MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries Review
MechWarrior 5 returns the franchise to a singleplayer/co-op experience for the first time since 2002. Developed by Pirahna Games, the team responsible for MechWarrior Online, the game is crafted by experienced hands.
If you’ve played any other MechWarriors (especially Online) you’ll feel right at home. Heavy, deliberate combat, endless customization and careful optimization, it’s all there. The campaign freshens up the formula by having you manage your own mercenary company trying to claim fame and fortune amidst an intergalactic war — a surprisingly difficult financial meta-game that feels right at home within the franchise.
Making Money Ain’t Easy
Being a mercenary is tough! MechWarrior 5 puts you in the middle of a gigantic star map with hundreds of systems to visit and lets you travel from one conflict zone to another in search of better contracts. Every action will cost you money and/or time, and as they say, time is money too. Want to travel to a new location? That will be twelve days and 100k c-bills. Oh, would you look at that, your upkeep for your mechs and pilots are due next week, better get onto those contracts! Also, remember to not take too much damage, because you wouldn’t want the repairs to cost you more than the payout, would you?
This brutal meta-game of managing your finances really makes the campaign work. You want to study your contracts and pick your battles wisely depending on which of your mechs are available and if they are equipped for the job. The negotiating of your contract is an interesting part as well. For example, you can negotiate for insurance if you are heading into a violent battle, while you may want to negotiate for better flat pay on easier contracts. Additionally, as you start taking more work with specific factions, your negotiating powers with them will grow as well, while negatively affecting your reputation with the factions they are fighting against. It’s all about balance and planning your moves ahead of time.
If you are new to the MechWarrior series, there will definitely be a bit of a learning curve at the start. The tank controls (your upper body turning independently of your legs), the intricate customizations, and the finance management might seem a bit intimidating. However, there’s nothing to be worried about: much of the systems work much more intuitively than they initially seem, and a few hours playing will get you rapidly acquainted.
I Wish Everything Was Just A Bit Better
Don’t get me wrong, MechWarrior 5 is a good game, it’s just not a great one. Aside from how the mercenary mechanics are handled, every part of the game left something to be desired.
The game’s visuals are decent, and while this game certainly isn’t a triple-A title, there is just a part of me that feels like MechWarrior — with all its simulation-ey elements — really could benefit from beautiful visuals. The gunfire, explosions, lasers, they are all functional, but never awe-inspiring. Being in the cockpit is cool, but the combination of mediocre textures inside and outside of it never gets me fully immersed.
The story is bare-bones, and in a game like this, it may not be too important, but I’m gonna talk about it anyways. The introduction has you lose your father, who was the original mercenary leader. And as much as the game tries to make you care about him, you really don’t, because we don’t know anything about the guy. The protagonist’s characterless voice acting really doesn’t help sell it either. It was impossible to remember that there was a revenge-driven story happening while I was jumping from contract to contract.
Finally, the A.I. and map designs are quite lacking. Basically, every A.I. plays the same. They never utilize cover, close their distance to you, and force you into a battle of walking circles around each other until one of you falls over. The maps, too, play pretty much the same with a different coat of paint. This, all in all, leads to the game feeling repetitive at times.
However, the core of the game is solid, and the financial dread of being a badass is something rarely explored in video games. I recommend playing MechWarrior 5 in co-op with a friend, as I found coordinating builds and strategies with someone really added a layer of fun and replayability to the contracts.
***PC review code provided by the publisher.***
- Solid gameplay
- Intricate customization
- Engaging financial meta-game
- Co-op support for the campaign
- Boring AI
- Uninspired Story
- Repetitive Maps