E3 2012: Hawken Hands-On Impressions

Adhesive Games was present at E3 2012 to show off a Pre-Alpha build of Hawken at the Twitch booth for 3v3 mecha action. It seemed only yesterday that the first Hawken trailer came out and blew away my mind with its amazing visuals and gritty mecha combat action. For a game developed with less than nine people at the time, it was the talk of the gaming community for quite some time. Coming off the cancellation of Project Offset to being funded $10 million dollars from the same investors who funded League of Legends, Hawken is potentially the next game changer in the Free-to-Play sector.

The demo that Adhesive had on hand featured three maps, and 3 game modes: Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, and Siege. The former two are pretty straightforward, leading Siege to be the game’s primary objective-based mode. Siege is a mishmash of Capture the Flag and King of the Hill. It is also the reason behind Hawken’s lore of competing factions fighting for resources. Opposing teams must battle it out to collect Energy from Nodes scattered on the map. Afterwards they can use that energy to power defense turrets, purchase utility items, or bring back to base. When a player is collecting energy his mech is vulnerable to attacks so they must be protected from attacks by allies. However, when a mech is destroyed, all energy it accumulated is dropped and can be picked up by anyone. Once a team’s base gathers a certain amount, it will launch a battleship that slowly travels to the other team’s base. This unlocks the second objective of the mode: an anti-air weapon in the center of the map. If the opposing team captures it, it will do tons of damage to the battleship. If the ship does go down, it will drops a massive pool of energy giving either team the opportunity to launch it again. This allows for a variety of strategies to be employed for dynamic gameplay.

Hawken gives you the option to customize the loadout for your mech between Light, Medium, or Heavy mechs. Trading mobility for durability means you can take more hits while dishing out more damage. The customize was quite extensive given the presets we had.  The game forgos typical mechanics like regenerating health or picking up health kits in favor of a repair system. At any time should you need to regain armor points, simply find a nice hiding spot and repair your mech. Doing this will leave you vulnerable but POV changes to a Third Person, allowing you to spot incoming hostiles. The mechs themselves are actually quite cumbersome. Adhensive touts the game as a mix of MechWarrior and Virtual-On. I’d like to Your cockpit will shake, rumble and rock in all directions. As I was playing I could clearly feel the weight of the mech bearing with each step. Pressing the Shift key will allow you to “dash” in any direction but will consume your boost gauge. In my games, I was using the boost to quickly shift my vector to avoid missles while throwing off my opponent’s aims as I strafed around them. Weapons and Boost are unlimited but are prone to overheat prompting players to use them wisely. Everything is nothing short of amazing thus far.

The cranking sound of the metal joints echoing in my head conveyed an immense sense of realism. The game runs on the Unreal 3 Engine and boy does it looks beautiful. The gritty dystopian artitecture infused with a bleak landscape that is inspired by Japanese Animes like Ghost in the Shell and Cyber Punk movies like Blade Runner. Sparks and Debris will fly off the mechs making that screeching noise of metal being pelted by dozens of bullets. Hawken definitely ups the bar in the graphics department for free to play games.

I came in with extremely high expectations, and my first impressions so far have been nothing but positive. Adhesive Games has been hard at work building what may be the best free to play game I’ve had the joy of playing in recent memory. Those few tastes of the game will leave me salivating for months to come. Hawken is a mecha fan’s dream come true. See you guys in Beta.

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Hokan Lo
Hokan Lo 324 posts

Hokan Lo is a contributing writer and photographer for Nerd Reactor. He likes Pizza Butts and Mello Yellow. You can contact him on twitter @colorinlive. <a href="http://nerdreactor.com/about/">Meet the Nerd Reactor Team</a>