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[Locked] HCS Settings Feedback Update -- November 27

OP ZaedynFel

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The BR/GF combo doesn’t need further iteration. It needs to go away. Breaking the concept of a utility weapon into two, weak, half-utility weapons will always lead to frustration.

If you want people to pick up more weapons, you don’t have to make the starting weapons weak. Instead, They should be powerful, but require more skill to efficiently use that power. Done this way, People will pickup weapons in exchange for an easier time performing a specific “niche” task. Ideally you would achieve this by having pickup weapon that are functionally unique rather than analogous to the magnum (a weak AR with fast melee and instant camo, a plasma rifle that stuns enemies, a carbine that eats away at shields overtime. A dmr that temporarily marks a target until their shields recover, etc). It should be about marking guns UNIQUE, not just damage and Range variants of each other. That said, there are still things that can be done to satisfaction with H5s functionally redundant sandbox.

For example, with magnum starts, Someone choosing to drop a Magnum for a BR should be making a tough decision: perhaps they are trading the pistols lower minTTK, for friendlier aim-assist. Though the Magnum would still be the better weapon on Paper, the BR would, on average, be the more lethal because it’s easier to land shots.

The magnum would have a lower minTTK while the BR would have the lower avgTTK. This creates interesting scenarios when a player fresh off spawn encounters a player who had map control and decided to change weapons. Can the magnum user execute perfectly and over come the advantages the BR user enjoys or will the steadiness if the pickup weapon prove too much to overcome?

These are the kind of dynamics people expect. The problem before the tuning was that picking up rifles was always a no brainer- it was all benefit, no trade-off- which made the sandbox uniteresting. The BR/GF + other tweaks dont address this at all, it just butchers the concept of utility weapon and makes every other gun in the game less fun.
Honsetly i just wanna try oddball with the fall season settings, honestly take the hcs fall playlist and just add some of the oddball maps so we have more gametypes
Still the same maps and game modes we have been playing on for over 2 years.. PUT NEW MAPS IN 😩😩😩 i
If they're going to add in new maps to the HCS rotation, they should consider community made forge maps. the DLC maps offered in H5 don't seem like a good fit for HCS.

ZaedynFel wrote:
“Thank you! What does this mean now for the HaloWC Oddball Preview playlist?”Later this week, the HaloWC Oddball Preview playlist will be swapped with the Fall HCS settings, with the same maps and game types that were featured least season.
“Ok, thanks for the update, Josh!” No problem!

Thanks for the update josh. But what will happen to the Oddball variant since it is not being added to HCS for the HWC season? will it be in Team Arena? Also will there be another test playlist to further refine the sandbox and gather data?
ZaedynFel wrote:
To achieve this, we asked the designers who designed our most successful playlists to help us design a playlist that was competitive but also as successful as our other playlists, while keeping the recent emphasis on precision vs. automatic-driven gameplay. The BR/Gunfighter combo strikes a balance between being powerful enough to answer most threats, but not being so powerful that there’s no reason to pick up anything on the map.
What I want is an open dialogue on how your designers went "Let's take the perfectly accurate and consistent pistol and replace it with an inferior, inconsistent BR and a joke of a pistol variant. That's more competitive". How is it? Saying your intention is fine, but everything objective about what the change did goes against it. You're not powerful to answer threats. At all. Your personal power is reduced greatly by the weapon's slower TTK and inconsistency. Meaning that teamshot's being enforced in a much higher manner than it was with the Magnum, an already slow, but still better choice for the utility. Meaning, you can't do anything on your own. That isn't making you powerful, and if anything, it'll make your game less accessible than it already is, since new or lower skilled players will just be doubly stomped on by people who're running teams. Same for people who want to solo queue, like me. I sure can't do anything in this test playlist on my own despite my skill because teamshot is valued over individual skill. That's just how the game's now designed. As someone who's been affected by and does understand this to a great degree, please stop saying it's to make us powerful, and make the game competitive. I could go on for days about how both burst fire weapons and slow kill times do nothing but make the idea of skill a sick joke in games.

