MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries - Legend of the Kestrel Lancers

Game review by
David Chapman, Common Sense Media
MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries - Legend of the Kestrel Lancers Game Poster Image
Violent expansion brings gamers deep into BattleTech lore.

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Positive Messages

The campaign's story focuses on themes like duty and loyalty versus honor and morality. The gameplay, on the other hand, is generally focused on big battles and mass destruction.

Positive Role Models

This expansion replaces the freelance nature of the mercenary role, with players being hired as soldiers fighting in defense of the houses of the Inner Sphere. While players have less freedom of choice than in the base game, the story still presents them as generally honorable characters.

Diverse Representations

While there's some diversity in the cast of Mech pilots available for hire, they are generally just generic templates with no real personality, with only their character portraits and voices as distinguishing features.

Ease of Play

Legends of the Kestrel Lancers brings with it some new gameplay options, including massive "All-Out-War" scenarios that expand the battlefield on a huge scale. The expansion also takes extra advantage of the updates to the base game, including melee combat and Mech switching, which add extra levels of difficulty as well.

Violence

Mechs can cause massive destruction on a scale even bigger than in the previous releases. Larger, more densely packed city environments make for more epic annihilation. The addition of melee combat also means players can get up close and personal in the violence. While there are no graphic depictions of gore, there's some occasional onscreen blood.

Sex
Language

Some profanity, including "sh-t," appears in the dialogue of the game, as well as in the base game and its previous expansions. Also, players may experience other offensive language in multiplayer via online chat options.

Consumerism

This is the second paid expansion for MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries, adding new environments, mechs, and a new campaign to the base game. The campaign also marks the first tie-in to major events in the BattleTech lore, which has been expanded on via the tabletop role-playing game, books, and other BattleTech/MechWarrior products.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries -- Legend of the Kestrel Lancers is a paid expansion for MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries, and is available on Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, and Windows based PCs. Players pilot large robotic BattleMechs (or 'Mechs) when their company of mercs is brought in as part of the army of one of the major factions of the BattleTech universe. Violence is core to the gameplay, with players using Mechs to destroy opponents in large scale battles. While there are plenty of explosions and lots of heavy destruction, there's not much in the way of blood or gore shown onscreen. There's some profanity in the dialogue, and parents should be aware that online play could expose younger players to offensive language from others via online party chat.

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What's it about?

In MECHWARRIORS 5: MERCENARIES - LEGEND OF THE KESTREL LANCERS, players are pulled into the Inner Sphere conflict known as the Fourth Secession War. Joining forces with House Davion and its legendary Kestrel Lancers, players will take part in key missions and all out warfare against the Capellan Confederation and laying the foundation for the emergence of the Federated Commonwealth. Players will experience the Fourth Secession War firsthand and watch the story unfold in a new linear campaign set on the frontlines of the battlefield over the course of fourteen story missions. You'll fight on a never-before-seen scale in epic new All-Out-War scenarios, forgoing the usual skirmish type battles in favor of massive military offensives. Rain destruction down on enemies in huge new megacity environments, with buildings that tower above your Mechs just waiting to be brought down. You'll then march your way through the eerie landscape and barren canyons of the Tourmaline Desert, keeping a mindful eye on your Mech's operation in the blistering heat. Finally, players will fight it out in the humid swamps and dense vegetation of the new jungle biome, opening up new tactics and strategies for victory. Each new setting and every new variant Mech will test your skills as an accomplished MechWarrior. Will you manage to carve out your own legacy among the stars? Or will you wind up as just another pile of scrap left to rust in the wake of battle?

Is it any good?

This mechanized combat game has gotten bigger, bolder, and added all new Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em Robot combat, all thanks to its latest and biggest expansion yet. MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries -- Legend of the Kestrel Lancers does more than just add a few variant Mechs and interesting new maps to the mix. Though it certainly does that as well. Legend of the Kestrel Lancers finds a way to increase the scope and scale of the MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries battles, while also bringing in elements of classic BattleTech Universe lore for a richer and deeper plot. Much like the MechWarriors themselves, the expansion takes pieces of salvage from the past, upgrading and rebuilding it in ways that feel both familiar and fresh.

Up until now, the game's story has existed more on the periphery of the larger BattleTech universe. With this expansion, players take an active role in the one of most instrumental events in BattleTech lore. But to tell this tale, the campaign takes a more linear approach than before, limiting some of the open sandbox feel of the previous content. The tradeoff for this is some huge scale battles in massive environments. While this can sometimes make the game feel almost too big, with players covering a lot of real estate before picking up the action, it also takes unique advantage of some updates to the base game, such as the ability for players to take control of other Mechs in their squads on the fly. This can keep the action rolling along at a steady rate and makes for some new strategic options, though it also can be jarring hopping between Mechs of different loadouts or damage states while counting on the AI to hold its ground in whichever Mech you left behind.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence in video games. Is the impact of the violence in MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries -- Legend of the Kestrel Lancers affected by the lack of blood against human opponents? How can violence in games with large scale destruction but little bloodshed affect younger audiences?

  • How can expansion content build on the foundation of a game and keep players' interests? What are some of the things that you think make an expansion worthwhile?

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