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MechWarrior 5 Tips Guide: 11 Things the Game Doesn't Tell You

Get ready to smash some robots with other robots, courtesy of our MechWarrior 5 tips!

MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries is here, and so are our tips for playing the game! This is the first single-player experience set in the sub-franchise in nearly 20 years, so there’s quite a lot to remember and catch up on, even for hardcore fans of the series. How do you keep yourself alive? What weapons are best in which situations? How much jump jet fuel should you be using? We seek to answer all these questions and more in our MechWarrior 5 tips guide. Let’s strap in and take a look!

Strafe to Stay Safe – MechWarrior 5 Tips

Early on in MechWarrior 5, your tactical options are incredibly limited. One of the best and really only ways you have to defend yourself is by staying on the move. Luckily, mechs are designed with this in mind. You can circle strafe foes at medium distance, making yourself a harder target, while relying on your own aim to pick off the A.I. targets. This is especially useful against armored vehicles. They have a tough time keeping up with even a heavy mech’s mobility over rough terrain.

Know When NOT to Strafe – MechWarrior 5 Tips

There is a major exception to strafing tactics. In MechWarrior 5, the A.I. gets easily locked into the same exact pattern — causing you both to walk in circles around each other and hammer away in a battle of attrition. That’s fine for the opposing team. The computer doesn’t have to worry about damage costs; you do. Locking yourself into this vicious circle will likely lose you a component or three, making future fights harder, and requiring you to pay out vast sums in repair costs. Instead, you should use terrain to your advantage. You can snipe at enemies over hills with LRMs, hit-and-run between buildings, or jump jet away entirely.

Jump Jets Have Fall Damage – MechWarrior 5 Tips

Just make sure you leave a little bit of jump fuel for every fall! Jumping too high without cushioning your fall at the end can and will result in damage to your legs. That’s a potentially huge problem. Losing one leg can completely gut your mobility. Losing them both is an instant kill. Don’t deal unnecessary damage to yourself! The opposing forces will do that to you just fine.

Mechwarrior 5 tips

You Have Multiple Reticles – MechWarrior 5 Tips

Not all guns are created equal! Nor are the loadout slots you cram them into when designing your mech. Some of them take longer to line up shots, need to lock on first, or can fire at unseen enemies over hills. And some of your loadout slots turn with your torso, while some have a greater degree of freedom because they’re strapped to your arms.

Thankfully, while the game doesn’t draw your attention to this little wrinkle, you can actually tell which weapons are lined up individually. You have multiple aim reticles on-screen at any given time — often moving independently of one another. It’s easy to tell with missiles: You just need to watch for the big circle that turns red when you get a lock. Arm-based weapons are slightly more subtle. They have a second, overlaid reticle that sometimes takes a minute to catch up with the twist of your torso. Don’t fire until this second icon lines up the way you want!

‘F’ Is Usually Better Than ‘C’ – MechWarrior 5 Tips

The MechWarrior 5 tutorial explains two ways to center your torso and your legs. On a keyboard, with the basic key bindings, these are C and F. The former moves your torso to line up with your legs. It’s great for when you’re walking in a straight line, but want to look or fire in another direction (e.g. when you’re running away). The second option is the one you mostly need to worry about, though.

Regularly centering your legs onto your torso lets you play the game somewhat like a more traditional first-person shooter. That is to say, you walk where you look. You can make this the norm by default in the options menu, but I don’t recommend it. The default setting lets you get the best of both worlds. You can move in one direction while firing in another — allowing you to strafe more easily — and then realign yourself manually when it’s convenient. It takes some getting used to, but it’s one of the key features that sets MechWarrior apart from “traditional” FPS games.

Use Your Free Look – MechWarrior 5 Tips

Speaking of looking around, there’s another tool in your toolbox that makes life much easier. I’m talking about windows. It turns out they’re more useful than you think! By default, you wouldn’t even notice how many you have on a given mech. Your in-cockpit view is basically locked to the front-facing windshield. However, most mechs have extra windows to the side just out of your peripheral vision. Holding down the CTRL key on a keyboard will let your pilot look out these glass beauties without turning your mech. Then releasing the button will snap your view back to normal. Checking your sides this way is a very quick option to scan for enemies without exposing different sides of your mech, or waiting for the torso twist!

