It’s The Economy, Stupid! Understanding And Comparing MechWarrior 5 In Its Historical And Economic Context

When I asked for community opinions surrounding MechWarrior 5, Emil of The Art of BattleTech gave me everything you see below. Even quoting liberally, Emil had way more insightful things to say about how MechWarrior 5 fits into the MechWarrior franchise than I could fit into a single article. So rather than keep this treatise in my Google Drive, I thought I’d freshen it up for publication here. Light editing has been done for clarity.

MechWarrior 5 Firestarter Jagermech

Coming from an academic background in what’s called ‘game studies’ (I have a Ph.D. in the field and work in academia as a postdoc at the moment), I think understanding video games and their different qualities and features can go a long way in comparing and analyzing their strengths and flaws – at least when speaking about games that appear similar but still have very fundamental differences. This approach makes it easier for us to understand games better and more precisely.

Such as the over 30 years of excellent MechWarrior games that we’ve been very privileged to experience. Personally, I’d say that there are some things that previous MechWarrior games do better than what MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries does. One thing that’s very subjective to discuss is the tone and atmosphere. For me, MechWarrior 2 really excels at this, where it is not afraid to have quiet moments in between the intense ‘Mech combat moments. In each mission, there is this quiet lull on your way to a nav point or a mission objective until you’re greeted with the foreboding “enemy power up detected.”

This quiet but increasingly intense feeling as you head towards facing some very dangerous ‘Mech combat makes the different moments more distinct to really underscore the intensity of ‘Mech combat. All of this is juxtaposed with a really impressive soundtrack by Jeehun Hwang and Gregory Alpers. And that I think is one thing that I would like more of from MechWarrior 5; to be confident enough in its ability to build up atmosphere and let players soak in the environment; the heavy sounds of the ‘Mech, and the characters over the radio be the only companions on these desolate planets. Instead, much of MW5 suffers from a modern game design trope where there has to be something to shoot all the time otherwise it’s boring for the average player. Vehicles and VTOLs and turrets constantly spawn in the ‘quiet’ moments to make sure the player isn’t looking at their phone. This takes away from combat being important or distinct enough. “Too much of a good thing” is the expression, I think?

But I think I’m also in the minority in wanting more quiet moments because I’ve seen Twitch streamers complain about MechWarrior 5 when there have been instances of walking from A to B without any shooting or killing in the few instances that they appear. I could also imagine PGI’s own playtesting showed that players felt more entertained with having these vehicle spawns and no quiet moments. So, I definitely understand why game design from 1995 cannot be a thing in 2023 where there’s less time for things and more media and other games and phones vying for attention. As one solution, I’ve personally made the Atmospheric Vehicle/VTOL/Turrent Spawn mod that drastically reduces the amount of brainless fodder that the game throws at the player. I appreciate the modding tools that PGI has provided to give us niche players what we want.

MechWarrior 5 Hunchback Archer Jagermech

Another thing one might mention is the linear, scripted missions that are memorable or provide some interesting encounters that MW5 does not have as many of. I think MW2 is the best example of such memorable experiences. Just to name a few that to me provide such memories:

  • Blade Splint where you have to scan and inspect a building that functions as the Jade Falcon’s power converter. After you destroy it, a host of heavy mechs enter the mission area and start hunting you after you’ve already been bruised and damaged from battling several ‘Mechs defending the power converter.
  • Temper Edge where you have to defend the Tarantula quad mech. Because this little Quad ‘Mech is memorable.
  • Sable Flame where you have to defend the city on the moon with low gravity and if the dome gets destroyed, the population is jettisoned into space / killed off from the loss of oxygen. There’s no fire or smoke due to it being on this oxygen-less moon.
  • Aquiline Fire where you have to locate a crashed dropship. No nav points are available, so you have to rely on your satellite link and visual identification to locate it.
  • Velvet Hammer where the player has to pose as a Jade Falcon ‘Mech and infiltrate the base that houses a terraformer unit that you then destroy
  • Umber Wall where you have to defend a convoy where on the top of the mesa canyons, a Rifleman IIC and a Summoner jump jet down to attack the convoy
  • Or in MechWarrior 2: Mercenaries where you are captured by the Clans and have to escape in a vehicle. Or the memorable Kodiak mission that lets you keep it for yourself rather than return it to your employer (I think it was Kurita).

