Tag Archives: mechs

Hawken’s Challenging Horde Mode


In a previous post I mentioned the free-to-play mech shooter Hawken and its horde mode analogue. While deciding what multiplayer game I’m gonna stick with for a while I resolved to play enough of that mode to write a bit about it here since Hawken doesn’t get a whole lot of attention on the big websites. As I said before, it’s one of the most savage and unforgiving horde modes I’ve encountered.

Way back when it was first unveiled, what stuck out to me and probably a lot of other people about Hawken was its art design. It has a very nice, heavily detailed sci-fi theme that I think gives it some credibility among other free-to-play games. It has a look of real craftsmanship and production value in it. That art direction is most of the reason Hawken looks so cool in motion.

When I played the alpha and later beta I saw the versus modes — the meat of the game, as a structurally standard multiplayer shooter. It’s got the typical modes but with unique mech-centered mechanics which focus a lot of maneuverability and heat management. The horde mode in question is co-op bot destruction. In it you and a few teammates (who can be AI) survive 24 waves of AI mechs. The first time I tried it I failed wave 1.

Hawken’s bot destruction is brutal for a couple reasons compared to say, Gears of War 3’s horde mode.

Firstly, you don’t get to retry waves. It’s all about seeing how far your team can get from wave 1 on each attempt. Teammates can be revived pretty much for free, but when the whole team goes down it’s back to wave 1, and the game re-rolls its map choice.

The second reason is that enemy spawn points in each wave seem to be random. I’m not sure if there are set spawn points and the game just chooses three upon each wave, or if the spawn points themselves can be anywhere. Whatever the case, you really don’t know where the enemies are going to come from until the wave starts because they literally emerge through portals that change location. That means upon finishing one wave, a group of enemies can drop in right on top of whatever strategic position your team just established.

Those two factors make sure at pretty much all times your team needs to be on its toes and that it can’t really let up for a second. This mode doesn’t really forgive mistakes. Plus, in Hawken in general your mech can’t sustain much concentrated fire from other mechs, so if the team splits up or even one person loses track of the others in the thick of it, things can turn sour pretty quickly. That said, I did eventually get a bit into the swing of it after I focused on collecting “EU” which lets you boost your attack, defense, or weapon cooling. It’s still very much a “try and try again” kind of deal.

Hawken’s monetization from what I’ve seen is structurally a lot like League of Legends. There are things you can buy with one type of currency you can earn through gameplay, and other things you have to buy with another type of currency you can only get with real money. It probably is possible to buy your way to an easier time in bot destruction, but I’m not sure if it’s hard for me specifically because I haven’t paid a cent into Hawken. I know it definitely feels like earnable-in-game currency really only get’s you minor equipment and items.  The only major thing it lets you buy is new mechs.

At the very least I think Hawken is a pretty unique thing — a free-to-play shooter centered around mechs instead of just a straight-up FPS or a MOBA. It doesn’t just rely on that premise either, but has actually tried to build itself into a robust and attractive-looking game.


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