We caught up with Lead Character Designer and all-around dev-genius Chris Proctor and his team to learn more about the creation of the Grunt Goblin’s powerful new Beam variant. Here’s what they had to say!
Looking over the feedback on the original shipping version of the Grunt Goblin, with his Needle Arm, backpack needle launcher and plasma grenade, we identified several common themes:
- By the time you notice Needle Arm needles hitting your tank, it’s too late to avoid massive damage
- Needle Barrage needles are hard to identify at a distance, hard to spot, and tricky avoid in the middle of combat
- There’s little positive feedback on damaging the Goblin itself, and it’s hard to tell how close it is to death
- Breaking the jockey’s canopy is hard enough that it’s only a good idea if multiple players focus on it
- The death itself could use some more pageantry
- Some of the lines announcing attacks can get repetitive
With some of these things in mind, we wanted to make a variant that was more satisfying to fight, but also more dangerous and even more over-the-top than the original. We retuned the Needle version a little, but also wanted to design this new variant to achieve those aforementioned goals from the ground up.
As before, the tuning goal was to make a boss for Warzone that rewards teamwork, with attacks that are dangerous but avoidable, both on foot and in vehicles.
Looking back over past Halo weapons, the Covenant weapon that really stood out was the Scarab Beam. And I mean, of course Grunts would want to mount one on a mech. While the Scarab Beam is incredibly dangerous, it also has a long charge time, meaning that a cautious Spartan can spot it and get behind cover before it fires. Our concept artist and modeler looked at the Scarab visuals and figured out how to attach a version of that gun to the Goblin. We recreated the Halo 3 Scarab Beam weapon functionality, tuning, visual effects and audio. We stayed close to the original for the charge and blast, and did a fresh take on the rest of the weapon audio.
What about grenades? Clearly a Wraith has the most dangerous arcing projectiles.
Multi-target attack? For this, we wanted something that players needed to be mindful of, without resulting in as many surprise deaths as the Needle Barrage. We made a plasma ball projectile that still tracks, but is much slower, and much easier to avoid on foot than in vehicles. It can track quite far, but does less damage at distance to balance that out, with a visual tell when it nears maximum range. As before, being the only Spartan fighting a Grunt Goblin means all of these projectiles track you – aka: bring friends.
The first version of the Grunt Goblin that we shipped had destructible armor, but it wasn’t easy to tell when this was destroyed. We’ve now added several damage states, effects and chunks of flying armor to tell you when you’ve done serious damage, and persistent fire and smoke as its health decreases. We’ve also replaced the old death explosion with one we’re much happier with.
The canopy is also now easier to destroy, takes longer to recharge, and is color coded for strength per variant, similar to Jackal Shields – blue for the bottom tier, yellow for the tougher variant (both versions will fade to red as they take damage).
We recorded several new lines for Grunt Goblin attacks, which should amuse and avoid repetition – and there’s also a surprise new behavior for the Beam Goblin, which we hope will delight and/or terrify fans of Grunts.
Overall, we’re super excited for fans to get their chance to meet these new guys on the battlefield, and we hope they have an absolute blast – both figuratively, and literally!
Chris Proctor, 343 Industries
Thanks so much, Chris! As an added bonus, let’s take a look at the variant lineup for the Grunt Goblins that you can encounter in Warzone. Know your enemy! Wait, wrong tagline…