Hawken vs Mechwarrior: Online – F2P Mech Game Showdown

There are now two multiplayer mech combat games in open beta, and both of them are Free-to-Play. The previous sentence is so awesome that it sent ripples back through the Time-Space continuum and gave the 9 year old version of me a seizure. Giant robot games are a guilty pleasure.  Zone of the Enders was the first game that I played on my PS2. I giggled hysterically the first time I ever saw the controller for Steel Battalion.

 Note:  Finding this cool is one of my friendship criteria.


A multiplayer mech combat game from an Indy developer?


Every mech in this game looks like a dumpster  with machine guns strapped to either side.
They are all intricately detailed with pipes, hoses and all the type of stuff that I expect from a quasi-apocalyptic futuristic setting, but those details are lost in standard game play due to the pace of the action.  I would like a bit more visual diversity in my robo-shooters. I assume that they will add different bodies as time goes on, but for right now I am not impressed.


Every level has a color scheme, something that looks apocalyptic. Mega-City Grey or Desert Yellow. The small team clearly put a lot of work into the level design but  due to the simplified color schemes they all end up lacking a degree of depth. Pick Grey Blur or Yellow-Brown Blur.


The mechs feel sluggish and slow, until you tap the button that spins you 180 degrees or you use the booster motors that function as sprint, quick evasion and jump jets. The dichotomy feels too jarring.  Super slow and clumsy one second, cat like agility the next. This makes leading a target far trickier than you would think. You can’t just “Spray and Pray” either as Hawken uses an overheating system. If you keep firing for too long, your barrels overheat and you have to hide for a few seconds until everything calms down.  Mechs can be outfitted with a plethora of active and passive items that will give you the edge over every other fighting dumpster. Outfit options include thicker armor, ammunition boosts, improved cooling systems.  Repair drones add another interesting tactical layer to the game, if you can get behind cover then you  can  deploy your drone to repair any  damage that you have taken. This means that you really have to remember to finish off your enemies.


I had really high hopes for this game. I like it when Indy developers get it right. Unfortunately it was not what I was looking for. Hawken felt more like a First Person Shooter than a Mech game. I am not dismissing it completely, just saying that it need a bit more work. I look forward to seeing what direction the developers take it in, and I intend to keep playing as the community has been extremely friendly and helpful.


A multiplayer version of one of the genre’s original series?


No surprises here for seasoned Mechwarrior  fans.  No points for originality, but I get to shoot at all of my favorite mechanical monstrosities.


There are some really cool levels, and some terribly obnoxious ones. The levels all have interesting cover options like mountain ridges, office buildings and glaciers. The maps also have temperature and visibility variance; two factors which play a very important role in every fight.


This game is a slugfest.  No rapid maneuvering here, even the ultra light mechs are sluggish. It feels right to me. You have to pay attention to where your legs are facing and where your torso is facing.  No run and gun. Every enemy needs to be pounded into submission.  You have to be make every shot count as every weapon causes your mech to heat up, your mech will shut down if you reach your heat limit. This always happens at the least opportune time possible so you find yourself slamming the Shutdown Override key and cursing loudly as you try to backpedal out of a dangerous situation.


Mechwarrior Online plays more like a tank simulator than a first person shooter. I adore it and curse it’s name. The weapons feel under powered. The “Frozen City” map always has a blizzard going which reduces visibility, when fighting on this map I find myself toggling between Heat Sensors, Night Vision and Standard View. This process is both fun and frustrating as none of the views are as effective as I think they should be. Go into this game expecting to work with your teammates.  Think tactical and don’t get surrounded.

Both games are enjoyable. Both games are completely different from each other. Both games are free.

Jairus Mitchell

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