'MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries' Is Cumbersome Yet Satisfying

Who doesn't love giant fighting robots

Key Takeaways

  • MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries is like nothing else on the PlayStation 5.
  • Controlling mechs is sometimes awkward, but works.
  • Micromanagement can make this game feel slow, but complex.
A press shot from 'MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries.'

Piranha Games

MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries isn't like other games.

On the surface, it's a shooting game with giant mechs—something that sounds like you could switch your brain off and simply rely on your instincts to shoot anything that moves. 

In reality, though, MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries offers a lot more depth than that. It stands out among a generally more accessible PlayStation 5 catalog because it's so awkward at times. That's not always a good thing, of course, but if you're looking for a slower and more considered game than your usual 'it moves, kill it' experience, this one is a grower. 

"It's sometimes lumbering pace, befitting of a huge robot but not always exciting, won't appeal to those looking for a quick fix."

Learning to Walk

It's a mistake to expect MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries to feel like Titanfall when you first play it despite Respawn's mech-focused, first-person-shooter seeming similar. MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries takes me back to MechWarrior 2 for the PlayStation 1 back in the mid-1990s. It was just as tricky and cumbersome yet also oddly bewitching too.

That's evident from learning how to control your mech. The machine's torso and legs can rotate independently, which is instantly weird to control. There's a definite learning curve here as you figure out how to manage two parts of 'your' body at once.

It briefly makes you realize why infants are so clumsy when they're just starting. Except a clumsy mech can cause a lot more damage than a small child. 

It takes practice and patience too. Is it an enjoyable control scheme starting out? Not really. Early missions are forgiving, at least, so you get by lining up shots carefully and slowly find that controlling both torso and legs gets easier (and toggling Enable Arm Lock in the settings helps, too) but it's a stark contrast from other games.

A screenshot from 'MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries.'

Slow and Steady Wins the Battle?

The cumbersome nature of your mech continues elsewhere too. There are plenty of weapons, but they don't exactly fly out at speed. Weapons need a moment to reload, plus you need to target your shot well. This isn't Doom; this is an attempt at a mech simulator. 

Overheating is an issue, too, and mechs struggling with overexertion lead to weapons breaking. The temperature gauge is vital to your survival plans and goes completely against the usual gaming style of 'keep shooting.' It's possible to equip heat sinks to your mech to counteract this, but it's never a guaranteed solution. 

Patience is essential, and figuring out the more complicated minutiae of maintaining your mech is crucial. 

Mech Micromanagement

And complicated it is. MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries isn't just about exploration and shooting. It's also about managing your mercenary outfit and equipping your mech appropriately, all via some complex-looking menus. The game's PC origins are clearly on show here and not exactly intuitive for the regular console gamer. 

A screenshot from 'MechWarriors 5: Mercenaries.'

It's possible to upgrade a substantial amount of your mech right down to the heat sinks, but compared to what you'll usually encounter on the PlayStation 5, it's intimidating.

Even plotting out a mission feels a little confusing as you need to negotiate to get the best deal, thereby earning more money to upgrade your mech and so forth. Of course, it all makes sense with a bit of time and practice, but MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries holds your hand just the bare minimum to help you get by. 

You soon find yourself spending a lot of time negotiating bonuses, salvaging bits and pieces from your mechs, and trying to keep your entire mercenary lineup happy. Unfortunately, the game's story doesn't exactly entice you into caring too much about the AI here. Otherwise, the micromanagement would feel more interesting.

Earning Your Victories

MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries sounds like a struggle at times because it is. Sometimes, you'll wish you had the effortless energy of a different game, able to bound around and fire off a volley of shots at speed.

A press shot from 'MechWarriors 5: Mercenaries.'

Pirahna Games

At other times though, you'll appreciate the more careful thinking of it. There's nothing else like it on the PlayStation 5. While it might be overlooked on the  PC, it's distinctive on the PlayStation 5. It's a completely different challenge than something you would find within Returnal or Demon's Souls; a far more cerebral experience through its management system.

Is it for everyone? Not in the slightest. It's sometimes lumbering pace, befitting of a huge robot but not always exciting, won't appeal to those looking for a quick fix. Still, as a unique experience on this system, it's worth a look if you're keen to play something different.

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