By GrimBrother One -
Greetings! It’s me again… our dear ske7ch wisely decided to factor in some much-deserved vacation time this week, so your friendly neighborhood Grim is back at the verbal helm for the Halo Community Update. We’ve got a lovely swath of exciting and intriguing information on a variety of fronts, including brand-new leader slithering into Halo Wars 2, new Halo Championship Series deets, awesome community contributions, and more. To kick things off, let’s check in on that aforementioned Halo Wars 2 leader…
BAND OF BROTHERS
Earlier today, we rolled out a brand-new ViDoc piece to herald the impending approach of Colony – a brand new DLC leader ready to crash your Halo Wars 2 party with a whole squad of sentient squirmies. Colony is a manifestation of the Lekgolo like none you’ve seen before, and in this new video, we chat first details on the all the units and abilities coming your way next week.
Colony is slated for release next Wednesday, April 19, on both Xbox One and Windows 10 PC, and will be available both for individual purchase and as part of the Halo Wars 2 Season Pass, and Kinsano and Colony are just the beginning of the fun held within this badass bundle. Over the next few months, we’ve got more exciting additions to the Halo Wars 2 experience including five additional dynamic new leaders – each with new units, new abilities, and new strategies to employ – as well as a brand-new two-mission campaign expansion that expands upon the ongoing conflict on the Ark. We can’t wait to talk more about it soon, so make sure and stay tuned…
CANON FODDER – EXTENDED EDITION
Earlier this week, we released the latest installment of Canon Fodder, focusing primarily on the impending arrival of Tobias Buckell’s new novel, Halo: Envoy, which hits store shelves and digital displays on April 25 (Paperback preorder here, Audiobook preorder here). In fact, if you’re looking for a little extra whistle-wetting, check out an awesome audiobook preview of Halo: Envoy right here…
That being said, it turns out that there was just a bit of extra lore left loitering about with the announce of Halo Wars 2’s new DLC leader, and your proactive penman couldn’t bear to hold off until a later date to expand a bit on Colony’s presence in the bigger picture. So, with that in mind, we’ve got some director’s cut-style bonus-feature Fodder worming its way into this week’s Community Update – and I mean, really, that’s what you get for letting me write it again; you brought this on yourselves.
Anyway, let’s take a look at some bonus Lekgolo lore!
Strange and inscrutable, the Hunter pair who identifies as "Colony" is believed to be either a representative for Lekgolo allied to the Banished or a specialized command form of the alien eel-worms. Colony defers only to Atriox and is charged with directing all Banished Lekgolo activities on the Ark, including creation and expansion of Lekgolo clusters for use in vehicles and other specialized applications. Though it cooperates with the Banished, Colony appears to have its own plans for the Ark. Most of its attention is currently focused on the activities near the resting place of the Forerunner keyships; missions undertaken outside the knowledge of other Banished leaders.
When called upon to direct Banished military operations, Colony’s strategy is to control the battlefield with large numbers of Lekgolo-driven constructs that it can heal and augment, buying time with Engineer Swarm and Living Barriers until it can call in reinforcements with Colony Drop and Devastating Host. It can also temporarily enhance friendly vehicles by infiltrating them with gestalts, using Vehicle Symbiotes. But time is the main ally of Colony, as its Everlasting passive ability slowly heals all friendly units and structures.
Impervious Lekgolo commander.
Colony deploys Hunter Captains to locations where some element of its plan or Banished operations requires direct intervention and monitoring. One can be sure that all Banished Lekgolo colonies and gestalts will be operating at full efficiency if these “officers” are present in the battle. Each Captain is linked directly to Colony and its distant bond-brother over a specially modified battlenet relay. The Captains themselves exhibit individual peculiarities and attitudes, though none could be said to be personable.
The Hunter Captain is a superheavy hero employed by Colony. Their thick armor and massive shield makes them extremely durable, at the expense of mobility. Each Captain is armed with a modified siphon beam that drains health from those it attacks, and it can protect nearby allies by using a Taunt ability to temporarily redirect enemy attacks to itself.
Unlike a typical Mgalekgolo pair, which splits a colony into two independent bodies, the Goliath is a Hunter-style body containing a single colony that optimizes brute strength over all other considerations. Inside the Goliath’s armored shell most of the Lekgolo eel-worms in the gestalt adapt to function as corded pseudo-muscle and thick-skinned protective bands, with a minimum of sensory and cognitive function. Goliaths are not easily self-sustained due to their ravenous hunger for nutrients, and are typically only seen in times of extreme danger among feral Lekgolo, but Colony can coerce or direct subsidiary Hunter gestalts into this form seemingly at will.
