Starhawk’s beta is looking promising, and if you want to see what it looks like in action, check out our video preview from yesterday. We couldn’t cover everything precisely while playing at the same time as commentating (and it’s our excuse for some of our deaths), so here we’ll lay out a nice organized list of anything noteworthy we encountered during our play time.
- The building system works great: simply hold down Triangle to bring up a radial menu, then once you’ve made a selection the camera pans a bit back and above you to give you a better view of the ground, then you can run around and adjust the position of a hologram of the structure you’re going to build. If the hologram is yellow, you can’t build there – once it turns green, you’re good to go.
- You start each spawn with an automatic rifle, grenades and a knife. If you want better weapons, we’ve found two ways so far: constructing a sniper tower also provides a sniper rifle at its top, and constructing a supply bay gives you a fortified bunker that also gives you grenades, a shotgun, and the rocket launcher.
- The shotgun is immensely powerful, as one of them took out our buggy in about six shots.
- The jetpack is not only fun to use, it can get you into advantageous positions – you can get really high and reach ledges great for sniping. We can see a good combo being to build a sniper tower and a jetpack station.
- In Capture the Flag matches, your flag starts out exposed in the open – one of the first orders of business is to build some walls around it. If the placement of a wall seems inconvenient, you can upgrade it to a gate that only allows friendlies through. Regular walls have ladders built into the side facing you, which lead up to ledges that have cover, so you can effectively make a castle if you want.
- The auto-aim for handheld weapons is quite generous – hitting L1 has a prominent snap-to-target effect and we were surprised at how much our reticle followed enemies without any input of our own. We’re not sure if this is a bad thing, as the game’s hectic environment might be well-suited to arcadey aiming.
- The Hawks start off as mechs and then transform into aircraft with a tap of the Circle button. It’s fun and easy to transform into a plane and back, and we can see the transformation working well as an evasive maneuver (we escaped trouble one time as a mech on the ground with a quick transform and then afterburning away). We were surprised at how cheap they are to get – you can build a pad and purchase a Hawk immediately. They certainly go down easily from rocket launcher lock-ons, but then we’re not sure how the mech form will play out as players get advanced. We can see these things becoming seriously overpowered. On the other hand, we don’t think they can hover like they did in Warhawk, which could seriously affect their ground-suppression power.
- Mech-form Hawks have an open-air cockpit with your character’s head and shoulders exposed at the top, so we’re guessing it’s possible to snipe the pilot. Of course, mechs control almost exactly like a footsoldier, so you can bunnyhop and strafe (albeit slowly) to avoid getting shot. The mechs are more nimble than we expected, we must say.
- On the outskirts of the arena are places where Hawks can pick up weapons – on the space map there are asteroids with holes in them you can fly through to grab pickups. We imagine some intense dogfights will occur around these places.
- You can kill enemies with your spawning pod. When you’re dropping in you can aim the pod’s descent precisely with a hologram on the ground that shows you where you will land. Granted, the enemy has to be in your territory and a bit clueless - we noticed huge red columns of light showing us where enemy pods would soon drop.
Starhawk currently is set to release on February 1.