Multiplayer Musings

Yes, yes, the rumours of my death are greatly exaggerated  Those about my procrastination abilities are not however. I have been picking away at this article for almost a month, and I felt I just had to spit the rest of it out and get it posted. Please forgive the lengthy and somewhat disjointed post…enjoy!

So, we’ve all had a good amount of time to mess around with the multiplayer in Halo 4. It’s been four months, and we’ve had two map packs, and numerous playlists and overall a good taste of what War Games has to offer. I’ve left my comments on Matchmaking until now because I wanted to give 343 a chance to show us what they truly had to offer, and because I wanted to see how long it would hold my interest.

I’ll start at the start. As soon as I jumped into the War Games after my fiction fuelled campaign and SpOps binge, I was having a blast. That’s not to say that I was doing well according to my K/D, but it sure felt like it. After a few days to familiarize myself with the maps, my K/D caught up with my enjoyment. Soon enough I had my standard loadout unlocked (thanks to some tasty Doritos and Mountain Dew) and I was in my way.

I realized rather quickly that I enjoyed (re: was better at) BTB. This came as quite a shock to me, as I regularly soiled the linens playing BTB in Reach. This illustrates a key difference for me between the two games. Halo 4 is more fun, mainly because I do better at it. This is likely because the game has been dumbed down to appeal to the masses, but you know what? I don’t care. Oh, I care that Halo isn’t what it used to be. Yes, I disagree with all the bells and whistles that have been tacked on, and look forward to something that is an actual innovation  rather than a bastardization (Destiny anyone?) I can certainly see where a lot of the naysayers are coming from. However I still find the game enjoyable and the story compelling, even if it has fallen somewhat, and that is what really matters to me.

Loadouts. If I can point to one thing that has improves both my skill and enjoyment of the game, I would pick this feature. No longer am I stuck with a useless AR start in all but a few playlists. In Reach, the only playlists that featured DMR starts were either the Arena (which had the ever hated bloom) or MLG, which I wouldn’t touch to save some level of pride. Now in Halo 4, I have the same weapon across any playlist, save those few that require set loadouts ( and even those sometimes have a DMR option). As a result I have a weapon I WANT, one that I am comfortable and practised with, and one that can actually do damage. If I have a bad run with it however, I can switch to any gun I want, I don’t have to “make due” with whatever junky weapon I start with, or find.

With that in mind I will say that the AR has been given a major boost, and in CQC is actually a very useful weapon. It took me about a week of getting destroyed by the AR to realize this. The ability to have both an AR and a DMR at the start of 4v4 matched has saved me many a time. The DMR also seems to be a little buffed, and I can see where some of the complaints came from. I find it much easier to control the “bloom” on the DMR than the recoil on the BR. The bullet magnetism is also quite helpful…

As far as the Armour Abilities, I have Thruster Pack on 3 of the 5 loadouts, with Autosentry and Regen on the last two for objective games. I get so used to thrusting away from a duel gone wrong, that I find myself tossing down an Autosentry at exactly the wrong moment, if I’m not careful. I would like to give Jet Pack a try, but I do not want to switch controller schemes again. I have already switched from Boxer to Bumper Jumper, and I don’t want to go through that again in order to use that ability properly. As mentioned previously, I enjoy Firepower (to have an AR) and Dexterity on smaller maps, while for BTB I use Mobility and Gunner. I love the Gunner mod, not really for the cool down time on the vehicle guns, but rather for the fast movement with a turret. I love me some turret.

The maps at first seemed to be less than spectacular, but I think that was mostly just the new map blues. Now that I have learned most of them, I have thrown down wicked games on almost every one of them. The exceptions would be Meltdown, Solace, and Wreckage. Those are the three worst maps in the game in my opinion, though that could be because I haven’t played them lots. I hated – hated – complex for the first month, but suddenly I found it was one of my favourites  Both map packs have been great so far, but the Majestic pack was outstanding. It contained the kinds of maps I had been wanting more of. Just stay out of the garage of doom.

I mostly play Slayer, so I have an obvious bias towards that playlist. For the most part I enjoy the Infinity variation, especially the instant respawn. The ordinance isn’t that big of an issue for me. I usually call down my drop, then get one kill and die. It does seem that once a team gets a good lead, it is hard to come back, because of the drops the other team is getting. Or maybe they are just that good. Or we’re that bad. Who can say…

As far as any other playlist goes, I love the new Grifball, fast paced, and full of action. I also like the new version of CTF. I usually stick to defense, but with randoms on the right map, I’ll see if I can just keep pulling their flag as much as possible. That’s as far as my strategy goes. Extraction can be fun depending on the map (Landfall), but it can be a bitch as well (Meltdown). I don’t play much regicide, be it the FFA or team variety, so I’ll just take a pass on those. Generally I stick to Slayer, unless I’m with a group. Objective games can be a bitch to win with randoms.

Some obvious fails for 343 were the Boltshot, and weak rank system. The Boltshot is a weapon that is quite frustrating to be killed by. However, it is also a weapon that I have been unable to master. Had I been able to get the hang of it, I might have felt differently about it. However, I often am killed and never kill with it, so I am on the “shotgun in the back pocket” camp. The bigger let down was the ranking system. With 130 being reached so quickly, I feel it is basically pointless. I know that sometime in the next three years, I am going to hit 130. Because I know I will get to the top, I don’t really care about the challenges anymore. Why have challenges if XP means nothing? Saying this, I understand that not everyone is going to  keep playing this game for three years. Neither does the average Joe have hours upon hours to spend in a day grinding towards a seemingly astronomical height. That said, some do, and in Reach it meant something to see someone with the top rank. I will leave what it meant up to you, but to me it usually meant I was going to get my ass handed to me. I’m not going to try and come up with some better system for 343, or try to sell you on one here though. That’s not my job, and I’ll leave it to those better suited. I just hope they come out with a little something extra.

