If Ubisoft wants to go big on free-to-play, it should bring back HAWX

0

Seriously, a free HAWX would work just fine in today’s market.

I concede this story may have reminded most of you HAWX was a game that existed. Before Ubisoft cracked the code for the 100-hour, open-world RPG, the publisher was happy to make money on smaller games of various genres. Ubisoft 2006-2009 invested in several projects which, although not always successful, were unique and interesting in themselves.

It’s the era of the quirky Prince of Persia reboot, groundbreaking voice-activated real-time strategy EndWar, and promising but ultimately mediocre Haze. Ubisoft was apparently the most daring around this time, as it was also this era that brought us a modern classic in Far Cry 2, a revolutionary take on stealth and historical fiction in Assassin’s Creed, the first multiplayer shooter. next-generation Xbox 360, Ghost Recon Advanced. Warfighter, and the most accessible and fun sub-series of Rainbow Six in Vegas and its sequel.

The intention, I guess, was to cast a wide net and hope that some of these games were hot enough to turn into franchises. Not all of them ended up with sequelae, and the few still relevant today barely resemble their early iterations. But one game you won’t often see mentioned among these classics is Tom Clancy’s HAWX, or what I considered to be a jealous PC-only gamer back in the “oh my god, someone finally recognized that there is a market for air combat games on PC. “


HAWX was exactly the game you imagine from reading this description. It is an arcade air combat action game inspired by Ace Combat, which borrows many of its systems from the Japanese series. HAWX was an aerial combat game using modern military jets with ridiculously high missile counts, incessant radio conversations (though nowhere near as melodramatic as Ace), cockpit and third-person views, tones female warning, a story campaign and standard multiplayer.

HAWX’s biggest innovation was the Enhanced Reality System (ERS), which essentially translated fundamental actions and maneuvers into mini-games that anyone could perform. Even in something as arcade as Ace Combat, you would still need to rely on a basic understanding of intercept trajectories and missile dodge maneuvers. HAWX just turned it all into a gate hover mini-game, where the AI ​​would calculate your trajectory and speed and ask you to perform a few basic hovers to successfully intercept an enemy plane or evade a missile.

It was to air combat games what guidelines and brake aids are to modern racing games.

Out of the cockpit, the rest of the HAWX presentation was well done, even by today’s standards. The levels were incredibly well detailed and based on real world locations which helped ground it somewhat. Urban and metropolitan areas were particularly dense with 3D skyscrapers in city centers and a jungle of concrete buildings everywhere else. Incorporating the events of Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 into HAWX’s story has bolstered its profile and earned it a certain legitimacy that new games from established brands generally have to work hard for. It also helped that GRAW games were a big deal back then.

I’ve always had a soft spot for HAWX – both games. Ace Combat wasn’t making a PC back then, and I was obsessed with military jet designs. It never made sense to me how, although Ace Combat has continued to be successful, Ubisoft has never (to my knowledge) considered bringing back HAWX. But the perfect opportunity for that to happen may just have presented itself. During its last call for results, Ubisoft expressed the wish to no longer rely on large AAA versions and to invest in “high-end” free games. While it’s easy to interpret this as the company shifts away from its bigger games, it’s more than likely a desire to expand those same franchises into markets and segments that a game does on. console at $ 60 will never reach.

It would be foolish to assume that HAWX is a big franchise – or a franchise at all – in 2021, but there’s a way it could be.

In Ubisoft’s obsession with AAA open-world RPGs, there was never really a place for HAWX – unless the same standards apply as well. Ubisoft probably wasn’t interested in spending any money on Assassin’s Creed or Far Cry, so it sat dormant. Far from the AAA space where Ubisoft primarily operates, there is a rich world of free games that don’t follow the same rules. I’m talking specifically about the long-running War Thunder and World of Warplanes games. Two different games from different publishers… which look very similar.

War Thunder started out as a realistic multiplayer air combat game, before expanding to land vehicles and later warships. For a very long time it was limited to aircraft from the golden age of aviation, but over time it has continued to gradually expand into more modern times, one of the recent additions being the Phantom jets. Warplanes is a more arcade version of the same mechanic and mostly covers planes from the same era and a few prototypes from the 50s and 60s. The similarities between the two start to really cement when you look at how they’re monetized. They are both free, with one currency paid and others earned by playing. They both start you off with a basic old plane at the lowest level, and you either have to grind – and It is a chore – or spend money to unlock fighters from higher levels.

Beyond this specific structure, the two games are a jumble of menus and systems; crew maintenance, upgrading individual weapon platforms, repair costs, and a whole bunch of puffs that are supposed to waste a lot of money and time. Then there are premium accounts, which is another level of access that you have to pay for. These are basically subscriptions that act as coin doublers and increase your winning rate elsewhere in the game.

On top of that, they also sell what they call premium planes, even more detailed machines that you can only get by spending real money. They usually come in bundles of in-game currency and the like, and a glance at War Thunder’s Steam page should give you an idea of ​​how high some of them are priced.

It is impossible for someone who has just started one of these games not to feel overwhelmed. If, like me, you’re only interested in their most modern planes, you’re going to have to spend a lot of money to fly one right off the bat.

Since this same model is used in other Wargaming games as well, and given their lifespan, what they do clearly works. But there is a better way to do it, Ubisoft might be the one to present.

A simple free model with a few starting planes might work. The rest could be made available for in-game currency or real money, in the same way Ubisoft does today with Rainbow Six Siege. Updates to the game world, as far as maps and systems are concerned, should remain free for everyone. You can already imagine the types of skins and other cosmetics that will be available for sale, and all will be accepted as long as the base game is free. Ubisoft’s production prowess can even help it produce high-quality single-player content, content I’m sure many will happily pay for – a way to support continued development without disturbing the core balance.

I would kill for a co-op or PvE mode where I could live out my fantasies while roaming my neatly stacked sheds. There’s another angle ripe for exploration there too, with the number of variations of modern aircraft – essentially getting more value from the same assets, if I had to think like a cadre.

I can’t begin to imagine the technical basics it takes for something like this to work, and I know driving the vehicle is one of the hardest things to master in games (and Ubisoft’s track record is there. uneven at best). But I’m sure a competitor in these games could do well with the right support. A free HAWX with the production values ​​of a Ubisoft game, modern airplanes (something that both War Thunder and Warplanes lack), a solid arcade feel, and a presentation that won’t make you faint. well being the top of the line free game that the business needs.

Leave a comment

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More