Previews

Delta Force: Hawk Ops hands-on preview — Warfare from a bygone perspective

Making your mark in the shooter genre can be tough. There are a lot of them out there, and if you’re pushing into the MilSim sub-genre, you might struggle to be original. After being absent for a long time, the Delta Force license has been reclaimed, this time by Team Jade, a Tencent-owned developer in charge of this now-free-to-play FPS. I had a little time to play this new game at Summer Game Fest, and walked away feeling positive about the direction the team is headed, with hopes they might be able to separate from the pack.

Delta Force: Hawk Ops is going for a lot of what you’re familiar with, all built on the incredible Unreal Engine 5. While I can certainly make comparisons to Battlefield or Call of Duty, I think Delta Force has found a happy middle ground, finding a balance of things that work from all sorts of shooters. The good news is it seems like most of these are the features you’d want in an FPS game, as we sometimes see borrowed mechanics that don’t make a great deal of sense.

Delta Force: Hawk Ops | Official Summer Game Fest 2024 Trailer

Before we get into the first game mode, let’s talk about the loadout and operator experience. Here, each operator has certain abilities that make them useful, like a medic class that has a revive gun. Something I learned early on is each one is its own loadout, meaning you choose that character and build your gear and weapons around them. This means they have different specialties, so the medic can use the battle rifles and submachine guns, but he can’t use an assault or sniper rifle. It makes you key in on the role you want to play, along with being useful to your squad.

After this, we loaded into the multiplayer-centric Havoc Warfare, this resembles the big battle modes you’re used to playing. This is technically a remake of the previous Delta Force mode, but it’ll remind you of modes like Conquest from Battlefield or Ground War in Call of Duty. It’s 32 vs 32 as well, so a massive amount of players on one map. The good news is, the map is humongous, easily handling that number.

In this mode you’ll also find vehicles. Jeeps are high speed and have a gun pod on the back. We also jumped into a tank and lobbed shells into clusters of foes, giving them pause as they struggled to stop the relentless onslaught of the steel beast. This is an areas where Ron commented that tuning is required as more than once he hit a soldier square in the chest with little effect, but splash damage seemed to do the trick. This had him aiming at the ground instead of his targets – something to be ironed out in technical beta. The team was tight-lipped about aircraft, but the maps are certainly large enough to accommodate them.

Playing Delta Force: Hawk Ops will feel natural to you if you’ve played an FPS game before. I expected it to be a little more choppy considering this is an alpha build, but was surprised to find a decently well-oiled machine here. To start, it looks really good, which makes sense running on Unreal Engine 5. The movement felt crisp, and gunplay was on point, with some great sound design behind it. I’d like more time with the systems behind it to get more of a grip on what they’re going for (I didn’t have much time to mess with the attachments and went with a pre-build), but overall, there’s potential here.

The only complaint I had was how large everything is. While there are vehicles in this mode as well, there were none on the map we played, no matter how much we might have needed them. As more of an SMG player, these modes don’t usually work well at my effective range. There were some decent flanking routes once we hit the city sectors of the map, but overall, it’d be easy to sit on a heady and blast players into oblivion with long range weapons. An SMG just won’t do much damage here, even with the amount of experience I have. Given this is the only multiplayer mode at launch, I hope there are some better maps for us more aggressive players who like to get up close and personal.

As soon as we finished our Havoc Warfare match, it was right into Hazard Operations. This is a mode where the team has a chance to really stand out, being an extraction shooter in a young space. Yes, everyone seems to be trying one, but if they can nail the feel behind theirs while offering a good risk/reward balance, this could catch on.

Of course, as an extraction mode, you go in with your hand-picked gear and risk losing it if you die. Here there are no restrictions on operators, meaning you can use any weapon you find or buy. The normal rules apply, with a store to use in-game currency to get more weapons, along with selling stuff you bring back to do the same. I had a bug or two when trying to get my new gear set, along with my editor-in-chief who was beside me, but these appear in early builds regularly.

We started our run (Ron and I) being dropped directly into a fortress. Once we started moving around, it was easy to notice the AI being quite aggressive, something that wasn’t as prevalent in the multiplayer. It’s probably more a product of the extraction shooter, but something to remember. Ron and I mostly messed around here, looking at loot and killing a few guards, before moving onto a mission where we had to set some C4 to get more valuable loot. One interesting thing; I don’t think we had to have C4 on us to start this quest.

Once Ron initiated the countdown, we were beset by a bunch of enemies. I assume some came because of our incursion, but also because of the noise we were making. Poor Ron got knocked down a time or two, but I flew around with my P90 and shotgun, raining death on any who stood in my way. After picking him up for the second time, we finally got in the room to get our goodies, and then looked for a valuable target to take out.

In this area of the fortress, however, it seemed we needed a keycard. With the clock winding down, we also needed to get to extraction. It’s not a forced extraction like DMZ from Call of Duty, instead revealing you on the map once the timeline dwindles out, leaving you in a firefight to get out. I do appreciate the more instant extractions here, with a very quick countdown before a cutscene got us out of there. Also, we got chased by an alligator at one point, a nice nod to the previous games.

Overall, there’s a lot to like in the free-to-play package that comes with Delta Force: Hawk Ops. It’s fun to play, and it’s impressively polished. If they can continue to tweak the formula and balance, Hawk Ops can be a great success for Team Jade. Add in the premium campaign remake of Delta Force: Black Hawk Down (we didn’t get to try it), and you’ve got a good package to deliver to the masses. Delta Force: Hawk Ops arrives in closed alpha in July, and is coming soon on PC, console, and mobile.

Lead Video Game Editor | [email protected]

David Burdette is a gamer/writer/content creator from TN and Lead Editor for Gaming Trend. He loves Playstation, Star Wars, Marvel, and many other fandoms. He also plays way too much Call Of Duty. You can chat with him on Twitter @SplitEnd89.

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