Halo 4 Multiplayer – The Story So Far…

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We all know that Halo 4 was released late last year to rave reviews. It even garnered some Game of the Year nominations from various outlets.  I myself picked up the game at launch and blasted through the single player campaign on legendary.  I enjoyed it.  Personally, I found Halo 4 to be competent and functional.  The story made no sense whatsoever and the AI wasn’t quite up to Halo standards.  But like I said, it was competent and functional.  4 out of 5 stars.  On the flip side of the coin is Halo 4′s online multiplayer mode: Wargames.  Halo 4′s Wargames feature works well enough and is fun if played in small doses.  Let’s say every other weekend.  It’s when you start to play Wargames as a regular competitive online shooter is where Halo 4 starts to run into problems.  I want to make this clear, there is nothing in Wargames that is completely broken or unplayable.  It’s more of a culmination of small things that causal players probably wouldn’t even notice.  Unfortunately it’s these small details that pile up into bigger issues for regular Halo veterans.  Let’s take a look at some of these issues that I have noticed during my time with Wargames.

Wild Game Balance

First up is Halo 4′s wildly shifting game balance.  There has already been two 30Mb updates to Wargames and these updated have changed game elements significantly.  The first patch was released on December 6th and the second on December 18th.  That’s just a little over a month from release!  And there’s talk of another coming some time in January.  Here are just  some of the changes that I noticed while playing after updates.

-  At launch the Banshee was a near indestructible vehicle.  It could take more hits than the Scorpion tank!  After patches the Banshees durability was toned down and it’s missile damage made weaker.

-  The SAW machine gun was stronger than a mounted turret.  After patch the turret was made stronger.

-  Vehicles ability to splatter was wildly altered.  At launch it was near impossible to run over your opponent.  After the first update vehicles merely had to tap someone to cause a kill, this also caused many team betrayals.  After the second update this was finally balanced out.

-  DMR and Covenant Carbine damage were both tweaked back and forth.  Many players now complain that the DRM is too powerful

I’m not against updating a game or a company making their multiplayer more balanced, but why so many back and forth changes 6 weeks after launch!?  Why were these issues not worked out  during development?

Halo Infinity Challenge

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Next let’s look at the Halo Infinity Challenge(powered by Virgin Gaming).  It’s a worldwide tournament with the top player winning a Ford F-150 Raptor.  The way it works is based on your point totals in Wargames matches.  The more medals you achieve in a match the points you accumulate and the higher you rank on the leaderboards.  Sounds fun, doesn’t it?  Play some games a you might win a truck, what could go wrong?  Take for example one of the top tournament players, his name is Anthony, he goes by the XBL gamertag: TwitchGamesager.  At the start Anthony blasted ahead of the competition with an incredible lead, and it looked like the truck was for sure his.  Many accused him of cheating, boosting, using whacky controller setups you name it.  As proof he streamed his games for anyone to watch.  What is his secret you ask?  He plays in 17 hour stretches.  Yes, 17 hours straight.  I looked up some of the video clips of his matches and yeah he’s a great player.  He knows the maps and uses shrewd tactics to gain the most points.  But here’s the thing, Anthony is not in first placed anymore.  He has been surpassed by many other gamers and all those 17 hour marathons of his will probably add up to a custom suitcase for his Xbox console or worse, a set of Halo 4 MEGA BLOKS.  Ultimately this is where I feel the tournament is flawed. It promotes binge gaming as opposed to actual skill match-ups.  This deters many players from participating all together.  I honestly feel that this was unintended by the organizers of this tournament.  Perhaps it was an oversight?  Consider this, the winner is determined by total points scored, what is stopping a player from playing 24 hours a day non stop?

Player Conduct

Now this last one is going to be a personal rant, so here goes.  What is with everyone’s obsession with the Mantis walker?  Honesty, it’s not that great of a war machine.  It’s as hell, the weapons suck and it’s very easy to destroy.  It doesn’t fit in the Halo universe in my opinion.  Let me describe a typical game of Big Team Battle and you’ll understand were I’m coming from.  So the game starts, you and

infinity_scorpionrunmost of your team race for the Mantis.  By some blind luck you make it to the drivers seat first and jump in.  Then you immediately come under fire from your teammates, scorned because they didn’t make it there before you.  Said “teammates” will then stun your Mantis with plasma pistols and throw plasma grenades until it’s destroyed.  Good job guys.  Like I said before its not that great of a vehicle and I have long since stopped using it.  But that’s just an example of the bigger issue of poor player conduct.  I have heard similar stories about fights over a sniper rifle. Then there is the objective based games. When playing games such as Capture the Flag and King of the Hill you’ll rarely find players actually working toward objectives. Everyone mostly just runs around racking up their kill count.  Not fun.

Longtime fans seemed to have gotten up in arms about Halo 4′s Wargames mode as well. I haven’t seen this much anger over a Halo release since Halo 2.  If you dare try visit the Halo Waypoint forums, be warned. Bring flame resistant clothing.  Good luck.

Now I’m not about to go burn my copy of Halo 4  and go grab a pitchfork. It’s just a game and I don’t have that much invested in it.  I just question how so many little things seem to have been over looked in Halo 4s multiplayer.  Will 343 industries fix the balance issues and add in some fan favorites?  Probably, but will it be too late? Has the damage already been done to long time fans? Only time and server population will tell.

So let me know what you think.  What’s been your experience with Halo 4′s Wargames mode?  Drop me an email at [email protected]

Now what’s this new thing I hear Bungie is working on??

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