This revived free-to-play shooter is like Call of Duty and Battlefield had a baby, and it's coming to literally EVERY platform

Delta Force Hawk Ops
(Image credit: Team Jade)

Delta Force has a long and storied history, one that I was admittedly totally unaware of. With roots dating all the way back to the 90s, Delta Force was a tactical shooter franchise developed by NovaLogic. THQ acquired the rights to Delta Force in the aftermath of NovaLogic's closure, and now it seems those same rights have transferred to Level Infinite. 

This week at the Summer Game Fest 2024 festivities, I had the opportunity to sit down with Level Infinite and Team Jade to learn all about how the company is reviving this classic shooter franchise for modern audiences, while also paying homage to its legacy. This is Delta Force: Hawk Ops, a free-to-play, fully cross-platform shooter with a variety of game modes and heaps of ambition. 

Delta Force: Hawk Ops 

Delta Force: Hawk Ops 

Boasting a variety of gameplay modes that draw inspiration from Call of Duty and Battlefield both, Delta Force: Hawk Ops is a revival of a classic shooter franchise that looks as though it might be able to compete with the big boys. 

Wishlist at: Steam | PlayDeltaForce.com

Team Jade has a wealth of shooter expertise stemming from the wildly successful Call of Duty Mobile, among other games, but this is the first time as far as I could tell that the team has created something with such broad cross-platform aspirations. Indeed, Delta Force: Hawk Ops is coming to Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Windows PC, Android, and iOS, complete with cross-play (by input), cross-progression, a premium story mode addon, atop a free-to-play multiplayer. The developers even bragged to me that they've optimized the game so much you can run it on a GTX 480.

In a world with mountains of competitive shooters, Team Jade certainly has its work cut out for them, but I can attest that they seem to have thoroughly nailed down Delta Force's gameplay, especially as a big Battlefield fan. Here's why Delta Force: Hawk Ops is rising up my list of most anticipated Xbox games and upcoming PC games in equal measure. 

What if Call of Duty and Battlefield had a baby, with a deeper emphasis on simulatory tactical play?

Delta Force: Hawk Ops reminded me how easy it is to slip into a "gaming bubble" sometimes, and be completely unaware that entire franchises and games even exist. Delta Force is a wildly successful classic franchise in its own right, but this carefully crafted reboot already has a ton of hype behind it in mobile gaming communities, with trailers tracking up millions of views. I want to be transparent that I haven't experienced the original titles, but so this is very much from the perspective of someone who typically plays classic Call of Duty modes and Battlefield. As a fan of both, I was incredibly satisfied with what Team Jade had to offer here. 

The build I played was in early alpha so some bugs were to be expected, but even now it feels incredibly polished and visually stunning. The game is built on Unreal Engine — but you honestly wouldn't know it. Team Jade really showcased a masterclass in how to mold Unreal Engine to arrive at a very unique feel, one that incorporates the rapidity of Call of Duty while also retaining the class-based traditions of the original Delta Force games. 

For my first experience, I was treated to a familiar attack / defend mode Battlefield players will undoubtedly find familiar. This is large-scale warfare for 64 players, complete with vehicular combat. I wasn't able to get my hands on a vehicle in the demonstration build, but I was able to play around with various operators, their tools, and their weapons. 

Delta Force Hawk Ops

(Image credit: Team Jade)

The game is set in a modern, but near-futuristic warfare world where robotics and drones are more commonplace. One operator gadget I had was a cluster of mini drones that would fly to an area and emit a suppression field, helping choke enemy lines. Another gadget I had was essentially a healing gun, allowing you to shoot players with darts that would keep their hit points topped off. 

What intrigued me most about the feel of Delta Force: Hawk Ops was how the game felt somehow like a mash-up of Call of Duty and Battlefield. The time-to-kill (TTK) and motion feel is certainly something I would more readily compare to Call of Duty, with rapidity I'd expect of Activision's flagship shooter. However, the sheer scale of the maps, the satisfying killzones, and the inter-squad gameplay are certainly more reminiscent of Battlefield. Dropping ammo crates, health packs, healing teammates, laying down suppressing fire, and those epic stalemates are exactly what I would typically look for in a Battiefleid title, and Team Jade nailed that feel incredibly well.

