Just last week, we brought you our first hands-on look at the co-op feature found in Ubisoft's upcoming air-combat game HAWX. Based on a gameplay session at a London press event, we told you about the basics of piloting a jet fighter in a team of four and how the game ties into the greater Tom Clancy universe. Recently, though, Ubisoft held an event in San Francisco to give American press a chance to experience a few brand-new co-op missions: Washington DC and Chicago.
Before jumping into co-op, we acclimated ourselves to the game's controls by taking a sneak peek at the public demo, due to be released in February. This mission takes place in the skies above Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and offers a tutorial on the game's accessible control scheme. You're guided through the basics of moving through the sky and firing your weapons, plus a few advanced techniques such as drifting (which is essentially a way of performing a midair U-turn). It's all pretty simple stuff, at least on the default difficulty. However, you have the option to move to advanced difficulty, which makes piloting your jet substantially more challenging because it removes the various assists that keep your plane on the right track.
Having conquered the air drones terrorizing the skies of Brazil, we moved on to the first America-based mission in the game, which was Washington DC. Prior to the mission, we had the option to choose our aircraft, a process in which you need to consider the requirements of the upcoming mission against the attributes of various jets. Things such as air-to-air versus air-to-ground capabilities are key, but each plane also has attributes for speed, handling, and armor. We settled on the F-22 Raptor, a great balance of each.
This first mission gave us the goal of defending the heart of Washington from PMC cargo planes dropping ground forces. It required us to divide our attention between enemies in the sky and those below. With such a huge altitude difference, this is where co-op strategy really comes into play, given that you'll probably want to divide your team into antiair and antiground forces. Taking out enemies in the air is definitely trickier because they can dodge and juke your missiles even when locked-on. Ground forces are usually easier, in that you're required to make a quick pass over the earth below, and your only real challenge is making sure that you don't get so low that you smash into a building.
The next stage in this mission took us from defending a bunch of politicians on the ground to one very important politician in the air, given that we had to escort Air Force One and keep it safe from a flurry of Russian MiG-23 jets. In this scenario, a good co-op strategy would be to let a pair of pilots play defense and the other two offense. That is to say, some players remain close to the president's plane and the others go take on the enemies before they get within firing range. Although our group was a little more scattered and freewheeling, we still managed to keep the president safe and sound.
The next mission brought us to the Midwest, above the skies of downtown Chicago. In this scenario, PMCs have installed a massive radar jammer in the city. Your role is to defend an AWAC used to detect enemy units as it flies over the city. The trick here is that you have to stay within a relatively small radius surrounding the AWAC because getting too far away will wreak havoc on your in-flight instruments, turning your heads-up display into a static-filled mess. If you're successful here, you can move on to the next stage of the mission, which involves defending ground troops on the streets below. As you'd imagine, this gets awfully difficult when it involves buzzing in close to the towering skyscrapers that make up Chicago's skyline.
Thus concluded our time with this pair of America-focused missions from HAWX. Other chapters in the campaign will bring you to places such as the Middle East, South America, and the Caribbean, so there should be a lot for globetrotters to enjoy. No release date has been announced, but you can expect to see more on HAWX in the coming weeks and months.