November Sneak Peek

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Over the past week, we’ve been playing with you, reviewing feedback as we tune existing experiences, and also preparing to deliver new ones. Today, we’ll talk about recent and upcoming game updates, as well as brand new content that will soon be on the way. Welcome to the weekly update, where we’ll talk about all of this and more.

Playlist Updates & Additions

Just a few hours ago, the latest Halo 5: Guardians playlist update went live. Thanks to your community votes, Shotty Snipers is available this weekend, and it’ll be around until the early morning hours (pacific time) on Monday. Jump into the playlist to enjoy a chaotic mix of long and close range combat as well as some increased XP rewards.

But this playlist update doesn’t stop there. We’ve made a few additional changes based on your feedback from this past week, starting with the removal of Orion from all playlists. We’ve pulled the map from matchmaking in order to patch some exploits and make some additional improvements before re-adding it to appropriate playlists. Next, based on feedback regarding map variety and rotations, we’ve added 15 additional map / game type combinations to existing playlists. To see a full breakdown of which game types have been added and where, head over to yesterday’s blog.

We’ve also made some additional matchmaking changes in today’s update. The first of these was an update to the “One or more members of your fireteam has high latency to the dedicated server” error message. Previously, this message blocked players in error, preventing you from playing with the other player(s), and we’ve now removed this restriction. Also, we’ve been keeping an eye on feedback from international players regarding Warzone matchmaking, and found that we were a bit too aggressive in filtering players during matchmaking. After reviewing the current parameters, we’ve made adjustments that will allow Warzone matchmaking to not only allow players to find matches quicker and easier, but also allow for improved matchmaking for players across the globe, thanks to updated searching parameters that also better prioritize players in your region. Today, thanks to your reports, we were able to confirm that the changes did indeed improve matching for players across multiple regions. We need to do some additional tests to ensure that the changes don’t negatively impact any playlists, so we’ve temporarily disabled the changes, and will be re-adjusting the parameters once these changes are verified.

In addition to the other items mentioned last week, the team is also hard at work preparing updates for things like Warzone Assault tuning tweaks (more on that with design next week), updating SWAT respawn time to 3 seconds and turning off SWAT friendly fire, CSR tuning tweaks, Seasons & seasonal rewards, actively monitoring and updating ban thresholds, and more. Also, we know many of you are excited to get you Teishin Raikou Armor set, but may not have received yet – don’t you worry. We’re tracking all eligible players, and will roll these out once we’re able to process all of the player data – there are lots of you. We’ll be taking about these updates and plenty more in the weeks to come.

But now – onto the reason many of you may have joined us today. The new stuff.

November Update: A Sneak Peek

In just over a week, the next Halo 5 content drop will be here, and with it comes Big Team Battle in Arena matchmaking, brand-new REQs, and a whole ton of juicy vehicular combat. Today, we’re giving you a sneak peek at what’s in store, and over the course of the next week, we’ll be providing you with more details.To start, we know many of you are ready for some vehicle-based carnage in Arena, and dying to jump into some classic 8v8 matches. You’re in luck.

Before the Halo 5: Guardians Multiplayer Beta, Josh Holmes approached me and asked “can we get a “Pro Team” equivalent of the best community Forgers to help us build Forge?” to which I responded “Yes. Yes we can.”

Fast forward a few months, and we’ve brought some of the community’s top Forgers in the studio: Warholic, The Fated Fire, The Psycho Duck, Nokyard, and Ducain23. As you saw in the Forge reveal, these gentlemen provided feedback on Forge tools and features that ultimately resulted in a wide variety of improvements across the feature set. During their time here, they also started working on large-scale Big Team Battle maps that were inspired by classic battlegrounds including: Sidewinder / Avalanche, Standoff, Burial Mounds, Longbow, and Headlong.

