knows his self-worth.
(09-04-2012, 07:36 PM)
Last bucket of thoughts on PAX stuff.
I got to play CTF a couple times, but as I mentioned, they were all on Exile and I spent my time respawning thanks to the Gauss Hog and Scorpion. So I can't speak to the flag carrier traits and how it affects the game directly. So what follows is really based on what everyone else has: video and extrapolation based on what''s been announced.
On the one hand, the instant pick up solves a problem with objective games since Halo 1: there's a pile of weapons on the flag - or a Warthog lovingly parked there - and you can't pick it up on first go. I often cycle through AR's and Plasma Pistols before grabbing the flag, and that eats into critical time as the defending team converges. It'll be nice just to pick up the damn flag and go a move on.
So that's one situation where auto pick up will help. But there will be situations where you're fighting against defenders in the flag room, and strafe into the flag by accident - and are doomed for doing so. Or you're fighting alongside the carrier, and he dies, and we scoop up the flag instantly, without wanting to. And are, again, doomed. I hope the flag pick up zone is about the size of the flag pole to minimize these kinds of accidents.
Which leaves the decision to eliminate dropping the flag (giving players a magnum is probably closely related to this one). There will surely be situations where you grab the flag and round a corner to find three guys there, and you'd really like to drop it. Or you have the flag but want to drop it for a piece of heavy ordnance nearby, and so on. It also eliminates play such as tossing the flag to a lower level and covering your teammate from your position.
I've heard three reasons for the decision. The first is to eliminate flag juggling, which seems drastic considering the other options available (as with Reach's cool down). Another is that is speeds up gameplay, which could probably be accomplished through other means as well. The last is that it pushes players into dedicated roles: you're the flag carrier, and you'll behave differently once you are. This one seems the most compelling to me, an I'm interested to play it and see how it alters the game.
I wish I had a chance to play CTF more and get a feel for how it worked out. On paper, I can't say I like these changes, but I'll refrain from judging it to see how it plays out. On balance, the changes will make for a somewhat simpler game, and it eliminates a suite of coordinated flag movement options (juggling, tossing) that will make the mode more newcomer friendly. Which, combined with the added clarity to the HUD and announcer lines, is probably part of the goal. To the extent that it helps make CTF games more popular and thus voted in more often, I applaud the effort.
On one of those games on Exile where I was getting camped, I spawned and then had a piece of ordnance drop next to me. I grabbed it, scoped, and toasted the marauding Warthog with whatever Forerunner death ray I scooped up. Fun outcome. But it's a moment that's troubled me ever since, because I keep thinking about the implications.
Music in War Games
The last time I played Halo 3 matchmaking was last fall, with a bunch of GAFers. We had an amazing game of Slayer on Avalanche. Our team fell behind as the other guys accumulated an advantage, toasting a few of our vehicles and pinning us down. We were behind by over a dozen kills. A plan formed, targeting specific vehicles. Rockets and power drains were acquired, players were positioned, and we executed a plan that eliminated their vehicles and we began to fight back. We ended up winning by seven kills.
This kind of comeback was made possible because of the fixed weapon placements and spawns. We knew where the tools were, and about when they would appear.
In Halo 4, we likely would have lost that game, because we could not have anticipated what ordnance would drop, or where. If we got lucky, it might have been anti-vehicle weapons, and if we were really lucky, they might have dropped near us. But the ability to put together a plan to combat a team that has a tactical advantage - be it map control or vehicle control or both - is dependent on knowing what tools you have available at your disposal. The ordnance system in Halo 4 injects a heavy dose of luck into the equation, and I predict the result is fewer come from behind victories.
I see Steely has noted the same issues in his post, so I'm not alone in this observation.
The flip side is, now and then a player will get some goodies land next to them, and they'll feel like they won the jackpot. Against a superior team with solid map control, the other team will still be able to have some goodies delivered to them by sheer luck, as the opposing team can't predict where stuff lands. As with the CTF updates, this sounds like something to make the game more accessible; randoms getting mauled by a team will still get thrown a bone from time to time, probably not turning the tide of the game but letting them get a few kills they otherwise would not. (And the reverse: a team with excellent map control and coordination will still get toasted by ordnance they can't control.)
The ordnance system in War Games, as I understand it, sounds like a very bad idea. It removes a lot of the strategy from multiplayer games, and injects a healthy dose of random luck, which runs counter to the competitive nature of the game. As I said, I think there will be fewer come from behind victories as a result, which is unfortunate.
Just a quick note here. There's music in most (all?) modes now, usually coming in at the end to ratchet up the tension. I liked it; it felt like a natural evolution from the music in Invasion and Firefight. My only worry is that it will start playing say, at the end of a CTF match. And then the game will go on for a very long time - what happens to the music then? Are we stuck with it?
At any rate, this is another departure to the series that I find quite welcome. It worked.
Games like Halo take time to judge properly, and it's doubly hard at public events like PAX to do so. But the game made a strong first impression on me, and I don't think that is likely to turn around after it ships. My immediate reaction to Reach was pretty negative, and looking back, it was for all the same reasons it remains so.
Halo 4 plays like Halo, with changes around the edges but not to the core of combat (which is what Reach did). The gunplay is extremely strong, and there's an emphasis on it that prevents the game from degenerating into a melee and grenade spam fest. I'm very worried about a number of elements - map set ups, ordnance, armor mods, cluttered UI and sound design - but even with all these things in the mix, the game was simply fun to play, and it played, for the most part, like Halo should; in the end, that's what really matters.
Much appreciation to the 343 folks, who put on a great show at PAX and who were great to talk with. Their passion for the game was on full display, and I think they've got a game to be proud of.
Last edited by GhaleonEB; 09-04-2012 at 07:39 PM.