As my mech clomped its way through the battlefield, I could almost feel the outsized feet thudding down, the snow crunching underneath its tread. Credit to Piranha Games – it has nailed the look and feel of a mech game with MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries
And in my opinion, this is a game that’s best on PC. And that’s thanks to the keyboard.
Now, I like to use a little imagination when I’m playing a game, especially when I’m controlling something like a tank, a starfighter, or a hulking mech. You use the keyboard to move, along with performing a raft of controls. It has plenty of keybindings. The mouse helps with aiming As I play, with my hands flying over keys, it reminds me of shows and movies in which you see pilots adjusting buttons, dials, and other controls as they’re in battle (this is prevalent in Star Wars, especially during the Battle of Yavin).
But I had some trouble with strafing and facing multiple enemies. The last MechWarrior came out nearly 20 years ago, and my reflexes – and typing speed – just aren’t what they used to be (I’ve lost 20 words per minutes over the last 10 years). So I thought I’d pull out my trusty Saitek X52 flightstick from the closet and see how well it worked.
And then I tripped, fell, and broke it.
So I don’t know if it works, so I asked a Piranha Games spokesperson if it supports flightsticks. This is what works with MechWarrior 5 at the moment:
- ThrustMaster T.16000M Joystick
- ThrustMaster TWCS Throttle
- ThrustMaster T.Flight Hotas X
- Logitech Extreme 3D pro Joystick
- Saitek X52
- Saitek Pro Flight Rudder Pedals
- Saitek Pro Flight X-56 Rhino Stick
- Saitek Pro Flight X-56 Rhino Throttle
- Saitek X52 Pro
About 2 hours in, I’ve found that MechWarrior 5 has done a superb job of recapturing what it feels like to pilot a mech. Combat is faster than I remember, and it’s a hoot to smash through buildings and tanks, shrugging off their meager damage. So far, the story is bland, and the acting and character’s faces feel wooden.
But I don’t play MechWarrior for Oscar-worthy voice-acting. I play it for stomping around in big mechs, for blasting other big mechs to high hell, and to smash through everything in my way. And so far, MechWarrior 5 does an excellent job at doing this. How good? After watching me play, my youngest went upstairs to build mechs with his Legos so he could “smash buildings and shoot tanks like Daddy just did.”
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(since my flightstick died so I could bring you this newsletter).
–Jason Wilson, GamesBeat managing editor