Head to Head

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Today our new ranked playlist, Head to Head, went live, adding a unique experience to the existing Winter 2019 Arena Season. Whether you're a lone wolf on the prowl or simply trying to improve your prowess in one-on-one engagements, this new offering should help you hone in your skills. We're excited to see how the matches play out and what strategies you deploy on your quest for victory.

"Thunderdome's simple. Get to the weapons, use them any way you can. I know you won't break the rules, because there aren't any."


We're mixing things up a little, here are the details! It's a round-based Slayer mode, which is made up of three rounds, each going to five kills. However, there are some nuances to be aware of. Let's break down the win conditions:

  • When you win two rounds in a row, the game ends with you as the victor
  • If you lose two rounds in a row, the game ends before things get too out of hand
  • If both of you win a round, the series goes to a decisive third round
    • It's important to note that by the end of this third and final round, you will need to make sure you have more kills than the opponent does for the entire match. For example after a Round 1 where you lose 0-5 and a Round 2 where you win 5-4, the enemy has 9 kills and you only have 5 kills in total. This means in Round 3, you'll need to account for total kills in the match, so winning 5-4 again won't cut it as you'd only have 10 total kills compared to their 13 total kills. After a Round 1 & 2 scoreline above, you'd need a 4-0 or 5-1 performance in Round 3 to tie or a 5-0 to win the entire match outright. It may be round-based, but this is still a Slayer game mode at its core – the player with the most kills at the end of the match wins.

To give a little more context as to why we took this approach, I asked our Sustain Designer behind the mode, Blaze, to provide a few sentences:

While 1v1 is certainly a niche crowd, my goal was to approach the mode in a way that is slightly more accessible, and in some cases, more tolerable for someone who wouldn't typically play a 1v1 but maintain the same excitement for those veterans who already do.

One way of doing this was to shorten the match times. That way when a player has a bad match, it’s over quickly and they can move onto a new opponent. Another was by adding rounds into the mix, which we hope will help in a couple areas.

  • Resetting the playing field will allow new opportunities to obtain the power weapons and power positions
  • Gives the players the chance to learn the map’s layout and the best starting strategies


After a few playtests using the default Power-Ups, we felt like most of them gave too much of an advantage for too much time in these 1v1 matches. As a result, Blaze started brainstorming different ideas that wouldn't be overpowered, but would still be worth picking up. Here's what he had to say about the new Power-Up!

Something else that sets this mode apart from your typical 1v1 is the ‘Sense’ Power-Up, which is a scripted Power-Up that gives you 20 seconds of radar. Unlike overshield and camo, this Power-Up doesn’t give you a direct buff but gives you the tools that encourage tactical plays.

While Blaze designed the powerup, he enlisted the help of some scripting experts in the Forge community to help execute on it. Thanks for the help, Mccluretim96, Yumudas, and Exterrestr1al!


As soon as Blaze knew that he wanted to pursue creating the Head to Head playlist, he began scouting out community-made maps. After finding maps that had unique gameplay encounters, they were put through our internal testing guantlet to ensure they were suitable for ranked play.

I wanted each map to offer a different experience with an variety of playstyles and levels of learning curves. From simple, flatter maps with dynamic cover to complex multi-tiered atriums with teleporters. Out of the seven maps, there should be something for everyone.

That said, here's a closer look at all the maps you'll be able to find in the playlist!

Cepheus by Blaze  & Soldat du CHrist


Devotion by itzz longshot

Faultline by solo xiii

Junglerock by Sn1p3r C

These Walls by The Xzamplez

Third Gear by xdemption

Transgression by thesilencebrokn

That'll do it for us here, we look forward to seeing you online in the Head to Head playlist!

- Uny


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Big Team Battle Refresh 2019

By Unyshek -

The highly-anticipated Big Team Battle Refresh is now live in Halo 5! Our team has been working with the best Forgers in the community to build, polish, and tune these large-scale battlegrounds for the 8v8 action only Big Team Battle can provide. We've also coordinated with the top scripters out there to add the fan-favorite round-based mode, 1 Flag CTF, to the playlist. Keep reading to find out what's been improved with Big Team Battle!

Halo 5: Guardians

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By Unyshek -

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Halo 5: Guardians

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