Now that we’ve had a chance to dust ourselves off from the Hard Landing that inaugurated Hawken Reborn’s Early Access, our team has been at work pushing updates and doing deep dives into all of the feedback that we’ve been seeing.
In the six weeks since launch, our priorities have been focused on tackling major game breaking bugs and optimizing pain points that lead to a negative overall experience with the current game. These changes came by way of three “hotfix” patches that addressed soft locking bugs, combat balancing, refactoring difficulty curves, resource farming adjustments, and a slew of other gears that needed retuning. As of version 0.1.0.3, the game is in a pretty good position with a few lingering bugs, but we’re overall happy by how stable things have been this early into production.
In terms of feedback, we’ve been pouring over the vast amounts of posts across Hawken social channels, Steam reviews, analytics, and direct community conversations to establish some insightful baselines to guide our development decisions. Many thanks to everyone who has engaged with us and shared their thoughts! Here are just a few of those baselines that we’d like to point out.
Our number one priority is engaging with all Hawken players and the amount of feedback that we’ve seen has been immense to say the least. We’ve seen the impassioned critical walls of #forumposting and just on our Discord Server alone, there are over 200+ feedback posts made by players. While we can’t comment on every single one, our community team has been working behind the scenes to flag them with our development team and have started to tag the feedback in our Discord Server to give players some visibility into how we’re sorting their posts.
As of today, our Steam reviews sit at a “Mostly Negative” rating from 1,591 reviewers. At surface value, that’s a pretty disheartening number and obviously something that’s of concern as it detracts potential players from wanting to try the game. On the other hand, it’s also a pretty impressive number of reviews considering we intentionally pursued one exclusive interview before launch so it goes without saying that the Hawken community is a passionate bunch.
Just like playing Hawken Reborn, if you look past the current review rating and take the game for a test drive, you’ll find some interesting things that point in a positive direction. Here’s what we’ve gleaned from the reviewers.
Of the 1,591 reviews giving Hawken Reborn a 23% Mostly Negative rating, 606 players (38% of total reviews) have played more than 1 hour of Hawken Reborn. Those 1+ hour players have rated the game at a 39% Mostly Negative rating, but just 1% shy of Steam’s “Mixed” 40% threshold. That’s a 16% difference just by playing the game an hour or longer. As we dive into the longer play times, the numbers look more promising and help surface other additional insights.
We have other back end data to help analyze the above, but looking at these public reviewer numbers, we know that players who spend 2 hours or more in the game will average in the “Mixed” rating. That to us is a playtime milestone that we need to improve since the current heart of Hawken Reborn resides in its Patrol Mode gameplay loop that’s only made available after playing the first 4 of 6 Story Arc missions during our First Time User Experience (FTUE). Our data shows that the median to this Patrol Mode threshold is approximately 3 hrs 15 mins so you can see that we have a significant time barrier that we need to truncate.
The stats also shows that as players approach the 5+ hours mark, we get closer to the “Mostly Positive” 70% Steam rating and starts pulling back around the 9+ hour mark. This leads us to believe that players are having fun with the game after they familiarize themselves with it, but are likely running out of fresh fun factor sustaining content to play beyond that 9+ hour mark.
Some of our more acrobatic pilots have already gotten a preview of our upcoming Zone B area and while it’s not ready for show time just yet, know that we are actively working on getting new content out to players so that you can stretch your gameplay experience outside of our current Zone A Refuge area.
FIRST TIME USER EXPERIENCE (FTUE) MENTALITY SHIFT
In the course of designing our Hawken Reborn FTUE, we focused on building an introduction to the game to help onboard all types of players and not specifically built for those only familiar with the original Hawken. This is attributed to the game’s PVE pivot making it a new game for everyone. Now that we’ve gone public, it’s obvious to us that for most gamers, piloting a Hawken mech and acclimating to a looter shooter environment isn’t their first joyride. Due to this key learning, we’re making a concerted effort to decouple our Story Arc FTUE as a requirement to unlock Patrol Mode.
What this means is that after our next patch, all you’ll need to get into the Patrol Mode is to complete the first Story Arc Mission “Starfall” which will take approximately 20 minutes and gives you the choice to play the rest of our Story Arc or go straight into Patrol Mode with the first base Apex platform to looter shoot at your own pace. We’re hoping that this change will let players freely test drive Hawken Reborn and see how much enjoyment potential they can have.
