Friday, August 24, 2012

Halo:Reach v2 Settings

Back before Reach settings had been decided upon, we were asked to give our input from MLG regarding gametypes (including sprint, jetpack, etc).  So, on November 16th, 2010, I posted my ideas and thoughts towards Halo:Reach and its future.  Here is the post I made a few months before the 2011 MLG Season had begun:

"Before I go into what I like/dislike about v1/2 settings, I'd like to see a response from the staff regarding gametype testing. Last year we established that forum feedback can only go so far, and that we needed to have a gametype testing committee. Once we had that cemented, the only gametype argument that came about was the Oddball Guardian/Heretic issue. So since this process clearly worked, hopefully we continue it into the 2011 season with Halo: Reach. Thank you.

Regarding the new settings, I believe that v1.1 was far superior to v2 because of multiple reasons. Obviously we're only into the second stage of gametypes, but we need to give more input. The quicker we give feedback, the quicker these gametypes will improve to the most competitive, fair, and hopefully exciting ones possible. 

Let's start out with the competitive side first. There are multiple inconsistencies within these current gametypes, so I'm going to just name examples and why I believe they are wrong/right. 

Countdown - This map reminds me of Construct a little bit with all the lifts and power weapons on the map. However, once we moved from v1 to v2, we see a massive change in how hectic the environment becomes. With sprint, there is no sense of control. Anyone could run up behind you and melee you at any given point in time. Then with evade, you can sneak up almost silently. Not only does sprint cause chaos on this map, but it also makes killing people more frustrating than ever. In close quarter maps, sprint becomes a "Get Outta Jail Free" card. You just hit the X button and you get a second chance. There's no consequence for over-extending or leaving your teammates without communicating. Instead of having to out-skill your opponent with a better strafe/shot, you can vanish to another spot on the map, leaving your opponent the choice to either chase or be a sitting duck. I'll continue with Sprint later, back on topic - Countdown. 

On top of the new loadouts, I believe there are a few problems with the spawns. The first problem being the change in starting spawns. In v1, you saw a traditional halo spawn. Now, you spawn into a battle where whoever holds down R and doesn't run into their teammate is rewarded with control. This may be an attempt to get the crowd excited off the start of the game, but even Amplified had a 1 second window before you saw the enemy. With the DMR being as accurate as it is, you can't spawn looking at the other team anymore. Next, I would note how I'd rather have some spawns rearranged from up top above the rocket doors. Those high ledge spawns should be limited to only one, and I think a spawn could be placed in front of their window (level 2). Think of Derelict or other control maps. When you have a spawn point that is in a spot of control, you need to make it out in the open to balance it. I'll bring this up in my Sanctuary paragraph also.

I do like the new placement of weapons though. I feel that both power weapons should stay where they are in v2. Rockets and Sniper now take thought, timing, and skill to walk away with. You can't just run away with snipe, nor get easy rocket kills out on the patio. This placement shows how you can position a power weapon perfectly so that many fights can take place just over one weapon drop. Anyways, I think that this map has some potential for the beginning of Halo: Reach, but I can easily see any quality forged map replacing this one - that is, unless we need to keep pre-made maps for split-screen reasons... 

Sanctuary - This map is near perfection with how it is setup. The only small altercations I would make would be to a couple spawns and one or two weapon spawns. Regarding the player spawns, I feel that the rock spawns greatly overpower every other spawn on the map. They are not only a lot of spawns in the rocks, but also one out-lier that is a gamechanger. This spawn is so close to the carbine ramp and in perfect cover that it ends up being a clutch flag return spawn consistently. Once again, if we are going to put in those emergency spawns, we need to make sure that they are out in the open, just like the Needler in The Pit, the Streets in Onslaught, the front of the Afro in Narrows (instead of behind), etc. We MUST balance each spawn to perfection in order to make sure that there aren't any "bs" flag return plays. To fix the constant rock spawn problem, we could easily add more spawns to the middle of the flag, to under the turret, even more in the sniper tower. KC, I know you know how to adjust spawns to work in to the system so please take everything into consideration. 

For the weapon spawns, I feel that the sniper and rockets are perfected placed, but I feel like the Plasma Pistol needs to be switched with the magnum (just like in Halo 2). This will cause exciting plays Ring 2/3 throughout the entire game and will help keep control in the currently wild gameplay within the Ring. The last thing that needs to be changed is small, but crucial. The rock jump up from your courtyard to your snipe tower feels almost impossible in v1 or without sprint in v2. If we could possibly change the geometry so that it's not the hardest jump in the game, it'd be greatly appreciated and it would balance the courtyard spawns that you often get while they're running your flag.