So, for good or ill those are my thoughts on the Halo 4 Multiplayer. I look forward to the coming map pack, and am two “Strings” into Silentium, so watch for some thoughts on those. I might also finish my “Hero’s Journey” sometime…sometime…sometime…

See you on Infinity,
Justcal24

Spartan Ops Episode 10 “Exodus”

Well, it’s a little late but better late than never right? While Spartan Ops went out with a bang, some parts of the ending left me a little deflated. I was over inflated mind you, so a little deflation wasn’t a bad thing.

Cutscene

spops_10_hd.wmv_000042590

So as Jul initiates the self destruct sequence, we see the Didact symbol. Does this mean he is alive, or is it just a hold over from when he was around on Requiem? Is Jul actually following his orders, or simply using his name for his own devices? 343 has put itself into a good position in this regard, because they can either choose to use Jul as the big baddie, (re: Nemesis) or bring the Didact back. I personally think the Didact will be coming back in Halo 5, because of the old fiction adage: No body, not dead.

spops_10_hd.wmv_000088417 spops_10_hd.wmv_000098964 spops_10_hd.wmv_000093258

These couple scenes were really great. Rats off a sinking ship? The sheer number of Covenant jumping away from Requiem makes me think that this isn’t a splinter faction. I think it started that way, but Jul has reformed the Covenant under his leadership. I am waiting for the final novel in Karen Traviss’s trilogy, which I think will solve many of these questions. I don’t really like the way 343 has split up the timelines of both that story and the Didacts story, as far as the books are concerned. I realize they did it to avoid spoilers and such, but like releasing Halo 4 on the 360 instead of 720, it seems a little rushed.

spops_s1_epilogue_hd.wmv_000086147 spops_s1_epilogue_hd.wmv_000121028

The Pelican escape was a lot of fun to watch, as was the descent of Requiem into it’s sun. Very good effects all around.

spops_s1_epilogue_hd.wmv_000158978

I really wish Lasky wasn’t so scared to stand up to her and just say, “Yes I send them to stop you, CAUSE YOU’RE A COLD CRUEL BITCH.” I do like that she is back in her black jump suit thingy now that they aren’t in a theatre of war. It shows that though they NEVER wore their helmets, the Spartans were mildly prepared.

spops_s1_epilogue_hd.wmv_000183410

Interesting that the two pieces are joined on a molecular level..

spops_s1_epilogue_hd.wmv_000221095

Ok, a lot of stuff to talk about here. First off, we have the obvious missing arm of Halsey. when I first saw this it took my breath away. Yikes. Since Elites shun doctors of any kind it’s amazing that she didn’t bleed out as Jul suggested, especially since they wouldn’t have much experience with human physiology. Of course, while painful, Halsey will simply be fitted with a prosthetic, much like Kat’s in reach. We actually are close to developing these now, check that out here.

The other, and more sinister thing is that it seems like Halsey has fully defected after the attempt on her life. This was one of the deflations I was talking about. I thought to myself “After all she has done for humanity, all the terrible things and sacrifices, she does this?” I mean if she was truly selfish, I doubt she would have done all she did. Remember, despite what everyone else thinks in the Halo Universe, Halsey didn’t want to run the Spartan program. She knew it was wrong, but she did it to save humanity. Thin reasoning for some, but I doubt that someone who would go to those lengths to save us, would simply toss us to the Covvies, even over this. So it must be a ruse. I think she is baiting ‘Mdama, and will betray him again, as soon as she has her chance. What we have to remember are two thing: Halsey is an expert and vicious manipulator, and she always has humanity’s best interest at heart. That’s not to say she won’t get revenge on Osman, or even Palmer (oh, that would be heavenly…).

Missions

Ch 1: Artifact

Map:Harvester

Artifact

Shield world Requiem highly unstable and on trajectory to collide with sun. Fireteams Crimson and Majestic in pursuit of artifacts needed to halt planet’s course.

Interesting that we find out what this giant bug was digging for in the first place, though I wonder why the Covvies needed the other artifacts…

Ch 2:In One Way

Map:Warrens

In One Way

Shield world Requiem is highly unstable and on trajectory to collide with sun. Fireteams Crimson and Majestic in pursuit of artifacts needed to halt planet’s course.

Part of the thing I found most interesting about the second half maps was that each week, there was something new that we didn’t know about, this “connection” Being one of them.

Ch 3: Seize The Power

Map: Apex

Seize the Power

Numerous pelicans shot down trying to recover the power supply for the Covenant Harvester. Fireteam Crimson searching for survivors while recovering the replacement part.

Pretty cool getting to fight the Liche in Spops, I liked how it would spew out the baddies all around the area. The explosion was pretty standard, and should happen sooner, but that’s a minor complaint.

Ch 4: Out The Other

Map: Warrens

Out the Other

Pelican dispatched to retrieve Fireteam Crimson and the Harvester power supply, but Covenant forces are converging on their location in Warrens.

Obviously the best part about this one was the Mantis. I had quite a run on it, hiding under one of the rock bridges and taking out watchers. The Snipers at the start of the mission were quite fun also though.

Ch 5 :One Last Time

Map: Harvester

Try it Again

Requiem’s impact with sun is imminent. Spartans deployed to Covenant Harvester with replacement power supply

AKA “Try it Again” on the Waypoint website. I’m not sure why the titles are different on this one, but I’m guessing it was a minor goof. This was another example of how there were whole areas of maps we didn’t see. I really liked the messed up gravity on your way out of the whole! Very cool.

See you on Infinity,
Justcal24