This free Windows 10 PC game is a healthy blend of strategy combat, city-building and character development. You find yourself in a world where radioactive crystals have spawned monsters that threaten the very fabric of society, and the political landscape is very volatile. It's your job to lead a team of soldiers into harm's way and save the day.
X-Mercs sports fantastic, detailed graphics and easy turn-based controls. There are plenty of upgrades for soldiers and weapons, with missions requiring a tactical approach. Overall, X-Mercs is an entertaining Windows 10 game.
Plot and gameplay
Based in the year 2040, a new natural resource has been discovered that mutates wildlife, creating a variety of monsters who threaten mankind. Move ahead 40 years or so and countries have begun to rely on private military corporations. Your job is to lead a team of mercenaries through dozens of missions to destroy hostile monsters, search for salvage, rescue scientists and more.
On top of the combat missions, X-Mercs also has a city-building aspect. The game begins with the core infrastructure of your basecamp. Through mission success and earning the necessary resources, you can expand your basecamp by building armories, research facilities and more.
The primary menu lays out a host of options that include jumping into gameplay, accessing the settings, viewing the gaming news, accessing your account information and viewing your game ratings. Accounts are free to set up and allow you to synchronize your game progress between devices. Also, keep in mind that X-Mercs is a very graphic-intense game, and if you need to dial down the graphics quality to allow the game to run smoother, there is a setting to adjust it as needed.
When you first jump into gameplay, X-Mercs walks you through an extensive series of tutorials that covers combat moves, upgrading gear, expanding your base, choosing a mission and more.
Combat and building your base
Combat missions are selected from the global map and prior to deployment, you can choose your team members and weapons loadout. Each soldier is equipped with a primary and secondary weapon, with the option for specialty weapons, such as grenades, if available. Soldiers vary in skills, abilities and weapon specialties that include snipers, demolitions, infantry and more. Choosing the right team to send into action can be as important as how you direct them in battle.
Gameplay is turn-based with you controlling the entire team of mercenaries. Movement is grid-based with the battlefield highlighting all the possible points of movement during each soldier's move. Any special weapons (grenades of orbital strikes) that are available appear along the left side of the screen. Clicking on an enemy target highlights the soldier's targeting sights and double-clicking on that target directs your soldier to engage with their primary weapon.
Throughout the battlefield, there are items available (tree stumps, cargo units, and boulders) that can be used for cover. This provides your soldiers a minor degree of protection from enemy attacks.
Mission objectives can be reviewed from a pull-down menu that is available at the top of the game display. Once you have reached your objective, your team searches for salvage and other resources that can be used to expand your base, craft weapons, improve armor and more.
As far as the base is concerned, the primary view is from the base's operation center. Here you can access the mission map, armory and science center. You can also review your squad for member recruitment, weapons and armor management, and to upgrade a soldier's skills. Base management is done by clicking on the "Base" console and includes options to build new structures such as reactors, markets and troop barracks, as well as upgrading existing buildings.
In many respects, X-Mercs reminds me of an RPG board game version of Halo: Spartan Strike, with Spartan Strike being more of a top-down shooter. Both of these Windows 10 games provide an entertaining sci-fi adventure, but X-Mercs has a bit more depth.
X-Mercs' graphics are filled with detail, and its animations are very fluid. The RPG features allow you to improve your soldier's abilities and weapon development. Mission strategy goes beyond the "run-and-gun" tactics, requiring you to utilize each team member based on their skills, weapon loadout and abilities. For example, you should keep your sniper positioned towards the back of the action while your shotgunner needs to be closer to it. X-Mercs' combat sequences deliver a fun, tactical challenge.
I think the game could have survived without the city-building-style features. Managing the infrastructure of your base adds a bit of depth to the game but compared to the combat, city-building can be awfully boring. I like the weapon development and scientific research aspects, though. It is a little more challenging to find all the necessary items to build a new weapon than simply reaching an experience level to unlock a new weapon.
Overall, the gaming experience with X-Mercs is very good. This Windows 10 PC game supports touch and keyboard controls, and while there is a lot of depth to X-Mercs, it is not overwhelming. If you enjoy sci-fi games, RPGs, combat games or any other type of games with depth, X-Mercs is well worth a try.
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George is the Reviews Editor at Windows Central, concentrating on Windows 10 PC and Mobile apps. He's been a supporter of the platform since the days of Windows CE and uses his current Windows 10 Mobile phone daily to keep up with life and enjoy a game during down time.