News

March-April 2017 Arena Season

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Greetings, and welcome to the dawn of a new Arena Season in Halo 5: Guardians! By the time you read this, the new digs should be up and ready for you to start knocking out your placement matches. But that’s not all, as we discussed in last week’s Community Update, the new Arena Season is also arriving with some friends – specifically some updated balance changes and brand new “Proving Grounds” playlist, where players will get their first chance to try out some new Motion Sensor features we’re testing out.

To help set the stage, let’s revisit the details featured in our aforementioned Community Update.

HALO 5 SANDBOX TWEAKS

To start, we’ve long heard feedback about the Sniper Rifle’s aim assist (from top players and amateurs alike), and how easy it seems to hit Snapshots. After discussion with the 343 Sandbox Team, they agreed that it was a little too easy, and for this update, the aim assist has been lowered for the Sniper Rifle, but only when firing from the hip (i.e. a Snapshot or “no-scope”). This update will demand that players be more diligent and precise with both their positioning and accuracy, and we’ll now be even more impressed when Frosty or Snip3down hit insane no-scopes. 

Next up is the Plasma Caster. Like with the Sniper Rifle, we’ve heard a great deal of feedback about how much skill and precision is required to use the weapon. The Sandbox Team agreed that non-charged shots were too effective, but didn’t want to limit creativity and lose what makes the weapon so much fun to use. With this upcoming update, the AOE (area of effect) radius of the non-charged explosions has been reduced, which means you’ll have to be more precise with your shots when taking other Spartans out. It’s important to note that the damage of the explosions has not changed, so direct shots are just as lethal.

HCS players and fans might be asking, “Why not wait until after Halo World Championship Finals to make these updates?” It’s a fair question and we know this is not an ideal release time for those competing, but overall we felt it was necessary to release now due to the Motion Sensor options that are also releasing at the same time, as well as all of the other important updates coming to the game. Additionally, we felt that while the Sniper Rifle and Plasma Caster adjustments will demand a bit more precision with these weapons, their overall impact on the tournaments that follow are limited and isolated, and won’t change strategies, setups, flag routes, etc.

With each season’s map and setting updates for Team Arena, HCS players – both pro and amateur alike - have told us they want more time to test out the new rebalances, and we agree. Having enough time to test updated Motion Sensor settings is crucial and we want to hit the ground running. While those qualified for the Halo World Championship Finals will likely spend most of their time practicing on settings they’re going to compete on, it will give all players an opportunity to spend a good amount of time with the updated settings and give feedback before the Summer 2017 season of HCS kicks off. Feel free to share thoughts and feedback on these changes with 343's Mason Cobb and Vartan Karakashyan

RADAR LOVE

Next up, the ever bandied-about changes to the Halo 5 Motion Sensor. To get a better sense of what’s being tested and why, here are some additional details from the 343 Multiplayer Team.

WHAT’S GOING ON?

Nearly 16 months of player feedback and game data has driven some interesting internal explorations to alter the way the Motion Sensor functions in Halo 5. On Thursday, March 9, we will kick off a public test of this new Motion Sensor to gather player feedback and metrics to help determine if this has a potential place in Halo 5 going forward as well as potential learnings and implications for future Halo FPS titles.

WHY IS THE MOTION SENSOR BEING CHANGED?

First, it’s important to note that this is a test – nothing is changing except for what’s being rolled out specifically in the “Proving Grounds” playlist (more on that in a bit!).

The Motion Sensor is a staple of Halo gameplay but has also been a source of some controversy, particularly amongst the more competitive multiplayer crowds. While some players argue that the Motion Sensor should be completely removed, others argue that due to the speed of the game, gameplay would become too chaotic, and it'd be too difficult to track players and Spartan abilities. Instead of an either/or approach, the team has been doing some work to change the Motion Sensor’s functionality and now we’d love for players to help test it out and give us feedback!

WHAT’S DIFFERENT ABOUT THIS MOTION SENSOR BEING TESTED?

In a nutshell, this new Motion Sensor that’s being tested is actually a lot simpler than the default system that shipped in Halo 5. Only two types of player activities will appear on the sensor:

  • A (non-silenced) weapon being fired
  • A Spartan ability being used (Sprint, Thrust, Spartan Charge, Ground Pound, & Stabilize)

Additionally, the functional range has been increased from 18m to 25m.

