Despite a new developer, Jason finds the Halo franchise still has a lot to love.
By Jason Imms on October 8, 2012 at 12:21 pm
Sporting some of the longest lines at the EB Expo, Halo 4 was finally on show and giving players a chance to try their hand at a round of team deathmatch. The very first thing to strike me was that this is a Halo-ass Halo game. 343 Industries gained access to the entire Halo code-base when they took over from Bungie, and it shows. This is most definitely still the same Halo, despite a change of developer.
343 have made numerous changes to the way that the multiplayer game is handled — many more than can be experimented with, or even discovered during a seven minute demonstration. The most notable of these was the change in sound design and direction, with the weapon sounds being cranked up to 11 this time around. Not only are they just a whole heap louder, some of them have been overhauled entirely. The sniper and battle rifles were the most obviously affected, standing well above the general cacophony of a sixteen player deathmatch.
Some other new additions include the ability to sprint at will — it is not longer a loadout option. Instead, players can choose from a list of “tactical packages” which can be called in as needed. During my session I was able to call in a railgun, which proved to be devastating to the one guy that stood in my crosshairs, before I was killed and my railgun absconded to the enemy team (the traitor).
Armour abilities are also back, this time in the form of the thruster pack, the hardlight shield, and the regeneration field. The thruster pack gives the player a third person view as they receive a horizontal boost, which I found most helpful in escaping from oncoming vehicles, or when closing distance for melee kills. The regeneration field is similar to the regenerator in Halo 3, but this time it also pushes enemies away from behind you, and provides a buff to your health and shield regeneration.
The hardlight shield also pops the player out to a third-person view, as they raise an energy shield in front of them to soak up damage at the cost of reduced speed. Similar to a Jackal’s shield, the hardlight shield shifts from blue to orange as the shield takes hits. This can act as a backup shield while your primary shield is regenerating, or could allow you to absorb damage while a teammate returns the flag in CTF.
The map that we played on included Mongooses and Ghosts. Ghosts are still as ruinous as ever, as my enemies soon learned – far more red team members fell beneath my Ghost than my guns. Back too are the melee executions that were added in Reach. More than once I was snuck up on by an enemy who then pounced on my back and taught me a lesson in situational awareness.
It seems that, from a multiplayer perspective, fans have nothing to fear from a new Halo development studio. The core tenets of the series are alive and well, and the Reach influence in strong. As a big fan of the multiplayer in the original Halo, I am pleased to see that Halo 4 will continue Reach‘s work of keeping the lineage alive.