The sexy mech shooter Hawken will launch with support for the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset.
It probably goes without saying that one of the most obvious and coolest uses for virtual reality headsets is mech combat games. What could be more immersive, after all, than actually being able to look around inside your cockpit while targeting your enemies with an eye-tracking HUD gunsight? The trouble is that VR headsets tend to suck: They’re laggy and imprecise, and ultimately more trouble than their worth. But not so with the Oculus Rift headset, which promises to “change the way you think about gaming forever” with an “incredibly wide field of view, high-resolution display and ultra-low latency head tracking.”
None of which means a thing without some decent games that take advantage of it. Fortunately for the Oculus Rift guys, it has a couple: the Doom 3 BFG edition, and now Hawken, the free-to-play online mech combat game coming in December.
“Hawken is perfect for Oculus because its environments are well-suited for the level of visual density and distances you’re looking it. The shapes that are close and far away lend themselves well to 3D,” Meteor Entertainment CEO Mark Long told Forbes. “When you’re in a typical first-person shooter, you’re a slave to the direction your weapon is pointing, which is unnatural. Being in a Mech, this offers a more realistic virtual reality experience.”
The developers are creating a special Hawken cockpit interior for Oculus Rift that will let players look around at the inside of their mechs, and Long said he expects 3D audio with head tracking to be a part of the final retail version of the device. The capabiilities of the Unreal Engine 3, meanwhile, means that the headset will be able to follow “micro-movements” to provide an even deeper sense of immersion.
“We want to integrate Hawken into Oculus with a special version of the game engine through the HMD through post-processing of the point-of-view,” he continued. “With Unreal we can dynamically change the point-of-view and make sure that the latency is as low as possible for the viewers to eliminate motion sickness.”
Hawken is scheduled to come out on December 12 and, lack of a single-player mode notwithstanding, looks absolutely amazing. Oculus Rift is also slated to hit in December, although the release date isn’t quite nailed down at this point, and while it’s apparently pretty groovy, at this point it could go either way.