MatchUp: MechWarrior online vs Hawken

MatchUp Hawken - MechWarrior headlogo

In our newest MatchUp we’re comparing two mechanical monstrosities of the future with Mechwarrior Online and Hawken, both very similarly themed creatures but from the onset we’ll say that they are completely different games and whilst the MatchUp may show comparable differences the actual gameplay is very, very different. What they do have in common is that they’re both Mech games; players take on the role of pilots controlling huge walking, rolling, jumping and in some cases flying (albeit temporarily) mechanical tank suits, then they get into a map and blow the living crap out of each other.

Gameplay wise Mechwarrior Online (MWO) offers a much slower, plodding, more methodical style of combat in comparison to Hawken with its more arcade style fast shooter style mechanics; where in MWO players take time to roll across huge maps Hawken’s mechs are considerably faster. How this plays out in combat pretty much defines the games, in MWO players really rely on teamwork, being caught out on your own is almost instant death, players must strategically think about positioning because the slow mobility means that if they’re caught with their metal pants down then one more death is highly likely. Whilst players can still get caught out, team ganked and more in Hawken, as players can move much faster with thrusters giving them the ability to juke out of the way of oncoming missiles, fly up into the sky or to upper levels, the mobility means that a sitting duck lone target isn’t as easy to take out.

Actually being killed in battle is one of the other big differences; where Hawken has a classic respawn on death mechanic as well as the ability for players to find a nice quiet spot during a battle and get out of their mech to repair it, in MWO you have one life and once your mech is destroyed then you’re out of the match.

The mechs and customization are extremely different, owing more to the strategic vs arcade style gameplay that fundamentally divides them. Both games have “classes” of mech, based on their weight/size/mobility, but Hawken’s act more like an MMORPG class in that each mech has its own unique ability that more solidly defines its role and how it is used in battle. Similarly the weapons that players can equip are determined by class as players level up a particular mech they increase their choice of weapon options (as well as other gear and equipment) with 16 mechs in total to choose from. Players also get to unlock a variety of items and consumables for their mech adding to the more streamlined customization.

In MWO things get a little more involved; on the surface there are four classes; Light, Medium, Heavy and Assault, within these classes there are 48 names Mechs divided into two tech choices “Inner Sphere” (the original mechs) and the more recently added “Clan Mechs” uses in the Clan Wars/Community Warfare game mode. With each named mech there are different variations, usually hovering around 5 different types, that have different numbers and arrangement of Hardpoints; in total there are currently 256 different variants, of this there are also 31 “Hero” mechs, iconic mechs used in the Mechwarrior lore from notable and legendary pilots. When it comes down to customization players can equip weapons to hardpoints all over the mech, these weapons come in the form of lasers, ballistics and missiles, each weapon type can only be attached to a corresponding hardpoint type, meaning players can walk into again with a dozen weapons if they have the right mech and weapon loadout. Of the two MWO definitely offers the much greater customizability, but in doing so creates a much steeper learning curve and a far more expensive metagame to keep your mechs up to spec.

When it comes to financial cost Mechwarrior Online probably wins out again (or loses); whilst both games offer a free to play model with in game currency to purchase a variety of mechs, items and upgrades as well as premium currency and premium boosters options, it is MWO that really tries to capitalize on bringing in the big bucks. Hawken has a flat cost across the board for all its mechs, averaging around $6 in real cash, so coming in at just under $100 to buy with real money the full complement of mechs in the game. In comparison MWOs cheapest mechs start at $9, average at around $50, but some of the more unique or Clan based mechs going up towards the $100 mark. More so, and much to the frustration of the community who could see better use of developers time, MWO also released a “Gold Khan” version of some of their new Clan mechs, solid gold shiny mechs that offer zero battle mechanic benefits (so avoiding the pay to win at least) but simply look pretty impressive; the only thing is that if you want to pick one of these bad boys up you need to be prepared to shell out $500 for a single mech.

Maps and modes are rather similar, with a range of different environments to battle across and with four key modes each both have a differently named version of a Base Attack/Defend mode, Point Capture/Hold mode and a Team Deathmatch mode; Hawken provides a single player Deathmatch game, which honestly wouldn’t work for MWO anyway given the require coop teamwork. What MWO offers in place is almost a completely new system with its Community Warfare “Invasion” game mode, introduce with the Clan mechs, players get to battle over territory in six newly added unique maps, giving various PVP options for both faction and Clan based. The biggest issue with Mechwarrior Online is that, regardless of the objective, all battles ultimately feel like they come down to a team deathmatch anyway and the objectives are superfluous given that players only have one life you are more likely to win by destroying the other team at the middle of the map before even reaching any objective points.

Ultimately with all their similarities the core gameplay will determine which game is right for each individual player; if a methodical and tactical approach to combat isn’t your idea of fun and you don’t like spending hours thinking over builds and theory crafting which loadouts to have, then the fast paced shooter gameplay for some pick up and play fun might definitely be more appealing, but at the expense of sometimes lacking the depth that MWOs mechs can offer.


MatchUp Hawken - MechWarrior infographic