So Hawken got really good while nobody was watching. I wrote it off as a lost cause when I played it months ago. But after hearing some positive buzz about it, I decided to give it a second chance. I've spent some time with Hawken over the past couple of weeks, and I don't mind telling you I was glad I did.
They've made a lot of improvements to the game since I stopped paying attention. New mechs and balance tweaks have added a lot of depth and variety to the gameplay. Dynamic game types like the "Siege" maps have come a long way - pitting two teams against each other in a race to fuel their sides massive flying-battle-carrier to bombard the enemy base, while at the same time they wrestle for control of a vital anti-air artillery piece to take down the enemies ship; It's chaotic, fun, and very cinematic. I get chills every time those air-raid sirens go off. And the game looks great, scaling well even on my modest PC. I have most of the graphical bells and whistles turned on and I still rock a decent frame rate, a far cry from the potato-spud level of performance I've been getting out of MWO and a few other games lately.
Speaking of MWO, coming off that abusive relationship, Hawken's F2P hooks are refreshingly light. The grind isn't terribly bad, you can buy a new mech with only a few hours of gameplay – so you're encouraged to experiment around and grow your garage. If you just can't wait and want to buy a mech with real dollars, the price is decent, around $5 a stompy bot. Maybe that doesn't sound great, but when MWO wants you to pony up anywhere between $15-$35 real cash dollars for a fancy robit, Hawken's price point looks mighty fine. Garage space is unlimited, they don't try to get you on any character slots or anything, and the customization options are cheap and snazzy. I was able to get a nice paint job for my medic-bot just using the handful of points that came free when I opened a beta account months ago.
So I was very excited to hear about the new Ascension patch! A massive update to the game delivering a ton of new content. New maps, new mechs, tweaks all over the place, and even better optimization. It sounded like I joined in at just the right time!
After delaying the patch for a week, and offering a stress test weekend of the new content (which was fantastic), the patch that was supposed to go live on Monday has been stuck in limbo. The game has been down for over 30 hours at the time I'm writing this. A very contrite dev post on the forum broke the bad news that something went wrong with the patch and it needs to be delayed AGAIN, with more details coming sometime in the afternoon.
I feel bad for the guys at Adhesive Games. They have a lot riding on this update. It's no secret that Hawken hasn't performed as well as they expected, and Ascension is supposed to be big turn around point that saves them.
Bad patches and expectation shortfalls seem to be the plight of any stompy robot game I touch these days. Hopefully AC: V-Day will be a smoother experience. And hey, we've always got Titanfall to look forward to.