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Yesterday evening, we gave you a closer look at the REQ System in Halo 5: Guardians. Josh told of inspiration for the new system, and you saw, for the first time, new assassinations such as Back Breaker, new weapon skins like the Bracer Magnum, Mythic items such as the updated version of the battle-proven Mjolnir ODST helmet, Helljumper, plus Linda’s storied Sniper Rifle, Nornfang, and more. You’ve gotten a small glimpse into what the REQ system holds, and more is on the way in the few weeks until launch. Also, if you haven’t yet caught Mister Chief in his first ever speaking role, or prefer your tutorials to come from trademark-avoiding and copyright-tapdancing Spartan alternatives, be sure to check out his REQ System tutorial here, which covers everything in under five minutes.

Stay tuned for more REQ goodness, and head over to the Xbox YouTube channel to catch the mega-unboxing of the Halo 5: Guardians Limited Edition, Limited Collector’s Edition, Limited Edition Xbox One Bundle, and accessories with Josh and Major Nelson, which was just released today. Get it while it’s hot.

Building a New CTF

Halo 5’s Arena Multiplayer brings with it the newest iteration of Capture the Flag. You’ve seen sneak peeks at the mode, as well as a full match from gamescom. This week, I sat down with some of the folks who have been hand-crafting the mode for many moons. Next, we’ll hear about CTF straight from MP Designer Max Grossman as well as one of our Pro Team members, Eric “GH057ayame” Hewitt. Take it away, gentlemen.

Max Grossman, Multiplayer Designer

Capture the Flag Design Philosophy

When we learned that we would have the chance to build Capture the Flag in Halo 5, we were super excited – nervous, but excited. Halo games in the past have tried many different iterations of CTF, all of them succeeding in some ways and falling short in others. One of the things that we wanted to do with CTF in Halo 5: Guardians was distill the best parts of past versions of CTF and combine them to make the most fun, competitive version yet. After breaking down past versions of the mode, we came up with two core design pillars to guide the mode: Running the flag needs to be super fun and skillful, and the better team has to win. 

Your Team is Your Weapon

“Your team is your weapon.” This is a phrase that is said at the studio all the time. In Halo 5, whether you are playing Campaign or Multiplayer, your team is the key to victory.  A single player cannot win a game of CTF, the whole team has to work together to walk away with the win. 

The number one way to work together is by protecting your flag carrier. In Halo 5, when your teammate grabs the flag, they can no longer sprint, and they move at 80% of the base movement speed. While not totally defenseless, they will require support to be able to survive the long run back to the base.

Protecting your flag carrier is only half the battle. When your team’s flag is taken by the enemy, you have to return it, but when the flag is pulled, the carrier doesn’t have a nav marker indicating where they are running. However, if you deal damage to the enemy flag carrier, you will “Spot” them for your team, showing the carrier’s position to your teammates for just a few seconds. Spotting allows teams to work together to find their stolen flag.

Your team can’t score unless your flag is safe at home. This requires your team to simultaneously play offense and defense in order to score. This mechanic leads to some intense standoffs where both flags are away, and your team has some tough decisions to make: Do you leave your carrier alone and hunt theirs? Do you stay with your carrier and play defensively? Or do you wait 10 seconds for the Sniper Rifle to spawn before pushing? Making the right decision in these tense situations will separate the good teams from the great.

Carrying the Flag

The loadout for the flag carrier has been a point of contention among fans of the mode for years. We loved the offensiveness of the Flagnum in Halo 4 and decided to stick with it, especially with the flag-at-home to score mechanic. In these standoff situations, empowering the carrier with a gun allows them to help support their teammates that are trying to recover their own flag while also being able to defend themselves. However, for Halo 5, we removed the one-hit melee with the flag, and tuned the Flagnum to be the same as the Magnum, as we didn’t want to make the Flagnum overpowered.

Flag dropping and juggling is also back by popular demand! Due to the movement reduction while carrying the flag, it is indeed faster to juggle the flag. There is a downside to dropping the flag though: as with previous titles, when the flag is dropped, a nav marker indicates its position to the enemy team. When a player picks up the flag, there is no nav marker to reveal where the carrier is going. The carrier is not highlighted with a nav marker when they pull the flag, allowing them to sneakily run the flag back to base if so desired.  

An example of using flag tossing / juggling in combination with Spartan Abilities (Thrust and Clamber) to take the quickest route back home, as demonstrated by BUK20.

Being able to drop the flag also gives players access to the weapons they had previously picked up. When a carrier sees an enemy, they can now decide whether they want to duel with the Flagnum or drop the flag and fight with a stronger weapon. The ability to drop the flag also allows players to toss or pass the flag to teammates in areas that would otherwise be inaccessible to the flag runner, allowing for lighting fast runs that require immense amounts of coordination, and perfect timing.

Before we go, I’ll let Eric “GH057ayame” Hewitt tell you a bit about his favorite CTF map, which we first showed off at gamescom.

