I’m a big fan of the sci-fi trope known as Mecha. These massive, humanoid, piloted battle machines are in many stories key plot elements (Evangelion, Gundam, Mechwarrior, for examples) and have been present in many video games, from side instances in Halo 4 and 5, to being central gameplay elements like in Titanfall or Shogo: Mobile Armor Division. While futuristic, they can, depending on design, feel like the most realistic things from sci-fi, and have a huge following.
Naturally, liking Mecha means that any game that features these battle machines will peak my interest, and a few nights ago I came across Hawken listed as a free to play game on Xbox One. Of course I knew it was one of those games that gave you the option for micro transactions, but I felt it was worth a shot anyway – it looked like a good game.
Once I got playing, however, I grew to enjoy what I experienced. I didn’t know the game was a new release for the Xbox One and Playstation 4 consoles – it had originally been released a few years ago for PC, and while the console builds are different, the core gameplay is the same, so I guess I have been missing out on a fun gameplay experience. While Hawken does have microtransactions, it only features these as mandatory for cosmetic effects – new armor patterns, new emblems.. nothing that would change the game. You can spend real money to buy upgrades, but you can also grind away for in-game currency for these, and they will only assist you in completing missions: player skill and teamwork is key to getting anywhere in Hawken.
Really, that’s the fun thing, is getting a group of players together who just “know” what to do. When you and your fellow pilots are scouring the battlefield hunting for the enemy, launching attacks that come together perfectly, it’s quite the good feeling. Having your allies come to your rescue is also fun, as is covering someone who is repairing when the battle gets too heavy. Alternately, you have times where you wind up making a wrong turn and have a 4 vs 1 battle that you can’t win, and all you can blame is yourself for making the wrong turn. It’s quite a well thought out game design in that while you can sometimes go at a fight alone and be victorious, if’s often more risky than it’s worth to do such, and you would do better to stick with a buddy just in case.
The game is quite grindy, but battles are short, around 7 minutes each for team deathmatch, the main mode I have played on the past few days, and you will eventually earn enough in game currency to buy better mechs to use. Each one still requires skill and understanding of it’s abilities, meaning even a heavily armored powerhouse mech can be taken down by the stock starter mech, if a skilled player is piloting it.
Hawken isn’t really a game you can explain. It’s like trying to explain Call of Duty multiplayer to someone who has never actually played it – without the experience it just doesn’t make sense. Hawken does have a unique feel to it’s combat, and it’s something I enjoy. It isn’t like Titanfall, but that’s a close comparison… to those who have played classic games like Mechwarrior 2 and the like, it feels like a slightly more fast paced, and less customizable version of how those games were back in the day.
It’s free to play, so why not try it out? Hawken is available on Steam, Xbox One, and Playstation 4. No, this was not a paid ad, I just think the game is actually pretty damn fun!