knows his self-worth.
(09-03-2012, 04:48 AM)
So, in the first post I just talked about the core gameplay. This is basically, I thought I'd go over the new stuffz and how it worked out.
Armor Abilities and Mods
One of the first things I did was build a custom load out based on what I knew about how I liked to play: fast. So that load out had the Thruster Pack for AA, Mobility for one perk, and Agility (I think? it's the reload/weapon swap speed boost) for the other.
The new UI
I had intended at the outset to experiment, but instead I decided I liked the load out and went with it for nearly all my games. So that sorta limits what I can cover. Whoops. :lol
Finding a play style that clicks with you is what 343 is trying to do with the customization suite, so I suppose that meant it worked.
The Thruster Pack is pretty fun to use, and more limited than I thought it would be; that's a good thing. Firing a ~1 second burst you move about as far as a single roll of Evade sends you in Reach, after which there's a long cool down. No zigging and zagging back and forth, and since you don't roll into a ball to do it, you remain a sizable target while moving as well. So on those counts it clips the biggest problems with Evade.
Over the course of several games I used it in a few ways. 1) A sudden, rapid strafe during shootouts to throw the other player off, and was successful a few times at finishing players as a result. 2) Leaping to platforms or over gaps I couldn't clear with a simple jump; this feels pretty great. 3) As a way to escape encounters - just zipping around a corner. And finally, to get four kills with the sword in a single game by watching the radar, seeing them get close, and stepping around the corner and boosting up to their face, and stabbing them in it.
Aside from boosting over chasms, it plays a similar role as Evade does, but you have to be much more selective in how to use it. So it avoids some of the problems that Evade created, but not all of them.
The 3rd person zoom out / zoom in is too rapid. For an ability that lasts ~2 seconds from start to finish, a 3rd person view is needlessly disorienting. It would be better to keep it in 3rd person and prevent us from shooting, as when sprinting.
I used the Mobility armor mod the entire time as well. Unlimited sprint, and it did prove a large advantage at times; when escaping fights, when chasing down ordnance or chasing other players whose sprint will run out. I found it most useful for regrouping with my team. On Adrift (the human themed small map, I think?) we were trying to work closely as a squad, so I always looked to regroup with them. With Mobility that generally took ~10 seconds, even from the other side of the map.
I liked being able to sprint the entire time, but I'm not sure how balanced it is; I felt it tipped too many situations to my advantage. It certainly helped get me back into the action very quickly.
You do get slowed down when sprinting and taking fire; during my sword spree, I had to use the Thruster Pack because if you sprint at someone, and they're shooting you, you're not going to close the gap. This really mitigates the problem with sprint/sword.
The Agility (I think?) mod sped up reloading and weapon swapping - a LOT. It felt like reload time was cut down by 50-75%. It was so fast that in the build we played, the animation was faster than the reloading sounds: I'd reload and start shooting, and the snick-snick reload sounds would still be finishing up. I assume this is still being worked on.
It cut down time to a ~1 second break between ammo clips. It was especially advantageous for long range shootouts; the other player would pause to reload and I'd be firing well before they did. I ran into a few situations where I drained my primary and was able to pull out the secondary with barely a break in firing cadence.
Again, it definitely helped push an advantage my way in several encounters. The pitch with armor mods has been that 1) they push you toward your preferred style of play, but 2) are not an absolute advantage and 3) help to self-balance by virtue of forgoing other mods for the ones you select. I didn't tinker too much, but I did settle into a very rapid play style using this combination. And it definitely helped me come out ahead of several firefights. I can't speak to most of the other stuff, but I thought they were as fun as they are worrying.
Now, take those kind of moments, and multiply them for everyone, and you can get a feel for how they will probably work. In every game, a fight or two will be nudged your way because of an option you picked at spawn. And everyone will likely have that happen, at least a couple of times, which will be enough to make them feel rewarded for unlocking their mod and using it, but not overpowering the match.