MechWarrior 5 does not have a lot of these scripted moments that stay with you. I guess I just really miss nav points. But I think the last part of the MW5 campaign has some cool moments such as the big crashed DropShip, finding the Nightstar in the hangar, having that last stand against ComStar, or destroying the Liao ‘Mech factories.

But does this mean that I would have wanted MechWarrior 5 to try to emulate or achieve the same as MW2 did for me back in 1995? No, actually not, because clamoring for something that was unique to that historical moment to be replicated again is simply not possible. More importantly, MW5 excels in other areas that I think we as old nostalgia-blinded MechWarrior and BattleTech fans tend to forget. MW5 is leaning more toward a free-roam mercenary Inner Sphere experience à la the first MechWarrior. This type of systems-oriented design can give rise to unique experiences and moments in every uniquely procedurally generated mission.

Speaking in terms of pure features, MW5 really trumps the previous games as this mech simulation game. Just to make a list of things:

  • Faction play lets you work for and against certain factions
  • Free-roam Inner Sphere map
  • 57 different ‘Mech chassis [soon to be 58! -ed] in very high-quality models that change their visual looks depending on the weapon loadout
  • First melee combat in a MechWarrior game!
  • Procedurally generated maps and missions that are sufficiently varied to make most missions feel unique (further enhanced by mods such as VonBiome and Coyote Missions) and enhance the free-roam mercenary experience.
  • High fidelity and animated environmental destruction. Having a ‘Mech fight among buildings that basically allows you to play the MechWarrior 3 intro segment with the Summoner.
  • Unique and highly detailed ‘Mech cockpits unique to each ‘Mech (exceeding the pinnacle that was MW3’s beautiful cockpits)
  • Procedurally generated pilot management and skill system
  • Airstrike support and artillery bombardment
  • 21 campaign missions in the vanilla game
  • 14 scripted missions in the Legend of the Kestrel Lancers DLC
  • 12 scripted missions in the Rise of Rasalhague DLC
  • Enemy ‘Mechs change their appearance according to the faction they represent
  • Tons of different camo patterns that players can customize the colors.
  • Lore accurate news segments and weapon and ‘Mech introduction dates.
  • 4-player coop across the entire experience
  • Modding tools and ongoing support to modders by PGI for over 3 years with some very high-quality mods

This amount of content and complexity has not been seen in a previous MechWarrior game and I think it does a disservice to the game’s strengths to demand that it does what MechWarrior 2, MechWarrior 3, and MechWarrior 4 did in their scripted campaign design, simply because they are very different games and emphasizing one aspect of a game in its development (e.g. allocating more resources toward more scripted campaign missions) takes away from other aspects of the game (procedural mission generator, faction play, free-roam Inner Sphere experience). In that sense, while I think MW5 could be strengthened in certain areas, it also excels in others to be its own unique and special MechWarrior experience. In a sense, you can look at the MechWarrior games as your children: you love them all equally and they do their own things in their own unique way.

MechWarrior 5 Jenner Cataphract Cockpit View

As a researcher, the crucial thing I’d also emphasize is the importance of historical contexts and their impact on genre qualities and game characteristics. In the early to mid-’90s, production budgets were lower and the team sizes were smaller, so more experimentation was encouraged as there was simply less financial risk. This is also why a lot of today’s genres were invented or came to be in the ’90s. At the same time, market realities and consumer expectations in the PC space were more open, as the PC was still a bit complex to handle in terms of user interface (think navigating DOS for instance), so the targeted consumers for games like MechWarrior 2 also had more familiarity with using the entire keyboard or owning a joystick. We saw this with the prevalence of the flight sim genre in the PC space which was simply one of the more popular and money-generating genres in the ’90s in the PC space (think back to Microprose’s portfolio). 

