Mechwarrior 5 is a game which I would absolutely like to do a review on… But someone very close got me the base game, so I can’t necessarily make a fair judgement on the pertinent topics; however, because the game is lacking in a number of ways, one’s overall mileage may vary significantly with the game.
It’s… Not a bad platform, really, but it has a wide number of issues that have confused me significantly as a proper introduction the I.P. nor is it a truly good game; and furthermore, after asking people who have taken the time to play Mechwarrior Online, it’s really in part a ‘port’ so to speak of the different things Piranha has done with that into a singleplayer/co-op title, which in turn, massively weigh the game down as a player-versus-environment experience.
But hey, let’s bring competitive balance into something that it really doesn’t belong in, and never fully implement core mechanics from the Battletech series and lore, as well as nerf things which would add to the experience significantly. That’s what makes a good modern game, right? /s
Clearly, for those of us who are willing to subject ourselves to that, a little bit of a survival guide is in order. The first section will go over the general nature of the game, the second will cover some improvements which can be made with mods. So without taking too much time, let’s move forward.
First thing’s first: when you are prompted to name and choose iconography for your mercenary unit, this is the only opportunity in the base game to do so. Yep. You can’t change the name of your save file, nor can you alter icon you choose, so if you aren’t keen on grabbing a mod to change these things, that’s the most important thing to be aware before diving into MW5 – oh, and, no, you can’t actually change the portrait of your player character without mods, either. Sorry. That said, there are mods for that, but I’ve left those out of this because they’re largely superfluous to the core experience.
The next most important thing to be aware of is that, yes, actually, you are dealing less damage than you might be expecting to initially. Even if you do some save editing on a fresh save to get yourself some fancy weapons, testing them on some unwilling targets will likely leave you fairly disappointed: that’s because your character needs experience with said weapon categories in order to do the full damage they can possible deal. This goes for you and the rest of your lance, so if you’ve got a friend with you who’s wondering why they’re doing less damage than they expect to, get them a different, better pilot to control and they’ll be able to deal more damage.
Moving on from that subject, it’s time to focus on AI: since it can be a struggle to get your friends in on the game at times or keep everybody on, you’ll probably end up having to let the AI control your different lance mates. While later on there’ll be a mod which overall improves the AI for both and your enemies, there’s a number of caveats you need to be aware of:
In order to get AI to effectively use the weapons they have on a mech, you need to have them separated up into individual weapon groups. The reason for this is that the AI really, really, really doesn’t like the idea of overheating, and therefore, in order to avoid it, they don’t fire weapons that often, especially when multiple weapons are grouped onto the same weapons grouping. By splitting up the different weapons, the AI will fire them with a much greater frequency.
Furthermore, by giving effective orders to your lance, you’re going to be much better off. It’s typically best in high risk scenarios to have them sitting back out of the main engagement, luring enemies towards them, and then having the lance focus fire on your targets. Otherwise, the AI typically are pretty effective with LRM boats, and usually as long as they haven’t fired too recently, will quickly unleash a salvo on your target after a focus fire order so long as they’re in range.
Otherwise, it’s important to note that AI behavior is determined by the specific mech they’re in. The developers gave each mech different profiles and characteristics that the AI will engage in, and this largely limits their array of actions – for example, it’s hard to get a light mech to do anything other than brawl when an AI is in command – so keep that in mind when you’re setting up their mechs: you can’t throw an LRM on a light mech, typically, because they just won’t use it correctly, and will instead dive into combat at not just at first but every opportunity.
Moving away from the AI, it’s time to start talking more about the less esoteric things, such as weapon tiers and what these upgrades do to gameplay – which in large part, is mostly affect the velocity of the weapon’s projectile. So, yes, in case you’re wondering, that fancy PPC or ER PPC you got that’s Tier 4 or Tier 5 is actually shooting faster in terms of both firing latency (time between shots/rate of fire) and projectile speed than the ones which you might’ve gotten before it. This will throw off your aim significantly, so when you get an upgrade, expect some differences.
While we’re on the subject of hitting things, too, it’s probably pretty important to mention that the hit-boxes in game can be a… Bit wonky. Not every mech’s cockpit hitbox is actually properly done, so it can be extremely hard to actually score cockpit shots to cleanly disable a mech. So don’t beat yourself up too bad, this one isn’t necessarily on you.
When negotiating, it’s important to realize that money is better than salvage: salvage has a wide number of drawbacks to it versus just getting more money from your payout. When you deal with salvage, you’re dealing with multiple layers of RNG, whereas when you deal with money, you’re really only dealing with one layer of it: you get your cash, you find a place that sells the thing you want. Contrast this to you may or may not fight the mechs you want, you might not make the salvage roll, and even if you do get all those things, depending on how much damage was done to the mech you may not even get to salvage it still because you’re one or two shares under the limit. You can see the pain of actually having decent amounts of salvage shares above, yet not having anything actually worth spending them on.
