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Cult classic FPS game Delta Force is back, and it’s looking good

Delta Force Hawk Ops wants to resurrect the iconic FPS series, and from what I played at Summer Game Fest, it might just manage it.

An Asian woman with combat glasses, a headset and a microphone looks off camera at a target, raising a scoped sniper rifle

If there’s one thing I love, it’s seeing modern takes on iconic ‘90s and ‘00s videogame classics. With Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 taking us back to the grimy streets of the World of Darkness, and remakes like 2023’s Resident Evil 4 tapping into those warm, fuzzy feelings that modern games just don’t seem to evoke any more, it’s clear that nostalgia is very much in. Team Jade is hoping to capture that sentimentality with Delta Force: Hawk Ops; the first big attempt to revamp the age-old shooter saga.

With a Black Hawk Down-inspired campaign on the cards, harkening back to 2003 and 2004, OG FPS game fans have a lot to be excited about with Delta Force: Hawk Ops. I listened as the crowd let out a collective ‘OoOoo’ when the trailer was shown at Summer Game Fest, igniting a spark of excitement in me. As I arrived for my playtest later that week and was presented with a Delta Force-branded cider (non-alcoholic, it was 10am), that excitement began to mount – from the reactions of those playing around me, it was clear that this game was doing something right. I strapped on my headphones and dove head-first into the grisly world of Delta Force, gun primed and med kits at my side.

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The first mode I try is Havoc Warfare, Delta Force: Hawk Ops’ reimagining of the original games’ capture-the-flag missions. My team and I slowly but surely approach what appears to be a well-fortified hill. There are barricades and what, at first glance, seems like an underground bunker, but that’s all I see before the shooting starts.

Like Battlefield, in Havoc Warfare, your team is allotted a collection of tickets. If one of your teammates is downed, you have to spend a ticket to bring them back into the fight. Since the match ends when your tickets run dry, you can’t just throw bodies at the problem and hope it goes away. Instead, you’ll have to be strategic in your approach, popping heads with your snipers to thin the crowd before you rush headlong into the fray.

Rifle in hand, my team eventually ascends the mound, marking it as our own. From here, it’s all about defense, and slowly but surely our enemies begin to fall. As their tickets deplete, the game ends in our victory, eliciting from me a smile – those sweet Ws never get old.

While Havoc Warfare isn’t exactly reinventing the wheel, it encourages you to think strategically about both your approach to the combat itself and, in turn, the operators that you choose to take with you. I’d highly recommend taking Stinger, the combat medic, as well as a Recon agent like Luna if you’ve never played Delta Force before – if you have, you’ll already know the maps like the back of your hand.

Cult PC classic is returning from the grave 26 years later, and it's looking good: A player using a rocket launcher in an FPS game, firing it at a building in a dusty wasteland area

I then transition to Hazard Operations, an extraction mode akin to Call of Duty’s DMZ or Escape from Tarkov. I’ve spent far too many hours watching Paul ‘Pestily’ Licari fight it out in the latter (I have tried it before, but it ended horribly), and while that hardly makes me an expert, what I can say is that I really did enjoy Hazard Operations.

I drop in as D-wolf, a hardened assault brawler, and begin traversing the map. The entire game is built in Unreal Engine 5, and while it’s very ‘fifty shades of green-gray and brown,’ the terrain looks absolutely stunning. As I round a corner I come across a huge, shimmering lake, and take a moment to breathe it all in before darting off to my first objective.

The map highlights various objectives of differing importance. I start out with a relatively easy intel drop, and I’m quick to take out the guards surrounding it. As I loot the various cabinets (I’m a hoarder) I pull out an old Delta Force CD-ROM and chuckle. It’s a tiny little easter egg, but a fun little homage to Hawk Ops’ heritage.

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Back into the wilderness I go, and on my way to my next target I’m ambushed by a squad of three bots. While I’m playing solo, you can have up to three operators in your team at once, and I’m quickly outnumbered.

I’ll preface by saying my gunplay is never amazing due to a severe tremor, which normally means that my crosshair is darting around all over the place unless my mouse sensitivity is obnoxiously low. I did feel like I hit a few shots I absolutely wasn’t supposed to, which for me is a good thing, but could be an indicator that enemy hitboxes are perhaps a little too big.

Eventually, I manage to dispatch them, but I’m left with a series of broken bones and nasty injuries. Failing to tend to these leads to consistent damage over time, so I suggest looting all of the medical and surgical kits that you can get your hands on.

Cult PC classic is returning from the grave 26 years later, and it's looking good: A player in an FPS game using a scoped rifle in a lush green area with old sandstone buildings

As I loot and shoot, then loot and shoot again, time slowly begins to run out. I hurriedly make my way towards one of the many extraction points – but my closest one is flagged as potentially being out of operation. Desperation calls, however, and I dash towards it regardless.

I crest the hill, and realize that my gateway to freedom is, in fact, a tiny motor boat floating on the sparkling lake I mentioned earlier. Overjoyed, I rush towards it, ready to make my escape. Unfortunately, however, luck isn’t on my side; the motor doesn’t start. Insert the relevant expletive here.

Abandoning the boat, I turn towards the next extraction point, ready for a race against time. Except, I haven’t been paying attention to the environment around me; my eyes have been upwards, focused on my enemies. In a snap of pearly white jaws, my Delta Force journey ends in tatters – yes, of all the things I could have died to in the wilderness, I did, indeed, get eaten by a damn crocodile.

Cult PC classic is returning from the grave 26 years later, and it's looking good: A huge crocodile biting at a man wearing combat gloves in a green river area as another solider watches from sandy shores

Scaly critters and red-faced embarrassment aside, I leave my Delta Force: Hawk Ops preview feeling quietly optimistic. While the selling point is, of course, that Black Hawk Down campaign, the game is smooth, the gunplay is relatively balanced, and the co-op mode is, indeed, very fun.

If you also fancy being eaten by crocodiles or, alternatively, popping heads and taking names like you’re supposed to, then the Delta Force: Hawk Ops PC alpha test is set for Thursday, July 18, with a pre-alpha beginning on Thursday July 11. Note that this pre-alpha test is for a very small group of players. You can sign up to participate here.

Is Hawk Ops treading new ground? No. Is it faithful to its inspiration? Largely, yes – the campaign will be the make or break point there. Either way, it does what it sets out to: resurrect one of the best old games for a modern audience.