Hawken controller offers a baffling, expensive way to battle bots

The MEK-FU Hawken controller may be one of the first video game controllers designed to make playing a game more complex, less accessible.

The MEK-FU Hawken controller may be one of the first video game controllers designed to make playing a game more complex and less accessible.

Packed with a baffling selection of buttons, toggles, switches, sticks, screens and a full keyboard, the prototype stick designed by fledgling Chinese peripheral company Ripleigh drew a crowd at an evening Hawken play session during E3.

The set up features two ergonomic handle grips loaded with thumb buttons, hat switches and triggers. There's a small keyboard which can be used for chatting between sessions. A band of programmable buttons can be assigned to the mech's various items. The control system also has an impressive number of very specific buttons and switches. For instance, there's a covered ignition flipswitch, a health indicator, and an auto shift switch.

A rectangular digital display, which stretches across the top of the controller, is used to display the player's call sign and for short messages. The entire thing pulls apart for easy storage, a spokesman for Ripleigh told Polygon.

While Hawken can be played with a keyboard and mouse, the game also supports the ability to customize the controls, allowing it to work with this very specialized controller.

The controller at the event was a prototype, the spokesman said, one that they hope to start mass producing themselves soon.

But before they do they have to settle on a price. As I was snapping pictures of the device the spokesman asked me what I'd pay for it. When I dodged the question he told me what "most people" are telling him; $250.

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