Finally, if you’re looking for Double Heatsinks, the best thing to do is to browse around the map for hero mechs, and try to find the hero Urban Mech. This mech comes loaded with Double Heatsinks that you can strip off of it and then sell the base mech – it’ll spawn again later, so don’t worry, you can either add it to your collection later, or just get more double heat sinks later on.
There are three main must-have mods I absolutely recommend, and I’ll go over them each. The first is a quality of life of life change which is massive: Remove Jumpship Animation. That mod does what it says on the tin, so I’m not gonna take the time to explain it.
The second mod I absolutely recommend is Multiplayer Co-Op Permissions. This mod allows the people you’re playing with to actually see the different menus, which can be a massive help if they want to play out certain missions or browse for different places to head towards along with you as the host.
The third mod is TT_RulezAI mod. This mod does a little bit more than just help with the AI, it also gives jump jets their tabletop performance levels, which makes stripping them or adding them to a mech which supports them a far more significant choice. In addition to this, it gives mechs more accurate roles and makes their AI behave closer to what they should, ranging from light mechs engaging in flanking maneuvers, to AI actually taking advantage of jump jets – which is something they absolutely avoid in the base game. Overall, this mod is probably the most significant improvement to be made to the experience of the game.
From here, most of the mods I might recommend come a lot more into the realm of personal choice. For example, there are a number of mods which make sure mechs that sport functioning Double Heatsinks integral to their engines, but this makes heat virtually a non-issue on these mechs, which does significantly improves customization available to the player with no real middle ground as far as heat management. Still, this is a game with vertical progression, so at some point you should be seeing some significant upgrades to the overall performance of your mechs. Therefore, I recommend these types of mods as a personal choice. The one I use can be found here.
Alongside those mods, though, I highly recommend this one: Expanded Hardpoints. This mod comes in two flavors, the first is a rule set for customization that’s similar to book rules and the second is similar to Mechwarrior Online’s customization. This will allow you far more flexibility when considering load-outs and how you want your mechs outfitted, but similarly to the types of mods listed above, is a departure from whatever the intended balance is for the game.
Whatever… The hell that is. It’s a co-op game and they throw a four-man Lance against 20+ enemy mechs at times.
The next two mods I recommend are Coyote’s Mission Pack and Mission Tweak. The only problem with these two mods is that they really make two different types of contracts the most appealing ones in the game: Coyote’s Mission Pack has a wide variety of missions, but the most entertaining in my own personal opinion are the Battlefield contracts, which sees you and a number of friendly mechs engaging in all out field battle; meanwhile, Mission Tweak takes Warzone contracts and gives them a varied level of intensity which can result in engaging in a large number of enemy hostiles, which, simply put, are some of the more exciting engagements I’ve had over the course of my playtime and pretty directly comparable to a Battlefield contract in Coyote’s Mission Pack.
Another highly recommended mod, largely because why not, although it isn’t necessarily required, just beneficial, is Xenopax Optimize. This mod really just provides some optimizations over PGI’s implementation of weapons, disabling physics volumes on the weapons which are useless and unnecessary since they’re not actually used for anything. It’s kind of a question of why not have your game run a little cleaner and better? Well, PGI doesn’t care about their game that much, but, as a consumer you probably give more a damn than they do, which brings us round to the next topic:
What about the official PGI infantry mod, you ask? Well, I tried it, but on a specific mission I had terrible stuttering as if my CPU was the source of a bottleneck – soon after the most recent patch (as of this writing) that went away, and in fact, I even saw more infantry than I had before. But, if you’re asking me whether or not the mod is really worthwhile, the answer to that is that it doesn’t necessarily seem to really add to – or take away – from the experience in any way. There are enough groups of infantry where I was discouraged from moving towards different salvage simply for the sake of keeping my mech mint for the rest of the fight, but not necessarily so much that I felt the need to grab anti-infantry orientated weapons, lending to a lack of the sensation of combined arms which truly enhances any experience based off of military conflict – be it sci-fi, fantasy, or historically based.
Ever since Doom Eternal I’ve been considering communities a fairly active part of games and a major aspect that’s often worth talking about, and since this is a survival guide, I feel like I may as well add this in here too: in large part, the community for the game is pretty dope. If you have lore questions, people will absolutely go out of their way to explain things and how they work in lore.
That’s seriously friggin’ awesome.
But, you do have some individuals who pretend to be better than they are and kinda throw out misinformation that doesn’t necessarily align with the way the game actually works or behaves. In particular, I recommend you look at those who who say things like salvage is the best negotiation option with a cocked brow. I don’t really mind elitism in the normal sense, it’s just, this is one of those things where I see the players who are the elitist types do like to spread things which aren’t that true.
People like this really tarnish the names of those good folks who do go out of their way to provide good and solid information, but I wouldn’t worry too much: in general, most of the community seems to be on the same page with a lot of things, especially that the developers of the game could really have done better – and it’s not Mechwarrior 5 is a bad game, it’s just not really an amazing game by any stretch of the imagination and the developers are that special sort of lazy, as demonstrated by things like the issue with double heatsinks or the largely boring implementation of infantry.
So if you have questions, go ahead and feel free to ask the community! Just don’t expect much out of the developers.