nitty gritty of this stompy, explosive, financial nightmare of a future mech pilot
simulation, and why I think it’s brilliant. If you want to decorate your BattleMech cockpit
with some fancy posters but don’t have any blu tack or tape, then the magnetic mounting
systems on Displates will come in really handy. Displate offers over half a million fancy
metal posters, and we’re partnered with them, so we have our own store page on their
site with little collections of our favourites. To check it out, click the link in the description.
Now, let’s get to the mechs. Nothing better captures the power fantasy
of owning a mech than your disdain for walls. In MechWarrior 5 there are no walls: just
doors waiting to happen. While a lot of the terrain you’ll be bounding through is quite
open, or at the very least mountainous, but some battlefields have blobs of cityscape
dotted about the place. You, like I, will be absolutely elated, then, to hear that you
can go to full throttle and just f**king ram your way through the buildings. Of course, your ability to do this hinges
on the size of the mech you’re in, how much armour you have equipped, and whether or not
you’re meant to be protecting the buildings that you want to bulldoze into. That last
part is optional though, at least according to your friendly AI mech pilots. And hey,
if they didn’t want you crushing a block of flats into the ground, they wouldn’t
have named them ‘talls’ instead of ‘flats’. For me, this is a brilliant constant reminder
that my body has weight, heft and reinforced armour plating. Particularly in games that
lean towards simulation, you can get used to an untimely and explosive death if you
so much as bump a wall–which, if you’ve taken enough damage, can still happen in MechWarrior
5. But it isn’t hairpin–so it’s nice to see that it doesn’t happen here, and
it only goes to further immerse you in the giant stompy robot experience. And the simulation point is an important distinction
to make: MechWarrior 5 is a mech sim game, rather than an arcade-y experience. You’re
meant to feel like you’re in control of a big hulking block of steel and ordinance,
and the game tries to convey that the moment you lay your hands on the keyboard. Okay,
so my Corsair K68 isn’t quite a Steel Battalion controller, but it does glow red which is
sort of futuristic? Anyway: your mech’s torso and legs operate
independently of each other, allowing you to walk in one direction while aiming in another.
Your throttle can be controlled in two ways on mouse and keyboard, stomping around with
WASD and using the numpad to pick specific throttle increments. You also customise weapon
groupings: you can set all your lasers to weapon group 2 which’ll fire them off when
you click the right mouse button, all your missiles to group 3 which get sent off when
you press the 3 key. MechWarrior 5 has smart optional accessibility
features to make things less overwhelming, though. One option I activated pulls back
on the throttle when I let go of the W or S keys, making the game control in a more
standard FPS fashion. Another displayed weapon group cooldown rates around my reticle, allowing
me to focus on my aim without having to look away to check if I could fire, and when in
the outfitting menu, there’s a “Max Armour” button that lets you fill up your mech’s
armour slots if you still have space for it, without having to meticulously add armour
here or take heat sinks off there in order to get your weight capacity spot-on. A function I found myself using a lot was
the auto-orienting. If you press the F key when your legs and your torso are facing different
directions, your legs will rotate to line up to where you’re looking. Vice versa if
you press the C key. This means you get all of the versatility of separate torso and leg
movements, while making it easy to line everything back up if you’re feeling disoriented or
don’t necessarily need to make use of these separate movements at any given moment in
time. Let’s zooming out from your mech for a second.
If the name MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries didn’t give it away, MechWarrior 5 is all about running
your own Mech Mercenary company in space. There aren’t any half-measures here, either.
You traverse across the Inner Sphere, a region of space colonised by humanity, who have since
split up into different warring factions vying for control. Each planet you stop by has different
contracts for you to snap up and complete, but there’s an interesting negotiation mechanic
that lets you use your growing reputation to alter the terms of the contracts. Each contract will have a base pay and a bonus
pay that’ll get given to you if you meet certain extra goals on your mission. You can,
if you want to and have the points for it, put negotiation points into this pay in order
to get a higher paycheck from completing the job. You can also put these points into Salvage
shares, which determine how much post-mission loot you can nab, and into insurance, which
will pay out a certain amount of “C-Bills” (just call them credits, you’re allowed
to call them credits) if your Mechs take damage. This all makes you feel like a mercenary,
a contract soldier. Bartering with your clients is what being a mercenary as opposed to a
military person is all about. It also allows you to tailor your rewards depending on what
you need the most: if you’re short on cash, pump those bad boys into getting a bigger
cut. If you want new weapons, mods, or even mechs, then max out that salvage cut. If you’re
bad at the game and keep getting your mechs blown up, blow all your points on insurance.
Or, pick and choose a mixture of all three. With all that financial fine-tuning comes
the vast economic system it’s attached to: everything in the dystopian, high-tech future
costs a f**kload of money. You start the campaign with 2 million C-Bills, which feels like rather
a lot, until you realise that most of the cheaper, beaten-up mechs you can buy cost
at least a million, repairs to your mechs can rack up hundreds of thousands of C-Bills,
single jumps between planets set you back 50 thousand C-Bills a pop, and you have to
pay quite hefty salaries to your mech pilot staff on a regular basis. Hell, I even went into debt one time, operating
at a deficit of -90 thousand. I couldn’t buy any more ammo on the marketplace, couldn’t
repair some mechs in need of repairs, and the only way I could do all of this was by
roughing it doing a contract on the planet I happened to be orbiting. I felt stressed
and anxious about money constantly, because every decision you make in MechWarrior 5 has
the risk of putting you into massive amounts of debt. You find yourself thinking very carefully
about where you go, what you buy, and even what battlefield strategies you adopt. Sure,
you can negotiate a contract to have insurance pay, but what if you sustain enough damage