The Goliath is a superheavy infantry unit deployed by Colony to protect areas it finds of particular importance. It is walking tank that bulldozes foes with its powerful melee smash attacks, crushing anything that gets in its way. What it can’t immediately destroy with its smashing blows can be dealt with using the Goliath’s ram ability, which does massive damage and stuns the target temporarily.
Fast scout walker and escort.
The harsh restrictions on AI research in the Covenant limited the development of autonomous weapon systems, though clever San’Shyuum technicians did find that carefully selected and pruned Lekgolo colonies could substitute for artificial minds in some applications. Though never widely used, combat machines such as the Skitterer proved this approach had merit, though the risk of aberrant gestalts in small colonies meant it never saw widespread use. Colony has adapted and perfected this technique, which allows for the integration of Lekgolo with the Banished Locust and mass production of Skitterers without the behavioral issues that plagued earlier work.
Skitterer units are mechanized scouts piloted by Lekgolo. They are cheap, expendable vehicles, and their twin-linked beam cannons are surprisingly lethal for a vehicle of this size. Their most notable feature is that they can use a defend ability to set up a protective overwatch on other friendly units and act as a weapon turret and defense shield, increasing the health of the attached unit as well as providing additional firepower. Most units can have at least one Skitterer attached, including infantry and aircraft. The defensive link cannot be undone during a mission.
Colony has a surprising rapport with the Huragok technicians, though the specifics of their communication are indecipherable to others. Among the results of their collaboration are a unique form of vehicle barricade containing a Lekgolo cluster and communicator, which can be drop deployed directly on the battlefield to both impede enemy mobility and extend the awareness of Colony and its field commanders. Unfortunately, the lifespan of the Lekgolo is drastically shortened when abused in this way.
Speaking of updates, we've been gathering a bunch of your questions from r/HaloWars regarding various aspects of the Halo Wars 2 experience and snagged some of the devs to get some answers. Let's see what they had to say!
Q: Are you guys aware of Cutter's Battle Hardened ability not working, as well as the canister shell tank bug? If so, are there plans for a fix?
A: Yes, we are aware of these issues, and a fix is in for this patch! This ability is also now available to the Banished for the first time as part of Colony’s leader powers. This power combines well with his new units and other powers to do a lot with more focused army builds.
Q: Could unranked 1v1 be added again? I feel like it's vital for warming up or for trying out new builds.
A: 1v1 ranked matches have proven to be very popular, and so they’re back in for this next season! We will continue making adjustments to playlists for future updates based on what is happening in the community so please keep your thoughts on favorite playlists coming in.
Q: As it pertains to balance, is the Decimus Drop really in line with original intentions? He feels very underwhelming and certainly not worth the 1k supply/power, 10 population count price tag. Warlord is less than half the price, takes no population, obtainable quicker, doesn't take the slot of an ultimate ability, etc.
A: We agree – the role that Decimus plays overall as a leader is solid but he was not functioning as well as we’d like with the changes that were made to other leaders. As a result, we have been evaluating him and making some needed adjustments his stats and leader powers. Ultimately, when his unit deploys it has to be a potent threat and we think you’ll see a big difference in this latest patch. With significant increases to health, defense, DPS, and damage type, he is much scarier now, and fully capable of going toe-to-toe with the other hero units. His other leader powers have gotten a comprehensive tuning pass as well, so if you haven’t played Decimus in a while then it’s definitely time to give it another go!
Q: Are there any plans to adjust Jackrabbits at all?
A: Absolutely. We are aware of the various issues with Jackrabbits and are making adjustments in this upcoming patch which should realign their focus on their main role of gathering information and harassing enemy forces. While still a capable, fast, light combat unit, Jackrabbits are now more costly to build (both Supply and Power) and not as effective against massed infantry units. You will also have to manage their healing ability more carefully as drones are not as responsive as they have been, requiring you to back your units out of combat to heal them up properly. We will continue to monitor how they are being played but these changes, along with those to other leaders and powers, should get them back to where they need to be.
Q: Is there a chance that PC and Xbox One version of HW2 will get fused together in the future (Cross-play)?
A: We do not have plans to implement cross-play between PC and Xbox.
Q: Are there any plans to add new units or additional unit upgrades to existing leaders, or are those Leaders unit rosters considered final?
A: Unique, new units are being added to the game with each new leader but we do not have plans to add additional units to the original leaders. Additional upgrades to existing units is something that we are considering for future updates although the focus currently is on finishing the new and upcoming leaders and ensuring that all units and powers are playing well together.
Q: Any plans to add XP rewards, as well as daily/weekly challenges, to Firefight and Skirmish?
A: This has been discussed and is something that we are considering for future updates. There are concerns with how this can be exploited however and so we won’t add that in until there is a good solution for it that is fair for everyone.
