Hawken (video game)
|Developer(s)||Adhesive Games (defunct)
Reloaded Games (acquisition)
|Publisher(s)||Meteor Entertainment (defunct)
505 Games (acquisition)
|Engine||Unreal Engine 3|
|Release date(s)||Microsoft Windows
|Genre(s)||Vehicular combat, first-person shooter|
Hawken is a free-to-play multiplayer mech first-person shooter video game previously developed by Adhesive Games. The game focuses on creating an intense battle experience that captures the feel of piloting a mech while keeping the action fast-paced and strategic. The game features six game modes: Team Deathmatch, Deathmatch, Co-op Bot Destruction, Co-op Bot Team Deathmatch, Siege and Missile Assault. It currently follows the freemium model of game monetization with in-game purchases as the main source of revenue.
Hawken had closed alpha and beta programs that took place before the official PC open beta release on 12 December 2012. The game had been consistently updated with new content and balance changes in the form of a patch until Spring 2014. Following Reloaded Games' acquisition of the game's IP and assets in March 2015, the developers launched the game on the console platforms in early July 2016.
Currently, the goal of the developing team is to bring all platforms on the same patch version; once completed, each subsequent update will become feature parity for all platforms.
Hawken is a mech-based first-person shooter. The game takes place in a dystopian human-colonized planet industrialized to the point of collapse, in which the hunt for resources has become a battle for survival. The player assumes the role of a pilot within a biped battle mech—armed with a variety of ballistic cannons and missile weaponry. Relatively agile, these machines are equipped with booster jets that allow them to travel faster and hover in short jumps. Unlike many other first-person shooters, weapons have unlimited ammunition, but are prone to overheating during sustained fire. Overheating will shut down all weapons of the mech, forcing the player to find a safe place to recover. Players can choose alternate weapons, equipment and upgrades for all mech types to match a playstyle or to fill a specific role for a team. In combat, the player will be able to side dash, boost, and make 180 degree turns to compensate for the slow movement of the mech—which in turn will deplete the recharging fuel tank.
Hawken is known to have a high skill ceiling—which is defined as the theoretical point where a player has reached perfection of skill within the game. It uses a modified version of the Glicko rating system to determine match balance and matchmaking. There is a server browser that allows the player to view and join online servers, and allows them to filter by certain criteria. Alternatively, another method to play the game is to join a matchmaking queue; this is where the matchmaker places you into a game server that closely matches your qualifications and skill as a player. Pilot level is taken into account somewhat, but is less important with recent revisions of the matchmaker.
Unless otherwise mentioned, it is implied that all data and text herein from this section is relative to the PC platform's open beta patch 22.214.171.124579. This is to prevent confusion regarding the console releases, which is on a different patch level and may include changes not seen here.
The game consists of nine playable maps. Each map is designed uniquely, with it offering different structures, themes, and strategies. These maps deeply reflect Hawken's lore and universe, and have been designed to accommodate most game modes. The nine playable maps are Bazaar, Bunker, Facility, Front Line, Last Eco, Origin, Prosk, Uptown, and Wreckage. There are two other maps that are technically not in rotation, but can be played via private servers or exploration mode: Test Arena and Last Eco Winter. Test Arena is an unfinished map that was designed to accommodate the competitive aspect of the game, whereas Last Eco Winter was created in celebration of Christmas Day.
The game offers three different mech types (colloquially known as "Generation 1", or G1): A-class, B-class, and C-class. Following the game's lore, mechs are actually called an "axe."
A-class type mechs, also known as "light mechs" are very agile, but have weak armor. B-class type mechs are all-around balanced mechs that have average armor and speed. C-class type mechs, also known as "heavy mechs" have high armor, but are generally slower in speed. Each mech has a unique ability that can be activated for additional damage, protection, or utility. Players can customize their mechs in the garage, which allows a player to customize their appearance, weapon loadout, cockpit, and items/internals.
Previous game producer Jason Hughes from Adhesive Games had introduced a new type of mech, called "Generation 2," or G2. These mechs are a complete redesign of their predecessors. G2 mechs feature different stats, weapons, and chassis. With the launch of Hawken on consoles, each mech has received a G2 counterpart. These new G2 mechs are slightly stronger and faster compared to their G1 variants, but unlike the PC version, they are not complete redesigns.
The game features six different game modes: Team Deathmatch, Deathmatch, Co-op Team Deathmatch, Co-op Bot Destruction, Siege, and Missile Assault. In particular, Siege is where you and your team collect energy units (EU) from two EU stations to launch your team's battleship at the enemy base; players take control of the "AA", or "Anti-Air" to defend or destroy their respective battleships. Missile Assault is an objective-based mode, where the players capture and defend 3 missile silo stations to attack each other's base.
Energy Units (EU) are used only in Siege mode and Co-op Mode, where players collect EU from EU base stations and from dropped EU orbs, in order to launch their siege battleship. In co-op mode, EU is used to upgrade armor, cooling, and the damage of weapons. If a destroyed mech was carrying EU, that amount is dropped and formed into a green orb, and can be collected by other players. The maximum amount of EU a mech can carry varies with its class type. A-class mechs carry less, whereas C-class mechs carry more.
