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MechWarrior 5 guide - 25 tips that beginners need to know

Getting back in the saddle.

Featured post MechWarrior 5 guide

It’s been 20 years since the last MechWarrior game hit store shelves. So much has changed since that time. We now primarily use WSAD keys to move in shooters, while USB powered control pads have become more commonplace than joysticks. It’s very likely then that you’ll either be coming back to MechWarrior after years away from the series, or are discovering it for the first time. I’ve played through a few hours of MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries to come up with 25 tips that you’ll need to get started.

MechWarrior 5 Mercenaries guide

Mechwarrior 5 tips

25 MechWarrior 5 tips and tricks for beginners

I’ve split each of the below MechWarrior 5 tips into different sections to make it easier to digest what is initially quite an intimidating game. These will include details on what type of game MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries is, some basic controls and key tips for adjusting movement to your liking. Then I’ll be going over some more intricate details on combat, your Mech loadouts, and managing your very own mercenary group.

How to Play MechWarrior 5

How to play – MechWarrior 5 tips

Our first few tips are to tell you what kind of game MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries is, the game modes that are available, and the mission types for completing contracts.

  • 1) MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries is a futuristic shooting game where the aim is to complete missions by destroying enemy Mechs, tanks and aircraft. This is done by piloting fully customisable Mechs with different weapons and load-outs. While it’s a lot more complex, MechWarrior 5 is similar to Titanfall in that you use giant robots in battles.
  • 2) You will initially play MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries in a singleplayer story campaign mode, but you will also get the option later on to play the campaign in cooperative mode. This allows you to team up with three other players online to complete missions.
  • 3) You can also play MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries in cooperative mode via Instant Action mode. Doing so will allow you to select certain scenarios to complete, or customise your own from a list of options.
  • 4) There is a campaign with story missions, but you’ll also be taking on mercenary contracts to improve your group’s reputation with the factions across the galaxy. These non-story missions are divided into five types:
    • Assassination – Destroy a specific enemy Mech that’s protected by other Mechs.
    • Defense – Defend a point from enemies for a certain amount of time.
    • Demolition – Destroy a target facility.
    • Raid – Destroy key targets and escape while being constantly attacked.
    • Warzone – Larger scale skirmishes with many waves of enemy Mechs.
  • 5) Completing missions in the campaign will reward you with reputation points with the faction who sent the contract, as well as C-Bills and salvage. C-Bills are currency that can be used to buy and sell weapon parts and Mechs, pay your recruited pilots, and travel across the galaxy. Salvaging parts is worth doing as you can always sell surplus parts to spend on other things, and the number of Salvage Points you gain increases as you improve your reputation with that faction.

Mechwarrior 5 Movement

Movement – MechWarrior 5 tips

This next batch of tips are for getting used to how movement works. MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries has some rather complex movement that is covered in the tutorial, but there are some things that not even the tutorial tells you that may prove to be useful.

  • 6) During the tutorial, it’s worth getting used to how movement works before doing anything else. Remember that the W and S keys are for acceleration and reversing respectively. You won’t slow down by letting go of either button with the default settings, but you can change this so that your Mech slows down by letting go of either button by turning on “Enable Throttle Decay” in the Gameplay settings.
  • 7) While moving, make good use of the F key to realign your Mech’s legs and torso. This will turn the legs to face the direction your torso is heading in, which can make manoeuvring around the battlefield a little easier. This can be enabled automatically if you switch on “Enable Arm Lock” in the Gameplay settings.
  • 8) Use a mixture of first-person and third-person cameras by pressing the V key. First-person helps with precision, while third-person ensures it’s harder for enemies to sneak up on you.
  • 9) Always target the enemy you are fighting against. Pressing the R key while aiming at a target will get you information on your enemy. This will appear in the top-right hand corner of the screen and will show you the active weapons on the target, as well as how much health they have left on each part of their chassis. When you’re a little more familiar with the weapon types, you can also use this to work out if you should engage the target at close range or from afar.
  • 10) Learn which target reticle is which by looking at the weapon table. You’ll see a symbol to the left of your equipped weapons, which corresponds to its own target reticle in the HUD. You can see the cooldown for these weapons in the reticle if you turn on “Enable Crosshair Cooldown Pips” in the Gameplay settings.

Mechwarrior 5 Combat

Combat – MechWarrior 5 tips

Since MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries is primarily a combat game, some of the MechWarrior 5 tips you’ll see here are for how to fight effectively against the enemy Mechs, while at the same time keeping yourself as safe as possible.