Maybe the fun will rule the day and all the hand wringing will be for naught, but I still came away from many fights feeling almost apologetic. Sorry dude, I picked the right mod! For that moment, anyway. They were not overpowering, but I'm still uncomfortable with this line having been crossed. Time will tell.
Halo 4 throws a LOT of new information at you. Others have noticed this from the videos, but it really sinks in when you play. Many new context-specific waypoint markers, new details on the radar, tons of new medals (the medals themselves didn't pop in our build), text in the middle of the screen, and a lot more chatter from the announcer.
In a game of Regicide the announcer was not only telling me about specific events, but telling me the leader was...still leading. Sometimes that he was leading by even more than in the last time I was told he was leading. (Which is another way to tell me I'm losing by even more.)
When combined with the larger share of medals that get announced rather than simply pop, it was too much chatter. Medals like Headcase and Comeback Kill (which I think means you started a fight with less health than your opponent, but won) get announced. But so do things like Distraction, which is a really...odd medal. I got it many times, simply by getting shot at. Often I'd start to get shot at, turn around, and see someone on my team kill the guy. And then I'd get a medal for it, the dude yelling "Distraction!", as if trying to distract me.
I dubbed it the Pinata medal: guys will get medals and points for just getting shot now.
Against this increase in visual and audio chatter comes greater clarity in what waypoint markers mean. One example is in the flag UI. Rather than show a waypoint for the flag, and show a meter for how long it takes to return it, and then flash the flag meter as it's close they just...put a timer on the flag icon so we know how long it takes to reset. It's an elegant solution that cuts down on some of the visuals required to convey information. There were several other such touches that helped things read faster, but that's the one I can remember right now.
The menus are different, but clear and quick and work well.
But all in all, there's a LOT more going on in the game, with all the new text and indicators. And those things kind of collide with...
I haven't seen a video that yet does justice to what was cranked into my skull during the games. Hand canon is an appropriate term for most UNSC weapon sounds - they really have impact. Part of the feeling of being an agile tank comes from the sound design and implementation. When you melee or reload, you often hear your suit rustling as you do. Footsteps are heavier - clump clump clump - and melee blows hit harder.
All that is good. But all of the sound effects also sound...processed. Like every sound went through the same sci-fi filter and came out altered in the same way; there's a more narrow range that all the various audio effects span. Gunfire and movement and weapon fire and vehicles all have this same dulled sound to them on the edges that I am struggling to verbalize, but it makes most effects sound artificial. I hear a gun shot, and think - wow, someone came up with a neat effect for that gun, rather than, that gun sounds awesome. Some weapons, especially the Forerunner weapons, really lack punch. Think Halo 2 SMG.
More troubling, there's a lot more sound going on. So our suit rustles and our foot steps are clump clumping more loudly - and so does everyone else. So the hand canons are cannoning and there's thump thump footsteps everywhere and rustling and explosions and the announcer won't be quiet for a moment ("Distraction! Ordinance Ready! The Enemy Has Your Flag and You Should Go and Kill the Guy That Picked It Up! Distraction!") and it becomes a lot harder to pick up the sound of a grenade bouncing, or a plasma landing, or a guy walking up behind you. The audio landscape is now as cluttered as all the new UI elements.
So between the impact and layers to the sound design, atop all the new UI (new game type icons and way points, ordinance, new medals, text in middle of screen), I found the game to be cranking out information overload at times. No one individual element was too much; the text in the middle of the screen never bothered me, the ordnance markers were clear, and so on. But in total, it was just too much. Some elements need to be dialed back. Halo was combat evolved; at times, Halo 4 feels like combat, cluttered.
Again, the core game is fantastic. But I felt at times like it was sagging a bit under too many layers atop it, like a delicious moist cake with too much frosting and toppings. The frosting is tasty and the toppings sweet, but you can have too much.
Last edited by GhaleonEB; 09-03-2012 at 05:04 AM.