Playing Mechwarrior 5 : Mercenaries right now and it has already given me plenty of playtime for the buck but it does very much feel like a “pilot your mech in realtime!” mod of Battletech if they removed most of the BT featuresets.
The combat is smooth and fun for the most part, which is good because getting through the storyline requires a TON of grinding. At 40 hours in I have done 150+ missions and estimate I am at most 2/3 through the story (maybe). If I sold all my light mechs I might be able to afford to field a lance at around 230-240 tons (400 tons is the max across 4 mechs).
Very little mech customization. It is Battletech-lite in terms of rules and flexibility. Each mech is about 1/4 or less flexible in terms of equipment/weapon load outs. In fact the available gear is so limited that I have to think some of it just didn’t get implemented due to time. For many small/medium mechs there really is nothing to customize aside from paint schemes and replacing the jump jets you wont need with more armor (can’t put any more weapons on as they are never any empty slots beyond the default load).
There are 4 tiers for each weapon, but the differences between tiers are VERY small.
Your pilots (you are one of them) can advance “skills” in an RPG-esque system, but only through use. What the skills really do is also a bit of a mystery… For instance you as the main pilot have a skill measured from 1-10 in “Avoiding weapons fire” but since the game is essentially a shooter, what effect this number has in game is unknowable. I kind of assume it forces bad shots from the opposing AI, but there is no real way to know.
How you 'use" that skill to increase it is also a total mystery.
Your hired pilots are totally forgettable, making their personalities known only through a very small set of randomized “barks” in combat. You can’t customize anything about them, not even a name/pic. Outside of combat they have zero impact on the game.
There is a passage of time mechanic while you repair mechs or travel, but I honestly dont know why since nothing at all is affected by waiting as much as you want. You pay a very small maintenance/salary fee every 90 days but it is so small that it means nothing. They could have removed maintenance, salaries, and time passage and literally nothing would be affected. Missions will sit and wait forever, so will “hero” versions of mechs, etc…
Hiring pilots is frustrating as roughly 90% of them or more have incredibly low skill caps, so trying to find decent pilots is a crap shoot of flying to industrial worlds (the only worlds with pilots for some reason) and checking. 40+ hours of gameplay and I have found exactly 2 randomly hire-able pilots with skills that reach 55% of the cap.
That said, the AI pilots on your side are the most competent AI’s I have ever had in a game. Seriously, after you drag your ass solo through the incredibly difficult tutorials you will notice this instantly. Solo is difficult because of the sheer number of tanks/helicopters/turrets the game spawns right on top of you over and over. With AI lancemates though, these threats are often eliminated the same second they spawn.
Most missions you wont even bother giving the AI any orders, just let them run about swatting shit with a mix of long distance mechs and close combat mechs while you do the mission objectives and focus on eliminating any big mechs (the AI are best with small health targets).
Enemy AI are overwhelmingly in jump-capable mechs but the enemy AI for using jumpjets is not implemented. In 40+ hours there hasn’t been a single mech jump of any height.
“Radar” in this game seems to be LOS, so an enemy you have already spotted disappears from your mini-map and all indicators the second it dips behind a hillock. That feels oddly out of place with the tech.
There appear to be almost no “equipment” add-ons for mechs, no enhanced sensor suites (like a Beagle probe etc), no arm or leg mods, no melee weapons (there is no melee in any form allowed)… I have found an anti-missile system (AMS), but the thing is only usable in mechs models that have and AMS slot pre-built into them.
The mechs themselves have 3 basic tiers: “Damaged” (standard variants you need to repair first), “Rare” which literally means Undamaged Standard Variants, and “Hero” which is a unique and undamaged variant (like a Hunchback with Gauss mount, or that Spider I found with AMS capability, etc).
The point of the “Rare” tier is a mystery because the cost of purchase for these standard models ALWAYS is vastly higher than just buying a damaged mode and fixing it. The cost to fix typically runs about 300k, but the cost of a “Rare” over the “damaged” model is ALWAYS several MILLION more credits.
You can sometimes salvage mechs you drop without destroying but it is very rare that this works out to allow you to salvage a Bigger or Unique mech because the salavge system works on a point system you negotiate before the mission and it is very rare to have enough salvage point possible when you are early/mid gaem where such upgrades would be desired.
You will drop a Heavy mech in a mission that costs 24+ points to salvage but the MAX salvage possible in the mission if you are a Hero to that faction already is often 16 points of less. Doesn’t feel very well thought through. By the end of the mid-game money is just not an issue so you will most likely just buy the mechs you want instead of getting them through salvage.
I just salvage light mechs and sell them instantly for the fungible money.
It is not a bad game, but it doesn’t have much depth. Still fun shooty stompy mech business though.