Q: Does the team know about Shipmaster Let ‘Volir’s Teleport bug and that it needs to be fixed next patch?
A: Yes. We are aware of this issue have a fix coming in with this update!
Q: Can the size of the Champion pool be reduced to the top 20 players, and on the same line of thought, the ability for players to dodge games needs to be removed?
A: We are aware of the issue with players dodging matches and are working on a solution for this. We currently do not have plans to reduce the scope of the Champion pool as we want to keep this at least relatively attainable for players as well as ensure reasonable matchmaking times. We will keep evaluating this though based on the needs of the community and competition and make any necessary adjustments in the future.
Q: Do you feel that some leaders are underpowered? Do statistics show that certain leaders just aren't used? Do the developers plan to address this in any way? For example, I seldom see anyone using Isabel in Deathmatch, and I've never found a strategy that works for her effectively. It doesn't feel like others have either. Since you have access to statistics, is this something the team is looking at so that no leader feels superfluous?
A: We are aware that some leaders are being played less than others- and are less successful when they are. We're always looking at possible adjustments to all leaders and have focused efforts on getting as many updates in for this patch as possible. There have also been some known issues which are limiting these leader’s effectiveness and those are being looked at as well. We have a number of fixes and tuning adjustments coming in with this update which address most of these issues. In particular, Isabel and Decimus have some big improvements so give them a try.
Q: What kind of decisions go into making a new leader for DLC? Is there a concern that some new powers could truly change the game? For example, while I love Kinsano, I've noticed players combining to melt an enemy base with multiple Inferno drops quickly. I'm not necessarily complaining, just curious how you balance that when developing new leaders.
A: One of the design goals for any new leader is to introduce new gameplay options which will challenge and shift the established strategies of the other leaders. Because of this, their new powers and units will inevitably shake things up and cause players to react and to develop new and innovative ways to play – both with the new leaders and together with older ones which they may not have played recently. As newer and potentially more powerful strategies emerge, adjustments can be made to strengthen weaker areas or tune down powers or units which are proving to be too powerful.
In the case of Kinsano, she has proven to be as powerful as we hoped that she would be – and more so! We have made some adjustments to her now which should bring her more in line with other leaders and also make her more reliant on her units rather than leader powers. Feedback from the community is vital in helping us to continue balancing and making the game more balanced and interesting to play so keep it coming!
Q: Is it possible to save Skirmish Games against AI? Sometimes you are in a good game, but "real life happens."
A: We do not currently have plans to allow saved games in Skirmish Mode, but the Pause button still allows a small amount of real life to temporarily take the upper hand! ;)
Q: Will you guys add back the labels on upgraded Supply Pads and reactors to show that they are upgraded?
A: Yes! A fix for this issue is coming in with this patch.
Q: How long does each season last? When does the next Season start? Is there a reward at the end of the season for someone's performance?
A: Each season is currently four weeks with new seasons corresponding with the launch of new content and leaders. The next season is starting with the launch of Colony but we will continue to evaluate this and make adjustments to suit how the community is playing. A benefit of four-week seasons right now is that we want to give players a fresh start with the new leaders and a chance to try them out without effecting the previous season. We are not currently awarding prizes for seasonal winners but it’s something that we will certainly look for ways to do in the future.
Q: Why are Elite Rangers locked until Tech 2, but Snipers are available since Tech 1? I really don't feel the Elites are much better than the Snipers.
A: Snipers are a Tier 1 Infantry counter advantage which is unique to the UNSC. However, we are currently evaluating Elite Rangers to make sure that they are performing as well as intended.
Q(?): LET US SEE WHERE TEAMMATES ARE SEEING ON THE MINIMAP PLEASE......
A: This is an important feature for us as well, and is being worked on currently! We hope to have that in the game as part of the next Leader update.
Q: Has the team considered making player ranks visible in lobbies, and game loading screens? (Not leader picking screens to prevent people bailing before match start)
A: We are aware of the issue with players dodging out of matches before they start and are working on a solution to address this.
Q: If the Minimap is above a base, and you click on the Minimap, the base is selected instead.
A: Fixed! This issue has been addressed in the current patch. Be aware though that the edges of the minimap UI still allow you to click through to objects behind in order to minimize the amount of screen area which is obstructed. This can be more of an issue of larger, 3v3 maps which use all of the live area of the minimap so keep that in mind when clicking around the outer edges.
Q: What’s the max level a Blitz unit can obtain?
A: The current maximum card level in Blitz is 50. We are looking at player progress however and will look at raising this in the future if necessary.
Be sure and look out for a full patchnotes and breakdown of all the balance adustments and bug-fixes landing alongside the Colony DLC drop once the update goes live.
