By B is for Bravo -
This year’s E3 was quite special for us on the Halo team. Each morning on the show floor, we watched anxious fans sprint to the Xbox booth to get their hands on newly revealed titles, one of which was Halo 5: Guardians and the accompanying HoloLens experience. Those of you who had a chance to tour a small portion of the UNSC Infinity and get an overview of Warzone are likely aware that you were a part of something truly unlike any Halo experience that has come before. If you weren’t able to experience the event in person, this video will give you a quick rundown of the E3 show floor experience.
Throughout the week, we hit the forums, reddit, Twitter, GAF, and more to keep a close eye on your feedback and reactions. We met fans in person who told us what they loved, and equally important, what they didn’t love. Josh Holmes, Kiki Wolfkill, Frank O’Connor, and more gave you tidbits of additional info throughout the week, as some of your questions became answered, and new questions were prompted. Overall, we’d like to thank you for your incredible interest, support, and enthusiasm over the past few weeks – teams across the studio and Xbox have spent many months preparing to show you Halo 5: Guardians, truly with the standalone goal of creating something that you’re interested in learning more about. So thank you – for watching, listening, posting, tweeting, and inquiring – this game is being built for you, and we hope you like what you’ve seen so far.
As the summer starts to pick up, several teams at 343 enter a constant state of “go.” Often times, less than a week separates the industry’s largest events, which means that before we can even get started at E3, we’re already deep into planning future announcements, experiences, and reveals. It is absolutely non-stop, and we wouldn’t have it any other way, as the constant chaos ensures that we deliver you a steady stream of Halo goodness as we get closer to launch, and also allows us to meet many of you from across the country and around the world. At each event, we’re lucky to hear fantastic stories from fans what Halo means to them, how it has created and shaped lifelong friendships (and even marriages), and so much more. We’re looking forward to setting out to more cities across the globe in an effort to show you more of what’s to come, as well as shake your hands and say hello.
Over the past few days at home, we’ve been reviewing feedback from E3, preparing for a wide variety of future events and activations, and also putting the finishing touches on this weekend’s Halo Championship Series tournament – the final regular season LAN tournament before the Season 2 Finals by ESL next month in Burbank, CA. But we’ll get to that in a bit.
Many of the things you saw at E3 were not only never-before-seen, but entirely new elements of both the Halo universe and gameplay. One of them was particularly massive, and we had a good feeling that you have some questions about it, so this week, we swung by the forums to collect your questions on Warzone. Josh Holmes was kind enough to answer a ton of them, and here they are. Take it away, folks!
Warzone Q&A w/ Josh Holmes
The BIG Jagooze
Will all the various preorder bonuses also be unlockable in game?
All of the items that have been announced as pre-order incentives can also be earned through regular play via the Requisition System in-game, as there is a random chance of receiving them in each REQ pack. When pre-ordering, you simply are guaranteed to get that particular item on day one, without having to earn it in-game.
Where did the name Warzone come from?
This was our internal code name for the mode from very early on. In our search for a final name we brainstormed a huge list of ideas (amongst them: Jumbo, Planetary Assault, Battlegrounds, SuperSlayer, and many many more) but in the end we kept coming back to Warzone. It captures the scale and intensity of the combat experience and provides a reference to the many distinct locations that will be featured in the mode. It just fits!
Webb with II Bs
Do the Warzone maps have any interactive elements?
Within each of the bases located around the map in Warzone are Requisition Stations. Players can interact with these stations and use any REQ cards within their collection to deploy weapons, vehicles and power-ups. In terms of the environment itself, we have destructible elements built into the maps that allow players to open up new routes. These are carefully placed to enhance the flow of combat throughout each map. Warzone home bases also feature team affiliated shield doors that protect your home base from attack. Home base shield doors remain active unless the enemy team controls all other bases.
Will each map have different amounts of bosses to kill or is it the same across all?
Each Warzone map features a set of bosses that enter the battle at key moments during the match. Bosses are unique to each map. For example, Escape From A.R.C. (the map that was featured in our reveal of Warzone at this year’s E3) is the only place where you’ll encounter Baron ‘Sraom and his Banshee.
Will there be friendly AI in Warzone? I.E. Marines, fellow Spartans, etc.
As you capture each base in Warzone, you receive friendly reinforcements in the form of AI-controlled marines. The marines will help guard the base, providing a final layer of defense against enemy incursion.
Will there be team killing?
Friendly Fire is turned off in this mode to prevent any jerkfaces from killing their teammates and stealing their REQ equipment. Who would do such a thing? Lots of people.
What are the systems in place in Warzone to prevent team snowballing and spawn camping?
