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HCS Champions Approaching and Team Action Sack is here

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Tomorrow afternoon, the champions of Season 2 of the Halo Championship Series will be crowned. Teams have battled online and on LAN since April in an effort to make it to this weekend’s final event, and eight prestigious organizations have earned their trip to Southern California, where they are now duking it out for the chance to be remembered as the top Halo 2: Anniversary squad. Two days of tournament play have come to an end, and the tournament is nearly complete - five teams have been elimnated, and only three remain: Evil Geniuses, Denial Esports, and Counter Logic Gaming. While I’ve had the pleasure of casting and enjoying some incredible matches, I also wanted to stop by and provide an update on all things Halo, so in between rounds, I’ve been penning this very blog you see before you.

To start, be sure to tune into our final day here at the Season 2 Finals. Here are the details:

HCS Season 2 Finals, Day 3 (Sunday, July 26)
Halo Channel & Twitch.tv/Halo
Start time: 11:00 AM PT

Also, we’ve teamed up with Xbox to give Halo fans opportunities to win this weekend as well, and all you need to do is play a Halo title or tune into the Finals to be entered. For the full details, head over here.

We’ll see you on Twitch!

Playlist Update

Over the past few weeks, the playlist team has been reviewing playlist feedback, adjusting experiences, and building new playlists for your enjoyment. Team Action Sack is the newest of these playlists, and it’s available in matchmaking now. But we’ll get to that in a moment. First, what happens to Team Snipers?

A few weeks ago, we let you know that with the introduction of Team Snipers, we were putting rotational playlists on hold while we continued not only build new playlists, but also evaluate the current lineup and review player data to determine what was next for matchmaking playlists. Over the past few weeks, Team Snipers has unsurprisingly performed quite well. You like it, and we do too. In fact, it’s been one of the most popular playlists - here’s a quick look at how the playlists stack up against one another in terms of total unique players last weekend:

Playlist Popularity, Ordered by Population
(7.17 - 7.20)

  1. Big Team Battle
  2. Team Slayer
  3. Halo 4
  4. Team SWAT
  5. Team Snipers
  6. Halo 3
  7. Team Doubles
  8. Halo 2: Anniversary
  9. Halo 2 Classic
  10. Halo: CE
  11. HCS
  12. Rumble Pit
  13. Team Hardcore

Many of you have requested that Team Snipers sticks around, and this request has been backed up by the data - it often sits within the top 5, just as it did this past weekend. Thus, we think it should stick around for a while, and that it didn’t really make sense for Action Sack to take its spot. So instead, Action Sack has been added to the lineup in a new featured spot, and we’re looking forward to seeing how it fares. More on playlists in a bit, but now, let’s talk Action Sack details.

Team Action Sack

Action Sack is here, and it includes 129 total map / game type combinations across Halo 2 Classic, Halo 2: Anniversary, Halo 3, and Halo 4. It includes a mix of non-traditional variants, ranging from non-default starting weapons (Plasma Punchout, for example), all the way to wacky and awesome custom maps and mode combinations, such as Halo 3’s Dodgeball, or Halo 4's Paintball. I’ve worked with some of our test team to put together a quick list of all of the game modes you can expect to see within the playlist. Let’s take a look at them.

ACTION SACK GAME TYPES

Halo 2 Classic

Gold Rush

  • Primary Weapon: Magnum
  • Summary: Grab your Magnum and load your Shotgun for this fast-paced Territories variant.

Blast Resort

  • Primary Weapon: SMG or BR (larger maps)
  • Secondary Weapon: SMG (when BR starts)
  • Summary: Assault the base with your bomb, but watch out - you only have one life per round.

Team Troy

  • Primary Weapon: Brute Shot
  • Summary: Epic Battles of brute force.

Team Shotty Swords

  • Primary Weapon: Shotgun
  • Secondary Weapon: Energy Sword
  • Summary: Close-quarters power weapon mayhem.

Team Shotty Snipes

  • Primary Weapon: Shotgun
  • Secondary Weapon: Sniper Rifle
  • Summary: Get up close and personal, or keep your distance.

Halo 2: Anniversary

Gungoose CTF

  • Primary Weapon: Gungoose
  • Summary: Halo’s latest fan favorite finds its true home.

Kill from the Hill

  • Primary Weapon: SMG, Plasma Rifle, or Magnum
  • Summary: Drop foes while holding the Hill for extra points.

Quickochet

  • Primary Weapon: SMG, Plasma Rifle, or Magnum
  • Summary: Don’t be a ball hog…

Halo 3

Dodgeball

  • Primary Weapon: Plasma Pistol
  • Summary: Just like high school gym class, but better.

Team Sumo

  • Primary Weapon: Gravity Hammer
  • Summary: Knock opponents out of the ring to win. One life per round.

ShWATguns

  • Primary Weapon: Shotgun
  • Summary: Who needs shields when you’ve got a Shotgun?

Team Swords

  • Primary Weapon: Energy Sword
  • Summary: Slice n’ dice your way to victory.

Team Hammers

  • Primary Weapon: Gravity Hammer
  • Summary: Grab your hammer, and crush some dreams.

Hammer Hill

  • Primary Weapon: Gravity Hammer
  • Summary: Launch foes from the Hill with your trusty hammer.

Team Duals

  • Primary Weapon: SMG
  • Secondary Weapon: Magnum
  • Summary: What’s better than one gun? Two.

