Game review: Hawken


In all honesty, up until about a week ago, I had never heard of Hawken; beginning its life in 2012, it passed me by like a ship in the night. Fast forward to now and Hawken has become available on Xbox One and PS4 as a free-to-play game, looking to get console players involved in the action… But is it worthy of their time?

Normally, the idea of a free to play game instantly turns me off – I prefer to pay my money, get a full game, and be done with it. Of course, in today’s gaming society where Downloadable Content (DLC) is never ending and micro-transactions are rampant, that isn’t always the case, but free-to-play always irks me, as people who pay more will be better, and I don’t like that ideology.

Luckily for me, Hawken uses a free-to-play style that is used mainly for cosmetic enhancements and can slightly speed up your ability to progress. At no point does the game offer a level up or a way of becoming better that can only be got by paying for it, and everything can be gained without paying… it just takes a little more grinding. For me, this kind of free-to-play model is the best one to go for, as you can play the entire game without having to pay, and a free game is always a good game!

On top of that, Hawken is actually a pretty fun game; strapping you into the pilot seat of your own fighter mech and letting you loose on the fields of battle to reap pure carnage against all other mechs. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it’s nice to get a first person shooter that feels different. Movement feels heavier and your dash is governed by how much fuel you have to burn, making you think more about when to boost and what you may need to save to get out of a hairy situation. The dash function also allows you to quickly sidestep to avoid incoming fire, and the fuel is also the source of power for your aerial boost ability, which lets you fly for a short amount of time. All of these moves tie in together to make for an exhilarating time as you dash and fly, dodging incoming fire and raining your own terror from above, all whilst trying to check how much fuel you still have left so you don’t end up as scrap.

Hawken also adds another layer by the multiple mechs you can get and the upgrades you can apply to them. You start with a rather modest mech (which is still one of my favourites) but, as you earn more experience from playing, you can either decide to put your points into your existing mech or get a new mech entirely. You don’t trade your original mech out and so you can end up with a team all with different strengths as certain mechs are more about fast bursts and aggressive attacks whilst some are more about being literal walking tanks that get nowhere fast but can also decimate anyone they come into contact with. This ability to mix between play styles is something that’s become commonplace in most FPS games but Hawken adds that extra sparkle because you’re in giant robots each with their own unique look and feel.

So far I’ve been having a blast with Hawken, to the point that I may even buy some of the things that will cost me real-life money. Not just because I like the idea of my robot being a giant gold monstrosity, but because Hawken has won me over with its intensely fun combat, and I feel like that deserves some sort of monetary reward… even if it is just a few quid for a new paint job.


Author: Hal, Plymouth store