HAWKEN Console Review: The Best Mech Shooter I’ve Ever Played

Back in December 2012, independent developer Adhesive Games ambitiously crafted and launched their new free-to-play multiplayer mech simulator combat experience, known as HAWKEN. At the time HAWKEN was available for PC with no view in sight of ever arriving on consoles.

Fast-forwarding past all the game’s business dealings, which led to both publisher and developer Meteor Entertainment and Adhesive Games being dissolved, HAWKEN found a home in the hands of a new publisher and developer, 505 Games and Reloaded Games respectively.

When HAWKEN first hit the scene almost three years ago, I of course followed the games launch progress and watched countless videos of this exciting new action-intensive mech shooter. Unfortunately I never was able to get my hands on the game due to the fact that I had yet to invest in a capable PC rig, which could properly run HAWKEN.

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Thank God for the PS4 and Xbox One!

Since launching on both platforms as a free-to-play experience, HAWKEN has been played for countless hours by myself and other members of our team who simply can’t get enough of the games addictive gameplay, founded on the idea of replacing foot soldiers with weaponized mechs. As if Mech Assault, Killzone and Armored Core conceived a radial child of combat, HAWKEN is the result of careful crafting of what seems like the perfect multiplayer mech simulation experience.

HAWKEN for consoles has not been visually enhanced or updated to maximize the PS4/Xbox One hardware, so at the moment what you have is a direct port from the PC to console, with no additional touches or so it seems as such, which is quite noticeable in many areas, appearing dated according to the today’s standards. However, despite the currently dated visuals, the game is so much fun you simply don’t care. HAWKEN is a complete blast to play, whether winning or losing.

HAWKEN for console like it’s PC counterpart takes place in a dystopian human-colonized planet industrialized to the point of collapse, in which the hunt for resources has become a battle for survival, as this theme does permeate throughout the games varied map landscapes. The stars of the show are undoubtedly the varied mechs, which come in the form of light, medium and heavy classes. With currently 35 mechs to choose from, many needing to be unlocked and relatively agile, mechs are all equipped with thrusters, which allows them to travel faster and hover in short jumps. Of course the smaller the mech the more agile and the larger the mech the less agility, yet the bigger you are often means you can pack a more devastating punch and HAWKEN is no exception.

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Unlike many other first-person shooters, weapons have unlimited ammunition, but are prone to overheating during sustained fire. Overheating will shut down all weapons of the mech, forcing the player to find a safe place to recover. It will be possible to choose alternate weapons, equipment and upgrades for all mech types to match a play-style or to fill a specific role in a team.

The flexibility of commandering the mechs makes the game rather accessible as players can side dash, boost, and make 180 degree turns to compensate for the slow movements of the mech, which in turn will deplete the recharging fuel tank. Thankfully the fuel tank automatically refills itself. How you utilize and balance your mechs gas fuel along with potential weapon overheating is the difference between winning and losing when being faced one on one with and enemy mech.

Consisting of nine playable maps, each map is dramatically designed with varied structures, themes, and strategies. Maps deeply reflect Hawken’s lore and universe, and have been designed to accommodate most game modes. Maps come in the form of Bazaar, Bunker, Facility, Front Line, Last Eco, Origin, Prosk, Uptown, and Wreckage.

HAWKEN for console features six game modes, Team Deathmatch, Missile Assault, Siege, Deathmatch, Co-op Team Deathmatch and Co-op Bot Destruction. As two of my favorite modes, Siege is where you and your team collect energy units (EU) from two EU stations to launch your team’s batttleship at the enemy base; players take control of the “AA”, or “Anti-Air” to defend or destroy their respective battleships. Missile Assault is an objective-based mode, where the players capture and defend 3 missile silo stations to attack each other’s base.

At its core HAWKEN is a first-person tactical team-based shooter where team communication is vital to a teams success. Mechs greatly compliment the team willing to play and stay together as the weaponized abilities of these war machines when working collectively, can thwart any single-players rouge-like approach. Sure, if you’re good enough you can go gun blazing terrorizing the playing field, racking up kills, but your team victories will be very thin if your efforts are not in line with objectively working with your team. This is something I greatly appreciate about HAWKEN. As a competitive player who hates to lose, it is rather rare when I lose and I am still having an absolute blast and with HAWKEN the fun never lets up.

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HAWKEN for console features a simple UI, streamlined for players to jump right into the action. Though the UI could use a facelift for aesthetic purposes, players are encouraged to check out featured mechs, health drones, mech emotes and thrusters on an ever changing feature list which changes periodically.

Thankfully, HAWKEN is not pay win. All microtransactions afford players the ability to purchase mech credit which can be used to purchase locked mechs, a varied list of cosmetic like mech parts (upper, middle, lower and arms), color camos, thrusters, health drones, emblems, taunts and cockpit trenkits. Or you certainly have to option of grinding it out increasing your experience points, which leads to gaining more blue mech credits and so on.

Now heavily invested in the HAWKEN experience after significantly ranking up my pilot, as well as my currently favored mechs, I do have a laundry list of updates I would love for Reloaded Games to address, which I will not list here (list of HAWKEN desirables coming soon).

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HAWKEN has such an amazingly high upside that we can’t wait to see where this one goes. Bringing HAWKEN to console seems like the best move for the game since it was officially launched back in December 2012, and hopefully the console community fully embraces this fantastic mech experience.

Despite its late arrival to consoles, HAWKEN is best mech shooter I’ve ever played, even rivaling some of today’s most popular shooter franchises.

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