I recently visited Comikaze con in LA not to admire dozens of comic book booths or the scantily clad Catwomans but instead to interview a man about Hawken, a Free to Play Mech shooter scheduled for release this December. Khang Le, the Creative and Co-Founder of Hawken was kind enough to sit down with me and answer a few questions regarding the upcoming Mech Title.
MMOBomb: We have seen the desert and futuristic city scape used so far in your maps. What other unique areas can we expect to play in?
Well the desert map is a really open area while the city style map is much more urban environment with with a sort of “Ghost in The Shell” styling too it. We actually have more maps available but we havent decided which one to release next in the beta. If we released too many at once we run the risk of confusing the players. From a design standpoint, we want each map to be a different experience for the player in terms of style and color while also making sure they are all balanced before we release them.
Specifically though, one of the new maps will have a lot more verticality. Our current maps are focused on close quarter combat and more open combat, so with this map we want players to use their jet packs a lot more.
MMOBomb: Some gamers have said that Hawken will appeal to fans such of games such as Call of Duty because its simply CoD with a mech skin over it. Why are they wrong? What makes Hawken really stand out other then the mechs?
Well the two biggest distinctions besides the HUD in Hawken involve the management system -managing weapon heat, items, and thruster fuel- and the actual engagements players have with the enemy. There isn’t any sort of single kill shot engagements in Hawken like you would come to expect from other traditional human based shooters. So it creates a lot of strategy, since when you see someone the battle just got started. It’s not like when you see someone..someone is guaranteed to die.So instead when you see someone you have time to communicate to your teamates and figure out how you should deal with the situation.
I think its a lot of fun like that because I am not a great shooter player myself….I dont like just going in and getting headshots and dying over and over. I like being able to see my enemy and have a 10-15 second battle back and forth, running away and healing, then coming back and continuing the battle.
Oh and another thing is the movement. You walk very slow and the game has a really weighty feel but when you use your quick fuel you can boost forward or side dash around for some added mobility.
MMOBomb: You have mentioned customization as an option for players to pay real money for. What level of customization can players potentially expect?
Well I think mech games fit really well with the Free to Pay model because you can customize your mech like you would customize your car, from the body to the internals like the engines and everything that affects gameplay. We want to separate the visual customization from the stat customization though because in the past games like ChromeHounds where the visual aspects of the mechs were tied to the stats meant once someone found an optimal build everyone would look the same.
So we are trying to keep the visual side separate from what actually changes how your mech performs. But beyond the internal and external customizations we also have the skill trees which are broken up into defense, offense, and speed. Depending on how many points you have you can do very different things to your mech like changing how fast your weapons heat up or your movement speed.
There are also three different weight classes for you to choose from. So for example if you are more of a Quake style of player and you really like speed, you can go for a light mech which focuses more on speed and maneuverability and then spend points in the speed skill tree to make yourself even faster. On the heavy class you can put everything into armor and play the game more like MechWarrior where you are super slow but you don’t have to dodge the enemy, you can sit there and kinda tank the damage for your teamates.
MMOBomb: With a lot of F2P multiplayer games aiming for a chance at esports and the competitive scene. Do you have any esports plans for Hawken?
So esports are really going to be one of our main focuses. Seeing how a lot of people get drawn to just watching the game. I actually like watching -someone play- the game more then playing it sometimes because I don’t appreciate the visuals when I play. But when I watch others play I can appreciate the visuals and how it feels like a movie. But the game really lends itself to being competitive because you don’t die right away and there is a mode called siege mode which is very team based and involves a lot of strategy since you have to escort a battleship sort of like a tank escort mission and I think it’s going to be really fun to watch.
We have signed up with both ESL and MLG to bring tournaments and money prizes to players and the game will have built in clan support as well as ranking. We want to have a really deep ranking system like Battlefield 3’s Battlelog where you can see all your stats not just your kill to death ratio. We want players to see how many kills they got with a certain weapon or how many kills they got on players mid air and then rank themselves against everyone else in each specific category.