As you saw in the latest episode of The Sprint, each map maker selected a classic map on which to base their Big Team Battle map design. These guys built day and night, continually preparing and perfecting their maps for the next playtest with the multiplayer and level design teams. At the end of the week, we had solid canvases that offered a wide variety of BTB combat, and this meant that it was time for the maps to be handed off to the 343 team for continued iteration and development. The Forgers continued to provide feedback and direction for the map, and the team here at the studio continued to iterate on flow, polish, spawn and objective placement, look and feel, and more. For the past few months, these maps have been playtested and polished in preparation for the release of Big Team Battle, and in just over a week, the first four maps will be available in Arena matchmaking. Here’s a quick look at what’s to come:


Inspired by: Standoff

A collaboration between Nokyard and the 343 Multiplayer team

Stolen Forerunner knowledge has made war a glassy plain of death on which few can find purchase.


Inspired by: Valhalla

A map designed by the 343 Multiplayer team

Shake the dust from your feet.


Inspired by: Headlong

A collaboration between The Psycho Duck and the 343 Multiplayer team

By day, a deadly urban battleground. By night, a playground for the reckless.


Inspired by: Longbow

A collaboration between The Fated Fire and the 343 Multiplayer Team

The wide arms of this training site embrace every instrument of destruction.

Be sure to stay tuned next week, when we’ll dive deeper into these new battlegrounds with the folks who created them.

New REQ Content

This next update includes a ton of sweet new REQ content. Over the next week, we’ll be filling in the above graphic to reveal the content, but here’s a preview of what’s on the way:

Keep an eye on Waypoint and Twitter for these REQ reveals in the coming days. The content is scheduled to drop the week of November 16, and we’ll have more details on what’s to come starting next week.

And, to keep up to date on all things REQ System, stay tuned here.

Halo 5 Aiming & Controllers

Hey everyone – Chris King (Halo 5 - Lead Sandbox Designer) and Scott Sims (Halo 5 – Lead Sandbox Engineer) here. Thank you all for your passionate feedback on Halo 5, the team has been actively following as much as we can and have identified one issue we really wanted to respond to.

First things first, in the grand scheme of things, this is happening to a small number of people. Most folks are having a good experience and the last thing we want to do is inject either placebo effect or confirmation bias into your gameplay feel, so bear that in mind if you’re having no issues, and just enjoy the dry but interesting technical data. But this is good news for those who are suffering.

Aiming is the core of any first person shooter experience, and the way Halo controls is key to making Halo, Halo. Weapon aiming is a complex subject and something that the sandbox team obsesses over every day. There are a huge number of factors that feed into the feel of aiming, be it controller hardware, acceleration curves, turn speeds, player movement speeds, aim assist, or weapon fire rates.

When we started development on Halo 5 we had some very specific goals with regards to aiming. We wanted to provide a best in class 60fps shooter experience, embracing competitive play, with an increased skill gap, while still retaining the essence of Halo.

To preserve that Halo feel we chose not to re-write any of our base control systems, but instead to perform targeted retunes to balance for the higher framerate and myriad of other changes made to our movement and weapon systems.

Throughout the project we have worked hand in hand with the 343 Pro team, Microsoft User Research, and test teams and of course absorbed the awesome feedback from the Halo 5 Beta to tune and validate our control systems to what we believe to be the sweet spot for fine control with fast turn speed across all aiming ranges, on all weapon types.

Players have identified that, by design, the game is a shade “harder” than it used to be, but we are seeing players adjusting to the new speed and precision pretty quickly.

Unfortunately, some players have identified an issue that occurs due to variance in controller hardware, commonly referred to as “slow turn” bug. This can cause players to become unable to, or inconsistently reach what we call a “pegged” state.

The “pegged” state is a region in the outermost range of the analog aim stick in which we blend the players turn speed to a much faster rate. This issue is compounded as the control input fluctuates depending on multiple factors - if you are applying even the slightest bit of downward pressure (clenching), moving the stick around the edges a bit (which is why it’s even more problematic when aiming diagonally), or torqueing the stick on the edge a bit more than normal on some controllers.

The good news is we have a fix for this issue that introduces no perceivable change to the current feel of the game. This change is going through test and pro team validation now and we will have it out to you soon.

