The Hivehand is a biologically engineered living assault rifle. The weapon fires small insect-like organisms called 'hornets', sometimes known as 'thornets,' at a steady rate. These creatures will home in on any targets in the general direction in which they are traveling. Their means of target identification, if any, are unknown. When fired from an Alien Grunt, hornets will never attack an ally such as Vortigaunts or Alien Controllers. Unlike standard weapons, a Hivehand cannot be obtained from its user's corpse.
As Gordon Freeman demonstrates in-game, it is fully possible for humans to use Hivehands. It is the second weapon from Xen that Freeman picks up, after Snarks. One can be found on its own after the Tripmine-filled room in the chapter Surface Tension, and another can be found in the supply depot on Level A of the Lambda Complex, just before the main portal. The latter will spawn if the first one was missed.
- The Hivehand's rate of fire is quite slow and the hornets do not do an impressive amount of damage, but the Hivehand's chief advantage is its hornets can be fired around corners and will chase after retreating enemies, eventually exhausting non-regenerative enemies. The secondary attack fires hornets more rapidly (depleting its reserve in less than a second), but they will not home in on enemies. This mode can be useful for unleashing a large amount of damage in a hurry at close range, or for destroying stationary objects such as explosive barrels (since hornets unleashed via primary fire won't damage non-organic objects, they'll just bounce off looking for an organic target to chase).
- The Hivehand can be used to eliminate enemies such as Standard Headcrabs and Barnacles, to preserve ammunition from other weapons. Patient players can use it to defeat the Ichthyosaur as the homing ability will also work underwater.
- The Hivehand has an infinite ammo supply as it can produce an unlimited number of hornets; though it can only hold up to eight hornets ready for firing at any one time, insects that are fired are quickly replaced. Also, when all hornets are depleted, the Hivehand shakes violently before regenerating, as if it lost its breath.
- Due to its infinite ammunition and the hornets' homing ability, the Hivehand is an exceptionally useful weapon at range in multiplayer games, where players spawn with very little ammunition and targets rarely stop moving.
- The Hivehand's primary fire is very useful against Alien Controllers because of its homing ability and unlimited ammo.
- The Hivehand's homing ability can distract sentry turrets and allow you to either slip past or destroy it.
- The Hivehand will harm the Nihilanth, but it is difficult, as most of the time, the hornets pass right through it instead. It also cannot kill the Nihilanth.
Behind the scenes
- The Alien Grunt was originally to use a weapon dubbed "Black Hole Gun" and other weapons such as the "Alien Organic Chainsaw" and the "Spore Missile Launcher". All were cut from final release.
- The Hivehand was originally dubbed the "Alien Organic Assault Rifle" and greatly differed from the design of its retail version. The Hivehand's final design came from another cut weapon dubbed the "Alien Organic Chainsaw".
- The Hivehand originally had no model and was rather "built-in" in the Alien Grunt's right hand, although it was probably temporary.
- After Valve Software stopped using orange and red particles for hornets, the hornets emitted blue tracers instead of red. The orange tracers stayed the same. As said in code comments, Ted Backman also suggested dark pink color.
- If the player uses the "impulse 101" cheat and fires the Hivehand into the Anti-Mass Spectrometer the Resonance Cascade will begin without using the Xen crystal. This also works with the Snark.
- When used by the Alien Grunt, the homing attack will have a higher rate of fire.
List of appearances
- Half-Life (First appearance)
- Half-Life: Opposing Force (Multiplayer only)
- Half-Life: Blue Shift (Only used by Alien Grunts, or obtainable with cheats)
- Half-Life: Decay (Only used by Alien Grunts)
- Half-Life 2: Raising the Bar