The other week I posted a pretty lengthy piece on how I felt Halo was no longer something for me, various changes to storytelling, multiplayer, and overall mechanics had just made it something that no longer felt “Halo” in my eyes. I did say that I would be back once Forge released with the Cartographers Gift update and I’d had a chance to play around with it (as well as the other updates contained within). It’s out now and I’ve taken a look, here are my thoughts after a couple of hours checking out the new stuff. I’ll be blunt, at the risk of sounding like I’m starting a rant (which I probably am), it’s not that pretty.
How can this update be released, with Forge (the cornerstone of making insane custom games), and still be missing the following gametypes:
- King of the Hill
How is it possible?
That’s a massive (almost complete) chunk of the objective gametypes used to make custom and social games. Not only that, Slayer variants also seem to be missing a “Spawn with random weapon” option, making a gametype like Fiesta presently impossible even though the Slayer gametype is used to create it.
There are some machinima options that have been added which is nice, allowing free-roam camera in-session so you don’t need to jump between gameplay and theatre mode to capture footage. But the glaringly obvious omissions essential to the social experience of Halo make it not such a surprise that more of the casual audience has already moved on to Call of Duty or Star Wars Battlefront.
All in all though, for the custom game side of things it was a really poor update, considering the community has been quite vocal about the lack of social gametypes and playlists in the multiplayer hoppers. Which brings me to the next point.
Multiplayer and Warzone
Not a lot has changed on this front. Free For All was reduced from eight to six players. Which I guess is good because the maps are, for the most part, designed for 4v4 and team-based games rather than FFA. I haven’t noticed much of a change to the spawn system though, so FFA still tends get spawn camp-y on occasions. A social slayer playlist was added over the holiday period, though sniper variants appeared in the hopper more often than regular slayer, Big Team was also made into a social playlist though in our experience it would be better off being called Big Team Strongholds rather than Big Team Battle. There’s also a couple of new maps that aren’t Forge made, one for regular multiplayer, one for Warzone. The Warzone map is good because it’s vastly different to the others that launched with the game, it’s a more urban setting that might remind some players of the urban environments of Halo 2, Halo 3 or ODST. But the Overgrowth map for Arena left me less than impressed, it was another Plaza looking map with some overgrowth (hence the name) over the shops with more cramped corridors and few sightlines. The issue I’m starting to have with the Arena maps is the similarities in them. Truth and Regret feel too similar. The urban setting of Plaza, Eden, and now Overgrowth makes it feel like there’s a lack of originality. Overgrowth is even summarised on the Halo wikia as a “remix of Plaza”. Does a map that recent and that uninspiring really need a remix that quickly? Especially one that is as uninspiring as the one it was remixed from? At this point I would take the refreshing relief that would come from a re-release of maps like Lockout, Narrows, and The Pit. However I’m lead to assume at this stage that the only version of those maps that we’re ever going to get are uninspiring looking Forge remakes by the community.
There has also apparently been some changes to networking and matchmaking for connection improvements, not sure what those changes are but there were still a few moments of lag and shenanigans happening. So take that how you will, I won’t comment either way whether it’s an improvement or not because I really noticed no difference.
Undoubtedly the great unknown for this update. I’d need to spend a lot more time with it just to get used to the controls before I worry about going into any complex builds and getting an idea for how good it is compared to Halo: Reach. One thing I can say though is that the maps themselves (or canvases, whatever term you’d rather go with) feel small compared to Halo 4’s Forge Island or Reach’s Forge World. I would be interested to know if that’s a hardware limitation or a software one as one of the pre-built maps goes over 100% in a couple of resource areas without the maps being particularly large. In saying that Halo 4 launched with small canvases and eventually Forge Island came along, so maybe something similar will happen here.
As I say, it’s going to take some getting used to on the controls front. We’ve had the same controls from Halo 3, through Halo: Reach, Halo 2: Anniversary, and Halo 4. There were only minor additions as the technology improved. In Halo 5 there were some interesting changes like swapping elevation from LB/RB to A/B. The changes are all designed to improve work flow, so I’m sure the initial pain in learning the new controls is just a case of adapting to the change. It will probably be faster in the long run, but I won’t deny I was hesitant about the changes in the first place. Boost needs to be toned down a bit though, with the size of the maps “gotta go fast” quickly turns into “OH NO, TOO FAST!” and you risk running into the killzone boundary of the canvas, a lot.
So we’ll see how that all goes in the coming months. In the meantime, I’m off to play some more GTA V.