Still, why are you making us powerful enough to answer only some threats? Why not give us the power to reliably take on almost every threat, provided we have the skill to do so? The only reason behind this as stated is so we pick up map weapons. But if you want us to pick up weapons, don't neuter our power levels. WHY is that your answer? Why not give the weapons unique roles to incentivize their use other than just outright power? As I mentioned in my previous multi-paragraph post to you, why not give something like the Plasma Rifle its CE specific stun while lowering its power, or give the AR double melee properties and quick camo. Just spitballs which may not work, but are at least better than making you objectively weaker which stunts your game and does nothing but make it take less skill.

Why do you even want to make automatic weapons part of the primary equation in your game? It's fine to have them there if done properly, but the gameplay should be styled around precision vs. precision weapons. Balancing the game around the most skilltaking weapons. Not balancing them so they work with the least skilltaking weapons. Where exactly did this mentality of precision vs. automatic come in? Why is there an emphasis on it when the tuning is literally meant to ensure that gap stays wide by nerfing said weapons. Well, bar the Storm Rifle and Plasma Rifle, which were somehow ignored.

If you want a successful playlist like you say you did in designing this, push player individuality up. Give us power off spawn. Enforce the idea that we're allowed to move around and won't just be pegged off due to our defenseless nature. Make us push forward, and allow us to keep up the offensive with a powerful, consistent, skilltaking weapon, or be able to defend ourselves with it, rather than just thrusting and running away. Make us stay confident in our shooting ability with said consistency.

Method? Nerf the pistol's ease of use appropriately, amp up its power by making it a four shot kill while making it the primary, remove rifles from the maps since they're redundant, remove autos from the maps, remove easy power weapons like Snipers, Hydras, Grenade Launchers, etc from maps. Keep the game basic. Pistols against Pistol, with maybe a powerup or two thrown in for some predictable and good fun. Yunno, like the HCS playlist is basically, but with some slight tweaks to make it better, while not making it jarring given how far we are into this game's lifespan. Given we need to deal with an overcomplicated movement system, the last thing we need to do is complicate the sandbox. So make it simple. Make it effective. And in doing so, you make it accessible, and successful as you (And I) want it to be. Can even potentially negate the negative side effects of thrust and sprint which I can see aren't going anywhere. And nerfing these traits does nothing but help the game. Puts less emphasis and reliability on escaping poor situations, punishes poor movement, etc, etc, etc.

What doesn't help is giving us inconsistent and weaker primary weapons in a game with movement that enables escape on a ridiculous level. It doesn't help that the only motive behind it was to seemingly push the idea of map pickups over player individuality. Over reworking those weapons to work better and giving the player increased lethality and reliability on the battlefield. It doesn't help. At all.
From Teambeyond
There's a few reasons why the HCS playlist didn't do as well as the Team Arena playlist with numbers.

1. It's at the top of the bloody matchmaking playlists unlike HCS sitting near bottom
2.The population linked by the playlist numbers consists of mostly avid "modern Halo" fans not classic-esque fans
which there was a greater number of. The determination that "moderm Halo" is more popular based on the number of
players in a playlist that is relatively dead compared to other Halo's is not a good justifaction for changes for all "Halo" fans.
It may be for "modern Halo" fans but not all fans, like the ones who left and want Halo to regain its indentity.

The same can be said for Halo 4 and MCC, their population flopped (MCC because of it being broken) because of their initial design choices.

The same goes with Halo 5. The argument that oh look our sitting at top playlist is more popular in our relatively dead game means that's what style of Halo players want is flawed. Even though current HCS settings are competitive they still alienate the classic social players (because of all the SA's too/the audience that should be focused on), but it ended up the way it was because the whole game was designed around magnum starts so it kinda needs to be that way.

