The year 2007 was a particularly good year for online multiplayer. Most notably, this was the year Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare launched, and its influence can’t be overstated: it changed the landscape of multiplayer shooters for good. While I absolutely spent dozens of hours playing Infinity Ward’s excellent FPS, another 2007 shooter had my heart — Warhawk.
Obviously, this third person shooter was a smaller scale offering than Call of Duty.
There was no offline, single player campaign; it was online only, which was a fairly foreign concept in console gaming back then. It had a limited number of maps, weapons, and game modes. You could commandeer a small variety of vehicles, including the titular fighter planes. While you could level up to unlock various customisation options, Warhawk wasn’t really operating on the same level as Modern Warfare.
The thing is, though, it didn’t need to be. It was a simpler game, but everything in it was excellent.
Despite early issues with server disconnects, I could not stop playing it. Getting into a round of team deathmatch, piloting a fighter jet/helicopter hybrid Warhawk to spots I could find weapon pick-ups, and engaging in tense shootouts with enemy players. Of course, there wasn’t anything particularly unique about this game, save for the aforementioned transforming planes, but something about it was so compelling to me.
I really appreciated how lean it was.
All of the weapons, most of which were standard archetypes, were useful in one way or another.
All of the vehicles had purpose, and even the anti-air guns, in which you were kind of a sitting duck, could prove very handy too. I distinctly remember the sound design being incredibly good, with impactful gunfire and explosions, and the sound of Warhawks flying overhead every now and then.
The sound aided the gameplay too; it just felt so good to shoot things in this game.
You could pull off some mad stuff, as well. I remember the delicious overkill of using the binoculars to call an airstrike on one hapless soldier, or blasting a Warhawk out of the sky with a well-placed shot from a tank. If you were good enough, you could use a sniper rifle to one-shot the pilot of a Warhawk, and it would not only kill the player, but it would blow up the plane. I could list plenty of other things like this, but needless to say, there was a lot of fun to be had with, really, quite a small number of elements.
Because the planes were so core to the experience, each map had lots of verticality, and there were so many great vantage points and spots to discover. While I mostly played team deathmatch, other modes like capture the flag and zones were equally fun. Even after the post-launch release of new maps and other bits and pieces, the content was on the slim side, but I didn’t mind — this was an unpredictable, moreish multiplayer game I’d be delighted to play today.
The odds are stacked against a revival. Online servers were shuttered just over a year ago, and the studio behind the game, Incognito Entertainment, no longer exists. However, I think Warhawk could thrive on PlayStation 5.
The ideal scenario would be a remake that keeps the gameplay feeling the same while refreshing the visuals for a 2021 audience. Perhaps the answer would be to make it free-to-play, and keep it going with cosmetic-based microtransactions and new maps every once in a while. Heck, it’s perfect for a battle royale mode, too.
Sony’s expressed interest in the multiplayer space gives me the smallest sliver of hope that it could happen. I know it’s unrealistic to expect Warhawk to return, so I’m not holding my breath, but I think about it on PS5 with 3D audio, DualSense features, hopping into a match via Activity Cards, and I suddenly don’t want to play anything else.
Do you agree with Stephen? Should Warhawk fly back into our lives on PS5? Have your say in the comments section below.