PAX East 2013: Hawken turns in a successful and exciting progress report
At PAX East 2013, below the feet of a mech that spewed smoke every few minutes and surrounded by Hawken demo machines, I had a chance to speak with Evan Berman, the senior community manager at Meteor Entertainment. With the game already available and free to play in beta form, I wanted to find out what’s new, what’s upcoming, and what directions Hawken may take in the future. Here’s what I found out...
GZ: Hawken has been available for a bit now, how has the game been progressing so far?
Evan Berman: We’ve been in open beta for about 4+ months and it’s been fantastic. We’ve learned so much from the players, we are very attentive to our forums and everything our players are doing. We’ve had two major content patches, we have another one planned for early April, and the plan is actually to get it where the next patch will actually introduce a whole new mechanic in terms of team play and balance.
GZ: Can you talk about it?
Evan Berman: Yes. We’re going to be introducing the technician next month. It’s the first mech we have that’s a support mech. It actually has a pair of weapons that are less geared towards destroying your enemies and more towards either knocking them down or increasing the survivability of your team.
The primary weapon is an explosive slug. What’s cool about that is in addition to doing some damage it also debuffs your opponents and makes them more susceptible to damage.
Its secondary weapon is a repair torch. We hinted at the repair torch a couple months ago. Its primary function is to heal your teammates or their turrets as well. It can also be used on yourself so you can fight a bit longer. There’s an alt fire though, and what it does is instead of healing your friends, it life-steals from your enemies. It’s actually going to pull health from your opponents and give it to you.
Combine that with an ability that increases the healing speed for a small period of time and you’ve got a fantastic support class. It’ll be great for players that want to make their team better.
I think it’s going to change the litmus of the game. You have something that’s about positioning and twitch movement, knowing where your enemy is and knowing how to land your hits, but now it’s also going to have team composition elements. It’s going to bring a whole new meta-game to Hawken.
GZ: Are there any plans to introduce new game modes?
Evan Berman: We’re still working on Siege, which is one of our four game modes. Siege is sort of our proprietary mode in that it fits our world really nicely -- the game world and the pace of the game -- but we feel like there’s still work to be done to it so we’re constantly working on making it what we want it to be. We kind of want it to be the defining mode for Hawken.
We are looking at other game modes though. We’re looking at anything from a gladiator 1 vs. 1 arena of sorts to...we also have a special map, a destruction map that we showed off at the Nvidia booth.
GZ: So you have this competitive online shooter, but it also has this sort of transmedia story going along with it, how is that working out?
Evan Berman: Transmedia is a way of helping us get our message across. It’s sort of an evergreen medium that will reach out to players who might not always like mechs, they might not always like shooters, but at the same time, they like a good story, and we have a great story. We definitely want to get it out into a format that people are eager to read, be it comics, or a web series, or a feature film, all of which are planned.
If it brings people closer to the Hawken world it may make them willing to try it out and expand their tastes. If we can do that we feel like we’ve not only succeeded as a company but also succeeded to spread out the genre. Mechs are sexy and we want to prove that!
GZ: Any plans to expand Hawken to other platforms?
Evan Berman: We’re constantly exploring other platforms, we’ve actually had discussions with a few. Honestly though, we’re so focusing right now on our PC release. That’s what we want to nail down first, and then explore and expand.
GZ: As more of console player I tend to prefer playing with a controller. Any plans for controller support down the line?
Evan Berman: We’ve actually had community members experiment with their own peripherals of all manner. We do want to have native peripheral support moving forward. At the moment it’s just that we want to simplify our input methods so that we can focus on really honing the game and making it the best that it can be.
We’ve actually tested and done a few demos with the Oculus Rift as well. I actually tested it out a few weeks ago. I felt gravity, I felt that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach as I was flying over buildings. It was wild.
GZ: Thanks for the update!
Evan Berman: Absolutely!
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