PATCH VERSION 0.1.1.0
We mentioned the 3 hotfixes that were released previously and with the much larger change to the FTUE and Patrol Mode changes, the next update will come by way of an actual “Patch”. This is an internal term for larger updates and Hawken Reborn Patch Version 0.1.1.0 is going to be that first of these large updates. This patch also means that we’re going to focus a significant amount of development efforts in the trenches and less on hotfixes which means our previous 2 week cadence is going to take a lot longer for this next patch. We’re currently estimating it to release sometime in August.
In the future, we hope to not have such a long lull in between big patches, but think of it like the Great British Video Game Development Bake Off. We fired all cylinders on high to get the hot fixes out during this initial cook, but now it’s time to dial it back down to medium so we can ensure Patch 0.1.1.0 is properly developed without burning our development team out.
QUALITY OF LIFE UPDATES
Other than the above mentioned changes to how quickly players can hop into Patrol Mode, the next patch will address a few other quality of life changes amongst its extensive list of patch notes that we’ll be publishing.
Threat Level Indicators
One of the biggest balancing acts in Hawken Reborn and a core component to its gameplay loop is Threat Level. Whether it’s Pilot, World, or Enemy Threat Level, this measure of difficulty is structured across all elements of our UI, crafting meta, and combat.
We spent the first weeks prioritizing how the game’s world scales up the Threat Levels as players hop into Patrol Mode and now that we’ve got a good base for this scaling, our next phase is to update the UI to better indicate how much of a risk a pilot wants to take. This information will be displayed in a dynamic HUD graphic at the top of your screen that will show your Threat Level relative to the zone’s Threat Level. With this critical information, you’ll know when you want to rush in guns blazing or head back home to avoid getting one shotted by enemies and risk losing your hard earned loot.
Patrol Mode World Building
Our current gameplay loop is Build mechs/weapons in the Hangar > Hop into Patrol Mode to farm loot & XP in an active battlefield > Head back to the Hangar to repair/upgrade/build > rinse & repeat. One balancing issue that currently exists in Patrol Mode is that periodically there isn’t an active mission or spawned enemies on the map to keep the action going.
In our next build, you’ll notice a stark increase in activities in the map with more instances of Random Encounters to occupy your time while waiting for missions to pop up. This should make things feel more like an active battlefield to ensure that there’s always something to shoot at to maximize your valuable time. We’ve also got other activities in the works, but will save those for a future update.
FREQUENTLY SEEN QUESTIONS
Before we wrapped up this third installment of our developer blog, we wanted to address a few questions that are still lingering amongst the community.
Can you make the original Hawken playable on PC again while you work on Hawken Reborn?
This was a topic we’ve seen since the beginning of Early Access and while we won’t go into the technical reasons why this isn’t a simple flip of the switch, we can discuss it from a practical perspective. In short, no, the original Hawken will not be made available to play on PC again. Not only does it cannibalize potential players from playing Hawken Reborn, but we have made a 100% commitment to Hawken Reborn’s development to continue to improve the game over time.
How big is the development team behind Hawken Reborn?
Our team has gradually scaled up during the development of Hawken Reborn to its current size of roughly 50 members. As the game evolves, so too will our team as we continue to bring in additional talents to support the title and have no plans of slowing down.
Why is there a store in Hawken Reborn when the game is this early in development?
Hawken Reborn’s Early Access is about testing ALL facets of the game and that includes the store. Since our first interview, we’ve always stated that our foundational philosophy around MTX is based on the premise that any item purchased from the store affecting core gameplay such as mechs and weapons can be obtained through gameplay with no inherent advantage.
Take for example our resident mech thicc boi, the Atlas that is in our store rotation. That mech’s blueprint is unlocked to all players who hit Pilot Level 7. Once a blueprint is unlocked, a player will need to farm schematics and use materials found in Patrol Mode to eventually craft their mech. The store acts as a way to shortcut getting an item quicker with no other advantage beyond avoiding the grind since both methods of obtaining the item will yield the same result.
Like many similar games in the market, this grinding element is and will continue to be an ever evolving part of the game’s core design. Our philosophy has always been that we want to be as generous as possible in terms of loot unlocks to avoid the perception of a heavy grind. In cases where this does happen such as the recent bugs resulting in the Impure Explosives scarcity, we’ll be actively working to address the issues head on.
That’s a wrap for our third installment of Hawken Reborn’s developer blog! If you’ve read down this far, you know that we’ve got a ton of work ahead of us and we look forward to sharing more news and eye candy in the future. Until then, be sure to follow us on our official social media channels and visit our official Hawken Reborn Discord Server to join the discourse with other pilots!
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