Hawken has been in open beta for the last several months, but all in all things have been pretty quiet from the giant mech combat simulator. Well that's about to change as developer Adhesive Games unleashes a massive update that's going to improve a bunch of features.
"We've been focusing a lot on feedback from the public," producer Jason Hughes told me during hands-on demo. "We haven't had an update in a while because we actually had to break a lot of stuff in order to move on to some of the changes we wanted to make. At some point we couldn't keep updating what was live because we had to throw a lot of stuff out and sort of start from scratch."
So the team been taking in all this feedback, tweaking and tuning all sorts of features, and the result of their effort will be upon us later this month. Here's what you can expect.
The user interface has been completely redone, so now it's easier to find what you need. For example, the garage section now allows you to change items on your mech without having to go into multiple sub-menus.
The mech progression system is brand new, and it rewards players even more for spending time with mechs. As you unlock special abilities, you can equip different weapons, plus change the visuals of your mech as you level up, all of which is reflected in-game too. Players will also be rewarded with a global item that can be placed on any mech once you reach the end of a progression with one mech. This way you're encouraged to branch out.
Adding to that, there's now a separate pilot progression system as well. This way, you can apply your tuning points to another mech without having to start from scratch. There's no longer a cost associated to unlock a mech either, so you can try out mechs without having to invest in them. Plus there's a XP transfer system that will take XP from your established mech into a new one you want to utilize.
The old skill tree system has been scrapped for a new tuning system. As you level up, you get points that you can put into various categories to spend on items. You can't max everything out, so it's a give-and-take system. Do you want to be the fastest, or do you want a ton of armor? This in turn is tied to the new revamped item system. Each item has a designated amount of slots on them. Your mech can only take up to six slots, so you can either have multiple small-tier slot items, or maybe just one powerful six-slot item.
The internals system has also been changed so it actually affects gameplay. Before the internal system was more cosmetic; now it can allow you to perform a dodge while in the air, perform a 180-degree turn in air, take no damage when you fall, and so on.
Additionally, Adhesive Games redid the training mode so it's now way better at teaching you the mechanics. And from there, you don't have to jump into a live game anymore and feel bad for letting your team down. Instead, you can get a feel for the game in the new wave-based team deathmatch mode where four players can fight waves of mechs, drones, and other explodable things for up to 20 waves.
So yeah, that's a lot of changes. Plus, there's a new jungle map called Last Eco, a new heavy class mech called the Vanguard, a better killcam, an improved party system for easier team play, a better post-match report, more stats for players, and I think that about covers it all.
All of this will of course be free, as Hawken is a free-to-play game that you can play right now. I have to admit it was weird how quiet the studio has been with the game, but it's obvious they've been listening to their player base and hard at work trying to appease them all. Depending on how well received this update is, we can probably finally see an official release of Hawken by the end of this year.