Zealot - This map has a ton of potential. I can see this being used for many gametypes, including Ball, CTF and TS. I would still change a few little things though. I believe that the flag capture point should be on top of that rounded off ledge on your level 2 of the base. With constant low spawns, it's near impossible to "nade and one shot" the guy running the flag. But if we hoisted the flag spawn on top of the pink flat, I could definitely see more exciting games in the future.

Next, I believe that we need to go back to having the Armor Lock bottom middle instead of Evade. Once again, Sprint and Evade will be covered later in this post. Armor Lock is a decent substitute for Overshield in Reach, and it's not too overpowered so it should be in our competitive gametypes. I do agree with taking out the shotgun though. The only way I'd like to see it make a return is if we keep it's ammo clip down. It's a great power weapon addition to the map, but having it bottom middle makes it too powerful. Put the close range weapon in a place that's out in the open, like top middle or at the bottom of the main/fat ramp. I do think that the Grenade Launcher could be more specifically placed too, but I'm not too sure of where yet. 

The major problem I have with Zealot is that you mainly spawn under your base (like Heretic in Halo 3). You could place more spawns on the healthpack or the flag to reduce that problem. Also, like I've stated previously, the emergency spawns need to be out in the open instead of hiding behind main/fat ramp or bottom middle. You could place one right under each landing, or one literally in the front of either base. Whatever the case may be, we need to put some work into our current emergency spawn system.

Reflection - This map either needs to be taken out, or played as an Oddball gametype. It's a constant stalemate in tournament play, and multi-kills lead to random spawns. With how the Reach spawn system works, we can't implement an irregular Halo 2 map. Ivory Tower was taken out back in Halo 2, why are we repeating history? One Flag CTF? This is Major League Gaming, not the Online CAL League of 2005. We need to get some new maps and stop forcing ourselves to play unrealistic gametypes. Speaking of which...

These new gametypes are pretty ridiculous. Every Bomb gametype I've played has ended in a tie. We cannot have Bomb on an irregular map like Countdown. The spawns are way too inconsistent for a gametype like that to be played. In Halo 2, we learned that Bomb can only be played on a symmetrical map where the arming station is out in the open/susceptible to grenades. Well, with how dinky Reach Grenades are, we have to pick our Bomb gametypes wisely. Even Sanctuary Bomb was faulty just due to the fact that there aren't any good 'nade points to stop the arm. With only a text alert that the bomb is being armed, we're going to need to move the arming station into plain sight in order to balance the ninja plants. 

The Territories gametypes also worried me a little bit. KC, I know you're familiar with how the spawn system works in Halo: Reach, so how can it work for a gametype like territories? Previously, we had the BR which was pitiful long range, so killing across the map and having them spawn next to us was irrelevant. But now, you can almost screw yourself over for having a good long range shot in territories. If we played this gametype to the best of its capability, it'd be a constant battle for new territories with random rotations, much like Guardian Oddball. Testing new gametypes like Bomb and Territories is completely fine, but officially calling them MLG Gametypes in questionable. We need to do extensive testing before we just throw One Flag back into the gametype list.

Beatdowns - I don't know how, but it now takes 3 beatdowns to kill someone. This again reminds me of the beginning of Halo 2 where Bungie decided to make it a 2 hit beatdown to extinguish the need to have a boxing match every time two players were close range. Close range battles should be quick because then the player with the better reaction time wins the fight. Every Halo game has had fast close-range fights. Why fix something that isn't broken?

Sprint - I already touched on this previously in my first paragraph, but it was pretty clear what I was getting at. Sprint needs to be removed. Yes it's a new game, but we can't just assume sprint will work in a Halo series. Call of Duty is understandable considering its not a run-and-gun type of game. However, with each Halo chapter from the series, any player could develop a 'sixth sense' as to where they could determine how long it would take their enemy to get from Point A to Point B. Now with sprint, that attribute is lost, and we have no idea where the enemy went. We can't call it out 'cause they run too fast. We can't kill them because they juke around corners before we can get our 3rd shot off. We also can't stop them from returning flags because of how quickly they can catch up on a flag runner now. The flag running team is now seriously handicapped. Like I said before, there's no skill to sprinting away from a battle. A double shot in Halo 2 took skill and could get you out of a sticky situation. But hitting the X button? That's just childish.

Evade - This is worse than sprint for obvious reasons. Rolling on the ground like it's Gears of War. This is Halo. Not CoD, not GoW, not Shadowrun. But Halo. Maybe if we still had all of those titles on the Circuit, we'd realize that this is a Halo game and we need to make gametypes like its one. Jetpacks and Armor Lock is crazy enough to our community. Don't ruin it with "wanna-be exciting" perks. We need to make Reach the best Halo game to date, and it all starts with the right gametypes. Let's get the fairness and competitive side out of the way first, and then we can work on the wow factor, just like with Guardian Oddball.