Welcome to the world of Battletech & MechWarrior
Hello! You're likely here because you've seen game-play or trailers for MechWarrior 5 and would like to learn more as you just purchased it or are considering a purchase. This post is a detailed though not complete overview of the history of the MechWarrior games, the world of Battletech as well as general Q/A for the latest release.
MechWarrior is a series traditionally known for it's in depth simulation of piloting 25 to 100 ton war machines during the 31st century in the rich world of the Battletech universe. If you owned an xbox in the early 2000's you might recognize this franchise from the action arcade games MechAssault or even the RTS series MechCommander on PC.
Within the MechWarrior games, players take control of a single BattleMech and combat other BattleMechs, tanks, infantry, and more, from within the cockpit of their machine. A third-person alternate view is available in MechWarrior versions 2, 3, 4, and MW:o (Mechwarrior:Online). Both MechWarrior 2 and MechWarrior 3 were Origins Award winners, taking Best Fantasy or Science Fiction Computer Game 1995 and Best Action Computer Game 1999 respectively. MechWarrior: Living Legends was the recipient of the ModDB 2009 Mod of the Year and - due to rules preventing one mod) from winning the same award twice - an Honorable Mention in 2010. MechWarrior: Living Legends is not an actual MechWarrior mod, but rather a Crysis complete conversion. Wikipedia
BattleTech is a wargaming and military science fiction franchise launched by FASA Corporation in 1984, acquired by WizKids in 2001 (which in turn acquired by Topps in 2003) and 2007, and owned since 2007 by Catalyst Game Labs. The series began with FASA's debut of the board game BattleTech (originally named BattleDroids) by Jordan Weisman and L. Ross Babcock III and has since grown to include numerous expansions to the original game, several board games, role playing games, video games, a collectible card game, a series of more than 100 novels, and an animated television series. Wikipedia
As you may see, Battletech/MechWarrior had a rich AAA history up until the turn of the millennium and as a result, while public exposure has waned, this franchise has one of the longest and passionate followings in Sci-Fi gaming history. The world's history is vastly complex and authors such as Michael A Stackpole
began writing for Battletech nearly a decade before he touched Star Wars.
So while many people may see MechWarrior 5 simply as a cool new stompy mech game as the next Titan Fall alternative, for others it's a new entry into a deep world they have been dedicated to for years or even decades. For many of us, this is our Star Wars or Star Trek equivalent (though not necessarily exclusive.) For those interested in a lore guide, Sarna.net will serve as your encyclopedia.
A Brief History of the MechWarrior Series MechWarrior 1989
The first MechWarrior
) game was released in 1989 and offered the first pilots view experience in the Battletech franchise and simulated many factors from piloting & customizing mech load-outs to managing your company amidst the story. MechWarrior 2: 31st Century Combat
The second game MechWarrior 2 was released in 1995 and offered a true 3D piloting simulation experience that was technologically groundbreaking at the time. The story was unique in that it was focused solely on inner struggles of the Clans (descendants of the Star Leagues military commanded by General Aleksandr Kerensky.) MW2 had several sequels/expansions covering different times and events as well. This game is still worth a play through and has recently been made available to play through your browser for free (super easy, links are in the subreddit wiki.) Additionally, MW2 is still fawned over to this day for it's stellar and inspiring soundtrack. You'll often find videos of people playing MechWarrior: Online whilst playing this OST in the background. MechWarrior 3
Released in 1999, MechWarrior 3 had a bumpy development history with multiple studios but still managed to be a push forward in simulation experience, building on top and expanding of the standards set by MW2. While the story may be dry, it's arguably the last cutting edge game in the series. Still worth a download and play-through with out a doubt due it's complicated and hair pulling complexity and ingenuity, (find more information in the subreddit wiki.) MechWarrior 4: Vengeance
Released in 2000, FASA Studios took a more hands on approach with the design and development. MechWarrior 4 was unique in that it traded gritty style and simulation for a balanced focus on palatable design and semi-simplified game-play. Two things MW4 exceeded over previous titles were in the animation quality and the live action clip sequences for the story between missions. While the acting wasn't stellar, it added a believable depth to driving story-lines. MW4 received 2 purchasable add-on packs and a story expansion (Black Knight) and later a standalone sequel (MW4 Mercenaries.) Though not as popular as MW2's soundtrack, Vengeance also featured a stellar military inspired OST. After release, a small company known as Mektek came to fame for their successful efforts to expand and modify MW4 Mercs with additional computer support and large amounts lore friendly content. (Information also linked in the subreddit wiki. MW4:Merc will play the best on modern machines.) MechWarrior Living Legends
The following decade was cold and lonely as the IP for Battletech/MechWarrior after FASA shuttered it's doors in 2001 the rights were split and largely unused across several companies. Microsoft owns the rights to the games Topps now owning the physical merchandise/boardgame rights. In 2009, Wandering Samurai launched the beta for MW:LL... a mod completely overhauling Crisis Wars for the purpose of a MechWarrior experience featuring combined arms including but not limited to: tanks, small arms, vtols and jets. MWLL is free to download and play, it's also still under active development to date. While it's on an older engine & may not look as pretty as MWO and MW5, it remains the most comprehensive Battletech/MechWarrior experience on PC to date. Website here. MechWarrior Online
Piranha Games Inc, a small relatively unknown studio leased the license from Microsoft & partnered with another team that was essentially the remnants of FASA (now reborn as Harebrained Schemes) & released this marketing trailer for an attempted MechWarrior reboot
. After failing to secure a publisher, PGI changed gears and developed MechWarrior Online with it's open beta release in 2012 . For MWO, PGI modernized a staggering number of battlemech designs (which were later leased for HBS Battletech and now MW5.) Dubbed at release as the "Thinking Man's Shooter" and to large excitement and fanfare, MWO wasn't without stark criticism focused on PGI for their reliability during development from an extremely passionate fan-base. Still, MWO was the first official release in a decade and has remained popular as one of the longest running F2P games in history. The game is definitely worth a play how-ever it's late in the games life cycle; it's unknown how much longer MWO will be available. Website here
MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries Fucking, exciting.