Protect Your First Friend – MechWarrior 5 Tips

After your first half-dozen missions, MechWarrior 5 leaves you pretty directionless. You’re told to find new pilots, equipment, and cash. Here’s an informal first objective, though: Protect your employees. Specifically, you want to defend the first A.I. partner the game gives you as part of the story. He may not look like much, but keeping him alive can pay big dividends later on, even if it isn’t easy.

The friendly A.I. in MechWarrior 5 is… a little bit reckless. Your allies charge headlong into battle and step on buildings you’re supposed to save. They get better over time, however, as you take them into combat. Every pilot (including your own) has skills that gain XP between missions. Most of your friends have very low maximum stats at the start of the game. That’s not the case with your free buddy! He has super high potential.

Take him on some very easy missions to start. Maybe even consider giving him your first medium mech if you only have one. You’re going to be much, much safer in a light mech than he is. Trust me.

Mechwarrior 5 tips

Repair Before You Travel – MechWarrior 5 Tips

You do a fair bit of traveling in MechWarrior 5. Getting to new missions, buying items, and hiring pilots always requires you to fly back and forth. But flying takes time, as do in-game repairs. You should always try to kill two birds with one stone (even if it costs extra) by setting your repair and refit orders before you travel to a new destination. At the very least, make sure you do so whenever you’re flying into a conflict zone. This will ensure you have mechs ready to go once you get there, saving you time and money on salaries.

Clear Out the Little Ones First – MechWarrior 5 Tips

Armor is your most precious resource in MechWarrior 5. It’s the only thing standing between you and losing weapons, components, tons of cash, and entire missions. Naturally, that means you want to take as little damage as possible. That’s not easy when 30 tanks and helicopters harass you during a mech-on-mech battle. The easiest solution is to pick off the tiny targets first. They don’t take much ammo to annihilate (none at all, if you use energy weapons), and every one you destroy early means less damage you take overall.

LRMs are a godsend for this. They will let you clean up large swathes of enemies, particular those in the air, without engaging the force directly at all. A PPC or other long-range weapons can also help — especially if you pair them with jump jets. Leaping up high to a sniper position and picking off foes is a good way to start any battle.

Be Careful Where You Step – MechWarrior 5 Tips

MechWarrior 5 loosely splits up into a handful of mission types. One very common one has you defend allied bases from enemy attacks. The base will have a health bar that decreases any time a structure within it takes damage. Friendly fire is very much a factor in these cases, but so is friendly stomping. Walking onto or through allies buildings will absolutely reduce the base’s overall health. The same goes for your A.I. allies, who have a tendency to mindlessly step on apartment complexes while chasing after a random Jenner.

There are a few ways to mitigate this. One is the use of LRMs. These weapons arc over terrain and structures to hit enemies from above. You can also order enemies to attack specific targets. If you line it up correctly, telling them to chase after foes that aren’t using the base as cover, they should rush off to harass them without stepping on something important.

There are other reasons to watch where you walk, too — both good and bad. The first is that some structures will absolutely explode under your feet, even if they aren’t friendly, and deal massive damage to your mech. On the bright side, you can also step on enemy vehicles to instantly destroy them! A lot of mechs are much quicker and more maneuverable than tanks, too, so it’s not very difficult.

There Is No Fall Damage in Your Base – MechWarrior 5 Tips

This is one of my smallest, and admittedly silliest MechWarrior 5 tips, but it might come in handy. Taking fall damage in your mech is a huge pain in the ass. However, back on your dropship, the rules of gravity no longer apply. You can leap straight off the walkway in your base without any repercussions. This is a very quick way to get downstairs and talk to your engineer, or admire your mechs up close, without having to use the twisting spiral staircase. It’s also kind of fun and looks ridiculous!

And there you go! These are our best MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries tips to put your best, 10-ton foot forward. We’ll be sure to update this guide, and provide a whole lot more, as we spend more time with the game and its subsequent updates. Until then, have fun out there, MechWarrior!

About the Author


Senior Managing Editor of Fanbyte.com and co-founder of the website. Everyone should listen to their opinions and recommendations sooner.