During internal play tests, we’ve already seen some interesting player behavior changes as a result of this new Motion Sensor:

  • Players now have more control over when/where they choose to show up on an opponent’s Motion Sensor, providing for some more interesting tactical decisions
  • The slightly increased range somewhat reduces the effectiveness of Spartan Abilities like Spartan Charge as it now acts as a bit of an ‘early warning system’
  • Stealth tactics are much more viable in the game than they are with the default Motion Sensor
  • Suppressed weapons have greater effectiveness and relevance - they don’t show up on the sensor
  • Players are visually scanning the 3D space more to find and identify targets and relying less on the Motion Sensor

HOW IS THIS MOTION SENSOR BEING TESTED?

Wtih the new season kickong off this week, players will notice a brand new playlist added to Halo 5. “Proving Grounds” is being deployed as a public test playlist to provide an outlet for the team to experiment in the wild, gather real-world data and feedback, and do so in a manner that doesn't directly affect the core matchmaking offerings. Initially the Proving Grounds playlist is launching with one very specific goal: introduce and test changes to the Halo 5 Motion Sensor.

HOW LONG WILL THIS TEST LAST?

At least a month! We want players to have a chance to really put it through the paces and play a lot of games to inform well-rounded feedback. We’ll run the test as long as it takes to ensure that the team has adequate data and player feedback to make decisions.

HOW SHOULD PLAYERS SHARE FEEDBACK?

We’ll be doing a lot of data-mining behind the scenes, but we definitely want to hear from players directly! You’ll find a pinned thread in the Halo 5 forum (RIGHT HERE) where you can share your thoughts but you’re always welcome to hit up Quinn on Twitter as well.

This has been a very collaborative process with the community, and we appreciate all of the feedback and input that was the impetus for this test even coming to fruition. We look forward to your continued input and support for this Motion Sensor test!

Proving Grounds

So now that you know what Proving Grounds is and why it exists, you're probably wondering, "what does it offer?" Here's a quick rundown of the maps and modes you'll find in the Proving Grounds playlist:

  • Slayer on Eden
  • Slayer on Plaza
  • Slayer on Coliseum
  • Slayer on Regret
  • Slayer on Empire
  • Slayer on The Rig
  • CTF on Coliseum
  • CTF on Fathom
  • CTF on Truth
  • CTF on Tyrant
  • CTF on Torque
  • Strongholds on Mercy
  • Strongholds on Overgrowth
  • Strongholds on Eden
  • Strongholds on Plaza
  • Strongholds on The Rig

 Jump in, have fun, share your feedback, and thank you for participating in this test!

HALO 5 ARENA UPDATES

Recently, we shared some initial info about upcoming changes to Halo 5’s online offerings and today we wanted to share a few additional details about the season rollover and the removal of one ranked playlist.

The March-April 2017 Arena Season initially kicked off on Thursday, March 9, but a few unfortunate technical snags necessitated a couple of additional tweaks to provide the best possible experience for players. With that in mind, this morning we relaunched the March-April 2017 Arena Season, which means that players will have to replay their placement matches in order to receive their CSR ranking. The good news is that anyone who had already played all ten of their placement matches will receive the emblem for this season, regardless of if they replay their placement matches.

Additionally, next Thursday Ranked Snipers will be removed from Matchmaking for the March-April 2017 Arena Season. This playlist has come and gone a few times over the past months and was just put back in as a Ranked offering prior to the holidays in conjunction with the large playlist "test" to help the sustain team determine usage and popularity. Based on low usage this playlist will be removed to funnel more players back into the core offerings. We know there's a portion of the community that enjoys a game of Snipers so don't worry, there's certainly a good chance we'll see this playlist again down the road (either as-is or perhaps in a different configuration). 

MENKE'S MATCHMAKING MEANDERINGS

In case you missed it, 343's Josh Menke has posted his latest Matchmaking Feedback Update over in our forums. This week Josh weighs in on the pros and cons of displaying MMR values in-game and shares thoughts on seasonal resets.

Here are the big takeaways on the key differences players will experience this season:

  • Players won’t start as far back from where they left off last season as before.
  • Onyx will be harder to get into.

If you have questions or feedback be sure to let Josh know! 

We’re excited to see how this next evolution of the Halo 5 experience will shape up, and looking forward continuing to play and interact with our incredible community every step of the way. See you online!

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