MechWarrior 5 will be the first 'single' player campaign game in nearly two decades. While MWO was on the clunky Cry Engine, MW5 has been developed on the more powerful Unreal Engine. At MechCon 2016, an announcement trailer
exceeding all expectations was released by PGI. After a couple delays the game's release was finalized to December 10th, 2019. The elephant in the room: largely PGI has been struggling to climb out of a PR dumpster fire for the last 7 years & there are concerns about significant changes in direction and design from the announcement trailer; where they have failed dramatically in some areas, they have greatly succeeded to improve in others.
What's difficult to argue is that MechWarrior 5 features beautiful assets and artwork coupled with slick game-play. MechWarrior 5 feels like a simulator cockpit experience that remains easy to play similar to MWO, as it's largely vacant of deep complex simulator aspects. En lieu MechWarrior 5 receives a detailed mechbay inside your dropship that you can fully explore while admiring the sheer size of your mechs. As with previous MechWarrior Mercenaries games & HBS Battletech, you have full control of your companies inventory, pilot hiring and contracts as you chart a free to choose path from star system to star system and the planets within them.
Aside from being a new release, MechWarrior 5 also allows for a smooth co-op experience with up to 4 people total in both campaign and procedural generated instant action missions. What will
give this game a life-cycle for years or decades to come will be the mod-ability along with PGI's first party tools and support.
Possible mods by the aging and experienced community could include but are not limited to: PvP, custom campaigns, QOL fixes, graphical and performance improvements, additional assets, huds and true simulation controls and features.
In MW5, you control a young mercenary who's family is killed by a rival mercenary group. You will work through your career from 3015 to the year 3049, building your company by completing contracts, hiring/firing pilots and by purchasing larger, more capable battlemechs and arming them with the most advanced weapon systems you can get your hands on.
Ahead of MechWarrior 5's release, a series of novellas following the history of the characters in the campaign have been released for free reading.
Getting the game
The game is currently available only on the Epic Game Store. Buy your copy here.
The game is confirmed to be released on Steam after a one year exclusivity.
Controller support Easiest
- Keyboard and mouse, this is the easiest way to play MechWarrior 5
- Xbox controller, this makes for a simple alternative and feels a lot like MechAssault.
A joystick or HOTAS is the traditional way to play MechWarrior with it's roots in simulation. HOTAS support is not native to the Unreal Engine and support will be spotty. PGI is adding controller support based on feedback.
The current confirmed joystick and HOTAS supported devices are:
- Thrustmaster T.16000M
- Logitech extreme 3d pro
- Logitech G Saitek X52 Flight Controler
- Will MW5 have PVP?
- No, how-ever there is a priority for modding teams to implement PVP.
- Will MW5 have VR?
- No, PGI have vested interest but stated it's not a priority. It's possible it will be released later as a patch or otherwise modded in as UE supports VR natively.
- I'm waiting a year to buy MW5 on Steam
- Not a question but a frequent statement. Yes, PGI and the Steam vs EGS issues are well known. In the meantime it's not your business to tell others that they can't enjoy the game as they wish.
- Will there be clan mechs?
- The campaign ends at 3049 which is before the invasion. PGI will likely release them in an expansion/sequel to MW5 if the game is successful. In the meantime they will likely be modded in.
- How many mechs are in MW5?
- About 50 distinct chassis with up to hypothetically 250 variants.
- Are there structured story missions?
- Story missions are all hand crafted. Mercenary contracts between missions are procedural generated.
- What are the suggested minimum specifications to run the game?
- CPU: Intel Core i3-7100/AMD Ryzen 3 1200 GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770/AMD Radeon R9 280X RAM: 8GB OS: Windows 7, Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 (64-bit versions) HDD: 55GB free space DirectX: Version 11
- What are the recommended specifications to run the game?
- CPU: Intel Core i7-6700K/AMD Ryzen 7 1700 GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070/AMD RX Vega 56 RAM: 16GB OS: Windows 7, Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 (64-bit versions) HDD: 55GB free space (SSD) DirectX: Version 11
- Should I run the game on an SSD?
- An SSD absolutely wouldn't hurt, how-ever the missions pre-load in the background while you're in the lobby so an HDD will suffice.
- Will the game have RTX?
- Ray-tracing support has been confirmed as a priority and will be patched in after release.
- How good is the AI?
- Bonus: Missiles
- Will there be a pre-load, when does the game release?
- There will be no preload for MW5, the keys for community edition pre-orders will release around 6AM Pacific.
- Will there be infantry?
- No, though they could be modded in later.
- Can co-op be played over IP and local?
- Co-op is currently IP only, there is no local play at this time.