At the same time, it was normal to have games that lasted no more than 10-15 hours of playtime, and that was considered a premium game worthy of the $40 to $50 entry fee. These things are important to understand because they help explain MechWarrior 2; the lower budgets combined with the expected target audience and their own expectations for a quality product meant that MW2 was able to uniquely flourish and excel at the master level that it did back in ’95 (and I’d argue still today in many aspects).

Of course, production budgets and consumer expectations changed with time after MW2. Many ‘Mech sim games tried to replicate MW2’s smashing success (Shattered Steel, Earthsiege 2, G-Nome, even Activision themselves tried to do the same with Heavy Gear 1 & 2 after their license with FASA wasn’t renewed), but the genre just never could meet the rising production costs and the sim genre was not able to expand its consumer market enough to cover the rising costs. Microprose and Hasbro really tried their best with MechWarrior 3 and gave it a huge marketing campaign (see their E3 showing in 1998), but they also had money issues from other sectors that forced them to close soon after MechWarrior 3 was released. We probably saw this attempt to match the higher consumer expectations with MechWarrior 4 that included – at the time – lavish FMVs with actors and costumes and editing that really tried to appear big budget on the likes of Command & Conquer and other FMV-heavy games of the era. MW4 also famously went away from the gritty tone and simulation-heavy standards already set by MW2 and MW3 (lots of people complained about that online back in the day) and instead went towards a more colorful, round, and soft aesthetic with ‘Mechs looking more toy-like (see also MechCommander 2’s change in art direction), as well as more ‘arcadey’ and straightforward gameplay.

Unfortunately, the market never really grew enough to match the extra costs with higher fidelity productions in the late ’90s and early 2000s. As Mitch Gitelman himself noted in an interview with No Guts No Galaxy, MechCommander 3 was never greenlit by Microsoft because FASA Studios failed to grow the market; MechCommander 2 matched what MechCommander had sold, but it didn’t grow. This is also why we saw a lot of PC developers entering their twilight years instead of trying to expand towards the console market (also when you’re owned by Microsoft and have to push for their first entry into the console market against Sony, Nintendo, and Sega). Ultimately, this is also what made Microsoft kill off the MechWarrior series after MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries when they canceled FASA Studio’s MechWarrior 5 due to the Xbox (as per IGN reporting back in the day).

The point of why I’m bringing up the historical context is to understand the genre characteristics of the MechWarrior games. MechWarrior 2 was sim-heavy and followed both the complexity of the contemporary space sims and flight sims back in the day. MechWarrior 3 was the result of a tumultuous development where Zipper Interactive had to be brought in by Microprose and salvage the project that FASA couldn’t execute. MechWarrior 4 included relatively costly FMVs and a character-driven campaign to make the product seem more feature-heavy and competitive in the PC space at the time. It also made the gameplay more accessible and the aesthetics more appealing in order to widen the market.

MechWarrior 5 Stalker Hunchback

This brings us to MechWarrior 5 which should also be understood in its historical context. The story behind that game is that Piranha Games Interactive showed off their alpha trailer back in December 2016 and had a preliminary crew do the procedural mission generation. This preproduction occurred at the same time PGI was also doing content and updates for MechWarrior Online. Yet during its three years of production until its release in December 2019, PGI never got a publisher to help support the funding and development of MW5. At the same time, lead designer David Forsey was forced to take medical leave after being diagnosed with a terminal illness, but he’d later return to continue working until his recent retirement this year. This meant that PGI themselves had to bet the farm on MW5 and do everything by themselves in terms of QA, marketing, and distribution (things that publishers usually take care of).

Not even Microsoft helped out with things, despite this being their own IP. At the same time, PGI has never made a single-player product – they’ve always been a PvP-oriented studio. This of course means they’re relatively inexperienced when it comes to single-player design and narrative design (the latter of which has been criticized for the vanilla campaign in MW5, but much improved with the two mini-campaign DLCs like Kestrel Lancers and Rise of Rasalhague). Instead, what PGI was able to do was focus on game systems (procedural missions and biomes, faction play, pilot management, economy management, lore-accurate ‘Mechs and equipment) and content (tons of ‘Mechs, variants, biomes, destructible buildings). What I think MW5 really excels at is being a free-roam, high-fidelity mercenary simulator. It might not facilitate a great narrative and it might not have scripted, linear missions that are as memorable as earlier MechWarrior games, but it has a ton of features that cultivate a really amazing mercenary company simulation.

