Don't you just hate it when you're getting married to secure an alliance with a certain faction, but another faction insists on existing in-between your borders? Don't worry, it's a simple fix: send in an army of mechs to conquer them, then you and your betrothed get even more space to share!
This is pretty much the plot of the next MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries DLC, Legend Of The Kestrel Lancers. It's arriving on September 23rd alongside a free update that will finally let players punch other mechs in the face.
The developers at Piranha Games tell me that they received a lot of feedback from players who wanted to participate in more of the major events in the Battletech universe. So, Legend Of The Kestrel Lancers plonks you into the Fourth Succession War, in which leaders of the Lyran Commonwealth and Federated Suns factions get married and start a big old conquest to nab all the planets separating their realms. Romantic.
"The main campaign of the base game took place in its own little bubble. We wanted that story to be more on the sandbox side of things, to allow players to pick sides and explore as they felt like," the devs say.
"Whereas, Legends Of The Kestrel Lancers thrusts players into one of the biggest events in our timeline. We're asking players to join up with one of the major factions, and experience the conflict with boots on the ground."
You'll join up with the titular Kestrel Lancers, and have a little more pressure put on you than you would in the base game's story. You won't be a merc working on their own time, you'll be properly employed with limited time to get stuff done.
As well as the new campaign, there'll also be new biomes and updated mission types, which will eventually replace the original versions. You'll be able to try all of these out in the Instant Action system (where you can create-your-own mission and jump into a quick game with your pals).
The new biomes are Jungle, Tourmaline Desert and Megacity. All pretty self-explanatory, though I will bring particular attention to that last one, because it has something that seems very important in a mech game: fully destructible buildings. During my hands-off preview, I got to watch the devs just strolling straight through a bunch of industrial-looking high-rises. They even ended the mission by throwing out an extra air strike so we could watch more of the world crumble.
While this is paid DLC, it's worth noting that only one person in your mech squad will need to own it for you all to play, which is a nice touch. Legend Of The Kestrel Lancers is also coming alongside a free update to the game though, which will add more fan-requested features for everyone to enjoy. First up: melee. Seeing as MechWarrior 5 came out in 2019, I'm surprised they waited this long to let players have some metal-on-metal action. There's nothing quite like the clang of giant robots walloping one another.
"Melee has never been done in a MechWarrior video game, but it's a huge component of the tabletop game, Battletech, that the series is based on," the devs say. "Players have been asking for this for ages."
Players will also gain the ability to switch the mech they're controlling. So, say you fancy pummeling through some buildings you can stick on your beefy Atlas. Or, to snipe some baddies out of the sky, you can swap over to the lighter Grasshopper mech and jump onto a building to take aim. It adds a more tactical element to the game, where right now you're stuck in whatever mech you decided on at the beginning.
Of course, the game will receive a whole host of quality changes on top of that, such as improved UI and more. They're a lot of good tweaks and additions to what seems like an already pretty good game, according to Sin's MechWarrior 5 review: "It looks spectacular in every fight, and plays almost as well. It doesn't, I reluctantly admit, nail the feeling well enough to totally silence all criticism, but it does a damn fine job."
Perhaps melee will be the final touch to really help those fights shine. You can find out yourself on September 23rd when Legend Of The Kestrel Lancers launches.
In the meantime, you can find MechWarrior 5 on Steam, the Epic Games Store, the Microsoft Store and GOG, priced at £25/€30/$30. It's also available on Xbox One, and is coming to PlayStation in September too, along with full cross-platform play.