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 The Evolution of Halo 4's Multiplayer 

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PostSubject: The Evolution of Halo 4's Multiplayer   Sun Apr 22, 2012 8:51 pm

Weapon Spawning

The 343 team said that it looked extensively at what previous Halo games
did in terms of how weapons spawned in multiplayer matches, but the
goal was to put it in the context of Infinity (one of Halo's multiplayer
features) and make it simultaneously accessible for new players and
engaging for series veterans. Interestingly, the team knew right away
that it had to stick to the initial weapon spawns found in previous Halo
multiplayer iterations so that the opening to a match could be
controlled in some manner, particularly in team games. Without those
initial weapon spawns, players had the tendency to rush the center of
the map, which in turn would mess with the flow.

In Halo 4, weapon drops--or ordnance, as they're called--aren't random.
There are timers for what shows up and when (though it sounds like that
can be customized), but every player in a match will know when and where
the drops are happening thanks to some information communicated through
"subtle UI elements," according to 343's Frank O'Connor. This takes
away the strategic knowledge advantage some players have over those who
might not know maps or weapon locations quite as well. He also added
that it's no different from chasing someone into a known weapon location
and that it's even more predictable because the participants will know
if the weapon is still there or not.

Additionally, there are specific drops for certain maps and match types
that are based on what 343 expects people would want in those particular
scenarios. One example mentioned was that you won't ever randomly get a
sniper rifle on a small map.

Player Spawning and Maps

When players die in a multiplayer match in Halo 4, they can decide if
they want to take a few moments to change their loadout or spawn right
away. 343 designer David Ellis said this was designed around the Slayer
match type because if you're playing an objective game, it doesn't make
sense to kill another player and then just have him respawn back on top
of the flag. Still, specific spawn timing has been designed to support
any custom game--players can set the timer to zero or they can make it
almost as long as they want.

During this discussion, Frank and David also clarified that five on five
and four on four are not the respective upper and lower limits for Halo
multiplayer matches, but the team wants to create experiences around
player counts on certain maps. Ellis added, "Maps can support any type
of objective game type but there's one specific objective that we've
tried to tailor certain maps around."

Loadouts and Armor Abilities

First and foremost, players can access everything in system link, so
there isn't any need to play through the campaign or grind multiplayer
matches for the purpose of unlocking content for use in a tournament
setting. Still, customization is a big part of Halo 4, and a byproduct
of that is being able to select specific weapons (some will be available
only in the ordnance drops) and armor abilities, and a lot of work has
seemingly gone into balancing those two things. For weapons, it's making
sure that no weapon reaches "god tier" and that each weapon has its own
advantages and disadvantages, according to the scenario. For example,
the designated marksman rifle (which has a set rate of fire) is better
at range, but the battle rifle is better in close quarters. As for the
armor abilities: armor lock is gone, and now every player has sprint by
default along with an armor ability (all of which have been adjusted to
fit with the way players were using them in Reach). Unfortunately, armor
lock presented its own set of unique problems, and sprint ended up
being the most popular, so 343 not only gave it to every player, but
also increased the default movement speeds across the board.

Forerunner Vision

343 wanted to set the record straight on Forerunner Vision, which some
labeled as a form of wall hacking that gives players an unfair
advantage. The team immediately compared it to the visor mode in Halo
ODST, but there's recognition from 343 that some instances of similar
modes (like the Detective Vision found in the recent Batman games) are a
bit too powerful. Therefore, there are trade-offs if players use
Forerunner Vision, but essentially it's a motion tracker that lets
players know if other players are close by. But if players use it, they
lose some situation awareness due to the visual treatment, and other
players can hear them using it--not to mention the fact that it takes an
armor ability slot. Additionally, since it works as a radar sweep, the
data isn't totally accurate, but rather a general indication of where
players are.

Spartan Ops

According to Ellis, "If you were a fan of Firefight, then you will love
Spartan Ops." This is the mode that is supposed to bridge the gap
between the campaign and Halo 4's competitive multiplayer in that items
unlocked in the campaign or the cooperative modes of Halo 4 can then be
transferred into the competitive multiplayer modes. Spartan Ops also has
its own story that functions as a part of Halo 4's story, which helps
blur the line between typical single-player and multiplayer modes even
further. Players can also bypass the story if they're more interested in
multiplayer action, which is much more team-focused than in Firefight.

Spartan Ops encourages players to specialize and do more than just fire a
weapon. Teams will have to solve problems and complete various
objectives while the game rewards individual players for taking on
certain roles and exploring the limits of the mode. And the objectives
themselves will encourage that as they push players into various parts
of the map. In essence, 343 is trying to leverage the way players tend
to treat Halo multiplayer as a sandbox.

With that, the team mentioned the CG series that will be tied in to the
Spartan Ops experience and how the missions players are participating in
will relate to the stories presented in that series. Halo 4 is
scheduled for release on November 6.

End Transmission ....
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