I’ve always been a fan of mechs and mech games. Mechwarrior 3 on the PC was my first experience with a mech simulator. Adhesive Games’ Hawken is similar, but online and more focused on fast firefights between giant mechs than an in depth simulator, making it more like a mech based first person shooter. I’ve had a couple of days with the game and it’s proven to be a solid experience even in its beta state. It doesn’t fall into the trap of many free-to-play games by making the progress meaningless with pay to win stuff. There is obviously that option to purchase in game credits, but gaining levels and credits is fast, allowing you to upgrade your mech in the early game without having to grind it out.
If I had one complaint about Hawken, it’s the lack of an immersive single player mode. The multiplayer has story beats but only in tutorialisation and text. It’s the difference between playing only the multiplayer aspect of an FPS, and ignoring single player altogether.
The maps, however, all have their own interesting weighting to the back story. The latest map added in the December 3rd 0.9.6.5 update, ‘Wreckage’, takes players to the scene of a crashed cargo ship in the middle of a swamp. The cargo ship has many salvageable mechs and parts, making the ship a battlefield for warring factions and mercenary mech pilots, searching for supplies to aid them in a barren dystopia.
Hawken’s other maps tend to take advantage of Unreal Engine 3 fairly well, and with all the varying light levels in Wreckage, it’s even more apparent. High quality textures and light filtering throughout the ship’s carcass really tie it all together. You can tell this isn’t a map they slapped together in a few days.
The design of the map is also well thought out. The interiors provide a large amount of cover with a converging point in the middle where most player encounters are had. Varying degrees of height allow a height advantage in some parts of the map as well, making equipped jump jets even more useful. It’s also quite a large map – from the cargo holds in the bowels of the ship, to outside the wreck with sparse cover, you’re bound to get lost your first time around. Darren Quach, senior concept artist, had this to say about the development of ‘Wreckage’:
“Our artists and designers worked closely together to ensure that both art and design created the best experience possible for players. During map construction we focused on creating iconic map locations to provide visual anchors to players within a believable space that retained the gameplay rhythms developed by the map designers.”
Along with the release of ‘Wreckage’, a Christmas theming to Hawken’s ‘Last Eco’ map applies a cover of snow, candy canes, presents and Christmas trees to the map. Snowman repair drones and wrapping paper skins for your mech make for a rather charming extra addition to the seasonal update.
The update is live right now. If mechs at all interest you, this is definitely impetus to go take a look at Hawken.
Last Updated: December 6, 2013