MechWarrior 5 would like to show you how much you get to smash


The summer of Mech, they’ll call this in years to come, when they’ve stopped caring about strict definitions of when a season is. Later this month we get Harebrained Schemes’ healthily-Kickstarted XCOM-meets-Mechwarrior affair Battletech, and then towards the end of 2018 we return to a first-person, real-time view of that big, stompy world, with MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries.

It’s a bit of an unknown quantity right now, given devs Piranha Games’ last crack of the ambulatory tanks whip was 2012’s unlovely (but still live) MechWarrior Online. MW5 will return the series to its singleplayer roots, and its latest attempt to win back the hearts of jaded MW fans is to show us how much stuff we get to smash, stomp, crush, bash, decimate and so forth.

Flashy 2018 Unreal engine gloss aside, this trailer reminds me a lot of the kind of PC game marketing – i.e. ridiculous music and an awful lot of terrain – we saw around the turn of the century, which perhaps is only appropriate when it comes to MechWarrior games. It’s still very hard to get a handle on how MechWarrior 5’s stomposity is going to feel in the hand, but from unneccessarily complicated-looking control panels to skull-faced Mechs to cartoonishly flying bodies to that familiarly industrial colour palette, it’s at least looking the part from afar. MWO wasn’t too good at letting you stomp right over wee small things – hopefully this is a good sign that MW5 will redress that particular balance.

There’s also this bit of blurb about what, specifically, we will be able to crush into paste:

MECH DAMAGE: Mechs will take damage to various parts, including limbs – and depending on what has been damaged on your mech will vastly affect how you can perform in battle. If your leg is destroyed you may not have the stamina or speed to get back to your dropship in time, for example.
ENVIRONMENT DAMAGE: Environments can cause damage as much as an environment can absorb damage. If you are on a hot planet and running a larger/quick-to-overhead mech build, you will be able to deal far less damage to your enemies. Additionally, in both urban and natural environments you will have the ability to use buildings, certain rock formations and trees as cover but all of it is destructible – so if getting at enemy mechs means taking down a skyscraper, THEN BY ALL MEANS…
ENEMY AI DAMAGE: MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries will feature numerous forms of enemy AI infantry and combat vehicles and helicopters designed to defend and protect bases, forts, mines or resources. Taking them out will require precision aim and a penchant for knowing which types of ammo and weaponry work best to deal with smaller but deadly and hostile units.

Of course, there’s a question mark over how much Mech is too much Mech in the same year. Is 2018 big enough for Battletech and MechWarrior 5? Well, they’re two totally different genres, so yeah, obv.

MechWarrior 5 is due for release in December, if all goes to plan. As for Battletech, I’m quietly playing it right now, and all being well I’ll be Wot I Thinking all over your eyes next week.


  1. geldonyetich says:

    It’s funny we’re up to Mechwarrior 5 now, but only have one AAA game that was relatively faithful to the board game (the soon-to-be released Battletech by Paradox). Finally, some real strategic depth!

    As someone who played some original board game rules, it’s always bothered me how badly things are balanced when you play it in real time with first person aiming. Battlemech’s damage resolution mechanics simply weren’t designed for that. Mechwarrior has always been a real bastardization.

    That said, I’ll probably be getting Mechwarrior 5 wholly because they’re implementing VR support. If they do that well enough, and Mechwarior 5 implements the overall Mechwarrior experience well enough, it’ll be a must-experience thing for me.

    • JimboDeany says:

      Yes! With VR support I’m keen too.

    • Tobasco da Gama says:

      Yes, that was always one of my issues with the balance in MWO, at least when I was playing. There was a strong push from both Piranha and the playerbase to make the weapon stats more like the board game, but that just plain doesn’t work when you translate to a first-person shooting environment.

      MW2 was much more satisfying in that regard. It was quite content to be its own thing. (And not being shackled to multiplayer balance was a plus as well.)

    • zaygr says:

      Yeah, the issue with the first person mechwarriors was that the controls aiming-wise was too responsive and accurate, at least for the arms.

    • theliel says:

      Two AAA games released so far have been slavishly dedicated to the TT game – Crescent Hawk’s Inception & the sequel.

      BattleTech by HBS is doing the smart thing and updating the system.

      • geldonyetich says:

        I’ve played them both, and they weren’t, “slavishly dedicated to the TT game.” Far from it. Neither of them did an adequate job of representing the tabletop experience.

        Crescent Hawks Revenge went for a pausable real time mechanic, and unfortunately wasn’t that well realized.

        Crescent Hawk’s Inception was very good, but more of a D&D Gold Box game with mechs in it. It was more faithful than the ones that came after, but still took massive liberties, such as changing the way movement works to a non-hexagonal system, no torso rotations, ect.