From a business perspective, I can tell you that MW5 would be absolutely dead in the water if they had gone with a scripted and linear campaign like MW2, MW3, or MW4 because the experience would be over after 10-20 hours and then you’d have 80 percent of consumers complain that there are not enough hours of gameplay per dollar spent. That’s just the market for premium titles these days – literally no mainstream medium or triple-A studio makes such smaller games these days due to market realities and expectations. This means that we could have potentially gotten a scripted campaign as memorable and epic as MW2 and MW3 and MW4, but then we wouldn’t have the game systems like the procedural and open-ended Inner Sphere map and faction play and tons of different ‘Mechs simply because game development is more about priorities and avoiding feature creep.

I think this is an important point for MechWarrior and BattleTech fans to understand: game development is not easy, it’s super tough, and it’s frankly a miracle that any type of video game even ships and gets released. Consumers are quick to ask for feature XYZ or say, “Why don’t the developers simply make this feature, it’s so easy,” without ever understanding how absolutely complex and difficult it is to make a game with all the interlocking segments affecting each other (design, art, code, sound, etc.). As a developer, it can be disheartening to see the blood, sweat, and tears you put into a game to make it work and then be met with some person who paid $50 for the product to call you lazy or talentless because “Why didn’t they just make a game with features only possible through the budget and manpower like Call of Duty?”. With MechWarrior 5’s case, you have zero funding, no publisher helping out, and you’re betting the company on this one title that would sink the ship if it didn’t meet sales expectations.

MechWarrior 2 had Activision behind it and millions of dollars in marketing and MechWarrior 4 had the juggernaut that is Microsoft behind its promotion, yet MechWarrior 5 had a small 60-person company in Vancouver and nothing else. This is not to excuse the differences between the different titles but to understand them and the condition they derive from. I think that’s key for MechWarrior and BattleTech fans to really understand.

MechWarrior 5 Warhammer Awesome Cockpit View

This brings me to my final point, that comparing and contrasting MechWarrior 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 to each other is not so much of a lesson in which game is better, but instead which context the games derive from. Given the circumstances, MW2 was a daring and innovative masterpiece that combined its adherence to simulation in terms of gameplay and audiovisuals in a sublime way that shattered sales and review scores at the time and spawned a dozen of copycats. MW3 followed in MW2’s trajectory and elaborated on this sim-heaviness in a time when mech/flight/space sims were in their twilight years. And MW4 provided a more character-driven, scripted MechWarrior experience that was more accessible and engaging for more people who weren’t necessarily enticed by the gritty simulation qualities that MW2 and MW3 had shown.

Finally, MechWarrior 5 excelled at providing tons of content and features that no other MechWarrior game had previously and provided a systems-oriented procedural experience that lends more from MechWarrior 1 in its free-roam, mercenary company nature than it does from the more scripted nature of something like MW3 or MW4: Mercs. And knowing what I know about the games industry and being risk averse, MW5 is a premium product appealing to a niche audience that I think MechWarrior and BattleTech fans should be cherishing the hard-working people at PGI for bringing into this world. If it had a different publisher or developer and a higher budget that would make more features possible, it also would be less sim-like and more straightforward. It is a miracle that MW5 and its three-and-a-half years of post-launch support exist and we should be super supportive and feel super privileged that we will be getting another MechWarrior from PGI in the future. 

Thanks again to Emil for sharing this thoughtful analysis of the MechWarrior franchise!

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

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About Sean

Hooked on BattleTech at an early age, Sean honestly can't remember whether it was the cartoon, the serial novels or the short-lived TCG that did him in. Whatever it was, his passion for giant shooty robots never died, so now he writes about the latest and greatest in 'Mech related news.

