October 16, 2021

MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries – PS5 Review

There is something immensely exciting about a mech. It isn't just the sheer size and power of the machine but the number of systems, tactical operations, weapon loadout, different classes of chassis etc.
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by Lord Badger

The Mech’s Are Back in Town!

It has been 20 years since the MechWarrior franchise graced the PlayStation platform but today that all comes to an end. MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries is locked and loaded for the PlayStation 4 & 5. And by Nimah is it locked and loaded!

Piranha Games have launched MechWarriors 5: Mercenaries base game (£24,99), Heroes on of the Inner Sphere DLC (£15.99) as well as Legend of the Kestrels DLC (£15.99) all at the same time. Alternatively, you can purchase MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries – Jumpship Edition, which includes the base game and both DLC, for £49.99.

MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries boasts a campaign mode, career mode, online co-op, 2 DLC packs, DLC sharing (more on that later), and full crossplay support among PC, Xbox and PlayStation. MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries is packed full of game modes to keep you engaged for months!

Campaign

The campaign begins with a simple tutorial which was greatly appreciated since it’s my first time in a mech in 18 years! ( I last played MechWarrior 3 on the PC). Stepping out into the hanger to see your beat up, scrapyard mech towering over you. You immediately get a sense of the mech size and power as you take the lift up to the cockpit. I couldn’t help but be overcome with excitement and nervous energy as you power up the mech and walk it out of the hangar.

After a quick run around the training course, with your father, making sure your mech is operational it is time to return to the base…just in time to see it get totally wasted by a mysterious mercenary company. Of course, your dad dies in the attack and it is now up to you to rebuild the company.

This isn’t a simple task by any stretch. Not only do you have to pilot your mech, lay waste to compounds, blow up tanks, pick off helicopters out of the sky and fight other mech’s. you are also responsible for mech repairs, your companies finances, negotiating contracts, plotting your ships across the system and managing the timeline of all these events.

The company management aspect of MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries is brilliant. I love the fact that I have to juggle which missions I can take depending on which mechs are currently out for repairs and whether we really really need the money right now.

There is something immensely exciting about a mech. It isn’t just the sheer size and power of the machine but the number of systems, tactical operations, weapon loadout, different classes of chassis etc. MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries does a good job of not only putting you in the cockpit of your mech but also slowly make you come attached to it.

Before every mission, you have the opportunity to play about with the weapons loadout of your mech and AI teammates that make up the rest of your team or “Lance” as the franchise calls it. This is not only important in making sure you have the correct loadout but you do genuinely become attached to your mech over time. Seeing your beloved Centurion in the repair bay for 47 days because it lost an arm is heartbreaking.

Everything about MechWarriors 5: Mercenaries is so well put together it is almost the perfect game. Almost. Unfortunately, the one thing that lets MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries down is the controls.

At the beginning of the campaign, the controls seem somewhat clunky but perfectly serviceable. Although you do get the feeling that you are playing a PC game that has been ported to consoles. The first few missions of the campaign reinforce this feeling and then the first time you meet another mech in combat you realise that MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries should have never been ported to console.

Apart from the controls feeling somewhat sluggish as you try to turn using the DualSense analogue sticks there are two major functions missing. Firstly the ability to lock your torso to your legs really screws you over when in battles with other mechs. As you try to aim and battle with other mechs you find that due to the nature of the analogue sticks you end up with your legs at full left or right lock in respect o your torso. This results in snapping your torso round at critical moments.

Not only does moving your torso and legs independently hamper you in battle but there is no strafe function either. Your opponent mechs strafe all the time but you try to do so and it is almost impossible. Combine this with the fact that your legs are controlled by the L stick and melee is pushing the L stick in you can see how poor the controls are mapped. MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries is a fantastic game…until you fight another mech. Then the entire game simply becomes unplayable.

It doesn’t matter how well you manage your finances, negotiate contracts, plan missions. It all falls apart simply because your mech’s get battered so much by opponents that you either have a long line of repairs or an insanely high repair bill.

It ultimately takes the enjoyment out of a well-planned campaign and a well-run company when you simply don’t have enough buttons to fulfil the necessary functions of your mech. I am 6 hours into playing MechWarriors 5: Mercenaries and honestly, I have no intention of booting the game up again. And that is a massive shame because there is a fantastic game here that is hampered by poor controls.

MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries has full cross-play between PC, Xbox and PlayStation. Honestly, I cant see how console players can compete with a keyboard controlled mech.

Career mode

Career mode is a sandbox game mode for veteran players. You are free to travel around space as you see fit and while experiencing the same quests as the campaign mode there are unique quests, conflict zones, mechs, weapons and equipment.
You can import your Mech, pilot, money and reputation from an existing campaign or start a new company. I managed a couple of hours in Career mode and whilst struggling with the higher difficulty found it the same enjoyable game beset by the same control issues.

Career mode is essentially an open-ended campaign mode with a higher difficulty level and the DLC added. Which isn’t a bad thing at all. Seriously I want to be jumping from the rooftops and screaming to all and sundry about Mechwarrior 5: Mercenaries. Unfortunately, the poor controls stop me from doing so.

Sharing DLC

One addition of MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries that I love is the fact that DLC is shared in online co-op. What Piranha Games mean by that is if the host of a co-op game has the DLC then you can enjoy the co-op game with all the DLC additions without having to buy the DLC.

I think this is a wonderful approach to online gaming and should be copied by more developers.

Final Thoughts

I really want to love MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries. I am sure that on PC it is a perfect game but on console, you feel that you are playing a poor version of the game. I would love to see MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries get keyboard and mouse support on PS5. Throw in a PSVR upgrade and It would honestly become the perfect game!

Graphically it is brilliant. The range of biomes and environmental effects can hinder or help missions. The feeling of charging through a jungle and flattening trees along the way is undeniably satisfying. The management side of the game is well done too. But most importantly you really do start to bond with your mech the more battles you survive together. Piranha Games have made a bloody brilliant game in MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries but it isn’t on PS5. There was a reason Mechwarrior hasn’t been on PlayStation for 20 years…and now I know why.

Overall Score – 7/10