Eric “GH057ayame” Hewitt

My favorite pick for CTF has got to be Coliseum. First and foremost, our map designers did a phenomenal job making this map extremely interesting, while keeping it symmetrical – not an easy feat in the slightest. With defined bases, routes, and power positions, it doesn’t take long for someone to appreciate Coliseum’s various options, especially for flag runners. After playing the map for over a year now, I can easily say that it’s one of the best mid-scale arena CTF maps that we’ve had in any Halo game. It has a few areas reminiscent of The Pit, but it reinvigorates those nostalgic memories with the new challenge of verticality. When you complement those heights with our Halo 5 sandbox, flag running becomes a brand new beast.

Coliseum presents a variety of different routes for flag runners.

Now, there are some really amazing flag runs that you can string together using the movement choices to your advantage, but I’d rather leave those for the community to find. There are a bunch of good hiding spots for those classic flag stalemates, too. All in all, I know that Coliseum will provide players with endless entertainment for all of those nail-biting and gut-wrenching CTF games that we all know and love!

Make sure you thoroughly explore the map… there’s more to it than meets the eye.

Halo: The Master Chief Collection

We know you’ve been anxiously awaiting the details on the upcoming content update for Halo: The Master Chief Collection, and work on this update is nearing completion. This CU will address a variety of areas, including ranking, will add new systems for quitting and penalties, and will improve a number of community items from the lists you’ve put together. The full details and patch notes, as well as more status updates, will be provided as we get closer to release.

The MCC playlist team has been reviewing your feedback that you’ve sent in on Waypoint, Twitter, and reddit on current matchmaking experiences, which has shaped the next upcoming playlist update, which is targeted to drop next week. Let’s get into details.

Team Doubles

The number one piece of feedback we’ve seen on Team Doubles is that Halo 2 Classic & H2A dominate the playlist, as the leftmost option. With only four players, this means that if one team wants to play H2 or H2A, they’re gonna get it. You’ve let us know that this isn’t ideal, and we agree with you, so we’ve sat down to discuss how we could overhaul the voting options for this playlist to allow for lots more variety. After the next update, they’ll look something like this:

  • Slot 1: Slayer BRs on a mix of Halo 2 Classic, Halo 2: Anniversary, Halo 3, and Halo 4
  • Slot 2: Objective on a mix of Halo 2 Classic, Halo 2: Anniversary, Halo 3, and Halo 4
  • Slot 3: Slayer BRs on a mix of Halo 2 Classic, Halo 2: Anniversary, Halo 3, and Halo 4

In the new system, you’ll first be presented with a Slayer BRs option from one of the four games. In the second slot, you’ll find an objective game type, meaning that if both teams prefer objective, it will be played. Lastly, in slot 3, another Slayer BRs option will await, in the event that you don’t prefer your first Slayer BRs nor the objective game type.

This system is quite different from other playlists – while it will allow for increased variety across the board, it also allows for the possibility of the same game appearing in two or even three slots. This will be rare, and the weighting ensures that over time, you’ll get a balanced mix of game types, rather than just Halo 2 Classic and H2A. We think this new system is appropriate to try out in Doubles, due to the aforementioned left-slot voting dynamic that occurs with only four players. We’re looking forward to hearing your feedback on this playlist once you’ve had a chance to hop in and play some games.

Additionally, we’ll also be making the following changes to Team Doubles:

  • Removing Team Slayer SMG on Lockdown (H2A)
  • Removing Team Slayer SMG on Warlord (H2A)
  • Adding Warlock CTF (H2)

Team Action Sack

Action Sack is a whole bunch of fun, and we want to add some more. For starters, we’ll be upping the max party size from four to eight, meaning that you’ll be able to jump in with a full (or kinda-ish full) lobby and play a random assortment of chaotic game types, including the ones we’ll be adding (with a low weighting):

  • Adding Team Splasers on The Pit
  • Adding Team Splasers on Construct
  • Adding Team Rocket Lasers on Isolation
  • Adding Team Shotty Snipers on Lockout
  • Adding Team Shotty Snipers on Ivory Tower

Additionally, we’re looking at overhauling the voting options in the future to allow for the appearance of more wacky game game types, and slightly less standard game types, such as Team Duals. Stay tuned as we continue to work on this one.

Team Hardcore

In Team Hardcore, we’re ever-so-slightly increasing map variety for Halo 3. As some maps (Narrows, Heretic, The Pit, and Construct) are home to more than one game type, we’ll be slightly bumping down the weighting of these map/game type combos to ensure that you’ll see an even amount of Guardian Ball as well as Amp Team Slayer & Onslaught CTF.