21 thoughts on “It’s The Economy, Stupid! Understanding And Comparing MechWarrior 5 In Its Historical And Economic Context

  1. Will9761

    Hey Sean, about what you said earlier about Velvet hammer, there’s a mistake that you said about that. The mission you were thinking of where you are disguised as a Jade Falcon Mech is called Cold Crescent.

    Velvet Hammer – You have to escort a Wolf politician in a Hoverlimousine to an opera while under attack from Jade Falcon forces.

    But good read as always.

  2. Zerosum716

    “…emphasizing one aspect of a game in its development (e.g. allocating more resources toward more scripted campaign missions) takes away from other aspects of the game (procedural mission generator, faction play, free-roam Inner Sphere experience).”

    Frankly, considering how shallow those aspects are in MW5, I’d have vastly prefered, as you described it, “a scripted and linear campaign like MW2, MW3, or MW4” with perhaps some procedural elements rather than focusing on the latter but only going skin deep.

    The game is certainly nicer to look at but that’s about all it has over its predecessors. Lest we forget, the very first Mechwarrior from 1989 also had a free roaming Inner Sphere, random missions, faction reputation, contract negotiation, etc.

    There may be a hundred hours of content, but my memories of it bleed into each other thanks to how artificial and samey even many of the scripted missions feel. Whereas the more restrained and authored approach taken by the previous games led to missions I still remember to this day.

    Quantity vs Quality. While I’d prefer a balance of both, when push comes to shove I know which I’d rather have. And while there is genuine quality to be found in MW5, it’s drowning in a sea of procedural content.

  3. Kantoken

    “Faction play lets you work for and against certain factions”
    True. But it doesn’t do anything, except give you more rewards if your faction rep is high enough. You don’t unlock special story/ faction missions or anything.

    “Free-roam Inner Sphere map”
    I mean yeah, it’s there, but just like Harebrained’s Battletech, there’s not really a need to go everywhere you can, or even the possibility.

    “57 different ‘Mech chassis [soon to be 58! -ed] in very high-quality models that change their visual looks depending on the weapon loadout”
    …high-quality? What other games are you comparing these graphics to? The older Mechwarrior games? MW5 looks ugly. Muted colors, drab colors, and the overall texture quality looks like what you’d get in a demo version of a 3d program.

    “First melee combat in a MechWarrior game!”
    I never heard or saw anyone use it. Ever. Did the fans ask for it? The target demographic? I never used it because I simply forgot it was there, as there’s no real benefit over just shooting your enemies.

    “Procedurally generated maps and missions that are sufficiently varied to make most missions feel unique (further enhanced by mods such as VonBiome and Coyote Missions) and enhance the free-roam mercenary experience.”
    The maps look the same, the missions are the same. There’s so little variation that I sometimes needed to check my saved games to make sure I wasn’t replaying a mission because it was so similar to the others I played.

    “High fidelity and animated environmental destruction. Having a ‘Mech fight among buildings that basically allows you to play the MechWarrior 3 intro segment with the Summoner.”
    The retarded AI walks through buildings, not because it’s tactically smart to do, but just because they don’t seem to “see” them. I’ve lost missions in which I needed to defend a structure but my retarded AI teammates kept destroying it by walking through it.

    “Unique and highly detailed ‘Mech cockpits unique to each ‘Mech (exceeding the pinnacle that was MW3’s beautiful cockpits)”
    Ah yes, the cockpit, the thing you see when you start up your ‘mech and then never again.

    “Procedurally generated pilot management and skill system”
    The artwork for these pilots generate cookie cutter placeholders which all look-a-like and don’t offer any personality. I really didn’t care when one of them died, I had no emotional investment in them.

    “Airstrike support and artillery bombardment”
    If this is a talking point, did you know that humans breathe air? Crazy, right!

    “21 campaign missions in the vanilla game, 14 scripted missions in the Legend of the Kestrel Lancers DLC, 12 scripted missions in the Rise of Rasalhague DLC”
    All boring and uninspiring missions on boring and uninspiring maps.

