Is Mechwarrior 5: Mercenaries Good?

A Locust Staying Mobile to Survive.


Mechwarrior 5: Mercenaries Launch Trailer

Gamers love giant robots. The 90's saw the rise of mecha games like Metal Storm, Cybernator and of course, Armored Core.  But none of these are, arguably, more famous than Mechwarrior, a battle simulation game set in the Battletech universe.  

I still remember playing the game back in 1989. Despite its untextured polygon graphics, Mechwarrior gave me my first real taste of what it was like to be a financially challenged mercenary pilot with my own team of  laser-spewing, missile-firing juggernauts.  

Through the years, Mechwarrior has spawned several sequel games. The latest iteration, Mechwarrior 5, was released back in 2019.  Fast forward to 2023 and you'll see that Mechwarrior 5 has 4 DLCs under its belt, with another DLC coming at the end of September this year.  Additionally, Mechwarrior 5 has an 83% positive rating on Steam as of July.  Proof that big shooty stompy robots rock, if you ask me.  



The Victor assault 'mech showing us why it's named the Victor.

You, the player, starts out as the son of a man who leads a mercenary company known as Nik's Cavaliers.  In the first few minutes after the tutorial, both you and your father are set upon by an unknown group of battlemechs and your dear ole dad sacrifices himself so you can escape with the rest of his crew.  Poor bugger.  

Simply put, Mechwarrior 5's single player campaign is a story about revenge and discovery.  While this might appeal to some, I found it average at best.  I say this because Mechwarrior 4's storyline also had your father figure die on you.  The only difference is that instead of your dad, the one that dies in MW4 is your uncle who took you in after your family died.   Hopefully, they'll have a better story for Mechwarrior 6.  Maybe they’ll have your dog die instead... Who knows?



MW5's Tactical officer, Ryana Campbell and Chief Tech, Fahad Arazad

Sadly, another letdown is that the characters in Mechwarrior 5 are far from interesting.  Their appearance, dialogue and gestures are so mediocre that you'd forget them as soon as you stopped playing.  

But if it's any consolation, some character designs, voice over and dialogue were done better in some DLCs, particularly in the Legend of the Kestrel Lancers DLC. 



Mechwarrior 5: Mercenaries Gameplay Trailer

Fortunately, not everything is bad news.  If any of you are like me, then you'd know that Mechwarrior's gameplay is the one defining factor that makes it good. 

It’s never enough to go around blowing things up in Mechwarrior 5.  Instead, you’ll want to do it in style.  With the ability to paint and customize your trusty battlemechs, you can outfit your machine with weapons of your choice… all while sporting pink urban camo or whatever color or pattern you like.  

Customizing your weapon loadout requires a bit of planning since you will need to consider weight and space restrictions.  Plus, any weapon you use generates heat for your 'mech.  Too much heat and your 'mech will shut down leaving you a sitting duck until your systems are cool enough to boot back up.  

Needless to say, customizing your 'mechs will probably be what most of you will spend your time on.  Need a 'mech that can rain holy hell on your enemies from a distance?  Equip long range missiles on your ‘mech.  Need to blow your enemy’s face off while being able to soak up damage?  Equip your ‘mech with the biggest autocannon you have and slap on armor like there’s no tomorrow.

With the addition of the Call to Arms DLC, melee weapons are now available.  Let me tell you, nothing feels more satisfying than being able to bludgeon another battlemech's ugly mug in.  But don't get carried away, though.  Because just like in real life, you will have to manage your resources, time and money.   Hey, nobody said leading a mercenary company in the 31st century was easy, right? 



Focus on one part at a time to bring down enemies faster.

Taking a page out of Mechwarrior Online, Mechwarrior 5 (which is developed by the same company, by the way) lets you play with other people in real time.  And no, I'm not talking about playing via LAN or a co-op mod.  

Mechwarrior 5 has an actual cross platform multiplayer feature that lets you invite people for a gaming session through the internet.  This is especially useful for those pesky defense missions where you don't want your brainless A.I. squad members destroying the very thing you're being paid to protect.  



Proper heat management could spell the difference between life and death.

Mechwarrior 5, for the most part, is a pretty balanced game that is highly dependent on your skills and play style.  Each weapon has their own strengths and weaknesses.  

Take, for example, the classic autocannon.  The smallest and lightest version, the AC2, has the longest range out of all the autocannons in MW5, but it has the lowest damage out of all them, as well.  Conversely, the AC20 deals a crap ton of damage but you literally need to be in your enemy’s personal space to use it properly.  

Lasers also have their own balance restrictions.  As a general rule but with some exceptions, the heavier the laser, the more damage it deals.  The downside is that these weapons generate more heat for your mech than a smaller, lighter laser would. 