The complete disregard for Halo's past success and indentity and uniqueness is what will keep this franchise steering in a confused path that may hit the nail on the head again, may.
Here's what I want in the HCS playlist:
1. A starting weapon that is solid, reliable, and consistent in most/all situations.
2. Weapons on the map that are stronger/better than the starting weapon in different situations.
For example, a sniper is much better than your starting weapon and long range, but isn't necessarily as practical at close range.
Example 2, A rocket, while it can get kills at any range, is most effective at certain ranges due to the rocket's travel time and explosive radius.
3. No autos, no melee weapons.
Meaning no SMG's, no swords, no hammers, no ARs.
4. There are maps that the HCS community has declared their disgust for, please don't try to bring these maps in unless you have changed/forged them in some way that addresses the complaints with a previous version of those maps.
5. Newly forged maps consistent w/ the even and competitive spirit of HCS, but don't focus on this until 1-4 have been addressed.
Thank you update. And I want to test Br/gfm more. How about change team arena or slayer to Br/gfm start?
if players not picking up other weapons is a concern in competitive settings i think yall should go back to the original BR settings until youve perfected the tuning. i used to love picking that thing up but there's no way id take it over my pistol with how it is currently.

This post has been hidden.

Glad that the magnum is back, this is really great and is exactly what everyone has been asking for.
Glad you guys listened to the community here.

but are you guys serious ?

The feedback we've been giving you, and this is across the FREAKING competitive scene, is NO BR/Gunfigther and NO splinter grenades... Like how hard can it be, we dont want them implemented in the future of Halo 5 (H6 might be different).