Team Splasers

  • Primary Weapon: Spartan Laser
  • Secondary Weapon: Magnum
  • Summary: Try not to follow the little red dot…

Team Punchout

  • Primary Weapon: Plasma Pistol
  • Summary: Plasma punch your foes straight in the face.

Red Glare

  • Primary Weapon: Rocket Launcher
  • Secondary Weapon: Spartan Laser
  • Summary: Look out for blinking red lights and speeding rockets.

Halo 4

Binary Slayer

  • Primary Weapon: Binary Rifle
  • Secondary Weapon: Energy Sword
  • Summary: Laser sights, swords, and a whole lot of thrusting.

Fiesta Classic

  • Primary Weapon: Random
  • Secondary Weapon: Random
  • Summary: Random weapon starts makes for the ultimate Spartan party.

Lighting Flag

  • Primary Weapon: LightRifle
  • Summary: One-shot kills and tactical ordnance drops make for a fast paced and deep CTF variant.

Clang of the Hill

  • Primary Weapon: Energy Sword
  • Summary: Sword clash your way to Hill dominance.

Medal Madness

  • Primary Weapon: Random and cycling
  • Secondary Weapon: Random and cycling
  • Summary: Each round, earn more medals than the enemy team to win.

Stickyball

  • Primary Weapon: Sticky Detonator
  • Summary: Anticipate the ball carrier’s next move with the deadly Sticky Det.

Ninja Assassins

  • Primary Weapon: Sniper Rifle
  • Secondary Weapon: Energy Sword
  • Summary: Use precision and agility to become the deadliest ninja.

Husky Raid

  • Primary Weapon: Random
  • Secondary Weapon: Random
  • Summary: Charge down a narrow corridor to capture the flag. Persistence is...key.

Paintball

  • Primary Weapon: Plasma Pistol
  • Summary: Take cover and avoid plasma bolts – one shot to the body will take you down.

Shotty Snipers

  • Primary Weapon: Sniper Rifle
  • Secondary Weapon: Shotgun
  • Summary: Get up close and personal, or keep your distance.

Hop into the playlist this weekend, and be sure to let us know your thoughts!

Now - back to overall playlist lineup discussion for a bit. If you’re thinking that the playlist count is growing beyond the original parameters that were set, you’re absolutely right. For now, the large majority of these playlists are quite healthy population-wise, but a time will come where we need to make some tough decisions about what stays and what goes. But before then, we’ll be making some tweaks and improvements based on your feedback in order to improve your experiences across matchmaking, and the below updates were also included in yesterday’s playlist update. Here they are:

PLAYLIST CHANGES: 7.24.15

Team Slayer

  • Removed SMG-start Standoff (Halo 3)
  • Removed SMG-start Stonetown (Halo 2: Anniversary)
  • Reduced appearance of AR-start on The Pit (Halo 3)
  • Reduced appearance of SMG-start on Lockdown (Halo 2: Anniversary)
  • Reduced appearance of SMG-start on Sanctuary (Halo 2)

Halo 2: Anniversary

  • Reduced appearance of SMG-start Team Slayer on Shrine
  • Slightly increased appearance of 1-Flag CTF BR on Zenith
  • Reduced appearance of Relic, which had been heavily weighted since its release

Team SWAT

  • Reduced appearance of Adrift SWAT (Halo 4)

Big Team Battle

  • Added Death Island Team Slayer, CTF, and Team Snipers
  • Reduced appearance of Relic, which had been heavily weighted since its release

We encourage you to join the discussion and post your feedback - we’ll continue to review your feedback on new and existing playlists.

--

Halo: Fleet Battles

Just this week, Halo: Fleet Battles, The Fall of Reach released. A brand new adventure in the Halo Universe, the tabletop game gives fans the opportunity to command fleets of warships in epic space battles. If you’re like us and you like the sound of deadly fleets and massive ship to ship combat, read on for the official product description, which explains everything much better than I ever could:

The Halo: Fleet Battles, The Fall of Reach two player battle box is the ultimate way for fans of the Halo Universe to recreate pivotal space battles between the stalwart forces of the United Nations Space Command (UNSC) and the relentless Covenant armada. Developed in close cooperation with 343 Industries, The Fall of Reach puts you at the center of the most pivotal naval conflict of the long Human-Covenant War, commanding massive fleets of deadly warships as they clash above the fortified human colony of Reach. Take humanity's last stand to the gaming table!

Halo: Fleet Battles delivers an easy to learn, lore-infused, tactically-rich gaming experience that appeals both to experienced wargamers and fans of the Halo Universe.

To get some extra background on both the project and product, be sure to head to this week’s Canon Fodder, where Grim talks to some of the folks who helped bring the human-Covenant War to your table. Also, to see the full contents of The Fall of Reach box and learn more, head over to Spartan Games.

Your Team is Your Weapon

Earlier this week, Josh Holmes kicked off a new blog series of developer blogs that we’ll be publishing here on Waypoint. These blogs will feature contributions from members of the Halo 5: Guardians Dev team, and will cover a wide variety of different topics. If you haven’t caught it yet, be sure to check out the first installment, which takes an in-depth look at Campaign Co-op.

That’ll do for this week – we’ll be back soon with more details on gamescom, Halo 5: Guardians developments, what’s next for MCC, and more.

Until then,

Bravo

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