Hawken, the new Mech based FPS from Adhesive Games and Meteor Entertainment has been steadily gaining momentum among PC gamers. Still in its beta, players have been flocking to its MechAssault-esque gameplay which features a variety of heavily armored Mechs roaming the battlefield raining death to all comers. The kicker here is that Hawken is free to play; that’s right, even though its microtransaction system could use some work, Hawken is indeed an AAA F2P game.
It’s not a simplistic game however, there are nuances unique to this title and the learning curve, while not very steep, still takes some getting used to. Below I will share a short primer which should give you some basic tips and tricks to help you avoid unneeded frustration.
The first thing you should do before getting into a game is to realize that even though this is a FPS, it’s very different from Call of Duty or Halo. The fact that you play as a massive Mech instead of a lithe soldier type affects the mechanics drastically. That being said, a lot of things are common as you have the first person view, the multiple class types and the varied mission objectives. When you first boot up you will get the noob CRT Mech, and trust me, it really looks like an old CRT TV on legs. Don’t get turned off though, the better Mechs look really sweet. Speaking of Mechs, they are classified into three broad categories: A, B and C. A is the light class type so it’s fast and agile but has low armor, B is the middle ground Mech giving you average armor and speed and C class is your tank type, heavily armored but slow.
Movement is the big difference here and overall it’s a very important component of Hawken. You would think that since you are playing in a big ole Mech, you should stand still or just strafe horizontally. Unfortunately even A class mechs pack a punch so keeping on the move at all times is paramount. The rather excellent tutorial is a must and it will teach you the various movement skills like the dodge, boost and the hover abilities.
The weapons run the gamut from missile launchers to SMGs, and all mechs have a primary and secondary weapon. Most of the time, the primary weapon will have a high rate of fire but low damage while the secondary does more damage but has a cool down. Learning the proper timings of these weapons is essential. Think of your secondary weapon like an ultimate ability actually: use it sparingly, always have it ready for the right moment, never spam it. There is no ammo in Hawken, rather like the first Mass Effect, the weapons heat up as you fire. Weapons that get too hot will not be usable while they cool of; this doesn’t take long at all but being unarmed for even a few seconds makes you a sitting duck in the field.
Another important thing to note is that all mechs have a special ability, such as activating a temporary defense or offense boost or cooling down weapons instantly. Each Mech has a unique one and combining your special ability with the right weapon is very important.
Lastly and perhaps most importantly for new players is the repair function. This ability renders your Mech inert, puts you in a third person view and heals your mech. The downside is that obviously, you are utterly defenseless and immobile while this is happening but as you learn the terrain better you will find nice spots to stop and heal or conversely to hunt down other mechs who have stopped to heal.
Overall, Hawken isn’t the hardest game to learn and the tutorial and UI are set up very well to get you in the action as soon as possible. Just follow those simple rules above, keep moving, know your weapons and plan ahead and very soon, you will stomp around the battlefield like a true boss.