Published on June 16th, 2012 | by Cameron Woolsey
E3: Embracing Regicide in Halo 4’s War Games Multiplayer Mode
Developer: 343 Industries
Platform: Xbox 360
Release Date: Nov. 6, 2012
Multiplayer for Halo 4 is split into two different modes. Both fall under the banner of Halo Infinity, which takes its name from the UNSC Infinity ship that crash lands on the mysterious planet where the Master Chief resides in the campaign. The two modes are closely connected but vary greatly.
The War Games mode is your classic versus combat mode. Players can go solo or join a team and beat the opposition by completing objectives such as grabbing the most kills or flags during a match. Spartan Ops is online cooperative play that leans more toward Spec Ops from Call of Duty than that of Firefight from prior Halo games.
For more on Spartan Ops, please check out our exclusive interview with the lead designer behind Spartan Ops, Chris Haluke: Haluke interview.
Infinity allows players to create a custom Spartan IV which can be used in both of the mentioned multiplayer game types. Through each, players gain experience and unlock armor abilities and weapons which can be utilized across both Infinity modes.
During last week’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) show I got some brief hands-on time with the War Games multiplayer mode of Halo 4.
The game type was Infinity Slayer, meaning no teams, which boiled down to your hot and heavy solo action. The competitive mode was something called Regicide, in which one player was named the “King” and is the only person that can score points. The King with the most points is declared the winner of the match. It was basically like Juggernaut, a mode that Halo multiplayer fans should be familiar with.
There were three maps available but the one we played on was Adrift. This was a close-quarters maps with multiple levels, corners and hallways. The other two maps were Haven, a map where too much bloom lighting is a gross understatement, and Longbow, a large vehicle-centric map.
Before the match players get to choose amongst a list of custom designed Spartan IV soldiers, that is if you have more than one. In this case, since I started up on a console that has been through plenty of hours at the show, there were at least a dozen.
Spartan IV chosen, the screen started the familiar countdown to begin the match. However, this time there was a brief pause which allowed a few moments for players to choose their load-outs, which includes armor abilities and rifle.
Every load-out is completely customizable and can be designed to suit the game mode or play style. I chose a load-out that included my favorite gun, the battle rifle, as well as an armor ability new to the series, a shield. No, not the bubble shield, but a tall energy shield that I will get into later. My chosen sidearm was the trusty Halo pistol.
Some of the other weapons available included the Assault Rifle, DMR and Covenant Carbine. Basically all the primary rifle weapons familiar to the series.
The gameplay for Halo 4‘s multiplayer is remarkably similar to that of Halo: Reach, which really didn’t surprise me.
The flow, however, which is honestly hard to explain to those who haven’t played a lot of Halo multiplayer, leans a little more toward Halo 3. As far as how the game feels, I would say it lands somewhere near the three-fourths line between Halo 3 and Reach.
The HUD is still fairly standard: Health up top, weapons on the top right, team info on the bottom right, map on the bottom left. Along with the map is a small icon for the Prothean Visor, which briefly highlights other players against the background as either green for allies or red for enemies.
The visor has a limited range but is powerful enough to see others through walls and around corners. It also highlights grenades. The visor can be used only for a short time, but recharges quickly. You can choose how long you can use the visor as well, so you’re not stuck looking at everything through a blue filtered lens.
Starting the game, I noticed that all the special weapons available on the map were marked on my hud. I clearly saw where the grenades, Scattershot (Prothean shotgun) and Energy Sword were located. But if you’re not fast enough to grab them, the weapons end up in someone else’s hands and the icons disappear. When this happens, especially with the sword, it pays to be careful.
Free hint: use the Prothean visor to find out if the guy with the sword (extra hint: he’s the one holding it) is just around the corner or is below you with his back turned.
In Regicide, one person is named the King and he can be seen anywhere on the screen by the little red crown above his head. Killing the king makes you the new king, and getting kills gets you closer to winning the match. This is still a free-for-all, however, and with every free-for-all you can easily become the victim if you are in the line of fire.
It was a while since I last played a Halo match, so it took some time to shake off all the rust. We were playing a mixed group of newbies and 343i employees, and unfortunately I didn’t perform as well as I could. Oh, and Soulja Boy was playing too, but that really has nothing to do with anything. I just wanted to mention that he yells too much.
My armor ability, the energy shield, wasn’t very well suited for the solo experience, I believe. When deployed, the camera switches to third-person behind the Spartan. The shield was taller than my Spartan and caused him to move very slowly.
It came in handy against one opponent who was being aggressive. My energy shield absorbed bullets and allowed my personal shields to recharge and get back into the fight. However, I felt that the energy shield would be more suited to team gameplay such as capture the flag where it can be deployed to protect your flag carrier against enemy fire.
I got a few kills once I regained my bunny hopping legs and I really enjoyed the game, even though I didn’t win. Soulja Boy won. He won loudly.
As an old Halo player, I know that Infinity isn’t going to drastically change the overall look and feel of the multiplayer experience. There will still be hoppers, grenade spammers, sword abusers and dudes crouching everywhere to avoid being spotted on the radar. Halo 4‘s Infinity Multiplayer is still true to the Halo experience and that’s honestly not a bad thing. The feel of the movement and combat is a little different, but it will only be noticed by those who have spent a lot of time in Spartan armor.
There was nothing about what I experience that would concern me in the slightest. I like that 343i is allowing us to have a more diverse load out with brand new armor abilities. The Prothean Visor will also help change up the gameplay, and may even move toward eliminating campers from the equation.
Overall, I liked what I experienced and I look forward to fight side-by-side, and against, my Spartan brothers and sisters when Halo 4 launches this November.