- Graphically amazing
- Mech action
- Fun competitive play
- A bit of a grind for upgrades
Mechs. Everyone loves mechs. Especially mechs equipped with TOW rockets and EMP grenades. Being a fan of games such as Mechwarrior and Armored Core, it was about time that the beloved heavy metal tin can made a reappearance in the FPS world. After the impressive showing at Gamescom, Hawken arrived on 12/12/12 and after a few months of play and a multitude of updates, a stomping verdict can be made. To summarise, it’s the most destructive fun I’ve had in a long time, and the most satisfying.
There are three types of mechs, all with various pros and cons; light, medium and heavy. As one can guess, the lighter ones will have the most maneuverability at the cost of armour, and vice versa for the heavier mechs. My personal preference is the lighter variation, as movement is everything. By using boosters, you can dodge left or right, forward and the use of jetpacks will lift you to higher elevations. Boosts of this nature is limited with a cooldown period before it can be used again, in addition to awareness of how the radar is used. If you can see their blip, they can see yours. But staying out of range can provide sneak attack opportunities. With this in mind, you have to play smarter when attacking or defending,
As easy as it is to get into the cockpit of Hawken, it is however difficult to master. The art of dashing is something that will not only save your life, but also turn the tide and help you score a kill when things look slightly Pete Tong. The L dodge is my favourite; when your enemy fires, a quick dodge to left or right and then a dart forward not only avoids incoming fire, but also closes the gap between you and them for the kill. Some of these moves are instinctive but new pilots have a lot of help from veterans. A quick look on the community forums reveal a wealth of information. Some pro pilots have even made videos demonstrating the different tactics employed. It’s this community spirit that not only encourages people to play, but also negates the hostile winning mentality that you may encounter in other competitive games such as Call of Duty. The same thing can be said about StarCraft competitive games; GL, HF, GG. I guess PC gamers are more polite perhaps.
Graphically it looks absolutely stunning and Meteor Entertainment recently announced support for the upcoming VR headset Oculus Rift. Imagine kicking metal ass with full peripheral vision. With full PhysX support as you would expect, the interactive environment provides not only sniping points, but jetpack opportunities to leap from above and blast someone in the face. The world as we know it has an armageddon feel in Hawken, there’s so much rubble around that natural cover is dotted throughout. My personal favourite is getting up close and personal with the new Raider mech while darting from cover. A much harder machine to utilise effectively, it does however provide double the satisfaction when someone gets caught with their mech pants down after a short introduction to your shotgun.
In terms of customisation, you can fancy dress your hunk of metal with aesthetic decals. One notable addition recently was the rather lovely Valentines skin, whereby you could cover yourself with love hearts. Perhaps mech dating could be a new thing. Armaments can also be upgraded with superior weapons or secondary add-ons such as improved boosts or repair bots. As useful as these may be, it has been emphasised that the monetisation model is not Pay-to-Win. All the upgrades can be bought by Meteor credits or Hawken points earned in the game, but regardless of what you buy, the game has been balanced to ensure that skill will always determine the overall winner.
There is no doubt that without paying a dime, you can still enjoy everything that Hawken has to offer. However, as with many F2P games of this type, it can be a bit of a grind to get what you want. Everyone loves shiny upgrades, but you have to work for it and play repeatedly, This is not a bad thing and of course it is to be expected, but may get tiresome over time. It does help that new content is being added constantly to keep interest, and practice does make perfect. But most of all, it is a heck of a lot of fun to play and you can look cool in the process. Hawken is still technically in beta but to be honest, it’s already there. If you like mechs and competitive play, you can’t go much wrong by downloading the Hawken client, gratis.