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Hawken Open Beta: update on GPU PhysX support

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Online first-person mech shooter Hawken, that may be already familiar to our readers, has reached the Open Beta state this week (whilst release date has been delayed).

Update: Hawken – official PhysX trailer

Update #2: full GPU PhysX support will be enabled in March 5 update

Update #3: GPU PhysX in Hawken – review and benchmarks

What kind of PhysX content current Beta has to offer ? Let’s find out.

Hawken still contains only physical particle PhysX effects, however, they have recieved a noticable overhaul over a recent month. APEX Turbulence based simulations were postponed as it was decided to give them a few rounds of additional polishing. Finally, APEX Destruction module and destructible environments will be added to the game in early 2013.

Current set of PhysX Particles includes following effects:

  • Particles from explosions and impact debris (pieces of concrete, strips of metal, etc).
  • Small parts and chunks flying off on weapon impacts on mechs.
  • Additional debris generated as mech walks, dashes or lands.
  • Forcefields (from explosions and moving mechs) to push around any ambient PhysX particles.

In overall, particle effects are done well, they are pretty intense (battlefield will be covered with chunks and debris in just a few seconds after first machine gun bursts) and are adding a certain amount of juice to the visual look of the game. We can name only one flaw – particle effects lack variety, a little.

You can view several examples of particle effects on the screenshots, presented below.

Since Closed Beta, technology platform has been slightly changed – APEX was updated to latest 1.2.2 version, while utilized PhysX SDK release remained the same –

Performance-wise, PhysX effects seems to be producing average amount of stress – on our system (i7 2600K, GTX 580) framerate during the firefights was within the limits of 45 – 55 fps. We expect the upcoming Turbulence effects to be more resource demanding.

CPU execution of PhysX effects has resulted in less comfortable experience, with framerate drops down to 25-30 fps level in combat scenarios, but we’ve never encountered a complete slideshow – it seems that the game tries to maintain minimum playble framerate by adjusting amount of the effects on the fly.

It is also worth noticing, that all the extra effects are controlled by a single “on-off” switch, detailed PhysX configuration is not provided in this title (similar to PlanetSide 2).

Once the APEX Turbulence support will be added to the game, we will return to Hawken with full-scale review and comparison PhysX video. Stay tuned !

Update: as interesting note, you can actually enable Turbulence effects in Hawken by setting

"PhysXLevel = 2"

in .ini file

\Users\Documents\My Games\Hawken\HawkenGame\Config\HawkenEngine.ini

Here are the few examples:

But again, since Turbulence content was delayed because “we can do much better” (says PhysX Team), we recommend to save your appetite for the final version.

Written by Zogrim

December 15th, 2012 at 3:09 am

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