        That said, this upcoming Battletech game from Harebrained Schemes (PUBLISHED by Paradox) is not entirely faithful to the board game either. But at least it stays turn-based, and I’d say by and large the deviations from the original have been for the better. It’s the first good translation of tabletop rules I’ve seen in the AAA.

        That said, there have been some EXCELLENT fan games, such as MechForce.

  2. Vurten says:

    Ouch, that trailer looks rough (yeah in the bad way)

    • Artist says:

      The textures look too low-res, imo. Indeed a downer.

    • Anti-Skub says:

      It looks like a mod for an RTS from 2010. Terrible texture work, awful animation, half assed world interaction, truly dreadful particle effects, destruction that just swaps models.

      I’ve gone passed unimpressed and into actually slightly annoyed that they think that this is good enough to show off with. What a waste of a licence.

  3. automatic says:

    I’m still on the fence with this one. Despite the last update, MWO quality fell over the years so I’m not so sure about PGI’s capacity to do a new, remarkable MW game. MW5 seems pretty bland from the gameplay videos I’ve seen so far, specifically the mission types. Go to point X, destroy target Y. A far cry from the great narrative of single player classics where as a player I really felt to be a significant part of the MW universe. I don’t know if the mercenary roguelike thing will make up for a good story. The other MW mercenaries classic games came out almost like expansions to previous successful games, so they didn’t had to stand by themselves, that is not the case now.

  4. jellydonut says:

    ‘2018 Unreal engine gloss’?

    ‘Gloss’ is not the word I’d use. It looks atrocious.

  5. Moragami says:

    Can’t wait for both of these titles. Don’t get the hate for this teaser trailer, it looks pretty mechlicious to me. Graphics have never been what made the MW series fun. People these days are just aching for shit to bitch about on the internet.

    • grimdanfango says:

      Atmosphere, depth, diversity, excellent dialogue, voice work, world-building/narrative, and complex but rewarding simulation was what made the early MW games fun.
      I’m just not seeing any of that here.

      Battletech on the other hand looks absolutely wonderful. Guess it should with Jordan Weissmann himself heading it up.

      • KillahMate says:


        I’ve watched the first hour of Battletech on YouTube, and it really nails the vibe – just like Shadowrun did, come to think of it. The MW5 trailers I’ve seen so far seem pretty generic in comparison, and paradoxically not as visually impressive as Battletech for some reason, even though the engine is obviously more sophisticated.

    • Anti-Skub says:

      Because it looks incredibly cheap? I’m sorry to break it to you, but when the audio, visuals, and soundtrack are this low budget, the rest of the game isn’t going to be inexplicably brilliant.

      They didn’t spend all their money on a really great writer and that’s why it looks like this. They didn’t hire some world class gameplay designer and that’s where all the budgets gone.

      All aspects of the game they have shown off so far have been shockingly poorly made. And unlike you, the rest of us see a pattern, and have curbed our enthusiasm.

  6. g948ng says:

    The thing is, these PGI people have a…um, let´s say “spotty” track record when it comes to delivering on promises. Or keeping their fans´ expectations realistic. I remember lots of rage by kickstarter backers, public “sorry, not sorry” statements, more rage, allegations of duplicity, etc.
    What I am saying is, I would always advise against pre-orders. But in this case even more so.

    • zagibu says:

      If you followed the development of Mechwarrior Online, you already know that PGI is a pretty incapable developer that takes ages for small features and can’t balance stuff at all.
      MW:O is all about selling mechs, not so much about gameplay.

  7. grimdanfango says:

    Ugh, it gets worse.

    Where are the old Activision team at these days? The thing that made Mechwarrior 2 / MW2 Mercs so good was that they were conceived as simulators first, action games second, laced with atmosphere and depth. After all these years, it seems we’re still waiting for anyone to realise this and try it again.

    Until that day, we’re doomed to keep getting this bland nostalgic dross that doesn’t even understand that which it’s supposedly an homage to.

    It’ll sell like crap, and then it’ll be *another* 10 years before anyone dares make a mechwarrior game again.

    Also, why has every mech game since MW3 looked like it’s set exclusively in the most generic earth-based environments? Part of MW2+Mercs amazing atmosphere came from the feeling that you were fighting in dramatically different, extremely hostile, genuinely alien environments.

    With all the potential of modern technology, surely they could work in some planet-spanning churning dust storms, barren foggy ice worlds, thick caustic acid clouds, the cold vacuum of space, dense towering jungles, vast electrical storms, baking hot sand dunes as far as the eye can see, crumbling war-torn citys. Just… anything, except generic temperate forest world with a few hills… again!

    • DatonKallandor says:

      Mechwarrior Living Legends is a far better than Mechwarrior game than MWO. It does the simulationist aspect far better. Has combined arms – and most importantly has those extreme environments that the newer Mechwarrior games have been missing.

