So I've been trying out the Hawken Beta in the last week or so and mostly it just boils down to heavy disappointment. I've always been a fan of Mechs, even though Mechwarrior was cool, it was kinda slow for my taste. Most Mechs usually just attach two legs on tanks and then you feel really heavy and slow. Yeah that's the definition of a Mech, I know, a walking tank, but that's not really fun to play. The Mechs you see in anime were always more cool, like the ones you see in Zone Of Enders, the ones that can fly and engage in quick melee combat while also shooting lasers was always so much more thrilling and exciting.
Then Hawken got announced several months back, they promised this game would take inspiration from the Mechs you usually see in anime, meaning Mechs would be much faster, agile and will also be able to fly, you can imagine this really made me excited, especially since they also claimed it will be a free to play game, with optional microtransactions attached ofc.
And so I tried it, and immediately came to a major disappointment. The trailer above really made the game look cool, but as soon as I started playing I realized that there is NO WAY to switch the camera to an outside third person perspective, the one that you can see in the trailer. What the hell is the point of customizing your Mech if you can't even see it in action? Now don't get me wrong, the inside interface looks really good, most of the stuff is directly shown in the panels and terminals located inside your cockpit, but it just gets old quick simply focusing on the reticle in the middle and not being able to actually see your own mech in the heat of battle.
The second issue that I have is that the starter Mech you get looks REALLY ugly. Imagine a TV with two legs walking around the map, yeah that's the thing you'll be playing as for weeks until you can finally earn some cash to buy another model. And no you can't really change any parts from the mechs. All of the cosmetic parts including the weapons are done with real cash. So far I played more than 10 rounds, and despite starting with 5000 credits, I still don't have enough to buy a new Mech model which cost about 6500, because you only get about 150 per match.
Fortunately they let you test out other Mechs for a limited time, but apart from one having a grenade launcher and another one having a sniper rifle, everyone else has a basic machine gun and a basic rocket. There are no lasers or any other kind of interesting weapons in the game at all, it just boils down to rushing the enemy and spraying them with bullets or well placed rockets faster than they can spray you.
The game you get isn't the one shown in the first video, as that one is completely fake and made more cinematic with the purpose of selling you the idea how cool this might be, but instead you get the game shown in the second video. But regardless, I went on to see how everything else holds up. At the moment there only seems to be two maps, both of which are unattractive post-apocalyptic locations with pretty much nothing to do in them except for hunting down others. C'mon man, even Unreal Tournament and Quake had more elaborate levels and mechanics 15 years ago, at least there you had pick-ups and power-ups to search for and traps to activate and stuff like that. In Hawken, you just get an empty field in which you can run until you come across the enemy.
Another big issue I have with the game is that Mechs can level up by gaining exp after destroying others. Leveling up grants you new passive bonuses such as reduced bulled spread, reduced heating and faster rockets. Doesn't this just seem unfair to you? And most of the time the matchmaking pits you up against level 20+ people, there is no system in there now that prevents new players from playing with fully upgraded players, which is just stupid seeing as how the game is mostly about time spend farming exp instead of balanced skill play. As you level up you also earn some talents or traits or whatever which you can use to increase your walking speed, defense or offense, again simply unfair! Some kind of progression is good and all, but not when it clearly gives you straight out advantage over others that don't spend their time farming the two maps all day.
Another really irritating thing is that every single time you die, before you can respawn, you are sent back to the garage. This can be cool if you want to take another Mech, but I DON'T want another Mech EVERY SINGLE TIME I respawn, this needs to be made optional asap. Also, there is NO music whatsoever, the atmosphere is completely dead and gets boring very fast after a few rounds.
The flying is also rather weak, it's bascially a simple 5-second jetpack which only makes your movements even more predictable and should only be used to climb buildings. Mech take damage as a whole, meaning even though you can equip different parts, those parts don't take individual damage and malfunction separately, instead it's exactly like every other online shooter, you shoot at them until their health drops, there are no targets to priorize and there are no interesting combinations for you to try out and strategies to utilize in order to bring different enemies down. Once you pick a Mech model you are stuck with the two weapons it has and you just repeat the same formula for every single encounter.