that the insurance only covers part of the damages? If your arm gets blown off, you’ll
not only need to repair the arm, but replace the gun attached to it, and the heatsinks
and ammo you stored in it, and that can be a 600k spend right there. As someone who worked freelance as a student
for four years prior to joining the RPS video team, I can say with certainty that MechWarrior
5 captures the experience perfectly. You have a lot of freedom in what you can do, so long
as what you’re doing is done constantly and without relief. That might not be your
jam, but if what you’re looking for in a mech game is a painfully accurate simulation
of being one, where you get a depressing prang of relief when one of your pilots dies and
you don’t have to pay their salary anymore, then MechWarrior 5 gives you that in troves. What I didn’t expect to find in my time
playing MechWarrior 5 is just how diverse and distinct each mech you can pilot in the
game can be. I assumed you’d have a few mechs with different variations, that you’d
stomp around in these big boys and that the variety would come from how you customise
them. I was wrong, it turns out! There are little mechs, medium mechs, and big mechs,
and even within those size categories, there are loads of different mechs for different
situations. The Javelin, your first light mech, is incredibly
nimble, and has jumpjets that catapult you into the air and let you traverse over rocky
terrain and buildings with ease. But, the only weapons you can equip on it are light
arms, like lasers and machine guns. These are also equipped to your torso rather than
on your arms, which limits the range of effectiveness. You’re capped to how high up you can aim,
for example. You’re also weak as s**t, and will get obliterated if you’re not running
about the place and dipping in and out of combat, or feverishly circling enemy mechs. The Centurion on the other hand, the mech
you use in the tutorial and regain access to once it’s been repaired, is a medium
weight mech. It doesn’t move as fast and it doesn’t have slots for jumpjets so you
you have to stomp about everywhere, but you have more armour and can take more of a beating,
and you have a weapon arm, allowing you greater freedom of aiming. The slot on the arm is
also for bigger and better weapons, too. You do, however, become a bigger and easier target. MechWarrior 5, on the whole, balances its
mechs really well. Every mech is as effective as another mech, but only if you use them
correctly. There is one mech, though… …say hello to the Urbanmech. It’s an old,
mass-produced model intended for urban warfare in large-scale cityscapes. In order to make
it effective for this, it’s small to make using buildings as cover easier, and has a
360 degree rotation of the torso. It’s also really f**king slow. Slower than some mechs
much bigger than it. So slow, in fact, that if you look around your cockpit, the speedometer
has post-it notes on it that label either end of the meter as “slow” and “less
slow.” While piloting the Urbanmech, you trundle
along at a snail’s pace, and while that full rotation is incredibly useful for getting
a good aim on targets, you can only equip it with the lightest kind of ordinance. I
went for one laser and one flamethrower because I thought that was cool, but what this meant
was that my long-range weapon was weak as hell, and my other weapon was so short range
that I needed to be stood right next to something to do any real damage. I tried using the Urbanmech on a defense contract,
trying to keep some raiders off of a small city colony. All of the enemy mechs were incredibly
fast. By the time I crawled to where one of them was last spotted, they were on the other
side of the map to me. It was an absolute s**tshow, and I absolutely adored every second
of it. Why? Because this was a mech that told an incredibly good story. Just look at this cockpit! How slap-dash it
is! And look at how long it takes for the legs to complete a full rotation! It’s awful!
But the result is that the Urbanmech oozes character, so much so that I think it’s
absolutely adorable. The Urbanmech is a bad mech, but it’s a bad mech designed in a
deliberate and effective way. Would I recommend using it if you pick up MechWarrior 5? If
you want to be effective, absolutely the f**k not, but if you want to have a really funny
time, absolutely the f**k yes. MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries has a couple of
minor issues. Every time you return to your mission hub, you have to climb a flight of
stairs in order to access your control room and pick your next contract. When you’re
picking what salvage you want to nab from a mission, there’s no overlay that tells
you what the specifications of the items are, or if they’re compatible with anything else
that you have. The loading times take ages, with one so long I had time to go piss and
make a coffee before I was dropped into the battlefield. None of this really bothers me that much,
though. Because MechWarrior 5 is that good. It’s a weighty stompy giant robot extravaganza
where you have a lot but not too much to think about, a lot of control without feeling overwhelmed,
a lot of personalisation, and a wealth of options available to you. Fights feel tense
because you don’t know where the money you’ll need to repair your gear will come from, negotiating
contracts can feel strategic depending on your own wants and needs, and it’s possible
to spec out a gargantuan mech with weapons so powerful that firing them once can overheat
you so much that you immediately enter emergency shutdown. MechWarrior 5 is a proper good mech pilot
simulator that’s nitty-gritty enough for those familiar with games like it, and accessible
enough for newbies to find their footing and have a good time. It’s one of my favourite
games this year, and if you crave an authentic BattleMech experience, then you need to buy
this game. If you crave shiny metal posters with magnetic
mounting systems, then you need to buy yourself some Displates too. Displate are a metal poster
storefront with over half a million designs, each with a magnetic mounting system that
means you don’t need to rivet them into the chassis of your BattleMech. We’re partnered
with them and have our own store on their site where you can take a look at collections
of mine, Alice’s, and Matthew’s favourites. If you buy any of those ones, then a bit of
the money will come back to us, and I can use it all to pay off my space debt. They
also plant ten trees for every poster sold, which is good, because I’ve totalled a bunch
by accident. If you found these MechWarrior 5 impressions
helpful and entertaining, then please do like the video and subscribe to Rock Paper Shotgun
for more like it. If you have any questions about MechWarrior 5, then please do leave
them in the comments and I’ll answer them as best I can. Cheers very much for watching,
and hopefully see you again soon!