Earlier today, we dropped the brand new HCS Summer Preview playlist, where players can hop right in and start testing the very latest experience in top-level competitive Arena Halo play. This esports-focused proving ground is the best way for you and your fireteam to find out just how good you really are, so jump in and give it a shot today! For a much more detailed look at all the latest changes, check out our HCS Summer Preview blog.
Personally, I lobbied for a narrative-focused competitive lore playlist, but was summarily overruled by the rest of the HCS team. Maybe for Fall...
Also, speaking of cool competitive content to look forward to, I’m told that a neat little piece should be coming out soon that will help you get to know your recent HaloWC FFA champ a little better. That’s what I heard at least. Keep an eye out on Halo.gg and @HCS for more soon. Maybe. Probably.
BETTER SCOOT FOR THE LOOT
When Halo 2 hit the OG Xbox back in 2004, more than a few fans cried out in impassioned incredulity at the thought the Master Chief having to share playable campaign spotlight with a brand-new character (the nerve!). Fast-forward a few years, and that shared-space character would be a vehemently loved fan-favorite, and now you can have your very own awesome Arbiter to place upon your Mantle thanks to the upcoming Halo Legendary Crate.
However, when we say “upcoming” we mean, “um, get your order in now” because time is almost out to secure your own – the deadline for ordering is Saturday, April 15, 9pm PT. If you haven’t already, snag your own right here!
WE’LL GET REQ’D…
In last week’s Community Update, we waxed poetic about our rousing moments of triumph during the Warzone Turbo 343 Community Playdate. Butts were kicked, names were taken, and skins were distributed. And if it seems like we’re dwelling a bit intensely on our hard-earned victories, it’s because we’re acutely aware of the merciless beating we’re about to receive tomorrow at our next appointed matchmaking meet-up. I’m also suddenly acutely aware at precisely why ske7ch decided to take vacation on this particular week…
At any rate, this Friday (tomorrow) at 2 p.m. PT, we’ll be fielding a team of falsely-confident 343 staff to head into the wild-west warrior-world of Warzone Warlords. Between 2-3 p.m. PT, if you happened to get matched up with our specific squad in the Warzone Warlords playlist, you and your fellow – likely victorious – Spartans will have earned yourselves a cool new 343 Ice Unicorn skin for your MA5D Assault Rifle. I’m thinking about trying to convince Unyshek to offer teams even more if they just let us win, but I don’t think he’s gonna go for it. Either way, see you on the battlefield! Unless I, you know, suddenly get sick or something… *cough*
…BECAUSE YOU GOT REQ’D
On a totally, completely unrelated note, the Xbox Spring Sale has arrived, and with it, some pretty awesome deals to be found on Halo Wars 2, Halo 5, and REQ Pack bundles. For more info on Halo deals – and many others – check out Major Nelson’s full breakdown.
We kick off this week’s Community Spotlight, with some pretty awesome Halo art – some of it created by fans, and some of it created on them.
Unsorted Gaming showed off this absolutely stunning recreation of Alpha Halo's Control Room as depicted in Halo: Combat Evolved. Check out the video below to see how this incredible build came together. Just add super-soldier, ancient custodian, and info-absorbing AI construct, and BLAM! – you're good to go.
We've also seen a number of super rad Halo-themed tattoos show up on the community airwaves lately – here are just a couple:
thefeeltrain posted this quite literally legendary brand of Halo passion. We think it's beyond Heroic.
derpymcderpersonn (can't make this stuff up) also wanted to share this memorable tribute to the Red vs Blue series.
In the spirit of sharing awesome ink, one of 343's own Senior Producers (Alyson Szymanski) just made a long-term canvas commitment to honor Halo's true lords of levity with this timeless Unggoy piece. All other Grunt-related jokes and references here have been expressly forbidden.
PLAY OF THE WEEK
Our Play of the Week comes from ThatWasPrimal, who prides himself on the number of assassinations he’s performed. In what may be the most elaborate assassination we’ve seen since launch, ThatWasPrimal uses the mancannon on Battle of Noctus to gain a supreme height advantage on this opponents, then drops down to surprise his opponents and walk away victoriously. His moves are indeed primal, and because of that, he will be receiving the exclusive 343 Fire Unicorn Skin. Congratulations!
And that will pretty much do it for us this week – don’t forget to preorder your Halo Legendary Crate, Halo: Envoy, and pick up Colony when it lands in Halo Wars 2 this coming Wednesday. We’ll see you tomorrow (hopefully) in the Warzone Warlords 343 Community Playdate!
Until next time… Live well, play Halo, and remember: when you don’t farm, you don’t harm.