'MechWarrior 5' Doesn't Make Dreams Come True, But It Brings Them Back

Last month my dad asked me a question over dinner: “When did you first get into mechs?” The answer (like my relationship with these walking tanks) is complex, so I briefly gave him some timeline about shows I’d watched, a book or two, and moved the topic elsewhere. But in retrospect, one entry in this list that I should’ve paused for longer for was Activision’s MechWarrior 2: Mercenaries. When it came out in 1996, my experience with action games on PC were first person shooters that emphasized unmitigated speed and explosive excess. But as a simulation, Mercenaries made speed secondary to the much more risky momentum, and its branching narrative about politicking galactic powers (all delivered via atmosphere-building diary entries and news updates) gave nuance to the explosions.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/wxeenn/mechwarrior-5-mercenaries-review

Really disappointing to read that the missions are so reliant on just throwing lots and lots of enemies at you. Everybody likes come out on top against long odds, but I liked how in the HBS Battletech that would mean a fairly reasonable 2:1 type of situation (with turrets or vehicles scattered around), with maybe some of the most extreme battles ending up as 3:1 fights. Routinely facing 10:1 odds just doesn’t feel anything like Battletech, I’d expect that from like a Gundam game or something.

Also, I’d kill for just a properly structured goddamned linear campaign. Why is it you always have to be the grand high overlord of the mercenary unit, why can’t you just be like a lance commander or something?


I started the campaign and almost immediately felt like I wasted my money. Stuck with it a bit longer and it started to get better. I dunno if it’s just all the Battletech I played, but I was also really bummed I’m playing some blockhead dude named Mason. I guess I’m a little spoiled by the commander creation in Battletech.


Wait, seriously? I had been curious about this but I’m absolutely not going to play something that forces me to be some dude when Battletech let me make exactly the kind of person I wanted to be.

That’s so disappointing.

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This is, sadly, pretty much what I expected. I had hoped for more – and Austin thinking there’s promise there for something to be added or changed later that addresses his issues makes me hope it can still come – but I can’t say I’m surprised.

Given how lousy core story stuff is, I’m honestly not sure why they thought it was necessary to give voice to the main character at all. I’d honestly have prefered total blank slate to this boring 2009 gamedude.


I thought about getting this last night, but then I thought, “No, I need to wait for what will no doubt be a thorough and thoughtful take from Austin.” I’ll play it eventually, but I have enough going right now that it’ll become a game to get when it’s on sale.

I’ve been playing a lot of BATTLETECH lately to prepare for this and think that was a huge mistake. We’re really comparing two different genres. BATTLETECH definitely has a hold of the simulation, economy and social relationships; MW:5 feels great to repair a mech and take it into battle. I thought my character was a silent protagonist until half-way through the tutorial which disappointed me, and then doubley disappointed me when I walk up to 3D models of ship crew thinking I could actually talk to them.

I really feel this review, and have to remind myself I’m listening to crunchy guitars, shooting lasers, and avoiding long-range missiles in a decent mech game.

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That 10:1 odds includes helis and tanks. There are usually a lot more of these support kind of units than there are regular mechs.


Actually, that reminds me of something. When I was playing MW4 (during the period of time it was freely available), I gravitated towards mechs that had lots of direct fire capabilities, because I was terrible at aiming LRMs/SRMs.

Going to HBS Battletech, I wound up revisiting the mechs I would field and the equipment I’d mount, because now I had dice to do my aiming for me. :slight_smile:

So to Austin (and others coming from Battletech and/or MWO to MW5), given the format change, how have your preferences in mechs shifted (if at all)?

I will say that aiming early on is an issue for sure, especially fighting against fast lights. I played a ton of MWO so I’m sort of used to it, but it’s definitely a skill curve. LRM’s are relatively straight forward to use in both MWO and MW5. A change from MWO for me is that I find PPC’s easier to track and aim so far.

Sure, there’s barely a story to speak of, the protagonist is Bulk McLargeHuge, and all I can think about when one of the NPCs talks is that he probably never asked for this, but…

I did get my HOTAS working. And that’s something.

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For some reason, this very flawed stupid game has absolutely taken my heart. I’ve been obsessively flying around, grabbing mechs, and running my little merc business.

I have a number of quibbles, but I really can’t wait for the spawn fixes. Between the radar, lack of callouts, and the spawn behavior, I still get a little steamed at some missions that have mechs dropping on top of my lance. That stuff needs a fix, big time.

Looking forward, I really hope they can change co-op to allow players to bring their own mechs into missions individually.

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