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FFA Format Updates for HCS Las Vegas

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Last month at HCS Orange County over 120 players descended upon Esports Arena to compete in the Halo 5 Free-For-All tournament powered by Astro Gaming. Next Friday at HCS Las Vegas, players will once again enter the FFA gauntlet to determine who possesses the most skill and stamina. Since HCS Orange County, we’ve talked to a wide variety of players, including some of the top FFA players to get their feedback on maps, weapon layouts, and mode settings in effort to create a more balanced FFA experience. Today, we’re detailing those changes, which will be implemented for HCS Las Vegas. Players can head to the “Official HCS” File Share and begin practicing right now.

To talk more about the FFA changes, here’s Eric “GH057ayame” Hewitt of the Multiplayer team:

In our team-oriented Arena games, each team spawns on opposite sides of the map, with a fair chance at challenging the power weapons, power-ups, and points of control off the start. While this theme stretches across nearly every competitive playlist, we feel that our FFA layout fell a bit short with regards to fair starts. Moving these settings more towards that style is our big goal here with this update. While we’re only concentrating on three maps (Truth, Regret, and Mercy) in our initial update, we’ll be keeping a close eye on feedback to see how they are received and to evaluate any tweaks moving forward. Additionally, the multiplayer team will be working on updates to all FFA maps to improve the entire FFA experience within Halo 5.

For our opening approach, we decided to first address some of big ticket items on the maps: power weapons and respawns. Currently, Halo 5’s respawn system spawns players randomly around the map at the beginning of a game with the chance of starting in a great location, sometimes even within close proximity of a power weapon or powerup. Now, while the spawn point locations themselves might be at fault, the current weapon/powerup locations were not best suited for FFA. As such, we looked at swapping some of these items while also placing them towards the central locations of each map in order to further ensure fair starts.

Still, our initial spawns for players had the chance to privilege one player over the other relative to their starting distance to the center of the map. In order to alleviate the player frustration of encountering a “bad spawn,” we decided to move all of our initial spawn points to be equidistant to the center of the map. By doing so, each player should now have a fair shot at initially contesting the power weapons and powerups. We’ll be watching over these encounters though, as we’re always aware that new routes and tricks are discovered on a frequent basis here in Halo 5.

After solidifying spawns and pick-up locations, we felt that each map met our main goal of ensuring fair starts throughout. So next, we wanted to create some variety between the three map choices, with an objective aimed at testing our players’ various skill sets. At first, we dedicated our centralized map locations to contain only powerups. Regret still contained the Overshield, while Truth and Mercy both had Active Camouflage near the center of their respective maps. Nevertheless, after our first playtests with some top competitive players, it was evident that we needed to mix things up a little bit. Therefore, we decided to shuffle the Tier 2 power weapons around, while also swapping the Active Camouflage powerup with the Sniper Rifle on the map Mercy. By making these small changes, we saw some new weapons utilized, all while balancing their pick-up locations.

After it was all said and done, we landed on three maps that encompass an assortment of options for our competitors to use at their own discretion. We’re happy with how the update turned out, and excited to see updated maps played on stage at HCS Las Vegas.

Here’s a look at the complete change list:

Truth

  • Removed Energy Sword from Carbine One
  • Removed Plasma Pistol from Carbine One
  • Moved Active Camouflage power-up from Pink Tower One to Mid
  • Replaced Fuel Rod Cannon with Energy Sword on Top Mid
  • Adjusted initial spawn points to reflect fair starts
  • Adjusted basic spawn points on the second level of each home base to reduce spawn killing

Regret

  • Removed Plasma Pistol from Arch
  • Replaced Scattershot with Plasma Pistol in Tunnel
  • Replaced Plasma Caster with Scattershot at Nest 
  • Removed Plasma Pistol from Arch
  • Adjusted initial spawn points to reflect fair starts
  • Adjusted basic spawn points on the second level of each home base to reduce spawn killing

MercY

  • Removed Halo 2 Beam Rifle from Open Deck
  • Removed Gravity Hammer from Fountain
  • Removed Overshield power-up from Mohawk
  • Moved Storm Rifle from the Cove to Bottom Mid
  • Removed SAW from Closed Ramp
  • Added Sniper Rifle to Top Mid
  • Adjusted initial spawn points to reflect fair starts

Best of luck to all FFA competitors at HCS Las Vegas, and don't forget, for all updates on the Halo Championship Series and Halo esports, follow @HCS and @ESLHalo on Twitter, and keep it locked to Halo.gg and ProLeague.com/Halo. 

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