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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 heat-seeking autonomous creatures will home in on any targets in the general direction in which they are traveling. 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. One can be found on its own after the Trip Mine-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 be claimable 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. The secondary attack fires hornets more rapidly (depleting its reserve in seconds), 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 Classic Headcrabs and Barnacles, to preserve ammunition from other weapons.
- 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, and 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 the player to either slip pass or destroy it.
- The Hivehand will not harm the Nihilanth; the hornets pass right through it instead.
Behind the scenes
- 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" the Alien Grunt's right hand, although it was probably temporary.
- After Valve stopped using orange and red particles for hornets, the hornets emitted blue tracers instead of red, and the orange tracers stayed the same. As said in code comments, Ted Backman also suggested dark pink color.
An Alien Grunt with the Hivehand.