    “Enemy ‘Mechs change their appearance according to the faction they represent”
    You mean they use the designs their factions make use of? I mean, that should be pretty normal, right?

    “Tons of different camo patterns that players can customize the colors.”
    But which doesn’t do anything in-game.

    “Lore accurate news segments and weapon and ‘Mech introduction dates.”
    I mean, would you expect anything less?

    “4-player coop across the entire experience”
    The only point I’m going to agree on, yes, this was pretty cool.

    “Modding tools and ongoing support to modders by PGI for over 3 years with some very high-quality mods”
    Skyrim and Fallout 3 are pretty bland, but the modding community makes these games great. Same goes for MW5: on its own, it’s bland.

    Mechwarrior 5 brings all the elements you need for a Battletech game together, but underdelivers on the entire thing. Just because it has giant robots with guns doesn’t make it a Mechwarrior game, and that’s what Mechwarrior 5 is: a collection of elements that COULD be described as such, but nowhere does it convince anyone this is truly Battletech.

    1. "Vilkarin"

      Look man, as someone who’s introduction to Battletech was this game, it did it’s job. It hooked me into the hobby (I just played my first Classic game an hour ago) and I have a blast playing it. Yeah it would be better if I could mod it (I am on console unfortunately) but it is still very enjoyable and a good way for those who have not grown up with MechWarrior or Battletech to get into it if we are used to more simple shooters. I took to the game quickly but when I tried MW4 I had trouble figuring it out, but I still enjoyed seeing the classic. I really wish you’d chill with the nitpicking. It ain’t perfect but they tried. The game is bringing people in, including me, my fiance and much of my gaming clan. It may not be as amazing as the old games but as stated in the article, it didn’t have the same backing and it was a gamble. I am convinced this is truly Battetech, even if it doesn’t give me the clan era experience without trying to figure out the controls of the old games on my computer, and it isnt as detailed in some areas, but it did what it set out to do. I am sure we disagree but I have only been in this hobby for what will be two years as of September 23rd this year and it was enough to hook me on this universe and when I got into the tabletop what made me stay is the community being welcoming. I get you are disappointed it wasn’t the perfection everyone expects of beloved franchises these days, but it was my gateway into the hobby and it means a lot to me for that reason.

  4. Boogaloo

    Great publication! I do wish Emil had been a little bit more critical, but its nice to see MW5 get some well deserved thumbs up.

  5. Joseph

    So, after reading this article I think I understand why MW5 is getting so much backlash. While there are a lot of things that people are disappointed in, I think the biggest one is MW5 seems to have gone in a completely different direction than the previous titles seemed to be headed. I think its fair to be upset over that, this article (indirectly) makes the point that there is a large gap between when MW5 was made and it’s most recent predecessor. To be exact, it was a full 17 years between MW4: Mercenaries and MW5 (Not including MWO).

    Seventeen. Years. Let that sink in, because that’s a lot of time for the norms of game design and gamer culture to change. PGI is a company, and to make money they need to follow those trends, for better or for worse. Otherwise the company might flounder and we might have needed to see another seventeen year drought between mechwarrior games. I’m pretty sure none of us would want that.

    I will concede that MW5 is probably one of, if not the, weakest in terms of engagement and entertainment out of all the Mechwarrior games. But I don’t think it’s a bad thing. MW5 has probably netted Battletech a lot more fans by trying to appeal to a wider audience, and at least some of them will be wondering why there’s a 5 in the title. So instead of bashing MW5 because it’s not as good as it’s older brothers, I think our energy would be better spent on figuring out what aspects of MW5 we can leverage to get people to play MW1-4.

  6. Shoeless

    Ah heck folks, we can’t get mad at poor little Mechwarrior 5! Poor, poor PGI, why they’re just an itty bitty tiny dev studio, they only employ *five dozen people!* How could you expect a good game from only 60 individuals when a significant amount of the work they needed to do was already done for them due to tons of the game’s assets already having been made for MWO? Truly, we should be grateful that the game exists at all, you know every game is a miracle!

