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MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries release date, platforms and trailer

It has been quite some time since we've had a true MechWarrior game release, but that's all changing soon. Developer-publisher Piranha Games has been hard at work on the latest in the stompy robot mercenary series, and it's releasing before the end of 2019. If you're looking for information about MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries, you've come to the right place.

Piranha Games has seen some fits and starts with the game, but it does seem on track for release, and plenty of gameplay footage and information is out there. It's one we're definitely excited about. If your only exposure to MechWarrior universe is through the MMO, the tabletop game, or BattleTech, then MechWarrior 5 is going to surprise you quite a bit. We won't be delving into any spoilers, but we will dive into what MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries is all about and what you can expect from it. Grab your extra heat sinks, you're going to need them.

MechWarrior 5's release date

MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries has gone through several delays leading up to its release, but it seems likely that those delays are no more and we have one that's set in stone. You can pre-order now, and MechWarrior 5 releases on Dec. 10, 2019. That means you can be blowing the limbs off of enemy mechs all through the holidays.

MechWarrior 5 has quite a bit of hype surrounding it, as we haven't had a true sequel in the franchise for almost two decades. 2018's BattleTech is set in the same universe, but the turn-based combat is much more akin to the tabletop game (or something like XCOM) than the first-person mech combat of the MechWarrior series. 2013's MechWarrior Online (also developed by Piranha Games) is an MMO. To get a true MechWarrior release, you have to go all the way back to 2000, when MechWarrior 4: Vengeance was released.

So, you could say it's been awhile.

The trailer for MechWarrior 5

Let's get to the nitty gritty: if you're playing a MechWarrior title, you're there to watch a bunch of giant robots blow each other up. Lucky for us, there are a few trailers that show us exactly that. As you can see, MechWarrior is not BattleTech. It drops you in the thick of the action as a pilot of one of these metallic machines of war. It also shows a bit of the information you'll have in the cockpit. In the top left, it shows the other mechs that are roaming the battlefield. The lower left shows the armor on different parts of your mech, and the bottom right gives you the lowdown on your weapon systems.

A few other official videos highlight some of the features the game is aiming for; here's one about the destructibility of the environments you'll be crashing through. Another focuses on the natural environments you'll see throughout the game.

MechWarrior 5's platforms and editions

There's a positive and a negative side to a game being exclusive to one platform. On the good side, it can be completely designed with a certain control scheme and other hardware limitations in mind. However, if you're a console gamer, you're out of luck as far as playing MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries. The series has had console ports and versions through its history, but it has always been PC-first.

Like all games nowadays, there are multiple versions of MechWarrior 5 to purchase. The Standard Edition runs $49.99, and is just the game and a PDF of the manual.

For $59.99, you can upgrade to the Deluxe Edition. It will net you a few extra goodies, but nothing totally game-changing. If you grab the Deluxe Edition, you'll get a digital manual, a "digital technical battlemech manual," a digital version of the game's soundtrack, and a set of digital 4K themed wallpapers.

Piranha originally had a few pricier versions available, but it appears that those are long gone at this point.

The story in MechWarrior 5

The universe of BattleTech is massive and complex, with a history that you could write thousands of words over. So, we'll try to do it justice here.

In the future, humanity has developed interstellar travel and started colonizing as many planets as we can. Unfortunately, communication has not been able to keep up, which has resulted in society returning to, essentially, feudal times. Powerful families set up ruling clans, called houses, that demand respect and protection from lesser houses. Mercenary factions are in high demand for houses to seize or maintain power, and the best mercenary groups can fetch exorbitant fees for their services.

MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries puts you in command of one of those mercenary groups inside the "Inner Sphere," the group of worlds that houses most of the powerful families in the BattleTech universe. You'll manage your team, choose which contracts to accept, and work towards making your team of mercs the most feared (and wealthy) in the universe.

MechWarrior 5's gameplay

MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries actually has a few distinct aspects to its gameplay. The obvious, central way it plays is as a first-person, vehicle-based shooter. Dropping mechs onto the surface of planets, launching missiles at other pilots, and stomping all over buildings are the main draws of the franchise. MechWarrior has always done its best to portray this sense of scale.

The mechs you pilot are massive, and they should feel like it. They are not lithe, rocketing around the battlefield and turning on a dime. Instead, you are essentially controlling a giant, walking tank. Long-lasting fights can often feel like the tenth round of a heavyweight boxing match: two huge, exhausted foes trading shots back and forth until one gives up the ghost.

The other aspect of gameplay is managing your team of mercenaries. You'll be able to buy, repair, customize, and upgrade a huge variety of battlemechs, hire teammates, and manage your contracts. We look forward to making all of our friends into pilots and watching in horror as they explode.

