Hawken Hands-On Impressions

Hawken is a free-to-play multiplayer focused mech combat game in development by Adhesive Games. I was able to jump in the game for a bit and take out a mech for a test-drive during a press preview this passed weekend. I am happy to report that the game is beautiful and extremely fun to play; now for the details.

You are presented with a staggering number of customization options, many of which are tied to spending actual currency or in-game currency to unlock. Everything from the chassis of your mech down to the types of thrusters that display when using your boosts in the game. This is complete with choosing not only the designs but the colors as well. Judging from the limited nature of the beta, these options will be even more expansive once the game launches.

After tinkering with my mech for a bit in the Garage, I moved into a server and hopped directly into some team deathmatch fun. At first I struggled with the controls and pacing of the game but soon fell into a groove. Left click is your primary fire, a machine gun for me, and right click was my alternate fire, or rockets in my case. General movement is slow, but you are given a lot of freedom with two boost mechanics: dashing and hovering.

By holding left shift your thrusters kick on and cause you to dash in whichever direction you are traveling. This is useful for not only pursuing enemies, but also quickly strafing. Pressing and holding the space-bar turns on your thrusters and causes you to go up. This is great for navigating the layered battlefield that is covered in destroyed buildings, broken bridges, etc.

Speaking of the environment, this game is absolutely beautiful. I only saw one map and one game mode during this testing period but it looked amazing. The world is appropriately grimy and run-down but the lighting and effects really sell the sensation that you’re sitting in your mechs cockpit during the game. The windshield gets scuffed throughout the fight, your turrets jostle as you move and the entire thing feels like a giant mech and not just a guy in a jetpack.

This brief preview period was just enough to truly pique my interest and I can’t wait to see more of the game as it travels along it’s path of development. Hawken isn’t just one of the best looking free-to-play games I’ve seen, it’s one of the best looking games I’ve seen period. Hawken is set to officially launch this coming December on PC. Make sure to check out the trailer from PAX East above.

Let us know what you thought of my hands-on time with the game in the comments below!