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E3 2012 | Free To Play Mech Shooter Hawken Delivers

Posted on June 8, 2012 AT 10:39am

Hawken LogoDuring my E3 visit to L.A., I was invited to a game demo for a title called Hawken from newly founded publisher Meteor Entertainment and independent developer Adhesive Games. Typically, PC gaming is not typically my thing. I find the sheer number of items you can control and have to interact with – like skill building trees, macro creation, walk/turn/strafe key combinations – daunting, so I avoid PC games like the plague…and I’ve been plague free since 1996.

But as I started to research Hawken, I found myself more and more interested in the art and mechs and decided to attend the demo.

Best decision I made this E3.

Hawken is a free to play mech shooter whose inspiration comes from games like Mechwarrior and Virtual On according to Creative Director and studio Co-Founder Khang Le, and it shows in the game. Hawken’s control system is very easy to pick up:

  • traditional “W,S,A,D” keyboard controls for forward/ backward/left/right movement
  • the space bar controls “jump” or in this game’s case “flying”
  • the shift keys provide short speed bursts to aid in enemy evasion
  • the left and right mouse buttons control weapon fire
  • the mouse controls the direction the player is looking
  • and there are a few dedicated keys for item use and mech repair

That’s it. That’s how you control your mech in Hawken.

In speaking with game Animator and studio Co-Founder Chris Lalli, it was clear that Adhesive Games understands that games should be accessible and fun to play. As he explained, the game takes place on another planet, where corporations and factions are fighting for resources to survive. You, as a mech pilot either work for the corporations or some other faction to find and retrieve these resources. More of the story behind the world of Hawken will be revealed through a series of graphic novels that will be published around the games’ official release, but for now, that’s the basic storyline.

There are several different mech types that you can pilot ranging from light to heavy mechs each with their own distinctive classes, weapon load outs and abilities. Chris suggested I try my luck with a light mech as they have the fastest movements and fastest rapid-fire primary weapons to start. Hawken is a multiplayer game – the single player campaign has been removed – that at launch will support either 6-on-6 or 8-on-8 gameplay. When I jumped into the game, There were 2 members on my team and 4 members on the competing team. Not one to shy away from a challenge I loaded up my mech and was off.

My goal as I played the Death Match mode demo was to stay alive for at least 5 minutes. That didn’t happen. Within 30 seconds of walking away from my team base I was dead. At respawn I was given the option select a new mech and new weapon load out, but opted to try my hand again with Swiftly (that’s what I called my mech in my head, and yes, she’s a girl) and rolled out. This time I lasted 2 minutes before being blown to hell. Chris decided to jump in – to help me stave off death long enough to get a good feel for the game – and that’s when Hawken surprised me. Usually, games where I am so overpowered by other players that I’m killed within minutes of hitting the map are not games that I continue playing or contemplate buying. However, even before Chris came to my aid to level the playing field a bit, I had already really enjoyed the few minutes I experienced in the game.

Visually, Hawken is stunning. The world is hyper articulated and stylized, and thee heavy influence of Sci-Fi is undeniable and beautiful. Being a fan of anime, I noticed hints of various anime mecha style types in some of the level art and actual detail of the mechs themselves. Hawken Mech Fight

While Hawken is a free to play game, there will be mech improvement/customization micro-transactions available to help sustain the game. But Chris stressed to me that there is no desire for Hawken to become a “pay to win” game. Players will have the option of earning all pay for customizations and improvements in game via skill pointed earned through gameplay.

While I’m not a PC gamer, and really don’t dabble in free to play games, Hawken has made one hell of an impression on me. The open beta launches 12/12/12. I’ll be there. So should you.

Rochelle has been writing about, talking about, and arguing with anyone who will listen to her about video games –professionally – for more six years. Co-Founder, Designer, and Podcast Co-Host at ElectricSistaHood, Rochelle fancies herself rather geeky. Follow her on twitter @NinJaSistah

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