Spawn locations are carefully placed around the map to ensure that there is always a safe location for players to spawn in from. Additionally we allow players to select the base at which they spawn, choosing from all of the bases they currently control. This is one of the advantages to capturing and holding bases: it offers more control over spawn location and allows players to spawn forward in the map so they can apply pressure to the other team.
To prevent “snowballing,” we have REQ Level and Energy systems in the game that govern the deployment of REQ items. This ensures that a player can’t keep spamming REQs and providing their team with a sustained advantage. We also replenish energy at a fixed rate rather than tying it to individual or team accomplishments. So while the REQ content that a player deploys may give them a temporary advantage, it doesn’t accelerate the rate at which their energy replenishes. And of course while it is possible to deploy powerful REQs by spending energy, the opposing team always has the opportunity take it away and use it against you.
Could you give us any interesting tricks and tips to prep us for Warzone?
The best teams find the right balance between capturing and holding bases, hunting down bosses and killing members of the opposing team. All three have a direct impact on your team’s score and knowing where and when to focus as a team is critical to victory. Another consideration is when to deploy your REQs and how you choose to spend your energy. Do you want to deploy powerful vehicles late in the game, or will you deploy lower cost REQs more frequently throughout the match? Will you coordinate deployments as a team to gain advantage at a critical juncture or focus on countering the opposing team’s requisitions? Capturing and holding the garage can provide a major advantage by allowing you to deploy ground vehicles in the center of the map. This strategic location plays a pivotal role in many matches. One of my favorite aspects of Warzone is that there is no single “best” strategy for winning. Each game plays out differently and there are many ways to gain the upper hand.
Will players be kicked if they are AFK?
We will detect AFK players in both Warzone and Arena and kick them from the game over time. Continual AFK violations may result in temporary bans from matchmaking.
How many cards do you get in one REQ pack?
We want players to earn a sufficient number of REQs to provide them with interesting choices in each match of Warzone. We’re still tuning the experience at this point so the exact number of cards per pack hasn’t been nailed down.
Will Warzone pick random maps, or veto, or a vote system?
Each playlist will rotate through a variety of maps – there won’t be a vote or veto system used.
Are the values for killing AI bosses still being tuned? It seemed like getting 200 VP (1/5th of the score needed to win) for killing a Legendary Boss at E3 was a bit much.
We want Legendary Bosses to provide a large enough bounty that teams are incentivized to hunt them down and fight over them. That said, the scoring values are not final and we will continue tuning scoring right up until launch (and possibly beyond!)
What difficulty level is the A.I?
It’s hard to define in traditional Halo terms because the situations in which you face the AI are so varied. You may be fighting 1:1 against a Boss (good luck!), or 6:1 against a simple Soldier or Grunt. Generally we are striving for something close to Heroic in terms of feel, but where the bosses are much tougher than the standard enemies. This is especially true of Legendary Bosses – these are formidable foes that require coordination across the team in order to take them down.
What was the funniest glitch you've witnessed in Warzone testing?
Recently there was a bug where boarding an opponent’s Ghost would result in the driver standing on top of it like a hovering surfboard. “Ghost surfing” is funny to look at and makes for a great distraction when attacking the opposing team.
How long do the Warzone matches usually last?
The Warzone demo that we brought to E3 was tuned to be faster and more frenetic, with an accelerated earn rate for energy to allow players to deploy more REQ content. We also limited the games to a maximum of 18 minutes. The final tuning for the mode is likely to result in matches that are 20-24 minutes long. Average length for our internal tests is right around 22 minutes.
Hot Juicy Pie
What countermeasures have been put in place to make sure that the REQ system isn't abused by people buying REQ packs with cash vs those who earn them naturally through the game?
Deployment of REQ items is limited by the REQ Level and Energy systems that govern the Warzone experience. Each REQ item costs a certain amount of Energy to deploy. The amount of energy available to you is limited by your REQ Level. Everybody starts at REQ Level 1 at the beginning of each match and you gain levels based on your actions in the game. Capturing bases, killing AI, taking out AI Bosses and killing enemy players will help you level up within the match. The higher your REQ Level, the more energy you can store and use to deploy REQs. The more powerful the REQ, the more energy you need to deploy it – so, for example, you can spend two energy points to deploy a Warthog or save up until you reach REQ Level 5 and spend all of your energy to deploy a more powerful Banshee. Energy replenishes at a set rate over time, and you gain a bonus energy point every time you level up. These systems are in place to prevent Warzone from becoming “pay to win.”
What have you done to prevent an abundance of dead zones or a lack of action? In the gameplay I've seen, there are lots of zones without so much activity. What do you plan to do to keep it interesting?