Halo 4

For Halo 4, we’ll be adding the following game types:

  • Adding Ricochet on Skyline
  • Adding Ricochet on Pitfall
  • Adding Ricochet on Haven

Halo 2: Anniversary

For H2A, we’ll be increasing map variety by reducing some higher-weighted game types that you let us know appear a bit too often:

  • Slightly reducing appearance of Stonetown 1-Flag CTF
  • Slightly reducing appearance of Stonetown 1-Flag CTF
  • Slightly reducing appearance of Remnant 1-Flag CTF
  • Slightly reducing appearance of Remnant 1-Flag CTF

Infection

Infection has been performing quite well, and we’ll be keeping it around for a bit longer before rotating in another playlist. We know hearing that Infection isn’t permanent just yet makes some of you sad. The playlist team has a few new experiences they’re working on, and we want to give a chance for these to enter the matchmaking lineup. Infection will be around until the next playlist update, and it will return, potentially as a permanent playlist if it outperforms future playlists that we’re thinking about.

For this next update, we’ll be making just a few quick updates to Infection:

  • Removing Braiiins on Avalanche
  • Removing Braiiins on Standoff

Halo 3

The most common feedback we saw for the Halo 3 playlist was a desire for more map variety, and that there was a bit too much King of the Hill, so we’ll be making the following changes to improve what you see in voting:

  • Reducing appearance of Orbital Team Slayer BR
  • Reducing appearance of Orbital Team Slayer
  • Reducing appearance of Citadel KotH
  • Slightly reducing appearance of Boundless Team Slayer BR
  • Slightly reducing appearance of Boundless Team Slayer
  • Slightly reducing appearance of Last Resort Team Slayer BR
  • Slightly reducing appearance of Last Resort Team Slayer
  • Slightly reducing appearance of Last Resort KotH
  • Slightly reducing appearance of Ghost Town KotH
  • Slightly reducing appearance of Construct KotH
  • Slightly increasing appearance for Heretic Assault

Halo 2 Classic

For the Halo 2 Classic playlist, we’re also looking to add more variety and reduce redundancy. Here’s what’s coming:

  • Removing SMG-start Team Slayer on Colossus
  • Adding Team Slayer BR on Tombstone
  • Slightly increasing appearance of Sanctuary Team Slayer BR
  • Slightly increasing appearance of Turf 3 Plots
  • Slightly reducing appearance of Zanzibar Team Slayer BR
  • Slightly reducing appearance of Turf KotH
  • Slightly reducing appearance of Turf Team Slayer BR
  • Slightly reducing appearance of Elongation Team Slayer BR

Team Snipers

For Snipers, the most common request we saw was the addition of more maps, so that’s what we’re doing:

  • Adding Stonetown (H2A)
  • Adding Remnant (H2A)
  • Adding Bloodline (H2A)
  • Adding Isolation (H3)
  • Adding Blackout (H3)
  • Adding Rat’s Nest (H3)
  • Adding Exile (H4)
  • Adding Solace (H4)

We can’t thank you enough for your comprehensive feedback, and encourage you to continue to provide us with thoughts as we continue to tune the matchmaking experience with each update. Keep it comin’, folks.

Play of the Week

Next up, we’ll take a look at some of the finest gameplay from the past week, which just so happens to come in the form of a Halo 3 double feature. Our first comes from a household name in the world of competitive Halo. Just a few days ago, HCS Pro Eric “Snip3down” Wrona pulled off what he himself called “the most insane Killimanjaro.” He also went on to say “lmao” and “omg.”

[tweet]<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Just hit the most insane killamanjaro on Pit TS lmao omg</p>— Eric Wrona (@EDWSnip3down) <a href="https://twitter.com/EDWSnip3down/status/643640335999082496">September 15, 2015</a></blockquote>
<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>[/tweet]

That’s not all, though. Something about Standoff CTF + Mongoose creates amazing moments, because this is the second time we’ve seen this game type in this series. This time though, it’s a defensive maneuver that made the charts, as we couldn’t end this week’s segment without giving a shout to P1TBULLLL’s incredibly clutch and brave flag stop. There’s 25 seconds left in the match when the video starts, and… we’ll let you watch the rest for yourselves:

If you’re like us, you’ll likely watch these clips over and over. Snip3down and P1TBULLLL, thank you for entertaining us with your incredible Halo 3 greatness. Please do more of this.

Community Spotlight

For this week’s Community Spotlight, I teamed up with Forger, Streamer, YouTuber, and all around great guy, Ducain23, who you likely know best as Ducain23. I posed one question to him: If you could recommend any single MCC custom game type & map to Halo players, what would it be? Below is his recommendation, complete with a video link. I knew he wouldn’t disappoint.

Ducain23:

The map I’ve chosen is "Duplex" by NukedLceCream and GoldDiggerAlpha. This is a beautiful twin-tailed collision course track where you can decide which way you want to go in order to hopefully avoid (or hit) people. The tracks banked waves, jumps, and aesthetics fit perfectly together without feeling confusing or irritating to race on. Also, you have the choice to drive on two separate tracks before and after the turnaround, but you need to be careful because there might be another driver heading straight towards you. This is a map that any Halo race fan should download and try with a full lobby!

That’ll do for this week’s update. I do hope you enjoyed. We’ll be back with more very soon.

Bravo

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