In the world of ideal matchmaking, the news that Hawken will launch with support for the Oculus Rift VR headset has got to be up there with cheese and toast. Whilst people have been reporting the amazing level of immersion the VR brings to games like Doom 3, it just fits into Hawken's fiction. In Doom you're looking around independently of your gun, which is still locked to the mouse, in a manner that seems unnatural for a game, but in Hawken you're a pilot in a mech. It makes absolute sense that you can look about your environment independent of the machine. Plus, the HUD readout being projected onto your goggles is wonderfully sci-fi.
The announcement came through an update to the Oculus' Kickstarter page:
As Hawken is a free-to-play title, as soon as it releases on the 12th December, Oculus owners will have a second title to play along with their copy of Doom 3, which comes bundled with every headset.
Hawken's Rift conversion will be documented for the support pages of the Oculus Rift, meaning that developers who have their own headset and SDK can learn from the process of porting a game in the Unreal Editor for the headset.
Adhesive Games are developing a full 3D cockpit with 110 degrees field of view specifically for Rift owners.
There's a great interview with Hawken publisher Meteor Entertainment's CEO, Mark Long, over on Forbes, where he discusses his potted 20 year history with VR machines and the work in supporting the Oculus in Hawken. Long says "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. 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 game's looking beautiful and the Oculus could make what might have been a bit of a throwaway shooter into a mech game that stands next to Steel Battalion for its level of immersion. Hope the guys and gals working on Mechwarrior Online are paying attention.