Each of the maps has been carefully designed with focal points for action and opportunities for exploration and discovery. While it’s possible to explore the fringes of the map, success requires engagement with the opposing team. This tends to take place around the base objectives and at boss spawn locations that are peppered throughout the map. We’ve also designed a few areas around the map to be intentionally lower in activity to give players time to group together, plan strategies and redeem REQs without constant pressure form the other team. Home bases are an example of a space that is intentionally designed to be low activity in most circumstances.
Will you be able to play as any type of character (ex: Elite, Forerunner, ext...)
Everyone plays as a Spartan in Halo 5 multiplayer. This includes both Warzone and Arena.
Will we be able to set up a customs game lobby with more than the default number of players?
Warzone is exclusively available through matchmaking.
Do the bosses spawn at the same spots or is there a RNG to where they will spawn? Ex. Hunters ALWAYS spawn closer to blue side while Red ALWAYS spawns near a Sanghelli General.
Each of the bosses have set spawn locations so that players can learn the maps and apply strategy in their approach. Boss areas are carefully crafted and positioned in locations that facilitate map movement while maintaining team balance. We also place Legendary bosses in central locations to give both teams a fair shot at taking them down.
What are the levels of Req Packs? Premium seems to be the best you can get.
Players will be able to redeem Requisition Points for three different tiers of REQ Packs in the game: Bronze, Silver and Gold. We also offer Premium tier packs as part of the LE and LCE versions of the game. Each level of REQ Pack determines the quality of the REQs inside. For example, a Gold REQ Pack has a chance of including Legendary requisitions, while a Bronze REQ Pack does not.
Will I be able to search with a team of 12 or is there a limit?
We allow people to enter matchmaking for Warzone with up to 12 people in a party, so it is possible to put together a 12-person squad to take on the world.
How will the ranking system for Warzone work?
Warzone doesn’t feature a skill-based ranking system like CSR, but there we do use a hidden MMR value to track and match players according to skill so that teams remain balanced.
How many maps will support warzone at launch?
We will have six Warzone maps at launch and will deliver another six between launch and June 2016.
Berserk on XBL
Since games are longer and have more opportunities to earn points, will this throw off the balance of XP earned over time compared to other playlists?
The XP system that drives Spartan Rank is designed to reflect time played with additional performance-related bonuses. Currently one game of Warzone is roughly equivalent to two games of Arena in terms of XP earned based on average match length. This is still being tuned and may change.
Will 343 have Warzone community playdates with or against the community?
Absolutely! We’ll announce more details as we get to launch.
Are the marines featured in Warzone real marines simulating combat and training alongside Spartans, or are the marines simply AI constructs like the Covenant and Prometheans?
The marines are AI constructs created within the simulation. Warzone training is only available to Spartans.
Derpy Turtle HD
Will there be any UNSC aircraft that we can use?
Warzone features Pelicans in intro to the mode but there will be no pilotable UNSC aircraft in the mode at launch.
Any chance we'll see a PvE only version of Warzone?
We have no plans for a PvE-only version of Warzone, but this is something we may consider post-launch if there is enough enthusiasm from the Halo 5 community.
Noble Warlord 1
In the final version of warzone, will the original announcer be present? I noticed that in the gameplay released when a player got a double kill or a killing spree nothing got announced.
Jeff Steizer returns as the voice of Halo’s classic announcer in Arena. For Warzone we feature Jennifer Hale (the voice of Commander Palmer). Throughout the game, Palmer provides real-time updates on the status of the match including events like boss spawns, boss takedowns and base conversions. This helps players to strategize on which objectives they want to go after next.
Will players receive a starter pack of REQ cards, with a few of each base weapon and vehicle variant?
All players will receive an allotment of REQs to get them started right off the bat in Halo 5: Guardians.
Will there be skill matching in Warzone?
We use a hidden skill-based MMR value to match players and balance teams in Warzone.
Say a member of both red and blue team are going for the same boss, will there be extra points or medals awarded for assisting the enemy teem in the kill or vice versa for beating the enemy team to the kill?
The Victory Point bounty for taking down a boss is granted to whichever team scores the killing blow. This creates an opportunity for strategy in approaching each boss battle. Do you race to take out the boss, fight off the opposing team as they try to take it out, or will you choose to deploy your REQs in an attempt to steal the kill? The choice is yours.
Will I be able to purchase all armor from req packs, or will some require me to be at a certain SR to unlock?
The vast majority of armor will be earned within the Requisition system as randomized rewards within the REQ packs but we may have a few exceptions that are tied to specific unlock criteria.
How often do the bosses drop into battle in Warzone?
This varies by map and is something that we are continuing to tune.
Will players who don't want to purchase the packs with real-life currency have to grind for hours upon hours just to purchase one REQ pack?
