“Mech Merc Company” – A Love Letter To MechWarrior 2, Now On Steam Early Access

The BattleTech community has some very talented people doing some pretty awesome things. There are folks making 3D models of obscure ‘Mech designs, folks making LEGO ‘Mech models, and there are even developers making their own fan video games. We’ve already covered Wolves, the fan-made reboot of the MechAssault franchise, but there’s another game that just recently released to early access on Steam that I’ve had my eye on for a while. 

Due to my undying love of giant robots, a game popped up on my Steam suggestions that I found intriguing for a number of reasons. It’s called Mech Merc Company, and before you write this game off as a mere cheap imitation of MechWarrior, hear me out. There’s a lot of BattleTech love in this game even though it doesn’t actually have the BattleTech license.

Mech Merc Company is the brainchild of Michael “McShooterz” Shoots, a MechWarrior fan that got started with MechWarrior 2: 31st Century Combat. There’s definitely a lot of MechWarrior 2 in Mech Merc Company, and I got the sense that Mech Merc Company is more of a love letter to classic MechWarrior games than any attempt at copyright infringement.

Mech Merc Company v0.1.0
Watch this video on YouTube.

Not that there’s any of that going on, as far as I can tell. All the ‘Mechs used in Mech Merc Company are freely available on the Unity Asset Store, and none of them bare more than a passing resemblance to anything found in BattleTech. On the other hand, the ‘Mech building system is almost a carbon copy of the standard BattleTech tabletop rules, which might raise a few eyebrows. More on that a bit later.

Besides playing the free demo that’s available on Steam, I had a chance to speak to McShooterz to get the lowdown on just where Mech Merc Company came from. “It must have been either the end of November or beginning of December 2018. I was looking for a new project to work on, so while browsing the Unity Asset store, I stumbled on the work of MSGDI and he had just put out some really good looking ‘Mech models that look just like they would belong in HBS’s BATTLETECH. So I bought the license for them and just started building a Mech sim, and by trying to get at least a bit done every single day I have progressed to what MMC is now.”

And just what is Mech Merc Company? Think of it as a remade MechWarrior 2: Mercenaries. You play as a mercenary commander in charge of your own ‘Mech company. You can purchase pilots, equipment, and machines to grow your company while taking increasingly more dangerous missions that pit you against other fighting vehicles like tanks and enemy ‘Mechs. 

The core gameplay loop is pretty much the same as MW2: Mercs--take a contract, finish the contract, repair, buy stuff, and do it all over again. The menu and contract screens are all heavily inspired by MW2: Mercs, which is of course by design. 

“Mechwarrior 2: Mercenaries is by far my favorite of the MechWarrior games, which has informed many aspects of MMC career mode design.”

Mechwarrior 2: Mercenaries is by far my favorite of the MechWarrior games,” McShooterz told me, “which has informed many aspects of MMC career mode design.”

For the full career mode, you’ll need to actually purchase Mech Merc Company on Steam. The demo just has instant action mode, which will provide you with the core combat system of Mech Merc Commander and let you make custom ‘Mechs to take out for a spin. It’s a totally free demo, with the game itself available for a discount thanks to its early access status.

For just one guy working in Unity, Mech Merc Company is actually pretty impressive. Sure, the cockpit isn’t exactly immersive in its detail, and the animation of enemy ‘Mechs looks bizarrely rigid, but the weapons have impact, the controls are crisp and responsive, and disabled ‘Mechs collapse into believable heaps of scrap metal. 

There’s an old-school MechWarrior feel here that just isn’t captured in more modern offerings. Some might not have that sense of nostalgia for MechWarrior 2, but I find it rather charming. 

In my conversation with McShooterz, I got a real sense that Mech Merc Company isn’t trying to step on anyone’s toes and is more meant to offer a product that captures some of that nostalgia. That said, with so much of the core mechanics of Mech Merc Company copied from MechWarrior, I had to ask if McShooterz was worried about BattleTech’s litigious history.

“To my knowledge, everything I have used from Mechwarrior/BattleTech is not protected by IP law,” he tells me. “Ideas, mechanics, stats/balance, not-trademarked names, and UI design, to my knowledge, are not protected by copyright.”

As usual, I preface this with “I’m not a lawyer,” but I’ve seen a similar game take a stab at another, far larger license, and get away with it. You might have heard of Temtem, the Pokémon-like PC game from Spanish developer Crema Games and published by Humble Bundle. Temtem lifts liberally from Pokémon’s systems, such as stats and the four-move battle system, but so far Temtem has avoided a Nintendo lawsuit. 

Mech Merc Company seems to ride the same fine line between homage and outright theft. It’s a game that does things differently while trying to still capture that same game’s essence. The folks making Temtem are obvious Pokémon fans making their own game, and Mech Merc Company is no different when it comes to MechWarrior

“It probably will never be a looker, but I think I can make MMC one of the most interesting mech games to play.”

