The free-to-play mech shooter Hawken has been in beta since the end of 2012 but the Ascension update that was released over the weekend is the biggest since the game's launch. One of the most significant overhauls was the tutorial, which did a decent job before and now gives a much more streamlined summary of the game's mechanics. The change to the user interface on the mechs is a much welcome change as it really makes it a lot clearer how much fuel you have left and how much damage you've taken.
If you're still learning the ropes, there's an offline team deathmatch mode that you can use to practice your skills in, although you won't accrue XP or any in-game currency. There's an option for a new Co-Op Bot Training mode but that's labeled as "coming soon." One other addition you can play is the new Last Eco map which you can see in the trailer above; I do like the city maps in Hawken but the addition of a forest level does freshen the color palette up to say the least.
One thing I'm not a fan of is the removal of the tech tree for you mech in place of a Mech Rank leveling chart that lets you unlock components on each class. It feels a bit overwhelming and whilst veterans may enjoy fine tuning their mech, it seems to me like overcomplicating progression.
What hasn't changed is the great feeling of the mechs when they're in combat; they've got a great weight and inertia that makes the gameplay feel really different from other FPS games. I played a few hours over the weekend and really enjoyed myself in just basic team deathmatch, which is something I've not done in a while.
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