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My Experience with Hawken

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Jan 16, 2011
Deep South
Hey guys n gals! Just thought I'd share my thoughts on Hawken following the end of the 2nd closed beta. First off, let me just say - and this is just my personal opinion - Hawken is awesome.

It's fun, it's competitive and it looks good. Could it look better? Absolutely! Did I notice graphical loading and rendering issues throughout my experience? I sure as hell did, and they were very noticeable to boot. But did the gameplay sufficiently satisfy my personal appeal? Oh-ho-ho yes it did!

My first "mech" style game was MechWarrior 3 in 1999. Some of you old timers are probably wondering who let this kid in here, but I promise you that I've spent enough countless hours in the chair to validate a modest opinion. I've played through the gambit of Armored Core games, but I haven't played MechWarrior Online so my experience of current mech games may be a bit limited in respect to multiplayer gameplay differences between the two. So I'm just going to speak on what I do know. Hawken is awesome! The beta closed last night at midnight, but will re-open in about a month, so if you haven't gotten a chance to play yet, you will be able to join the open beta on 12/12/12.

I felt really immersed when I started my first match. Watching the Hawken come to life was really cool. The delayed response of the cockpit and general mechanics of the device really made me feel like I was piloting the thing. The hud was detailed enough to supply this experience without cluttering the screen too much. If you've ever played any other mech style game, you'll notice that the device you pilot is much slower than other machines. They also look a lot more rugged and thrown together. I feel that this choice in artistic direction mirrors the setting in which the game takes place: a dystopic, not-too-distant-future earth which is pitted into the turmoils of a bloody war.

The game features 3 modes of play: deathmatch, team deathmatch, and siege. I spent most of my time playing siege. Siege is best described as a mix of capture the flag and king of the hill. The object of this game mode is to acquire energy units (capture the flag) from 1 of 2 control points in the map and return them to your team base to fuel up a battleship. Once either team has fueled up their battleship, it will launch and an AA (anti-air) control point becomes available for capture (king of the hill). You want to hold this point for 2 reasons: 1) to shoot down the enemy battleship. 2) to prevent the enemy from shooting down your battleship. This style of gameplay is very fun and I enjoyed it a lot.

Combat is very tactical in nature and team work is very important. I only played with one style of mech (5 more available for purchase them; more on this later), but the weapons load-out is similar. You have a primary weapon, usually some kind of automatic rifle and a secondary weapon which was usually some kind of explosive projectile. The default, "assault" class Hawken that I played with had an assault rifle (alternate sub-machine cannon) and TOW (rocket) launcher. In addition to these weapons you also have an offensive item, a defensive item and a functional item. You have about 3 choices for each of these types of items, including explosive charges, turrets, energy shields, emp, etc.

An important key to success in the game is evasion. You can rapidly dodge (strafe) to avoid heavier attacks while unloading your automatic rifle, but you have to be careful to save your shots. You have unlimited ammo, but your weapons will overheat and it doesn't take long for that to happen. You must remain alert because you want to get that first shot in as quickly as possible, dodge the first counter and just unload everything you got after that. This worked for me often, but more skilled players were better at dodging my attacks.

The only major flaw in this game is that other players can essentially buy their way into winning. There are two ways to purchase upgrades: hawken points (hp) and meteor points (mp). HP is earned through kills and completed matches, while MP is purchased with real money. This means that despite your hard work and genuine effort, you can still be outgunned by some punk with mom's credit card. This can be especially frustrating if a player buys his/her way to level 20, at which point a special "vulcan" turret becomes unlocked. This vulcan turret is in my opinion, over-powered. It seems to be the only over-powered weapon in the game so far, but I found in many encounters that I simply could not compete with someone that had one of these. The turret could not be destroyed quickly enough and without losing enough hit-points to go 1-on-1 with the player without being at a severe disadvantage.

All-in-all, it is a fun game and I enjoyed playing it over the weekend. If anyone else has played it and would like to share their experience, please do. If you made it this far through my rant, thanks for reading. I would love to hear from someone that has played both Hawken and MechWarrior Online.

tl;dr: Hawken is a lot of fun. Pros: Gameplay is immersive. Multiplayer is competitive. Free to play. Cons: Still in beta!!! Matchmaking needs work. Meteor points make it possible for players to pay to win.