Co-op and multiplayer in MechWarrior 5

MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries is touting itself as a return to the classic single player of MechWarrior titles of yesteryear, music to the ears of those who were turned off by the MMO qualities of MechWarrior Online. However, don't think your friends are left out in the cold with this one, as MechWarrior 5 also promises that up to four friends can jump into battlemech cockpits and blast baddies with you.

Normally, when you hit the battlefield in MechWarrior 5, you'll have AI companions controlling the rest of your lance. If you want some of your friends controlling your friends, that works as well, and you'll still be able to advance progress in your career mode.

Whoever hosts the game will be the one who sees progress in their campaign; everyone else is just considered a guest player. That means you'll only want to invite the best of the best when you're hosting games. Piranha Games wants to make multiplayer quick and easy, but not essential to enjoy the game. Their experience with MechWarrior Online should help in that regard.

MechWarrior 5 has a massive campaign

One area of MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries that Piranha Games is spending a lot of time on is adding replayability to the campaign. In past MechWarrior games, players ran through a series of scripted missions with little to no variance. Once you finished the campaign, there wasn't much else to do unless you wanted to go back and replay the missions you'd already beaten.

At PCGamesN, the developers took a bit of time to describe what they were aiming for with the game's campaign. Each mission will be procedurally generated, similar to the way maps are created in XCOM. Even though the story of the campaign mode will follow a predictable pattern, every run promises to be just a bit different. On top of that, the developers estimate that a typical campaign will take about 60 hours to finish, meaning you'll get a lot of bang for your buck even if you only play through the game once.

At the end of the campaign, you'll also receive a final rating, so you'll have a target to beat the next time you go through.

MechWarrior 5 has tons of mechs to choose from

Most of the joy of playing a game like MechWarrior comes from those huge battlemechs. Even though they all function in fairly similar ways, there is a lot riding on the variety and options you have to choose from. Entering a mission underpowered and pulling off a victory, watching in horror as your strongest mech is surprisingly destroyed, or deploying your "lucky mech" for an especially tough mission: these are the possibilities that make for great stories. And MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries promises a lot of different mechs to choose from.

Piranha Games claims that players will be able to pilot over 50 different mech chassis, with several subvariations for each. That means every mission you encounter will have a wide variety of solutions you can throw at it, and choosing which mechs to scrap for C-Bills and which to spend money on repairing and upgrading will be a tough decision to make. Which is why they put you in charge of this mercenary company.

Delays and Epic Games Store exclusivity

If you recall hearing about MechWarrior 5 a while back, then you aren't alone. Development for the game has been a bit rocky, with several release dates being pushed back, despite it seeming as if progress was happening every time a new build was shown. The Dec. 10 release date seems like it is finalized, but judging from the game's history, don't get that tattooed anywhere visible.

MechWarrior 5 was supposed to release at some point in 2018, but no concrete date was ever set. In December of that year, Piranha Games announced that the title would be delayed until September 2019.

Fast forward to summer of 2019, and Piranha had another delay to announce: MechWarrior 5 was now coming in December 2019. Miffing people even more, it would now be an Epic Games Store exclusive. Considering some of the early pre-order editions promised things that now would not be delivered, this upset many who had already ordered the game.

There will be lots of ways to destroy things

To really make your mechs feel powerful, MechWarrior 5 features a pretty impressive destructibility engine. This applies to most elements you find in the environment, as well as the mechs themselves.

Each mech has several different body parts that will take damage throughout a prolonged firefight. Shoot out the legs of your enemies to limit their mobility and make them easier to flank. Destroy critical systems, like powerful weapons or heat sinks, to wreck their strategies. Savvy pilots can turn an advantage in any scenario, so being able to exploit weaknesses will be critical to survival.

The environments themselves will feature destructible aspects, too. Mechs can take cover behind buildings or rocks, but that cover won't stay for long. Blast it out of the way and take aim at whoever was hiding behind it. Just don't waste too much of your firepower doing it.

You can see this destructibility in action in the official Destructibility Trailer.

MechWarrior 5 has a closed beta on the way

If you're unsure of whether or not MechWarrior 5 is a good pickup, November 2019 will be good for you. There is a closed beta on the way, so you'll be able to find out how the game handles.

Pre-orders will have access to the beta, which will allow you to practice handling your mechs and run some missions. Features that will be included in the closed beta have not been revealed, but it should give plenty of people a taste of what MechWarrior 5 has to offer.

The closed beta means you'll be able to get some impressions of what the game is all about and probably watch some streams or gameplay videos before you decide if you want to buy it. Of course, you could just wait for reviews to start publishing once the game officially releases. But then you'll be reading instead of stomping buildings into dust with a 100-ton battlemech. And who wants to do that?