Reader Comments

  1. The reason why the in-universe currency is called C-Bills is because they stand for Comstar Bills. Comstar is the neutral organization that controls interstellar communication and they also setup their own standard galaxy wide currency. That's because each C-Bill represents 1 millisecond of use on the HPG network, thus ensuring that the C-Bill is the strongest currency in the setting. Each state in the BattleTech universe issues its own currency as well but if you'r a mercenary jumping between each state looking for work C-Bills are the way to go.

  2. Somebody needs to make a Super Robot Simulator in this fashion, I would love to see how to pilot a Mazinger Z feels like.

  3. Good lord… the Urbie… You have described it beautifully. The armed trash can, good for storing its own blown up parts… Urbie for life. Urbie forever.

  4. Hmm… would have liked it reviewed by an actual Mechwarrior veteran so we could get a good comparison but good job all the same.

  5. Dream Mech game without VR support? Dream Mech game has to have VR support, there is no way around it.

    If this gets VR suuport it immediately becomes best VR game yet….

  6. I'm loving it so far. Like the prior mechwarrior games with a lot of mercenaries aspects and some changes to it that make it differnt and neat without being completly differnt.

  7. Loading screens are slow? I barely see them. Not been slow at all. Also the steps up to the briefing area is annoyingly thin. However you can just press Tab and too everything from there. It’s only if you have to talk to characters that means you need to move.

  8. A little disappointed that the reviewer doesn't have any experience with the series. Would've liked to hear how the mechbay customization compares to even something recent like MWO. Probably a good review for people completely new to the series but I mean this is a real niche fanbase here guys.

  9. Out of curiosity do we know if it works with peripherals such as a joystick/flight stick etc 🤔 awesome points by the way.

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