    This was downright insulting to read. My goodness. You know, Undertale changed the game industry, was mindblowing to so many millions of people. And it was made by like 2 people. Two. Not two hundred, not twenty, *two.* The idea of a small development team limiting what you can expect from a game is absurd. So many high quality indy games come from teams of less than a dozen dedicated people, working with no publisher support. Or even a single person.

    Also if people wouldn’t have accepted MW5 having only 20 hours of content for $60, then don’t charge $60. Charge $40. No one asked for MW5 to be a AAA premium product, we just wanted a good Mechwarrior game worthy of its predecessors. It didn’t need to be a huge mass market appeal AAA premium gold-plated product. PGI *chose* to make it that, it wasn’t forced onto them.

    Stop using development team size as a shield against criticism, it’s horse crap!

    1. Cakeboss419

      EXACTLY THIS. PGI wouldn’t understand proper game design if it hit them upside the head with a friggin’ brick (Which is what MWO almost did to my laptop.)!

        1. Shoeless

          This has nothing to do with my point. Other people have made better games with less. This shows it is possible. So defending MW5 despite it having a much larger team and budget than other very successful games, as the article does, is foolish. I get that you like MW5, that’s fine. I’ve seen your other comment, it got you into Battletech. Good for you. You liking the game does not mean it is immune to criticism, nor should it be.

          Let me put it another way: Why are you arguing against the game being better? Do you think if the game was better you wouldn’t have enjoyed it and gotten into it? Because otherwise I don’t know why you’d be trying to make people stop criticizing the game and saying they wish it had been better.

          tl;dr- I don’t need to be able to make a video game to tell when a video game is bad. Your response is silly and clearly a knee-jerk reaction to someone criticizing a product you like.

  7. Zera

    I’m always a little dubious about claims that some product needs to conform to modern trends in order to be commercially viable. I think there’s been enough unconventional, weird, independent hits over the last decade plus that to make such a claim is just sort of making an excuse for a company for taking a safe bet. Like the saying goes, if you try to appeal to everybody you’ll end up appealing to nobody. Chasing the mass market is chasing a mirage. Sometimes to make yourself stick out from the crowd you need to do something different and do it so well that it’s noteworthy in and of itself. Sometimes that may mean returning to your roots and embracing what made you so revered in the past even if it’s not perceived to be popular at the current time.

    1. Shoeless

      Agreed. The massive success of Undertale should put to bed the notion that the only way a game can succeed financially is to conform to whatever is currently popular. In addition when you try to do that all you really end up doing is positioning yourself in direct competition with existing popular, successful products as well as every other product likewise trying to ape them. I remember when Call of Duty was the biggest thing in the industry. And all the shooters were trying to be like Modern Warfare. Failing to realize that if people wanted Modern Warfare… they’d just go play that. Similarly with the games trying to copy Halo, same with World of Warcraft and the huge number of similar MMOs during its meteoric rise, all trying to attract the attention and money of the same audience and failing to realize that they’re already taken.

      I’m not saying you can’t make a game that’s pretty generic and conforms to modern trends and expectations of course. You certainly can. It can even be financially successful. But it’s definitely not a guarantee, and it’s not the only way to be financially successful either.

  8. Kerry Freeman

    IMHO, this article does get a lot right. Personally, I love what PGI did with MW5, and I feel that it should remain the way it is. HOWEVER, my biggest gripe with the game is the unfinished storyline.

    The following is an excerpt from my Steam review of the game:

    The biggest downside to me is that the main storyline ends on a cliffhanger, and there’s no conclusion to the story offered.

    Additionally, the ending relies on heavy inferences, and refers to a future event which is not present in the game. (Clan invasion.) Anyone not remotely familiar with Battletech lore will end up scratching their heads in confusion at the ending, and even as someone who knows what it is referring and inferring to; the ending offers more questions than answers.

    Because of this the game feels incomplete and half-finished. as an entire half of the story is missing. It’s still a great game, but it’s missing a satisfactory conclusion. It needs either an epilogue or a few more missions to round out the game and bring it to its’ real conclusion. Hopefully with the coming of the new Dragon’s Gambit DLC, we will finally get an actual answer to the game’s premise: “Just who was Nikolai Mason?”

