Update: The patch has been delayed until Tuesday, September 10.
If you were worried that Hawken and its giant stompy robots just weren't big enough, fret no further. Though a little later than we expected , the mech-piloting game today got even bigger with its newest update, Ascension, bringing on all sorts of additions and changes—from new game modes all the way through to fashionable Oculus Rift support.
Ascension's patch notes are detailed extensively over on the Hawken forums . The new game mode, Offline Team Deathmatch, is a chance for players to practice on AI-controlled mechs before venturing out into the big bad world of oversized robot warfare. You won't gain XP in this mode, but I have it on the highest authority (namely, my own sub-par self) that this sounds like a great way to practice with minimal fear of being squished under the shame of your own unpolished skills.
Another of the biggest patch changes is a fundamental change to the way players level up, gain XP, and unlock mech and pilot upgrades, with new mechs to unlock as you progress and an "overflow" system that allows XP earned on max-ranked mechs to be used on the player's other mechs. There's also a new, beautifully forested "Eco" map to play on, as well as a new party system, letting people join games as a group with their pals and even form clans.
Like all other updates, these new changes come with new visual customizations and the usual tweaks and fixes to specific mechs; you'll want to read up on your individual mechs in the patch notes . Summing up, Bill Wagner of Meteor Entertainment says, “[The update] makes it easier than ever for new players to jump into the game, while adding more customization and game polish that our veteran players will appreciate."