If you are concerned about the population scene, then dont add all kinds of annoying changes like the BR/Gunfighter starts. You will not pull more of the casual crowd into the HCS, the reason there is not a massive population in the HCS is because playing competitively the entire time takes a lot out of you (Time & dedication) and most players just dont have the energy to invest. These changes will not change this, GET IT THROUGH YOUR HEAD please..
Praise the lord
ZaedynFel wrote:
your feedback has been clear that the BR/Gunfighter combo needs additional testing and iteration and we’ll continue to do that separately.
Call me crazy but surely feedback has been clear that people don’t want BR/Gunfighter starts AT ALL. Perhaps instead of forcing change onto your competitive players you actually just listen to them, I know this is a radical idea but give it a try it may actually benefit the game and stop you guys hurting it further.
ZaedynFel wrote:
First, earlier this year, the sandbox team started working on a weapon tuning update to address issues including the Splinter Grenade lethality, AR skill gap, and more as we outlined back then. Our intention has always been to resolve those issues, and to bring a more complete sandbox back into the HCS once the tuning was done.
While working on that tuning, we decided to put up an HCS playlist in the mean time since we had split the settings from Team Arena. We kept Team Arena because we had a concern that the HCS settings would not be popular enough to replace Team Arena, and that we should wait and monitor the performance of both playlists over time before making a decision on what to do next.
Over the course of the intervening months, we closely monitored the health of the HCS, Team Arena, and other playlists relative to those. We considered which playlists had seen attention over that period, and which didn’t. By all measures over that period, the HCS list performed increasing poorly. It was the only playlist that didn’t increase in population over the summer even though other playlists (including Team Arena) that had been given no new modes or maps did.
Because of this history, we have a concern that match time and match quality will continue to decrease in the HCS playlist.
We feel more people playing our main settings hopefully means more players understanding them, more players interested in watching them, and more players interesting in competing on them.
To achieve this, we asked the designers who designed our most successful playlists to help us design a playlist that was competitive but also as successful as our other playlists, while keeping the recent emphasis on precision vs. automatic-driven gameplay. The BR/Gunfighter combo strikes a balance between being powerful enough to answer most threats, but not being so powerful that there’s no reason to pick up anything on the map.
“Got it. For the upcoming Halo World Championship season, which starting weapons will be featured?”While we are still concerned about HCS playlist health and will be monitoring it closely, your feedback has been clear that the BR/Gunfighter combo needs additional testing and iteration and we’ll continue to do that separately. Given the timeline until Halo World Championship competition kicks off, the HaloWC 2018 season will feature Magnum starts. Also, the current weapon tuning will be in effect, meaning things like improved Active Camo effectiveness will be featured in competitive play and there’s future potential to re-introduce changes like the adjusted Splinter Grenades, Grenade Launcher, and Energy Sword movement if they are well-received.
So for this, A i'm open for grenade launcher testing and im sure many other comp players are as well. Like replacing the plasma caster with it on regret i can see working out better.
The only way i can see us being okay with sword again is if you take off the sprinting swording lunge and the ability to make your sword lunge greater by zooming in(which lets be real here, literally makes no sense at all anyways). If you guys can make the Relic Sword how it was in Halo 3, comp players wouldnt have an issue with it nor would social players because it wont be in their playlists(unless a majority of them wanted it).
Health of the HCS playlist honestly shouldn't matter. Our community was the happiest its been since like either Halo 3 or late Reach. We had the best turnouts for events ever in years, we had great events. We also had the most exciting, fun, and competitive matches in years. The playlist is for players who actually want to compete and go to events. It shouldnt matter for everybody else. These are the balanced and competitive settings AKA the hardest settings. If players do not want to play on the hardest settings, then their opinion on our playlist shouldn't matter nor will they even want to compete in general most likely. The reason the health of the playlist was a decline was because Team Arena was there for 2 years, not this playlist or these settings. Players will want to stick to what they know, also notice how those 2 years TA was poppin, we still had very few show up for events. HCS we've had more despite the pop count of the playlist. This playlist is for the comp community end of story. If it makes us happy and keeps us going to events, it pop count shouldn't matter. (also please take off the ability for champs to match plats in our playlist before you revert the playlist back to normal.)
Ars being tuned for "more skill gap in the future", you guys can mess with the autos however you please as long as the social side is happy. However do not put that anywhere near us or keep trying to force-feed us things we clearly do not want or like. Half the reason H5 isnt doing well competitively is because you kept that in there for nearly 2 years, despite how much we hated it. No its not because its OP(which it still is btw, still thee strongest AR Halo has ever had), its because its not Halo. You cant look at other games and be like, "hmm well this works for other games and is popular so lets try it with Halo." It doesn't work like that. Halo has been known for over 10 years to be a precision based shooter. It will not make your competitive community happy at all by any means, hell it wont even make social happy. They'll just be sitting there looking at how upset and pissed we are. They'll think you guys are gonna force things onto them(which in the beginning of H5 you did with only ranked playlists and not having a complete game. They didn't have forge, btb, infection, social, etc. to go to. alot of people uninstalled or sold the game right there.). Plus they'll see our negativity, which only brings negativity.
Focus on the roots of Halo and you'll make the player base happy and then us being happy and actually wanting to talk about our game and share it, will bring others in. Thats how a business works. You don't force people into something they dont want to be in and keep trying even when theyre kicking, fighting, and screaming. It doesn't work that way nor will it ever. You guys have a 343 pro team, i doubt youre listening to any of them. Theres a reason GhostAyame left, i had many talks with him regarding this. He said, "Trust me i know man, theres only so much i can do. I just wish i could clone myself and do every job." Back in Halo 1-3 we ran the comp settings and bungie listened. They put the playlist how we/MLG wanted it. In Halo 1 Puckett who was a pro at the time told the event organizers what the players played and liked playing, they followed and had success. Thats how Puckett got his job really. Just listen to us, and listen to us faster than later. We cant have another "take autos out, then 2 years later autos are finally out." That loses your fanbase. People are already fed up from years of this happening. Halo 5 for the rest of its days cannot be like that, nor can Halo 6 on launch. If there are issues, get it sorted quickly and tell us you are getting it sorted. You do not have room to be snarky with us after Halo 4, MCC, and H5(although i love H5 on HCS settings, there have been too many screw ups socially, story, and competitively). Many of us want a classic Halo, even cod players want to play a classic Halo. They benefitted greatly from putting out a classic COD(even though story couldve been 10x better, and so could the maps). Please just listen to us.
Looks like they don't want to murder their game after all. Neat.