Run, Forrest, run!!!

Mechwarrior 5 is by far, the most visually stunning game in the whole MW franchise.  Understandable since it is the latest iteration of the Mechwarrior series.  

MW5 is a huge leap from the 2002 MW4 game, not only because it’s developed in Unreal Engine 4, has better destructible environments and more diverse biomes,  but it also does the little things better.

Shrapnel is visible.  Lasers produce a flame trail on the ground.  Trees and vegetation get incinerated when hit by laserfire.  Bits and pieces fly off when tanks explode.  VTOLs do a smoking tailspin before crashing into the ground in a ball of bright yellow fire.  Most walls and buildings crumble every time your 'mech walks through them, giving you some sort of Godzilla vibe.  'Mechs burst into a mushroom cloud of blue fusion-powered flame once you gut them.  You can even see damage done on your beloved ‘mech when it gets hit by enemy fire, with sparks flying around.  

While some of these were done in previous MW games, these little details are rendered better in MW5. 



Call to Arms Launch Trailer

Mechwarrior 5 has no shortage of new downloadable content.  Despite now being almost 4 years old, MW5 already has 4 DLCs out. 

DLC 1, Heroes of the Inner Sphere, adds more 'mech variants to play with, more biomes and missions.  

DLC 2, Legend of the Kestrel Lancers, adds a new story-driven campaign about joining the Kestrel Lancers, new battlemechs and melee combat.  

DLC 3, Call to Arms, adds new 'mechs and melee weapons.  Yes, we can now club our enemies to death instead of just simply punching them to death.  

DLC 4, Rise of Rasalhague, gives us a new quest line involving the Rasalhague Republic's fight for freedom, along with a new 'mech chassis and several variants of older 'mechs.  

If things go according to plan this year, we'll be seeing a 5th DLC before September ends.  Titled Dragon's Gamit, this DLC will get us involved in a new story campaign with House Kurita.  Dragon's Gambit also brings us new 'mechs we can play with. 



The hangar is where your 'Mechs spend most of their days when not out in the field killing stuff.

With only the base game, Mechwarrior 5 didn't offer much incentive for me to keep playing for more than 2 months.  The excitement waned once I got the whole gameplay down.  You travel to other planets, do missions, repair, upgrade, repeat.  It was basically the same thing over and over again.  

The lack of variety of missions and the limited biomes certainly didn't help.  It felt like I was taking missions in hot, volcanic biomes 4 times out of 10.  I had to play the game with mods just to make it interesting.  

However, things began to change with the addition of the DLCs.  More areas were added, along with more battlemechs and missions.  We even got infantry.  I often found myself wasting hours collecting different 'mechs and trying various weapon loadouts on them.  It was, for the most part, enough to stave off  boredom and burnout. 



Mechwarrior 5's Audio is certainly not the best, nor is it perfect.  It just gets the job done. No more, no less.  However, there have been issues where players found themselves playing without any background music despite having the BGM option turned on.  

There also seems to be an audio bug that makes the same music track play over itself.  Some players have stated this bug became more prevalent with DLC 3.   However, I found that restarting the game solves this problem. 



Personally, I do find Mechwarrior 5 single player missions enjoyable enough, especially with the addition of the DLCs.  The added variety of 'mechs, missions, stories and the quality of life optimizations left me wanting more.  

Besides, seeing your customized battlemech kicking butt on the battlefield is pretty satisfying.  

I urge people to try MW5 in multiplayer, too.  Having a squad of 4 trigger happy friends is pretty cool since you don’t have to keep giving them orders every 10 seconds or so, unless they happen to be dumb as rocks. 



Mechwarrior 5 is a love letter to all futuristic robot inspired shooting simulation games.  MW5 is nowhere near perfect, mind you.  It has its fair share of bugs.  But the game more than makes up for it with its active community, addicting gameplay, ‘mech customization, online multiplayer feature and a generous amount of DLCs.  

It’s also worth mentioning that despite not being an official part of Mechwarrior 5, MW5’s modding community is very active and churns out new gameplay and ‘mech mods on a regular basis.  

TL;DR  For those of you who love an immersive mecha shooting sim, I strongly suggest getting Mechwarrior 5 and at least 2 of its DLCs.  You definitely won’t regret it.  I sure didn’t. 






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As the lone practitioner of the ancient martial art of Kung Pao Chicken, Jonathan trains daily for his inevitable fight with Son Goku.
Gamer Since: 1991
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: Genshin Impact
Top 3 Favorite Games:The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Fallout: New Vegas, Kingdom Come Deliverance

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