MechWarrior 5: Clans Takes Full Advantage of Unreal Engine 5, Finally Ships with Great Controller Support (2024)

At GDC 2024, Canadian developer Piranha Games showcased new info and footage of MechWarrior 5: Clans, a standalone game and the first in a very long time to be narrative-focused in this franchise. As suggested by the game's title, this will be a Clan Invasion story (the first since 1995's MechWarrior 2), diving into the period that changed the politics of the Inner Sphere for good. According to the developers, this will be an ideal entry point for series newcomers, too.

The plot will follow a promising young pilot who recently finished their intensive training on Huntress, the homeworld of the Smoke Jaguar clan. The main character joins a squad (also known as a Star) of five pilots from the same clan mobilizing to help their clansmen in a full-scale invasion of the Inner Sphere, a pivotal moment in the BattleTech universe.

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The bond between the pilots will grow stronger with the progression of the campaign, which Piranha Games said will span a variety of planets through meticulously designed biomes and handcrafted maps and missions, in stark contrast to the procedural elements of the sandbox-style game Mercenaries. Just like its predecessor, MechWarrior 5: Clans also plans to deliver engaging combat that is both complex and chaotic, demanding thoughtful, strategic play.

The game will include several new features, such as an updated Mech lab, Hardpoint, and Omnipod system. Players will also find tools to direct allies, such as a bird's eye-style Battlegrid and a quick command radial menu. Following a presentation, we interviewed Piranha Games CEO Russ Bullock. You can read the full transcript below.

MechWarrior 5: Clans will be released this year on PC (Steam), PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series S|X with cross-play support.

What makes this MechWarrior 5 rather than becoming MechWarrior 6 at this point?

Not much, I suppose it very well could have been called MechWarrior 6, maybe in another universe. But I think there's some tradition here. There was MechWarrior 2 and then MechWarrior 2 Mercenaries. Then, MechWarrior 4 was followed by MechWarrior 4 Mercenaries, and now we've done similar things just in the opposite direction.

We have MechWarrior 5 Mercenaries and then we've got Clans, which is our story-based version. But I suppose it's still gonna keep that MW5 naming nomenclature, but ultimately, it is definitely a totally new standalone game. We've upgraded from UE4 to UE5 and of course, there are different types of missions. It's a narrative experience both in a significant amount of motion capture cinematics, for the first time ever showing the player who they are and who the characters are, but then of course, once you get in the co*ckpit, still plenty of great mech action with lots of improvements.

Some of the things will be new even to longtime MechWarrior fans, like the Battlegrid system. It goes into a top down view, allowing you to almost do an RTS-style controlling of your mates to say, go here, attack this guy. The radio menu is all new for MechWarrior. You can control all your mates, queue up the attacks, and really for the first time ever this is a game that will ship with just as good controls on a console as on PC.

For players used to having the Lone Wolf approach, will there be ways to automate some of thesquad commands?

Yeah. Well, generally speaking, in most of the missions and most of the battles, you don't have to command them. They do have their own minds, their AI that they will pick a target and fight it.

Can you swap between which kit you're playing as?

You can, yeah. And all the other Mechs that you're not playing as, I should have mentioned, can be used by AI, but it is a five player co-op game, so you can invite your friends, and there's also cross-play between Xbox, PlayStation, and PC.

Do you also have cross-save or cross-progression?

No. This is a peer-to-peer co-op experience. When I bring you into my campaign, you're coming to me to help you with my progression. You're not going back to yours with that, taking that progression with you or something. You go back to wherever you were in your campaign.

There isn't a centralized server where if you're playing on PS5 you can upload your campaign data and then resume it on PC, then?

No.

How is your team taking advantage of Unreal Engine 5 for MechWarrior 5: Clans?

In every way we possibly can. Thankfully, we really leveraged almost all the new toys in there. There's a full MetaHuman base with heavy customization of the models to our needs, a full motion capture of cinematics, and then you've got the world itself.

We've gone with full Nanite and Lumen, all the destructible are based on Chaos. We use World Partition. We've pretty much activated and used all the fancy new stuff at this point. It definitely makes the game look a lot better. Even in the last month, as we brought more and more of these things online, it's just gotten better and better. We're really happy we made the upgrade from UE4 to 5.

Are you planning to launch this simultaneously on PC as well as the console platforms?

Yeah, it's a simultaneous ship on Xbox, PlayStation, and PC.

Does that include Xbox One and PlayStation 4 or just current gen?

Mercenaries did both, but this time, we've decided we're going to go with just PS5, Xbox Series X and I suppose we have to support series S. A weird little outlier that one.

Thankfully, it's not nearly as complex as trying to program a Nintendo Switch version, for example.

Yeah. I don't think Switch is in the cards. RAM would be the biggest hang up, even with the older consoles, the amount of RAM. We'll see if they ever announce Switch 2 what the RAM is, but I'm not that hopeful they'll have enough around.

I mean, those systems have been out now for what, five years? It took a while because of the supply chain storages and stuff. I think the old gen hung on longer than usual, but now we're finally seeing the sales numbers go up.

On PC, will you have gamepad support?

Yeah, of course. You can use any of the PS5 or Xbox controllers, as well as keyboard and mouse, of course. There is a new, simplified control system for regular controllers if you wanna use it where the torso twist and everything is an animation blend and it pretty much feels just like any other third-personshooter to someone who hasn't played MechWarrior before.

Would you consider implementing gyroscopic aiming for PlayStation 5's DualSense controller?

I don't know. I think that would be a big disadvantage to your gameplay if you tried to do that. In order for that to work, we would probably have to make some other mode where you were controlling an airstrike that's coming in or something like that. Thatcould be the idea.

Do you have a release window and price in mind for MechWarrior 5: Clans?

So far, what we're announcing is it is a 2024 game. I think we will have better details on the precise ship date coming around the June time frame.

How extensive is the customization this time around, both in building your Mech from the ground up but also in putting your own personality, like color ways or decals or emblems?

It's pretty deep in there. It's similar to Mercenaries. You have a full Mechlab in there. You can customize your Mech's weapons and put different ones on. You can add heatsinks and all that stuff. Plus, with the Clan Mech, since they're OmniMech, you can change out the OmniPod set. For example, a Timber Wolf stock might come with the big missile racks up here. But if you go to a different OmniPod set, you might lose those and go to an energy or ballistics loadout.

There's also a full science upgrade thing. You might get plus one heat dissipation on your Mech chassis. There's pilot skills to play around with, adding different skills to your five pilots.

There's quite a deep meta game in the front end as well.

How much will players have to worry about ammo conservation in later missions?

I think that's probably to be decided as we push down the stretch here and we're trying to balance the game out. I'd say traditionally in MechWarrior games it's not a huge factor.

Sometimes in the late stage games, as you saw if you played the Mercenaries campaign, but in this game I expect it as well... Because MechWarrior is such a battle of attrition type game, when we have these big final missions you'll start to see field repair bases and stuff so that we can grant back some ammunition and some armor so that we can extend the mission to 20, 25 minutes.

If it's a big, deep, complex mission, we need to find a way to get the player to, have enough help to get there so we can grant some ammo back. I guess if you're getting a little bit strapped for ammo, if you're only packing Gauss rifles, then you might have to consider taking some PPCs or energy weapons so you always have something to shoot because those are unlimited.

Thank you so much for your time.

MechWarrior 5: Clans Takes Full Advantage of Unreal Engine 5, Finally Ships with Great Controller Support (2024)
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