One quick thing.

BR/Gunfighter combo needs additional testing and iteration and we’ll continue to do that separately

Except that they don't. Sure, they absolutely suck beyond any of our wildest dreams and COULD be fixed... But that just means were going to see a relapse of this same fiasco after fall season wraps up. Revert the settings and back away slowly. They were completey fine before you started dickin around. You just now put out the fire. Let's not go starting another one. Thanks.
Josh- I will not claim to be anything other than a n=1, but I am also a data-driven guy. And that lack of proper feedback when playing, particularly with the updated BR, has been increasingly frustrating. Please excuse my collection of thoughts below:

I "feel" that I can empty a clip into an opponent, and still get turned on. Did it happen before these updates- heck yes. But before, I could somewhat accurately critique my play. Now- I don't know whether it is 1) because my shot was bad, 2) because my opponent has a ridiculous, and still frustratingly hidden ping (or me, despite being fortunate w/ 180/20 broadband, because I don't know what server I'm was put on), 3) because more frequently over the life of the game, gameplay feels "jittery" and my opponent rubberbands, or 4) most baffling to me- because a random spread was introduced to a gun in a game where the health of the game further increases that randomness: the netcode never seems optimal and more certainly the game doesn't have the required population for perform well as I'm regularly playing known non-US opponents out of necessity. #4 seems like short-sightness when selecting an internal testing environment.

I believe you have the numbers that say HCS was the only population that dropped. I would also be interested in, but certainly don't expect it realistic to see, the skill breakdown of who those players are. I didn't get ranked in TS because I couldn't find games, where I could in HCS. I am sure I could guess the results of the skill breakdowns, but I do wonder how much those breakdowns play into your team's decision making. A hopefully analogous example: you mentioned months back that teams of 4 actually have lower winning percentages. That's a very global conclusion, and I wonder how deeply that sort of data was examined. Was the result the same when looking at onyx teams versus gold? With regards to HCS, did factors like no radar, and Xbox (as a whole) creating an environment where game chat is a rarity compared to a decade ago, make solo queuing less likely? Did factors like creating an environment, where players looked to protect ranks because a To4 felt like more of a necessity and a naturally declining playerbase amplify the problem?

I do wonder if 343 does look beyond those global trends, or more accurately, needs to do it more frequently. I wonder how much "real-world" testing is done, what the habits are of the team implementing these changes are. Because the contrast between the Pro Team's social media postings and the more outward facing members of the staff is deep.

Lastly- I feel this is connected to the player feedback issues, it can be argued to what degree, but you have adjusted player ranks the past few seasons based on hard percentages? Why? In HCS and other playlists to a lesser extent, the gap between something as large as platinum and low onyx feels increasingly blurred. That range of expected 50% win games is too large and I believe promotes stagnation. It's not good feeling feedback to the player, and often, just not useful feedback. Playlists can't fill the 200 champ spots. Where did those players go- are they "less good?" This trend will continue, as ranks never truly reset, and player base dwindle. Perhaps, on its coldest level, this rank breakdown is true. But if a disproportionate number of players drop off the bottom half of your distribution (I comfortably hypothesize), you have an influx of smurfs and other issues that will not (cannot?) be properly policed, and you don't actually reset skill behind the scenes, what good does forcing a bell curve do? It is unnecessarily negative, and could be argued largely inaccurate feedback- and would be a very good situation where massaging the data would do some good. I don't want this to become a everyone gets a participation trophy sort of thing- but the environment created increasingly (TLDR) feels like I am fighting against the game. And at its core, it is a game- and if it doesn't feel good- there are an increasingly number of alternatives out there.
I swear all they had to do was bring in some new competitive maps. I do mean competitive. and leave the magnum the BR the DMR alone. Magnum can still rekt any of those guns if you know how to use it. i would like to see the rate of fire go up on the magnum just a little. because everyone knows the faster you pull the trigger the faster it shoots. Feels sluggish.
Wouldn't it have made more sense to add Oddball to the rotation rather than making it a sole Oddball playlist?

