Delta Force is an ambitious tactical FPS that’s equal parts Battlefield and Tarkov – but does it trump either?

By admin Jun7,2024

Did you know Delta Force: Black Hawk Down was big in China? I certainly didn’t. But it’s in the internet cafes of the 2000’s that the embers of a new tactical shooter were first lit. It was here, that the founder of Tencent‘s Team Jade fell in love with one of gaming’s earliest tactical shooters. Fast forward to NovaLogic’s selling of the IP to THQ in 2016 and the wave of Tencent’s expansion into the gaming sphere and voilah! Delta Force is back.

“They saw an opportunity to bring their favourite game back”, states publishing director Wallace Wei during a preview of Delta Force: Hawk Ops in an LA hotel room. It’s there that I was given a brief hands-on session with this new venture into the modern – and, indeed, post-modern – tactical FPS. What I found was not one game, but two. Team Jade’s Delta Force is, if nothing else, an attempt to please two crowds at once; the fans of the original 1998 FPS, and modern audiences altogether unfamiliar with the IP. That task, much like the game itself, is fraught with danger.

What exactly are these two halves of Delta Force: Hawk Ops? The first is a modern remake of the original campaign. This I can write the least about – I was only shown snippets of a gameplay trailer rather than given the opportunity to test it out myself. Wei informed me during the preview that it is a faithful recreation of the original campaign – with the same levels and missions remade in Unreal Engine 5. So faithful, it seems, that’s Team Jade has also sandwiched clips from the Black Hawk Down film between missions. A byproduct from buying the IP rights from THQ, and a peculiar link to the past.

What I was able to play at length were both multiplayer modes, and it’s here where Delta Force: Hawk Ops departs from its roots in the early Aughts. There are two modes: a tactical multiplayer mode similar in feel and tone to EA’s Battlefield games, a slower based, fast time-to-kill, squad-focused shooter experience where pushing up too far will surely result in a swift and pointless death. The other half is more contemporary in focus – an extraction shooter in the same vein as Escape From Tarkov where the slower tactical gameplay bleeds into a desperate fight to scavenge and survive.

Delta Force: Hawk Ops combat screenshot
Everything you’d expect from a tactical shooter is here. | Image credit: Team Jade

When asked how to balance keeping things faithful to the original and appealing to a modern audience – something Hawk Ops is clearly doing here through its multiplayer components – Wei stated that there were foundational parts of the original the developers wouldn’t tamper with.

“You have to keep some key pillars of the old franchise,” Wei explained. “So there’ll be an operator system like the old Delta Force had, as well as a slower pace. Also, we saw that most players of the old franchise loved Black Hawk Down, so we wanted to remake the old single player campaign faithfully. On top of this, we did some research and found that these players loved a multiplayer map called Cracked – so we brought that back as well”.

One element I thought was particularly cool was the in-depth weapon customisation system, which allows you to pick from dozens upon dozens of individual attachments for your chosen weapon. Better yet, like recent Call of Duty games you can adjust the weight and balance of each attachment, leading to microscopic differences in weapon stats like aim-down-sight speed and vertical recoil. It’s obviously not an entirely new feature, but it’s one clearly made with care and clear passion for all manner of guns and ammo.

For my money both the traditional multiplayer and extraction shooters felt pretty good, but the game is headed into vicious waters here. The multiplayer is the 32v32 Battlefield-style experience you may have played before – I was able to pick off enemies from a distance with a sniper rifle, gun them down en masse with a light machine gun, and heal my team with a dedicated support class. It felt perfectly acceptable and palatable to my FPS tastebuds. But I foresee it clashing with (and falling short of) some of Battlefield’s merits in the minds of many – a series which remains the default king of the castle even if it’s been a tad rough as of late.

Delta Force: Hawk Ops vehicle combat
Helicopters, APCs… This plus all the weapons available make Hawk Ops a bonafied toy box for FPS fans. | Image credit: Team Jade

The same goes for the extraction. It has bosses, contracts, a player auction house… It even has in-match skin boxes that you can’t otherwise buy – you’ve got to pick them up and unlock them in-game, shooting off a notification to every other player to let them know you’re doing so and creating this exciting hectic clash for cosmetics that I shan’t deny my love for. It even has crocodiles that can attack you in rivers and streams. Brilliant. You’d think right now, with Tarkov eating a massive PR disaster in recent weeks, would be the perfect time to release such a game. But the genre is becoming more contested by the month.

I’m not entirely sold on this idea. The game has brought two perfectly fine separate multiplayer modes into one package, where other studios have focused-in on just one. You could argue – and I’m sure Delta Force: Hawk Ops players will – that this is wonderful. It makes the game your one-stop shop for all things tactical FPS. But each of these individual modes is lacking that one key killer feature, that one difference-maker that can set it apart from its contemporaries. As it stands right now it feels like a great game for those who haven’t already sunk a bunch of time into pre-existing series.

Wei believes that both Battlefield and Tarkov are very good, and states that the team enjoys playing them regularly, but feels there’s still a space for Delta Force: Hawk Ops at the table. “We admire their efforts and we’re trying to put our effort into making the global audience accept another new good [live] service game. But I think we have our own pace. We have our own development process. So we won’t compare ourselves too much with those games.”

Delta Foce: Hawk Ops crocodile attack
I don’t know about you but croc attacks count for a lot for me. | Image credit: Team Jade

To this I pointed out that the game is quite similar to those games, and that comparisons between Delta Force Hawk Ops is inevitable. To this, Wei responded: “We agree, but we think what [our strengths are] is that we have multiple gameplay modes in one game, and maybe we can have cross-progression to different platforms so if you buy the battle pass on one platform you’ll have the whole experience on another platform.”

So is Delta Force: Hawk Ops worth checking out? Well, it’ll be free, so it’ll be worth a try when it eventually comes out. All the bits I played seemed fun, and well worth a bash both as a solo player and in a Discord call with mates. While I’m not convinced it’ll shake the genre down to its roots, it’s a nice callback to a classic. For those who played the original game, tactical FPS fiends, and those with a history in Chinese internet cafes, it’s well worth keeping an eye on.

Delta Force: Hawk Ops is a free-to-play, first-person shooter developed by Timi Studio.

By admin

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