Mech-centric titles have always enticed me, but I’ve never experimented with the more hardcore titles within the genre aside from the occasional adventure game. When I saw MechWarrior 5 Mercenaries – Heroes of the Inner Sphere, though, I felt like this would be an at least somewhat approachable starting point within this intimidating genre. I became more versed in the genre through all the explosive action and mech customization, but this title requires patience.
MechWarrior 5 Mercenaries – Heroes of the Inner Sphere takes place in the year 3015, where peaceful human colonization throughout the stars has been destroyed from a period of conflict known as the Succession Wars. With Battle Mechs being the new norm for mercenaries, players take control of Commander Mason completing contracts that are all fraught with great peril.
The story and writing were just as expected for both sides of the opposing spectrums, as there was consistently an engaging ambiance of being set in the far-off future with the heavy sci-fi elements. I can’t say I ever felt particularly attached to the events occurring. Whether that be due to my unfamiliarity with the genre or the quality of the writing, I can’t say, but I doubt the storytelling will be what you’re here for.
Given that this is my first experience with the series, my explanations will likely erratically differ from the longtime fans. Still, I find there to be merit in expressing thoughts from this perspective. While this is a DLC update, the game itself has also been simultaneously updated from its prior release considerably. Though I obviously can’t compare the release states, I can say that the updates are noteworthy.
Sound design is one of the standout features, as each shot from you and your enemies is heavy and significant, making the impact of the hits all the more apparent. Movement with the Mechs provides further immersion thanks to the realistic tank-like weightiness exuded by turning.
Speaking of gameplay, parsing of the mechanical systems here is certainly a tad overwhelming, but the clean UI makes the task of learning the ins and outs far less arduous than it otherwise would be. Players can customize their Mechs to a rather impressive degree, with in-depth coloration options being present alongside upgrades to their battle capabilities and the like. There is a fair amount of depth that goes into each system, but from a fundamental level, they make enough sense for new players to experiment, with no drastic consequences affixed to their freedom from the outset.
Mechs do feel quite distinct from one another, with the Javelin, for instance, being a force of speed that boasts navigation prowess but lacks in firepower. It can also hover in the air for a short period of time, effectively making it an evasive reliance. The Centurion is of the opposite mind, with it being armed with lasers and cannons but suffering from unhurried movement. Distinctions like these serve to instill a sense of meaning in what a player chooses to play as, which serves to make the underlying gameplay experience one teeming with variety as well as spectacle.
One particular facet of gameplay that takes some getting used to was movement on the field, as it is not simply a case of walking around willy-nilly with little thought. The legs must be aligned when wanting to walk in a designated direction, which can be done by pressing the specified key. This is a necessary mechanic all players must grow accustomed to since proper spacing with opposing foes is imperative for victory.
Additionally, as someone who rarely games with a keyboard and mouse, I quickly found myself growing used to the control scheme. As contradictory as this may sound due to the involvement of Mechs, navigating maps when knowing how to operate a Mech felt almost liberating and organic like I was operating a living being.
An unexpected feature that I wholeheartedly welcomed was how by pressing V, players could switch from a first-person perspective to a third-person one. As someone who rarely plays titles in the first-person, the third-person inclusion did wonders with getting a better lay of the land and identifying when my Mech’s legs were not positioned with where I wanted to move. Experts with the systems or those seeking a more immersive experience may derive more enjoyment from the first-person view. The fact that these perspectives can be switched between freely is fantastic for approachability.
The Heroes of the Inner Sphere DLC offers a sizable amount of added content. Put simply, though, after looking at the notes of what has been added to this DLC and referencing what was not present in the original game, I do believe that this is a must-play for those that derived any enjoyment from the initial release of the base version. The new missions and new Mechs alone are worth experiencing for how much they bring to the table.
MechWarrior 5 Mercenaries: Heroes of the Inner Sphere houses an impressive slew of mechanical depth and player agency, to the degree that discussing the intricacies would be beyond me. The added content in this DLC update is assuredly worth experiencing for the dozens of added hours provided through system updates and additional stages for those who played the original release.
From the perspective of a new player. I found a lot to enjoy about the various mission and gameplay mechanics offered in this expansion.
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