  9. Cakeboss419

    Speaking as someone who started with Mechwarrior 3 and played through 4 and 5, I’m immensely disappointed with Mech5.

    The AI is painfully bad; it automatically targets the player rather than the highest threat (IE, if I rode around in a Light mech and gave the rest of my Lance Assault Mechs, I’ll still get shot to pieces despite any preperation), the Lancemate AI are essentially worthless, so Co-Op is mandatory for any higher-level campaign missions, and to top it all off, the game throws an unending tide of units at you until the mission is completed. Pirhana doesn’t understand balance through AI behavior.

    Most of the design is ported straight from MWO, a game I already despise for poor stability on older computers and an excessive reliance on ‘hidden’ mechanics like ghost heat, and the art direction is ugly as sin. There’s a certain elegance in simplicity, and Mech3 managed to hit the sweet spot for that. 4 had a serviceable art style, but it lacked a lot of the retrofuturism that Mech3 offered. I will always, always state that fancy graphics are inferior to a well-polished, well-balanced game, and very few people in the industry understand that anymore.

    I’ll give 5 some points for functioning melee, but dock them for how utterly useless melee is when everything in the game grinds you down to dust at close range.

    As for factions? I don’t give a rat’s ass about factions when there’s no benefit to it beyond the occasional unique mech and C-bills. The missions are all the goddamn same and only vary by randomly generated (and poorly, I might add. Seriously, the minimap shows an urban sprawl UNDER a mountain or plateau frequently) maps that rely heavily on a very limited preset quantity of parameters; there’s no unique setpiece moments, no clever twists, no interesting WRITING. Dear GOD, the supporting cast exist to spew infuriating levels of exposition rather than actually fucking support the events in game, and there’s no mute button for the fuckers, either, despite them painfully lacking in dialogue variety.

    All in all, it’s a poorly optimized, crash-happy game that fails to meet minimal expectations, with overpriced 30-fucking-dollar DLC that just adds recent shit from MWO’s collection of ugly-ass mechs and missions that are poorly-written and are basically pointless to actually participate in.
    Mech5 wasted almost as much of my money as fucking Destiny 1’s bullshit. 120 bucks, down the goddamn drain in a vain hope for SOMETHING worthwhile on console. Sucking up to corporate jackasses is something you should know better than to do, Sean.

  10. "Vilkarin"

    As someone who’s introduction into Mechwarrior, even Battletech as a whole, 5 was a good entry. I hardly play it anymore as I have moved onto the tabletop and playing the rpg at my FLGS but it was fun and interesting enough to turn Battletech into my new obsession. But that’s me as a newcomer, it’s like how Bioware’s Mass Effect Andromeda was a flop but was my first ME game which I had tons of fun with, so when I got LE of the original trilogy it made me enjoy it arguably more than I would have before because my expectations were altered. I have not played 1-4 of MW but I can say from watching videos that I want to play them (I tried 4 but I had a rough time) and I get what y’all mean. Y’all can love or hate the game, but it is at least expanding the audience and helping more people discover the amazing hobby and appreciate it for what it is. Cost me thirty bucks when it launched on Playstation to try it, and now approximately $1,500 of stuff later (mostly plastic and books, the kickstarter for mercenaries….) I can say I do in fact have an addiction. It all started with stepping into the cockpit of a Centurion and learning how to pilot, now I am building a local community of players that is slowly picking up. Give the game credit for that at least.

  11. Esskatze

    Dude, this is literally the same thing I was thinking when reading this… this. Could be dyslexia, who knows.

    Anyway, WRT Mech 5, while the base game surely was not as polished as it could have been, I enjoyed it for what it was. Standing in a mech hangar at the feet of your very own mech… 30 years ago, I would not have thought this possible. As for the game itself? Mech 5 Base was more of a promise of things to come, and with every DLC and mod update, it delivered. I’m curious what Dragon’s Gambit will bring, and am excited for MechWarrior 5: Clans.


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