The only playlist I played was HCS and you guys effectively killed it. Automatics are pretty terrible and I wouldn't go back to Slayer or Arena from HCS. I and many of the other users hate the Gunfigher/BR start and much prefer to the Magum...

Thank you for switching back to magnum starts!! Holy yesssssss!!!

Reasons beyond starting weapons/game setting that HCS has lower population:

  • People play TA over HCS because HCS is actually hard. Which is kind of the point of having competitive settings is it not? I switched back to playing the Team Arena playlist recently because of BR starts in HCS and its SIGNIFICANTLY easier to perform in that playlist (based on my very scientific, n=1 sample size lol).
  • HCS is at the bottom of the list.
  • HCS is named HCS, which is scary to people.
  • Competitive halo has been disparaged, had poor events and presentation for a long time. Grow the scene with the most competitive settings and killer, open events. Not neutering the starting weapon.
  • Halo 5 mechanics are unattractive to players that value competitive integrity (much larger discussion to be had on this one. Not for this thread and really only addressable with Halo 6)
  • Halo 5 has sold less copies than any other game other than CE (which had a massively smaller console install base to even sell copies to).
  • Halo players feel entitled to having tons of easy ranked options due to years of playlist mis-management. This is a huge, larger issue that effects all playlist imo.
Not to mention that historically, the MLG playlists of old never had as many players yet we were able to sell out 200+ team tournaments (the true measure of health imo).

So many reasons that HCS would have a lower population independent of the starting weapon. Even entertaining the idea that BR starts would help anything doesn't make sense. Try fixing the other, real issues (most of which aren't your wheelhouse, i understand).

Also, look back at the metrics from the Beta. iirc the population plummeted when they tried the week with BR starts?

The BR still needs additional tuning (as do a couple other weapons imo, but the BR is the main issue). Despite the fact that some changes were good (its harder to use now and doesn't hand out headshots for free yay!!) others need to be taken back (it kills ... sooo.. slowly... even with perfect shots). Regardless of this tuning, even when it is 100% spot on, which i think it is close, it should still just be a map pickup, not the starting weapon. The single shot utility magnum is one of the best things that Halo 5 has done.
I haven’t played halo in like a month because the settingns are just so bad.

While I appreciate the development team’s desire to improve the game, the execution has been far from average. Who are you listening to for changes to HCS? The pros or the casual community? Just because I say “I like AR” doesn’t mean it should be in HCS if every HCS pro says no AR.

1)You keep trying to make sandbox changes when that is not the issue. The issue is not the issue. It’s a 2 year old game. Give us new content.
2) I highly doubt HCS playlist has been low. It’s by far the most enjoyable and the only one I play. Sounds like a cheap excuse.
3) You had the most successful tournaments with Magnum starts. Please explain to me the business or logical thought process of saying “magnum starts aren’t working.”
4) whatever changes or patch you will be implementing, please make sure the servers can handle it.

All in all, I think the problem has to do with the upper level managers and corporate officers of 343. But hey, hopefully the anger from the community for this was enough to open your eyes.
please just keep the magnum starts (halo 5 and Halo 6) plz. the Br start won't bring back the classical crowd. Magnum starts is competitive, consistent and fun. don't make the magnum into the h2-4s worthless version. And if you want autos in comp, make the ar take a bit more headshots when popped to kill, maybe 3-4.
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