Our goal for the Requisition System is to generously reward all players through the course of regular play. Players will receive REQ packs for leveling up their Spartan Rank (SR) and for completing commendations. We’ll also be granting Requisition Points for playing in Arena and Warzone, and these points can be redeemed for additional REQ packs. We are still tuning the system but rest assured, players won’t need to grind for hours to earn a single pack.
Are you going to add a specific (starting) intro to each Warzone map?
Each Warzone engagement starts with the team deploying into the battlefield. These intros are unique to each map.
Will we be able to use the weapon skins in arena gametypes?
Weapon skins are usable in Arena (matchmaking and customs) for starting loadout weapons.
Will you continue to add more items into REQ packs post launch?
We will be delivering HUNDREDS of new REQs post-launch to ensure that we have a steady stream of new content and rewards to keep gameplay fresh. As with the launch content offered within the REQ system, players will be able to earn these new REQs through the course of regular play.
Stay tuned for more on Warzone as we get closer to launch, and also be sure to check out this week’s Canon Fodder, which will provide you with some additional background on Warzone bosses, amongst other goodies.
As the Halo 5 team enters the post-E3 home stretch, the MCC team continues to work on playlist updates as well as the next content update, the latter of which we’ll talk about as we get closer to release. On the playlist front, Team Snipers was made available today as a featured playlist, which means that are clear to rack up as many headshots as you’d like. If you’ve had the chance to play a match, you may have noticed that the settings from each variant differ from one to the other, as the current design is to replicate each title’s “Team Snipers” iteration in the playlist. However, we’re certainly looking forward to hearing your feedback, as things like secondary weapons, grenades, and especially motion tracker can often be polarizing for sharpshooters. Let’s quickly talk details.
- In Halo: CE, the Team Snipers game type features the Sniper Rifle as your primary weapon, the Pistol as your secondary, starting Frag Grenades enabled, and motion tracker disabled. These settings mimic the default “Snipers” option in Halo: CE’s custom game types.
- In Halo 2 Classic, you’ll have the Sniper Rifle as your primary, the Magnum as your secondary, Frag Grenades to start, and the motion tracker will be disabled.
- In Halo 2: Anniversary, you’ll wield the Sniper Rifle as your primary weapon, the Magnum as your secondary, Frag Grenades are enabled, and the motion tracker is disabled.
- In Halo 3, you’ll have the Sniper Rifle as your primary, no secondary weapon (outside of the occasional Sniper Hill game type, which will feature the Magnum as secondary), Frag Grenades are enabled, and the motion tracker is enabled, as it was when the playlist was first available in Halo 3. However, we are considering disabling this in a future update, but rather than hold the playlist, we’ve made Halo 3 available with its current settings. Be sure to send us your feedback on Twitter and the forums and let us know.
- In Halo 4, you’ll have the Sniper Rifle as your primary weapon, no secondary weapon, and no grenades, which is the same game type you may remember playing in Halo 4 matchmaking on the good ‘ol Xbox 360.
Again, this playlist has a wide variety of settings that we can play with, and we look forward to hearing your feedback. As we’ve discussed in the past, it will likely be nearly impossible to create a one-size-fits-all option for a playlist like Team Snipers, as players simply have different preferences and agreements on what makes the true Team Snipers game type. This said, we’ll be modifying the experience as necessary based on your thoughts. Lastly, thanks to your feedback, we’ve also removed the instances of Plasma Rifle starts on Midship from Team Doubles, and moved Neutral Bomb Midship to a BR-start game type.
Lastly, thanks to your feedback, we’ve also removed the instances of Plasma Rifle starts on Midship from Team Doubles, and moved Neutral Bomb Midship to a BR-start game type.
HCS Indianapolis presented by PGL
For the past few months, we’ve been working with our friends over at the Pro Gaming League to put together the final regular season LAN tournament of Season 2, and it is now time to find out which teams will advance to the Season 2 Finals next month.
To catch up on the current standings, head here. This weekend, 600 HCS points are up for grabs for 1st place alone, meaning that the Top 8 seeds could change quite a bit heading into the Finals. Here’s when and how to tune in:
Halo Channel & Twitch.tv/Halo
Friday - 2:45PM Eastern
Saturday - 12PM Eastern
Sunday - 12PM Eastern
We’ve also got some cool opportunities for you to take home some sweet gear. First, we’ve teamed up with Xbox for the Halo Championship Series Watch and Win, where you can snag an MCC bundle (yes, the one with the white Xbox One console) simply by registering on the dashboard and following the link to watch the Twitch stream. Just head to the link above for more details.
Also, we’ve got a few fancy custom HCS-engraved Xbox One consoles that we’ll be giving as well:
We hope you join us this weekend, and we can’t wait to see the complete list of teams that will be joining us at the Season 2 Finals!
And with that, this week’s update comes to a close. We’ll be back again soon.