Hawken, the free-to-play mech-based shooter from Adhesive Games, is still in open beta. It's been in open beta since December and, while Adhesive Games' Jason Hughes says the developer hopes to launch the game "sometime this year," and a new update coming "later this month" promises to radically alter the current state of the game.
Pilots will now have their own progression system with a spate of unlocks attached. Last Eco, a new forest map that contrasts the usual industrial and urban warzones of Hawken, will drop in this upcoming update, as will a host of new tweaks for the current line-up of mechs.
This new version of Hawken will retire the current Optimization system, replacing it with a new Tuning system - a more nuanced set of variables attached to each subclass of mech. Before, the Optimization tree had three categories covering offense, defense and movement that players could tinker around with, but now it's been broken down into more common sets of modifications. For example, every mech has the ability to change its armor in the new Tuning system, but not all mechs have the ability to change their hydraulics, which govern movement parameters. "This gives you greater levels of customization," Hughes said. "It helps create a little bit more speciality to those subclasses."
On top of that, a new item slot system will limit what players can equip on their mechs. Each mech has six open item slots, so players can equip as many items as they want within those slots. "Players can't just run in with uber-powered everything, so there is a little bit of a trade-off," Hughes said. In the current state of the game, items were segregated into categories, so players couldn't equip multiple items from the same category. This new system, Hughes hopes, will alleviate that concern.
Finally, this new update institutes some much-requested community features like a party system that will allow friends to group up before jumping into a match. Combined with the new party matchmaking system, friends can now stay together while hopping between battles. There is also a new co-op bot training mode, in case you and your pals don't feel like taking on humans, and an offline team deathmatch mode to help new players ease into the experience on their own.