The game is by no means done. What Mech Merc Company has successfully accomplished is really just the bare minimum: there’s core ‘Mech combat, there are a few different randomly-generated maps, there’s a MechBay, and there’s a mission loop that’s really just a slightly more structured version of Instant Action. McShooterz knows that his game isn’t finished, which is why it’s in Steam  Early Access. He’s got a laundry list of planned improvements, including adding new hover tank models, aircraft, bases for defend/capture/destroy missions, and ‘Mech cockpits that have a bit more detail than the placeholders they currently are. And with MMC being a side project that gets worked on a little bit at a time, it might years before the game is ever truly “done.” 

But I think there’s still something to be excited about in Mech Merc Company. No, it doesn’t have any of those glorious machines that many of us have a strong emotional attachment to, and it likely never will. However, it does have the same experience that many of us feel nostalgic for that has never quite been recreated in more modern games.  

On top of that, without being constrained by a BattleTech license, MMC is free to iterate on the old formula as much as it wants. There are a few notable pieces of new equipment and weapons that have absolutely no BattleTech equivalent, such as an Autocannon 15 or Heavy Short Range Missiles, and they feel like they fill voids that some people might never have even realized were even there.

Mech Merc Company

“It probably will never be a looker,” McShooterz concludes, “but I think I can make MMC one of the most interesting mech games to play.”

If you can afford the $10 or so that McShooterz is asking for, I encourage you to give Mech Merc Company a try. And if not, there’s a completely free demo available on Steam that will give you a good idea of what you’re in for. 

Like Wolves, I’ll be keeping my eye on Mech Merc Company to see where the game goes from here. 

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.

7 thoughts on ““Mech Merc Company” – A Love Letter To MechWarrior 2, Now On Steam Early Access

  1. Lu

    Thanks for posting this!
    Checked the game out, bought it and played a few missions.
    There’s obviously a lot of polish needed, but so far so good.

    Looking forward to what McShooterz comes up with.

    Reply
  2. Brian Critchley

    If he copied the system from MW2 mercs he’s going to get hit with a C&D those rules are the battletech table top mech construction rules

    Reply
  3. Mercarryn

    Interesting for sure, but I might see problems with “Mech” being license for Microsoft. So he probably has to find another name for it or face copyright issues. My two cents, I am not a lawyer either.

    Reply
  4. kaliyama

    game mechanics/rules aren’t copyrightable unless you literally copy the wording. you can’t protect ideas with copyright, just the particular expression of those ideas.

    Reply
  5. Aaron M. Litz

    This looks absolutely rad. I still love MechWarrior 2, especially the Mercs expansion, and I will definitely give this game a look.

    While I love MW2, my favorite MechWarrior game is STILL MW3 and wish to Hastur that I could get it to run on Windows 10… although apparently a lot of people don’t like MW3 all that much for some bizarre reason? I read that online and just don’t understand it; I think it both looks and feels the best, and that it simply blows its successor, MW4, right out of the water. MW4 just looks far to blocky and cartoonish, and feels way too rigid to me. Plus MW3 used the actual authentic ‘Mech construction rules from BattleTech, rather than the clumsy hardpoint construction system of MW4. I could use the MW3 MechLab to recreate all the genuine BattleMech from the rulebooks that I wanted, and would regularly construct a MAD-5D Marauder as soon as I could, once I acquired a suitable chassis and all the right weapons and parts (except I would always strip out the Streak SRM-2 and ammo, and replace them with addition Double Heat Sinks, just as I like to do for custom command units in actual BattleTech.)

    Reply
    1. anon

      hey aaron there are a lot of mech3 enthusiasts and a community out there that still gets together on game ranger for multiplayer
      MechWarrior 3 Community Discord: https://discord.gg/H4VWjsc
      The MechWarrior 3 Community site: http://www.mechwarriorsunited.com

      try that discord server, usually someone manages to help get the game running – i got it working in win7, win 8.1 (yes really) and win10, and win10 LTSC

      if you’ve played mw3 to death, maybe give mech3 a chance with Freako’s weapon mod, really changes the game and makes it better IMHO, and pirate’s moon is underrated also, despite its difficulty and it being just more mech3 rather than an innovative sequel…but more of a good thing is fine with me!! 21 more missions? Yes please! anyways best of luck

      Regarding MMC as I’ve taken to calling it, Mech Merc Company is something I found out about last year and have been watching since it was version 0.1 or 0.2 … It has a LOT of potential and I REALLY like how it feels to play, it’s like a great mix of MW2Mercs design with MW4Mercs or MWO’s movement / aiming / modernization / fluidity. Impressive stuff for mostly a one-guy unity engine game with assets from mostly one unity marketplace contributor. At the time there was just one music track and only instant action but it kicked ass and really got you pumped up to blast some baddies. Campaign mode is a treat despite it being relatively barebones at this point, but tenbux is worth it IMHO. Considering I blew $120 on a MWO founders pack and played every BT game I could get my hands on from MW2/3/4 and their expansions to MechCommander, MC2, and HBS BT, I figured what’s another ten dollars?

      Reply

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