  • 11) Pay attention to which Weapon Group you assign your equipped weapons on your Mech. You have up to six Weapon Group slots, all fired from the numbered keys, so you will want to know which button fires which weapon at all times. Those with a gaming mouse with lots of spare buttons can take advantage of rebinding each numbered key to its own mouse button.
  • 12) Keep the targeting module on an enemy to lock onto it as this will ensure that missile weapons can home in on their target.
  • 13) Never, ever, let the Mech overheat. Doing so will leave you vulnerable to enemy firepower and may result in you losing some of the Mech’s weapons. All weapons generate a little heat, so keep an eye on the temperature gauge at all times. You can equip Heat Syncs to your Mech to reduce the heat gained, but don’t rely on them to keep you from overheating.
  • 14) Tanks are susceptible to lasers or auto-cannon damage, while missiles are best for dealing with aircraft. Try to take them out from afar if you can, as they can prove to be a bit of a nuisance if enemy Mechs also join in the firefight.
  • 15) Pay attention to the range of your weapons and how far away you are from your target. All weapons have a minimum and maximum range threshold. You can see which weapons won’t be effective against your target on the weapons table to the bottom right of the screen, as they will be highlighted in orange.
  • 16) Destroying specific parts of enemy Mechs will give you different advantages. Taking out their arms means destroying a weapon they have equipped, while destroying legs hinders their movement. For Heavy Mechs with thicker armour, aim to destroy limbs, while for Light fragile Mechs, try to go for the quick kill by blowing up their cockpit or torso.

MechWarrior 5 Loadouts

Loadouts – MechWarrior 5 tips

The load-out menu is not exclusively for the Mechs that you pilot. As the leader of a group of mercenaries, you’ll be commanding a squad, or “Lance” of Mechs that will take on each mission contract. These MechWarrior 5 tips are for ensuring you aren’t caught off-guard when jumping into a mission. For more details on the Mech’s weight classes, head to our MechWarrior 5 Mechs guide.

  • 17) Make sure you have some short-medium range weapons on your finalised load-out. The last thing you want is for a particularly fast Mech to sprint past the point at which you can attack it, so it’s good to have a backup should this happen.
  • 18) Have enough of the correct ammunition type equipped to your Mech alongside your equipped weapons. These have to be the same ammo type as your equipped weapon. The more ammunition you have equipped, the more shots you can fire in that mission. Laser weapons don’t require ammo but do generate heat, so are a good last resort.
  • 19) You can also change which weapons fire with which button by clicking the Weapon Groups in the load-out for each Mech. It’s best to have every weapon attached to a specific limb to have its own Weapon Group. You can also change Weapon Groups by pressing arrow keys while in mission or press the backspace key to cycle through the weapons in sequence.
  • 20) When you are maintaining your Mechs, make sure you click the “Wait” after clicking “Start Work” to your repair and modification requests. This will advance time, executing your orders to repair and change equipment. It is also cheaper and takes less time if you repair Mechs outside of conflict zones. If you are inside of a conflict zone, use the Starmap to move your HQ to a safer area.
  • 21) Use the toggles in the Load-Out menu for the mech to adjust front armour and back armour. Doing so will affect your Mech’s overall weight, so it’s important to get the balance between armour and weight just right. Weight is determined by your Mech type.

MechWarrior 5 Mercenaries - Starmap

Managing mercenaries – MechWarrior 5 tips

Finally, we have some MechWarrior 5 tips that are focused on managing your mercenary group. This includes recruiting new pilots to join your forces, accepting contracts from factions, and building your reputation.

  • 22) You can purchase new pilots for your Mechs in Industrial Hubs. You’ll be able to learn which star systems are Industrial Hubs when you travel to them. As soon as you get crew members, make sure the Mechs they pilot have up-to-date equipment. If your allies are underpowered, you may find your entire Lance overwhelmed by enemy forces.
  • 23) When accepting a contract, don’t forget to adjust the Negotiation Points. You can change the base C-Bill (or credits) you get for completing the mission, how much salvage you can claim upon finishing the mission, and damage coverage your employer will cover when you complete the mission. I highly recommend at first focusing on increasing the C-Bill reward, then getting extra salvage.
  • 24) Try to assess which type of Mech would be best suited for the mission at hand. Heavier Mechs with more armour, such as the Atlas, might be better suited to Defense missions. Smaller Mechs, like the Spider, can be useful for quickly completing Demolition missions.
  • 25) It’s best to improve your reputation with a handful of factions, rather than please everyone, as every contract mission completed will also reduce your reputation with another faction. However, don’t let that stop you taking lucrative contracts from “hostile factions”.

Those are our MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries tips so far. We’re still exploring the game as it is very complex with the amount of configurations for Mechs, as well as an entire universe to explore, and contracts to fulfil. You might even have your own tips to share in the comments below to help get newer MechWarriors started.

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Who am I?

Dave Irwin

Guides Writer

As guides writer for Rock, Paper, Shotgun, it is my privilege to understand how to play certain games well, so that newer players can understand the more complex things about them.

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