Since its release last year, Halo 4 has been one of the most popular multiplayer games on the Xbox 360. Lots of Halo has been played in those five months but despite its popularity, many fans have taken issue with certain aspects of the title. 343 Industries has heard the complaints and weighed them against the reality of what the game is and at their PAX East panel, they detailed some of the changes coming to the competitive aspect of the game.
Coming April 8th, three new vehicular focused maps will hit gamers in the form of the Castle map pack developed by Certain Affinity. Daybreak is an asymmetrical, terrain heavy map with a lot of elevation variation. Perdition is an architectural city map that will see the return of multi-team play. And Outcast, the largest of the three, is filled with power vehicles and will be part of the Dominion playlist.
While the Castle map pack will cost players 800 MS points, 343 is offering up a freebie for fans as well. Forge Island, an all-new area to build on in Forge mode, will release April 11th for free. Forge Island features three different islands that will honestly work as flat building platforms. The area is quite massive but it was mentioned that players who smartly budget their resources will be able to connect all three into one.
However great the new maps may or may not be the more important charges are coming via a new title update and through back-end tweaking. Some weapons are being tweaked up or down in terms of power. The Saw, currently a brutal pickup, will lose a little bit of power but conversely, the Plasma Pistol is getting a huge damage boost to the point that it can take out a Scorpion tank with just a few shots. Other weapons are being tweaked as well to best balance them for the game.
The biggest news to come out of the panel though was the implementation of a competitive skill rank (CSR). A contingent of fans, since Halo: Reach, have been clamoring for the return of the CSR and 343 have come through. The CSR that will be implemented into Halo 4 is quite in depth and will rank players based on their skill in every playlist and it will all be available to view via Halo Waypoint.
Based on the panel, 343 and partner Certain Affinity are serious about making Halo 4 a better, more competitive arena for multiplayer. Personally I have no issue with the way multiplayer has been handled but as long as the changes work out as a positive to draw in more players, while not destroying the game at its core, I’ll be quite happy.