I only had time to experience one map during my time with the game, but it hit me with Battlefield Bad Company 2 vibes, right down to the silenced VSS rifle, as I weaved crunchy headshots into the theatre of combat. 

There are mountains of Call of Duty and Battlefield clones on the market, particularly on mobile. I think it would be doing Delta Force: Hawk Ops a disservice to count it among those, however. Clearly, there's some Call of Duty Mobile expertise feeding the feel of the game, alongside inspiration from large scale combat sims like Battlefield, but they coalesce into something that ends up feeling unique in its own right. There's a lot more to Delta Force: Hawk Ops than its Battlefield-like Havoc mode, though. 

Free-to-play with cross-progression on mobile, Xbox, PC, and beyond

Delta Force Hawk Ops

(Image credit: Team Jade)

As I mentioned, Delta Force: Hawk Ops is a truly cross-platform shooter. It sports full cross-platform play and progression, incorporating literally every single modern platform. Xbox Series X|S, PC, PlayStation, Android, and iOS, all on the same engine, with the same gameplay feel. It's quite an impressive feat, particularly when you realize it's all running on Unreal Engine too. 

I have some preconceived notions about how Unreal Engine typically feels and plays, and Team Jade totally shattered that with Delta Force: Hawk Ops. Indeed, the developers told me the game is so optimized that it will run even on PC GPUs from over a decade ago. The version I played was running on a higher-end PC, though, and it looked quite stunning.

Delta Force Hawk Ops

(Image credit: Team Jade)

Generally speaking, players won't be forced to compete in unfair matches. Touch control players will be pooled with other touch control players, for example, although it remains to be seen how well the input detection works in practice. Battlefield 2042 can be particularly annoying on that front, bundling mouse and keyboard players and controller players into the same lobbies. It's not exactly an easy problem to solve, I suppose, but it's worth mentioning that Team Jade has made considerations for it. 

You will, however, retain all of your unlocks, purchases, skins, and the like, when moving from PC to console to mobile, with the same user account. This will truly be a shooter you can take on the go, and continue your progression anywhere, much like titles like Fortnite. I foresee the future of shooters going down this platform-agnostic route, with games like Delta Force: Hawk Ops at the forefront, if it lands as the team intends. 

Delta Force: Hawk Ops' microtransactions will be purely cosmetic, the team assures me, thankfully. The game will be free to play in multiplayer across all of its modes, but Team Jade is also building a premium campaign mode that is a fully rebuilt version of Delta Force: Black Hawk Down, inspired by the battle of Mogadishu incident from 1993. 

Can Delta Force: Hawk Ops compete with the heavyweights?

Delta Force Hawk Ops

(Image credit: Team Jade)

I'm a bit intrigued what the final product of Delta Force: Hawk Ops will look like. It's hard for me to ignore the fact that some of the environmental destruction and vehicular combat detailed in the game's trailers weren't really present or prevalent in the demo I played. There were a variety of bugs and stressors too, including protruding collision boxes that prevented bullets from connecting with their targets, for example. I'm confident that Team Jade will address these types of issues before the final release in the future, but it's worth keeping an eye on. 

One thing I'm not concerned about is Delta Force's overarching gameplay loop, which felt incredibly satisfying from every angle. Tight gunplay, satisfying impacts, a large variety of gadgets and strategies, on top of a wealth of game modes should give Delta Force: Hawk Ops the clout it needs to compete with the big boys. I'm eager to see where it all goes. 

Delta Force: Hawk Ops 

Delta Force: Hawk Ops 

Battle in near-future warfare in 2035 or in the 1993 Gulf War in Delta Force: Hawk Ops, the revived classic shooter by Team Jade. Incorporating the best of Call of Duty, DMZ, and Battlefield into one sleek free-to-play package, Delta Force is one shooter worth keeping your eye on. 

Wishlist at: Steam | PlayDeltaForce.com

Jez Corden
Co-Managing Editor

Jez Corden is a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by tea. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his XB2 Podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!