Difficulty in MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries can prove tricky to gauge: what exactly is happening as difficulty increases, and how can you tell if you’re ready? This guide should help you make better sense of it all.
Difficulty can be checked in the Starmap, and after accepting a contract.
As you may have noticed, you have a universal clan reputation that increases with each successful contract. It’s in the top-right of the main menu, next to the skull icon. It represents not only how far you have come as a mercenary, but provides a general idea as to where you are in the game concerning progression.
On the Starmap, each Conflict Zone will have a recommended clan reputation, and clicking on a system will display it in the system information section in the bottom-right. So, say you highlight Cole Harbour: you’ll see it’s in the Free Worlds Commerce Hub, which has a recommended reputation level of nine. What this is trying to tell you is that you should be able to take on the contracts in this system by the time you reach that rank, due to all the new mechs and equipment you’ve been collecting to get there.
This is by no means perfect: you could have sold off or destroyed a gaggle of things grinding up your rank, so think of it more as a barometer for your progress. What matters most is the actual difficulty rating for a mission.
This does scale up higher in relation to clan reputation, so if you are grinding reputation rank two systems you should expect the difficulty to be at around ten on the one-to-one-hundred scale. Climb up to reputation rank fourteen and you’ll find the difficulty is suddenly at ninety-five out of one-hundred.
Difficulty is tied to pilot level, not just equipment.
What this number indicates is a few things: overall density of enemies (the higher the number, the larger the swarms), the tonnage of enemy mechs (the greater the difficulty, the more likely you’ll face heavier and heavier mechs), and enemy “accuracy”. Enemy accuracy is a bit opaque at a glance, but it essentially works with a few hidden modifiers to enemy damage-per-second. As difficulty climbs so too does the ceiling for enemy damage-per-second. That’s why enemies seem to whiff more often than not at lower difficulties, but hammer you with more pinpoint attacks as the scale moves up.
To mitigate this you need to level your personal Damage Avoidance stat (Evasion), as well as your lance’s. This is crucial, because a pilot with four points in avoidance will get demolished in contracts above 40 difficulty. Think of it like this: one point is good for a mission at a difficulty of ten, and two is good for difficulty’s up to twenty; all of this moving upwards until the max of ten points in avoidance to better dodge attacks at the maximum one-hundred difficulty. Pair this with the Damage Mitigation stat (Shielding) for increased survivability.
You can go into a mission underleveled and succeed, but you’ll likely suffer greater damage to you mech, lose equipment, and maybe even a lancemate who wasn’t prepared for the battle. It’s critical you hire on new pilots with higher skill caps and level them in appropriately difficult contracts if you hope to push into harder content without wanting to pull your hair out. Not only will you and your lance suffer less damage and make it out alive, but you will all also deal more damage to enemies.
Ergo: level people up, collect better tiers of equipment and heavier mechs, then dominate your foes. That’s all there is to difficulty in MechWarrior 5. For more guides keep an eye on our guides page.