A Halo 4 Multiplayer-focused Extravaganza: The Text Version
Last week, a pile of boxes arrived on the studio’s doorstep. Nestled within the confines of the corrugated cardboard were copies of the May issue of Game Informer—the pages of which contain the inside scoop about Halo 4, its characters, and various gameplay modes. If you have yet to absorb its abundance of information, prepare for a sliver of enlightenment as we’re going to touch on just a few of the recently revealed multiplayer topics.
• Weapon Drops
Traditionally, power weapons spawn at set locations on a map. After looking at what has worked in the past and what we wanted to change for the future, we decided to build a new weapon spawning system from the ground up for Halo 4. Our primary goal was to make the system accessible to both new and returning Halo players, and also to make it fit within the context of Infinity–a massive vessel that is the new home of Halo multiplayer.
Initial weapon drops happen at the beginning of a match. After that, timers are set for when they drop in, and subtle UI elements communicate the time and destination of their impending arrival. Drops will be appropriate for each map; for instance, long-range weapon drops (i.e., sniper rifles) are likely to occur on large maps while close-range weapon drops (i.e., shotguns) are likely to occur on tight quarter maps.
There are two important things to note about weapon drops: you’ll have the ability to customize ordnance in custom games, and not-at-all-random is a more accurate descriptor than random.
• Player Spawn System
Evaluating the average number of living players on a map at a time, how long it takes to see an opponent, how quickly you can get back into action after dying, the length of time you’re dead versus the length of time you’re alive, and overall expected life spans were all things we considered when determining the player spawn system in Halo 4. Ultimately, we opted to give players freedom over this feature.
So, in certain modes (not all), players can control the timing for when they spawn. That means that, when you die, you can choose to spawn immediately, take a short breather to select your loadout, or plan your next strategy based on how the game is going. Objective game types use specially-tuned spawn timers that are designed to suit game length, object respawn times, and scoring.
Just like weapon drops, you’ll be able to tweak (or turn off) these settings in custom games.
The decisions people make in matchmaking give us an invaluable amount of information about both the game and various gameplay elements. The information we gleaned from Reach allowed us to learn a lot of lessons from Armor Abilities. That and the balancing we’ve done within the sandbox led us to make the decision that everyone will have Sprint in Halo 4–meaning you will no longer have to choose between base mobility and an extra ability.
The levels in Halo 4 are designed for this faster mobility. You’re continually driven right back into action, not away from it. You can try to use Sprint to flee combat, but you’re not likely to be successful because everyone else will have it, too, thus ensuring someone will be right on your tail, shooting your back while you attempt to escape, and probably causing your untimely demise.
It’s also worth mentioning that just because everybody has Sprint, base movement is not slow. If you’re familiar with previous Halo games, we looked at the speed and mobility of Halo 3 as the inspiration for Halo 4.
• Forerunner Vision
Forerunner vision, one of the Armor Abilities that will debut in Halo 4, is still being tweaked, so I’m going to keep the details light today. While it’s being described as letting you see through walls, it’s more accurate to refer to it as sonar, where it sweeps out from its origin point to detect surrounding objects.
As with all Armor Abilities, it has tradeoffs: there is a delay before you get the knowledge of where other players are located, situational awareness is affected by the visual treatment of that mode (in its current iteration, it can best be described as shimmery), and other players within the range receive auditory cues when you activate it. So they will know when you’re peeking.
We’ll share more about this Armor Ability, and others, in the months leading up to launch.
• Spartan Ops
One of the biggest changes we’ve made to multiplayer is making story an integral part of the experience. Our new Halo 4 cooperative mode, called Spartan Ops, is an ambitious example of that. If you’re a fan of Firefight, we anticipate you’ll enjoy this objective-based multiplayer mode.
Along with introducing an ongoing CG series that will tell a story over the course of a season, Spartan Ops will also give you the opportunity to play weekly missions that relate to that fiction. This mode will provide an outlet once you complete the Campaign to further the story past the game’s end.
Spartan Ops is part of the Halo 4 package, i.e., not paid DLC.
Our vision for the Halo 4 multiplayer experience is to continue the tradition of giving you the tools to craft your own custom experience. A lot of these settings can be tweaked, and, right out of the box, you can put the disc in and have the experience you want in system link games, tournaments, etc. Giving players choices, and empowering them to make choices for how they want to play, is a priority for us.