MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries

Game review by
David Chapman, Common Sense Media
MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries Game Poster Image
Pilot huge robots in complex, destructive adventure.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Despite running a group of mercenaries, most of the missions involve helping to fight off pirate-like raiders, defending colonies, etc., along with working towards a greater good and helping those in need.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Mason and his crew are mercenaries, always on the lookout for well-paying contracts and salvage. But they still operate under a strong moral code of ethics, often helping those in need and generally choosing contracts that do the most good.

Ease of Play

This is an extremely difficult and complex game to play. Of course, it's understandable considering players are operating a massive multi-ton robotic war machine. The tutorial walks players through the very basics of piloting a 'Mech, but that's it. There's so much more to learn in terms of controls, weapons loadouts, damage controls, and the like, with much left to the player to learn on the fly. 

Violence

Although this is light on any kind of onscreen blood or gore, it's also an all-you-can-eat buffet of mass destruction. Buildings are fully destructible and 'Mechs can be dismembered and dismantled, scavenging parts for use among a backdrop of explosions and ruin.

Sex
Language

Some strong profanity, including "s--t," appear throughout the story campaign's dialogue.

Consumerism

The game's based on the popular Battletech franchise and is the first addition to the MechWarrior franchise in seventeen years. The game is fully self-contained, with no microtransactions, no push for paid additional content, etc. It's meant to be a complete game for fans.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries is a futuristic, sci-fi action game available for download on Windows-based computers. The game's based on the popular Battletech franchise, giving players control of a collection of massive, heavily armed robotic vehicles called BattleMechs, or 'Mechs for short. Players lead a group of mercenaries, taking various contracts to maintain their 'Mechs and crew. Violence is core to the gameplay, with plenty of explosions and destruction, but little to no blood. The game features a single player campaign, or co-op online play for up to four players. Parents should also note that there's some profanity in the game's story dialogue, and online chat could also open young players up to other potentially offensive language.

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What's it about?

MECHWARRIOR 5: MERCENARIES opens a new chapter in the battle for control of the Inner Sphere, a section of space splintered by ages of conflict. This is a world where control of the battlefields is largely determined by the MechWarriors, the highly skilled pilots of massive robotic engines of destruction known as BattleMechs. Not all of these pilots are beholden to any given house, though. Many of the best MechWarriors are freelance mercenaries, traversing the galaxy and lending out their services to those in need and those willing to pay the price. You are one such mercenary, picking up contracts and cashing in both credits and salvage to sustain and survive. But you and your crew aren't just in it for the paycheck. You're on a personal mission to discover the secret that led to your father's death, and to take revenge on his murderers. But the deeper you dig into, the greater the mystery … and the answers could change the fate of both the Inner Sphere and the Periphery forever.

Is it any good?

Ever since the BattleTech tabletop game made its debut in the mid-'80s, sci-fi fans have imagined what it would be like to pilot one of these behemoths of the battlefield. MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries puts players right into the cockpit of their own robotic war machines, but it's not exactly as easy as riding a bike. Piloting a 'Mech is a daunting and complex task that's not for the faint of heart. Controls alone are a challenge, with pilots constantly needing to reorient the top and bottom halves of their 'Mech on the fly, running in one direction while shooting in another, all while tracking numerous critical systems, such as structural damage, heat levels, ammo, etc. It's a lot to take in and learn, and the game doesn't offer up any more than just a bare-bones tutorial to get pilots acclimated to how 'Mechs operate. It takes a lot of practice and a lot of patience to learn the ins and outs of becoming a proper MechWarrior, but it's well worth the effort.

Whether you're attacking a raider outpost or escorting a mining colony, missions in MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries are like recess in a playground of mass destruction. Nearly every part of the environment can be destroyed. And there's just something wickedly fun about cutting a building in half with a salvo of missiles, watching it fall, and then stomping through the rubble with reckless abandon. As an added bonus, thanks to the procedurally generated nature of the game's various side missions, the landscape is constantly changing from mission to mission, making for a whole new set of environmental toys to break. Admittedly, these missions can still feel a bit repetitive over time, with recycled set pieces and objectives being used like Lego bricks to build each outing. Still, there's always plenty of frantic action, coupled with the constant attention required to keep your various 'Mechs operational in the heat of battle, to keep you distracted from any sense of déjà vu that might start to creep up.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence in entertainment. Is the impact of the violence in Mechwarrior 5: Mercenaries affected by the amount of mass destruction and property damage, even though there's no blood or gore shown? How does a fantasy or science fiction setting change the impact of violence, as opposed to more gritty and realistic modern portrayals of violence?

  • What are some of the ways that popular franchises branch out into other media? How can books, games, etc., tie together to build a universe of storytelling?

Game details

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For kids who love science fiction

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