When it isn't just about the trigger finger, but also the strategic placement of buildings, a simple game of capture the flag takes a unique twist. Starhawk's multiplayer utilizes on-the-fly construction and the classic rules of an old game-type to create a new experience. With these changes, Starhawk becomes an interesting tug of war.
You don't need that many garages.
We've covered Starhawk's risks in an earlier preview, but more hands-on time with the multiplayer at E3 revealed a deeper look at the experience. While the new juggling act may be intriguing, that doesn't mean it isn't without its problems. In its current state, each team in a multiplayer battle can create 16 structures of varying strategic power. These range from garages for vehicles, Hawk launch pads, sniper towers, turrets, and more. But fresh players who don't know the best route to success may drop too many of a certain useless tool. What then?
In the eight-player battle I took part in, it was a scramble to collect Rift energy and start construction. Almost all of the fighting took place on a main road between the two team's bases. While this is partially a result of the unknown layout and the fresh feel of the game, it made the experience feel unfocused. Sure you need to consider capturing a flag, but everyone seemed so concerned with spawning a Hawk and running around in mech-form, or building a poorly-placed sniper tower, that the match dragged on longer than it needed to and didn't utilize the full field.
What stuck out was the combat from the air, the power of the Hawks, and the surprisingly convenient ability to jump seats in a moving vehicle. A lone wolf can both drive a jeep, jump into the back to shoot the turret, and jump back into driving in a smooth motion. But the battle hinges on who collects the most rift energy from kills, assists, and exploration. It's a back and forth of base-rushing, depending on who has the most rift and places the latest structure.
This balance spawns an interesting game flow and one I'm curious to see with bigger teams and a more solidified version of building management. Starhawk's putting a lot of pawns onto the chessboard, but it's going to take time to see which are valuable and which need to be sacrificed.
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