MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries Review
Disclaimer: This game is not controller friendly. In fact, the control scheme has a steep learning curve and as such, it is not recommended for casual players. I personally did not enjoy MechWarrior 5 as it clashes with the kind of gameplay I enjoy however I am writing this in the mindset of someone who would appreciate this sophisticated and multitasking rewarding style of gameplay. Make no mistake a lot of love and effort was put into this game and it has it’s demographic and this review will reflect that in whole. Doing anything less would be a disservice.
The year is 3015. Mankind has breached space and has colonized its vast reaches. During this time a war has broken out. five factions govern the space colonies and use mercenaries to do their dirty work. As a young recruit; you have started your mech training. How will you etch your name in history? only time will tell…
MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries (MW5) is the latest offering in the long-standing series of mech simulation games. developed and published by Piranha Games on November 10th, 2019. Is the lineage of this juggernaut series served well by this sequel or has its former glory lost its lustre? Read on and find out as we delve into the world of MW5.
MW5 isn’t the most beautiful game in the world but it gets the job done. By no means is that a statement that gives an impression of poor quality. Far from it. While the environment itself is nothing to write home about, the detail of the mechs themselves are second to none. In fact, the difference between the two is a little jarring, making the mechs look somewhat out of place when using drone view. Using the first person mode will remove that barrier of immersion and reward you with well… Immersion. Character portraits are also clean and unique, if not a little on the boring side. Then again, you won’t spend a lot of time looking at anything that isn’t terrain or other mechs, so it’s nothing detrimental to the experience. Environmental effects, like rain, were a nice touch and welcome addition as well. Overall; while the graphics, for the most part, aren’t breaking any new ground, the mechs themselves stand out enough to make up for it.
Music and Sound Design:
MW5 is a mixed bag here as well. Voice acting is lacking to put it nicely. Right from the beginning, you are met with a grating voice narrating the history of the world. after that; it’s a toss-up between acting that is passable to downright atrocious. luckily; the voices you hear the most are perfectly average and inoffensive to the ears. Music is there to fill the void but it too fails its mark at being anything more than forgettable. It does its job at helping in developing mood though so while not something to write home about, it gets the job done. Sound design however… That is a treat for the ears. Wear headphones for this because you will feel every gunshot, explosion and step you take on the battlefield. This feels authentic and is one of the pillars of love and care the devs put into ensuring this was a proper mech simulation game.
Overall MW5 does extremely well where it needs to in regards to the auditory experience but more care should have been put into voice acting to really make this stand out and dissolve the curtain between simulation and reality.
Story and Gameplay:
Normally I like to separate the story from the gameplay but for MW5 it felt like a small enough footnote that there wouldn’t be a need to truly expand on the story aspect of this game. It’s not bad by any means but it’s also not winning any awards. It works well to deliver the gameplay in a cohesive, organic matter and as such compliments it but alone I would consider it nothing noteworthy.
Much like other aspects of MW5 however, the gameplay itself shows the dedication the developer had in ensuring the game really shined where it mattered. However, with that said, I want to make one thing clear: THIS IS NOT FOR THOSE WHO AVOID KEYBOARD AND MOUSE GAMING! Unless you have a thrust master or similar set up you will not have fun with controllers. In fact the Xbox One controller, by default, only has the ability to maneuver and fire the weapons on your mech. They allow for customisation to ease the burden but one look at this reviews’ included button layout will show you how sophisticated and complex operating your mech to its full potential is. Aside from that though I found using a controller impossible due to the fact I couldn’t get 6 steps forward at the beginning of campaign mode because for some odd reason, using my controller made it impossible to clear doors and narrow areas like the locker room you start in. You will move at a snail’s pace, and you will get stuck EVERYWHERE.
Now that that is out of the way how does it feel to control the mech? to put it in one word: AMAZING! Not only are the controls tight and precise but the mech just feels authentic. Even the “weight” feels realistic. That said there is a learning curve and it’s gonna take a while to get proficient with the controls. Luckily, campaign mode eases you into the learning process; a true testament to the devs understanding what they were going to offer potential newcomers. one of the biggest hurdles you will face in controlling your mech is in moving the thing itself. It uses an acceleration based model of movement. For example: moving the mech forward and backwards is based on a gauge you fill by pressing and or holding “w” and “s” respectfully and simply not pressing those buttons will not stop movement; rather you will need to either press your brakes or put your acceleration in the opposite direction to slow down, backup/go forward, or stop. Then there is the matter of turning the mech: The chest and legs act independently with the keyboard controlling the legs and the mouse everything else. you will need to constantly make corrections to your legs to ensure your movement isn’t impeded by either pressing “f” to realign to your field of vision or “c” to simply straighten out the mech. failing to do so can and will make it impossible to maneuver your mech in a new direction or just halt it completely. As said previously, there is a steep learning curve in controlling your mech but those who stick with it will be rewarded with a truly authentic experience that makes this more a simulation than a game.
Other aspects of gameplay include picking up side missions to get money and parts, customising your mech (a feature-rich system in its own right), advancing the story and a co-op mode. Another quick point of interest: While in battle you have the ability to salvage the mechs you defeated. This is the easier way to getting better mechs to use in-game and was a much appreciated mechanic as sometimes money can magically disappear while trying to make the perfect mech.
Overall Gameplay is the make it or break it aspect of MW5. Either you are gonna get frustrated by its complexity in controlling the mech or you are going to be satisfied and get lost in a very rich and complete simulation.
MW5 is an amazing game that puts all its cards into the experience of customizing and controlling its mechs and I think the hand it’s drawn is a full house. With a little more work in polishing graphics and sound however they could easily find themselves with a royal flush.
Note: GameOctane received a digital code from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing this game. Any code or product intended for reviews is distributed to the team to review and stream for our audience.
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+ Mechs are detailed and look great, have a wide range of customization, and controls as if you were playing a simulator.
+ Includes co-op.
- Voice acting and music isn't very good at all.
- Online does not include PVP or squad-based VS mode.