The Future of Hawken: Mechanic Mechs and PhysX Physics

Double-Barreled Map Diversity

Continuing down the long-term strategy path, Adhesive and Meteor have partnered with Nvidia to bring destructible environments to Hawken. “Like anything else, mechs have weight and mass,” said Loynd, “and those are going to be huge factors [in Hawken] going forward.” Simply put: Your mech is going to bust through walls and floors while shooting any structure it sees into people-size chunks of concrete.

The new addition is possible due to a partnership with Nvidia, but AMD fans need not worry. Similar to AMD’s TressFX, the experience might have spawned from the former’s PhysX tech, but the experience is going to be same for everyone, AMD, Intel and Nvidia users alike. You might get “less chunks,” as Loynd put it, depending on your GPU’s capabilities, but no one is going to be left out in the cold. The ability to literally shoot the bridge out from an opponent, while watching their mech tumble to the ground several stories below, is something to behold. Loynd did confirm that structures will always stand, even if they look bombed out, so collapsing buildings a la Battlefield aren’t in the mix just yet.

As far as implementation goes, Meteor is still mulling some ideas around. It seems like the tech will hit all maps at once, instead of a gradual rollout, but the feature won’t land map-side until late 2013 or Q1 2014.

Speaking of maps, it looks like Hawken is ready to move beyond the gray, dreary color scheme to which we’ve all grown accustomed. Valkyrie, the latest map that was shown off at PAX, uses way more color, and seems like a generally happier place to live (assuming you’re not under siege by giant robots). As Loynd explained, “…the world of Hawken is one dominated by megacorporations, but the areas where these corporations are actually based are quite nice. These are places where people actually want to be.” The end result is a rainbow of color mixed in with the same kind of dystopia future theme found in other maps.

Valkyrie is just the tip of the iceberg, as later maps are going to explore vastly different environments, some of which include some very Portal-sounding antics. Details were scarce during our conversation, but Loynd did mention “maps that change physics around,” so hopefully we’re in for some low gravity shenanigans later this year.

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