Level Progression System
Hawken features a level progression system that goes up to level 30, the highest level you can achieve in the game. As players gain experience from playing the game, they begin to level up. Each level brings different rewards in customization, items, and/or XP/HC (Hawken Credits). Once you reach Level 30, the extra XP points you earn go into a secondary "buffer" that allows you to spend in-game credits to level up other mechs in your garage. In addition, each mech you own has a unique level. The level of a mech determines what you can do with its potential upgrades and customizability.
Hawken features an Exploration Mode, which allows the player to freely explore every map in the game. This mode is single-player only, and there is no combat. In addition, the player has the option of switching perspectives from 1st to 3rd and can respawn as a different mech altogether.
On March 9, 2011 Adhesive Games announced Hawken with a trailer of the work-in-progress, with only 9 months of development behind it.
Hawken has been developed using the Unreal Development Kit (UDK). "We were familiar with its reputation as possibly the most licensed game engine in the industry. Being able to begin production using a cutting-edge game engine with no start-up cost offers an important opportunity to indie developers like us", said Khang Le. Despite their decision the team had almost no experience with UDK. "We’ve searched the UDN docs as well as online tutorials. Using a publicly available engine means it’s not only possible, but likely that there will be information online about whatever we’re trying to accomplish. Also, the UDK community has been very supportive. We often browse through the forum and read what’s possible or not before we make design decisions."
The main focus for Khang Le was to deliver the graphically intense vision he had for the game on a tight schedule with "triple-A" quality. Within one month of production they were already able to test out a prototype. The actual name of the game came from the last name of one of their former 3D artists James Hawkins whom Khang Le was trying to make fun of resulting in the name "Hawken" in the process. "We couldn’t come up with a better-sounding name. We had "Bolthead", we had "Steel Vultures", a ton of other names like that, but Hawken was just the name that had a cool sound everyone liked. And gameplay, you have a lot of aerial kind of movement where you kind of swoop into the enemy, so it sort of makes sense for us, too".
A steady stream of updates and patches were received on the PC platform until the end of Spring 2014. This is in alignment with Hawken's previous publisher, Meteor Entertainment, closing its doors in March 2014; effectively resulting in the game being abandoned and sending it into development hell.
The game hasn't received any patch or official client update to the PC platform since Reloaded's acquisition. However, they have been working behind the scenes to largely improve the game's core infrastructure (network, servers, front and back-end databases, other optimizations, etc.). They were also collecting an enormous amount of data and statistics, explaining that it is needed to make informed decisions and to get a feel for the game's present state. These projects were usually shared with the community via the forums. In addition, the Reloaded Games development team would occasionally inform the community of what's being done through the forums as well. It wasn't until June 13, 2016 though, that Reloaded officially announced ports to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles. Hawken's community was concerned with the PC platform not seeing any foreseeable updates, but Reloaded has stressed that all platforms will receive parity updates.
Hawken primarily generates revenue from player purchased currency (Meteor credits, or MC), which is how the game operates on a free-to-play business model. These mech credits can only be purchased in packages, which range from $5 to $100 USD. Once purchased, the player can spend these credits to unlock any content the game has to offer. This includes every weapon, item, internal, player avatar, mech cosmetic, XP/HC (Experience/Hawken credit) booster, holotaunt, and mech.
However, the game avoids a pay-to-win scenario by opting for a different "pay-to-not-grind" system instead; players can pay money to obtain in-game weapons, items, internals, holotaunts, boosters, etc., without the need to grind for HCs. The only aspect of the game that cannot be unlocked without paying money (that also don't have a HC price tag) are most cosmetics—i.e. player avatars, mech paint and mech camos/skins.
Finally, it's not necessary to unlock every item and weapon to excel in the game; player skill and personal experience in FPS games are largely responsible for individual success. Positioning, strategy, accuracy, and utilizing a forward-thinking approach when engaging are crucial for surviving and defeating the enemy.
- Destructoid’s Best of PC
- GameTrailers’ Best Free to Play
- GameTrailers’ Best Online Only
- Polygon’s E3 Editor’s Choice Award
- Awesome Robo’s E3 2012 Best Overall Title
- GamingIrresponsibly’s Best of Indie
- Examiner.com’s Best PvP (Multiplayer)
- Video Game Writers’ Best of PC
- Sidequesting’s Best of E3 Editor’s Choice Awards
- GamerLive.TV’s Top 5 PC Games
Hawken also received awards and nominations at Gamescom 2012 in Germany.
- MMOBomb.com's Best Graphics
- GameSpot's Best Game of the Show
- Destructoid nominated Hawken for Best PC Game, Best Shooter, and Best Game of the Show
At PAX Prime 2012, Hawken was awarded:
- STFUandPlay's Best of PC
- STFUandPlay's Best Graphics
- Destructoid's Must Play
- ShogunGamer's Best of Show
- MMOhut's Best Graphics: Runner Up
On 24 August 2011 an article on entertainment news website The Wrap was released confirming that DJ2 Entertainment, an independent production company, was able to obtain the rights for a film adaptation. Adhesive Games was hesitant to release the rights at first, opting to focus on the game release instead. "I assumed someone already got it because it was so huge. Big names were chasing this", said DJ2 producer Dmitri M. Johnson, "A-list directors and big hit agencies."
The story will follow two young pilots from separate clans pitted against one another after a devastating virus has covered most of the heavily industrialized planet surface in toxic crystal. There have been no official announcements regarding writers, producers or lead actors for the film at this point, but a panel at Comic-Con 2012 announced Act of Valor director Scott Waugh would be taking the reins on the adaptation.
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