One thing that has become clear in absorbing all your feedback is that Halo players want choice when it comes to controls. And with that in mind, we are also working on another little pet project that will allow even more precise tuning. This update will offer more custom fine-tuned control over controller settings (hint: independent vertical/horizontal sensitivities, the ability to calibrate your own dead zones, more granularity in sensitivity, and more). We hope to have that out for you in December and we will follow up with more details later. 

Thanks for all the passionate feedback, know that the team is reading as much as we can. See you on the battlefield.

Play of the Week

This week’s play may not need any introduction at all, as it already has 77,000 views this week. The Warzone match score is 786 – 772, and A Winking Cat has just called in the Spartan Laser. The rest of the story can be told by this clip. It’s worth the full watch.

Community Spotlight: Halo TrackeR

Bravo: Hey, xorth! Thanks for sitting down with us today. I think I speak for many a Halo fan when I say it’s exciting to see Halo Tracker being talked about so much since the launch of Halo 5. For those unfamiliar, can you tell us a bit about the history of the site?

xorth: Absolutely, thanks for having us! The site opened in May of 2010 with player stats, leaderboards, and a ton of other features for supporting Reach and then Halo 4. As avid Halo players, we found great value in displaying the stats in many different ways, tracking over time, and being able to do dig deep. The main reason I started the site was to get better at Halo and I hope that it helps others as well. Since they we have gained a bunch of volunteer staff who spend their free time helping the site become better simply due to their love for the game.    

What are some of the stuff your team already has put together for Halo 5?

We started completely fresh so we could bring a level of quality to the site that the older site lacked.  We started off with Profiles that focused on tracking your progress, as well as Arena Playlist Stats. We have a game viewer, so you can see all the weapons you used in a game, the medals you earned, and who you killed the most, and of course, as always our leaderboards, which includes a CSR Leaderboard.  

Anything that you’re thinking about creating in the future? What’s next?

There are still so many things we want to add to the profiles, so we are going to continue to improve them. We will open our 1v1 and 4v4 Ladder system in the near future. We have more CSR leaderboards in the works, medals and weapons leaderboards. We're waiting for HCS to start up, we want to do some cool things with that, including putting the pro player;s bios on their stat pages. We're just getting started!  

Lastly, what’s the best way for players and fans to keep up with new HT developments and features?

Check us out on Twitter, Facebook, and of course our homepage.  We really are looking for community feedback on the site. We want to hear your requests, we want to build tools and features that help you improve your gameplay. Please send us your feature requests. Some of our best features we've made in the past came from user requests.
Thanks for joining us!

Thank you for making it possible with the API, it's absolutely fantastic. Shout out to Frank, Loch and the Halo Tracker Staff for helping us get this thing launched in time.


And with that, this week’s update comes to a close. We’ll see you in matchmaking this weekend, and we’ll be back with more on the new upcoming content next week. Talk to you then.



Halo Community Update

Post Launch Carnage Report

By B is for Bravo -

On Monday night, we joined together in a celebration that only Halo fans can understand. Whether you had Halo 5: Guardians pre-installed at home or went to a nearby store to pick up your copy on release night, you could likely feel a particular excitement in the air, and we hope that excitement resulted in an all-night (or day, depending on where you might call home) session of campaign, multiplayer, or a perfectly balanced mix of the two.

Halo Community Update

Prepare for (Big Team) Battle

By B is for Bravo -

This week, the first of many free, regular Halo 5 updates will drop. The Battle of Shadow and Light update is nearly upon us, and today, we’ll talk about new goodness, some gameplay tweaks, and more, as well as recent playlist updates and some amazing anti-vehicle antics. Shall we?

Halo Community Update

Prepare to Launch


It’s a busy June morning in downtown Los Angeles. As expected, exit 20B on I-110 Southbound is an absolute mess, and as a sea of cameramen and camerawomen litter the streets – including the exit ramp itself – in an effort to get inside the Galen Center, host of the E3 2013 Xbox Media Briefing. bs angel, myself, and a small crew of 343’ers put up with the traffic for a bit, but eventually ditch our cab and join the on-foot procession down the exit ramp to attend the festivities as onlookers. We...