I have been twitching with excitement after getting my hands on an alpha build of the upcoming mech FPS HAWKEN. I was invited to the exclusive HAWKEN E3 Machinima Party and spent the evening battling other game reviewers and machinima makers. Below is my account of what happened and a few details about what you can expect to see in the beta.
Waiting for me at the top of the balcony of the LUXE Hotel was an experience I had been looking forward to for quite some time. The hypnotic lights dancing across the sky caused me to quicken my pace toward the door. Once I made it inside the venue, the first thing that caught my eye was the monstrous looking MEK FU controller (pictured below). Crowd surfing wasn’t easy due to a sea of smartphones snapping pictures of that behemoth.
As I made my way to the computer area, I was warmly welcomed by HAWKEN Social Media Manager Melissa Dingmon. She placed her hands on my shoulders and led me to a beefy looking gaming rig. She scanned the room for a moment and said: “Hey you can talk to Miles while you play. He’s our concept artist!” Miles overheard, smiled, and began striding towards me. After some brief chit-chat about the game, he urged me to play and see for myself. I began my first round.
My first team death match was abysmal. Everywhere I turned I was ninja’d by pilots who mercilessly killed anything that moved. Despite my horrible performance, Miles cheered me on and watched as I piloted his creations. Eventually I did achieve a moment of glory when I went on a winning streak with one of Miles’ favorite mechs.
There were a few more memorable mech battles after that. I gamed alongside Justine from the iJustine channel and Ahmed AL-Nasheet from Machinima Respawn Middle East. Poor Justine had a temperamental D key and I felt guilty taking advantage of that fact. She was a good sport and soldiered on regardless of the cursed key. The night ended on a high note when Ahmed and I decided to team up. As a duo of “TV mechs” we took out four ruthless enemy combatants and ended up on top. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to bring the party to a close.
Thanks to the hands-on experience I got, and an interview I conducted with concept artist Miles Williams, I have some insights on what you can expect to see in the upcoming HAWKEN beta. Before I report what I was able to glean from Miles, here is what I personally feel about HAWKEN.
Controls and Gameplay
Adhesive wasn’t kidding when they said that this isn’t your typical lumbering mech type of gameplay. The response time on everything was fast. Turning felt a little clunky, as if you were trying to get a big rig to cooperate with you, but a straight sprint seemed quite zippy.
The reticle was too twitchy for my liking but this is most likely because the mouse sensitivity was placed very high. Such a thing is a matter of personal taste and can be finetuned after lurking around the game’s options menu. I like the fact that even though your ammo is unlimited a heat gauge prevents you from spraying and praying.
What I appreciated the most out of the experience was the fact that teamwork isn’t just a suggestion. It is crucial that you pack up with your team to survive. I learned the hard way that even when you get the jump on an opponent, going one-on-one isn’t the wisest of choices.
The environment, while gritty and apocalyptic, is pleasantly well-lit. I cannot stand games that go for the pitch black aesthetic and insist that it makes a firefight more fun. There is a bit of texture popping on the deployment screen but on the battlefield you hardly notice such a thing. The motion blur was not disorienting either. The interface of the cockpit feels a tad overwhelming but still helpful.
The death animations were disappointingly simplistic. However, this is not the finished product, and who wants to spend an hour watching your mech blast apart anyway? All in all, the environments and interfaces were certainly impressive for something that is not in its final stages just yet.
From what my ear strained to hear over the buzz of the crowd, the sounds of HAWKEN felt realistic. Gunfire rattles in a satisfying way and explosions were bassy. I appreciate the helpful alerts that chime in to inform you of low fuel, incoming fire, or overheating (thank goodness they were not the infamously annoying “beep beep” style of warning). Ambient wind wisps were also a nice touch and put me in the mood of navigating a wasteland.
As much as the sound effects were a delight, battles felt a little stagnant without the injection of tension building music. Understandably, this is still a pre-beta build so music isn’t a crucial detail. After watching HAWKEN’s live action trailer, I’m sure there are some sweet scores are on the way.
Miles Williams Interview
Miles agreed to an interview about the HAWKEN beta and his experience at Adhesive. Written below are his answers.
1. What is your role on the HAWKEN team?
I am the concept artist behind the light and medium mechs. I also contribute to the growing storyline that will be featured in the game.
2. What’s it like to work at Adhesive?
The environment is very fun and laid-back. Everyone is super focused but still take time to enjoy themselves. There are hardly any dull moments.
3. How do you characterize HAWKEN? Would you say it is visceral and fast-paced?
Yes, it definitely is. The goal is to get people into the action from the get-go. Ideally, it is a very team-based game and the path to victory can be best achieved by working together.
4. Will HAWKEN have factions or clan support?
HAWKEN will have joinable in-game factions during the squad-to-squad combat. Support will be in place for player clans but I can’t say much about how this will be implemented.
5. Will HAWKEN remain in beta for long?
The plan is to allow players to get their hands on the game as soon as possible. There is a good chance that HAWKEN will be up for a quick release.
6. What kind of mech do you like to pilot?
I have a sweet spot for the light and medium mechs because I designed them. I enjoy their balance of agility and weaponry.