In Hawken you are introduced to a world of mechs that is in constant war. The free-to-play multiplayer shooter went into open beta in December of 2012, and then to Early Access on Steam in February of 2014. This review is based on the early access beta of Hawken, which is available for download on steam.
The term free-to-play is often misused and players refer to this term as pay-to-win, however this is not the case for Hawken. While there is a difference between the Hawken and Meteor Credits, which you earn by simply playing the game or through micro transactions, all mechs can be bought with both types of credits. If you prefer to spend countless hours gathering Hawken Credits rather than through micro transactions, you will not be at much of a disadvantage. However, if you are an impatient player, you may want to spend a few bucks to get a few new mechs and/or weapons, but the majority of the mechs are well balanced.
Being that the game is in open beta, there is one recurring question. That is, “Can you keep all your items after Open Beta?”. The answer, in fact, is that you are able keep everything you’ve unlocked! Any Meteor Credits you purchase, Hawken Credits you earn, and any mechs, weapons, equipment, or style upgrades you’ve unlocked are permanent and will remain on your account. Meteor Entertainment explained that gamers should “think of this time in the Hawken Open Beta as your head start on the rest of the world.”
There is no denying that the visuals in Hawken are absolutely stunning in every possible way. Even the customization of the mechs is top-notch. You can choose various types of patterns for your mechs body, as well as play around with the saturation and scale of these patterns. Every body part that that is customizable fits the complete picture. Nothing looks out of place. Not even the smallest details are spared, as you can completely recolor the trim on your mechs. The HUD, or the cockpit of your mech, can be fully re-styled to fit your style. Everything down from the colors of the HP and boost bars, all the way to various shapes of the aiming recticles, is customizable. Anything you can think can be customized, while still managing to look good.
Swapping servers can be done quite easily, and does not require you to make a new account or restart the game at all. With 7 different servers available, login issues are swept off the table. Queues are usually quite fast, but since there is no timer, it tends to feel longer. With the easy swapping of servers, you can re-queue on a different server and find a game fast enough. However, if you do find yourself waiting for some time, you can always further explore your garage of mechs during the queue-time.
Currently there are 8 maps available. Each map feels adequate in size. There are also 4 different game modes, which have to be unlocked one-by-one. The first game-mode that you are able to play is the classic Team Deathmatch, which is followed up by Missile Assault, and a Capture-The-Flag type of game mode that involves capturing missile silos. Siege is the fourth game mode you will unlock. In this mode, teams must destroy the other team’s base with the use of an airborne battleship. Last but certainly not least, is the classic Deathmatch. This mode can easily described as a Free-for-All. Other game modes are being developed for Hawken‘s release but are not included in the beta testing just yet.
Remember, you are playing with huge robots armed with an aresenal of weapons and utilities, so a slower gameplay is inevitable. Surprisingly, mechs are still extremely agile. The turning speed may be slower than your average shooter, although, thanks to the boosting mechanic, you can easily turn on a dime. The rounds are quick but do not feel like you are playing a fast-paced shooter and the controls work like a charm. With the variation of mechs, weapons, and other utilities, you will be able to find something that suits your playing style.
Evaluating replay value in an online multiplayer game proves to be difficult, but there are several things you should know about Hawken. You can level up through about 30 levels so far, but progression doesn’t stop here. Each mech has 6 of its own levels that can unlock weapons and body parts, which you need to upgrade and customize your mech. Keep in mind, there are currently 17 mechs that you use. It will take you quite some time to level them all up. Luckily, once you’ve reached pilot level 30, all remaining XP gained will be turned into universal XP which you can then be used to level your mechs up. Keep in mind, there is always room for more mechs in the game and with more game modes being developed, the replay value in Hawken seems more than adequate.
An achievement-system is implemented in the game under the name of service awards. Unlocking these awards will reward you with either XP, Hawken Credits, Meteor Credits, or sometimes all of the above.
While Hawken isn’t your typical shooter, it is a game that is graphically stunning and can provide countless hours of gameplay. This is all thanks to the various types of mechs and machinery that is available from the get go. It’s also completely free, so there is no reason not to start playing today!