      One of the maps is a rapidly spinning asteroid in which blistering hot sunlight (and cool shadows) and cold pitch-black nights interchange every few minutes. They’ve even got lakes freezing and thawing as the temperatures shift.

      • WhiteHawke says:

        Got to agree. Living Legends was the best Mechwarrior game I’ve played. The new Battletech game is excellent as a turn-based tactics representation of this universe though. I can’t support Piranha here for reasons already mentioned by other in the comments, but I will be supporting HBS as much as possible with their game.

        • grimdanfango says:

          Wow, okay, the last I’d seen of Living Legends, many years ago, it looked like an earnest but entirely mediocre fan-mod.

          I just watched this video of a slightly-over-enthusiastic american dude going over a bunch of best-bits:
          link to
          …and well, I think between you guys and him, I’ve been convinced to give it a try. Graphically it ain’t great (although some of the environments do look pretty nice), and the animation sucks about as badly as any mech game besides MW3, but it really does look genuinely tense and exciting!

          Cheers for the heads-up. Now if only *this* could be turned into a narrative-focused single-player experience :-)

      • Pulstar says:

        Wish they’d get someone on board to implement AI in MLL.

  8. dontnormally says:

    I always thought MechWarrior would do well as a Dynasty Warriors type deal, with a minor tactical layer and lots of smaller-than-mech baddies (and goodguys) running around doing their thing, available for smash.

  9. Someoldguy says:

    I’m hoping this goes well but at this point I’m more than satisfied that HBS are delivering a great Battletech campaign. If I have to spend the rest of 2018 hoping for more Battletech DLC rather than MW5 to be great, so be it.

  10. ErraticGamer says:

    For a “destructibility” trailer, there sure isn’t much destructible in there. Blowing up tanks and helicopters isn’t what that means, that’s… every videogame.

    You want to get me excited about destructible stuff, start trying to even come close to what Red Faction Guerrilla was doing nine years ago. Almost a decade and still nothing else has even tried to play in the same ballpark.

    • Raoul Duke says:

      Someone needs to take the old voxel concept and really run with it on modern hardware. A shooter where the environment is totally destructible/deformable would be amazing.

      • Rindan says:

        Hell, I’d be happy if they just had destructible enemies. Imagine if instead of hit points and body parts having hit points, you actually just busted up the other mech by breaking its inner gooey bits and as components broke, they stopped working. Obviously you don’t need to simulate every single little system, but you can have some basic ones, like power cables, individual subsystems, motors, magazines, and the like. Bust the power conduit that goes to the legs and the leg stops working. You don’t shoot at the chest to blow their reactor, you shoot at the physical spot of the reactor in the chest, and you need to physically chip and blow away its armor.

        It’s almost amazing how primitive games still are when you think about it. Almost every single game highly abstracts damage and makes characters essentially just a model that swaps out skins. If we can’t even get away from the most coarse abstractions of damage, when are we ever going to have more physicality to the rest of the game world?

        • Raoul Duke says:

          That would be awesome.

          I agree about how primitive a lot of games are.

          I feel like maybe the gradual increase in hardware performance has meant that few developers have the ability to step back and think about what this hardware is really capable of now. I imagine that if you could go back to the early 1990s and give this sort of processing power to game designers from that era, they would come up with some wild stuff.

          It speaks volumes that people’s rigs are almost always GPU bound, while the CPU sits there with half its cores doing very little. I’d love to see AI/physics stuff that really harnesses that power.

  11. Cloak says:

    I still think this is best trailer for Mechwarrior franchise.

    And I still think this could have been potentially the best mechwarrior game.

  12. MrPig says:

    I for one am psyched about the renewal of the series, even if MWO had a rocky start.

    I’d like to see more campaign materials for the game; there’s a few tones that work in Battletech, and surprisingly, this trailer really doesn’t capture one of them. But I’m glad it’s addressing concerns about vehicles and infantry in the game. A lot of people were impatient about the initial demos.

    This is encouraging for me, even if the series can’t encapsulate some of the old school sim feel.

  13. chromedbustop says:

    So the things we should be excited to smash are the same things that we got to smash nearly a quarter century ago in Mechwarrior 2? WOW!

  14. Caiman says:

    Given there are roughly 295 Battle Royale games coming out in 2018, I think we can make room for two Mech games.

  15. PiiSmith says:

    The trailer sadly does not look too good. Destruction like it was done it in the last millennium!
    A Mechwarrior game with Coop, VR support and mods sounds great though. Lets see how it turns out.

  16. DeadlyAccurate says:

    I think I’ll be able to tolerate the narrower screen view inside the mech (I was fine with Titanfall 2), but I hope I can turn the camera bob off, or else I’ll get sick trying to play this, and I would like to play this.

  17. KastaRules says:

    If it looks like this I assume it is gonna run well in VR. Hopefully.

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