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Forge Overview | Season 5

A Grunt with a Needler spawns in via a Drop Pod on Forbidden.
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  -  4 months ago

For the first time ever, players will be able to add Campaign AI to their creations with the addition of the AI Toolkit and its accompanying suite of features. That revolutionary new feature, alongside two new canvases, 200+ new objects, object collision toggle, lighting improvements, additional quality of life updates, and more—Forge will reach new heights when Season 5: Reckoning lands on Tuesday, October 17.

Let’s dive in for a closer look at all the updates coming to Forge next week!


A screenshot of Marines fighting against Hunters on a Forge canvas.
Marines and Hunters battle after being placed on a Forge canvas.

Forge AI Toolkit

The most notable update coming to Forge in Season 5 is the introduction of the AI Toolkit, which will allow you to create thrilling experiences using Campaign AI.

To see how powerful the new Forge AI Toolkit is, be sure to check out the Forge Fundamentals episode from the Community Stage at the HaloWC.

If you're tuning in while the stream is still live, you may skip to the 1:20:00 mark to see the beginning of this panel.

While we highly recommend giving the video above a watch, we also wanted to lay most of it out in writing as well. Let’s take a look at the tools you’ll have at your disposal with the launch of Season 5: Reckoning.

At a high level, the new AI Toolkit will place the following options in the hands of the players:

  • Campaign AI character units (43 variants)
  • How they deploy on map (Spawn, Drop Pod, or Phantom)
  • The weapons they spawn with
  • Guide their movement path
  • Difficulty level
  • Behavior modifiers
  • Nodegraph scripting logic
  • Allegiance (will they fight with you or against you)

AI Units & Spawning

Now, let’s diver deeper, starting with spawning AI into your creation.

To kick off your creation with Campaign AI, you’ll need to start by spawning them into the map. You can do this just like how you’d expect them to appear in combat on Zeta Halo. They can simply appear in the playable with a default AI Spawner, drop from the sky via an AI Drop Pod Spawner, or have a drop ship insertion courtesy of the AI Phantom Spawner.

In addition to dropping off normal ground units, the AI Phantom Spawner can also drop a Chopper, Ghost, or Wraith, and those vehicles can be set to spawn in unoccupied or with a pilot.

The 43 types of Campaign units that can be spawned in with the AI Toolkit are:

  • Grunt (5 variants)
  • Jackals (4 variants)
  • Skimmers (3 variants)
  • Elites (5 variants)
  • Brutes (16 variants)
  • Hunters (2 variants)
  • Marines (6 variants)
  • Bosses (2 variants)

And, if you’d like to have the Spartan Bots from Multiplayer join the fight as well, they’ll have no issue joining the fray. In total, you can have up to a whopping 32 AI units present on the map at one time.

AI Weapon Selection

Once you’ve decided on a set composition of AI units, you can then dive into their settings and choose which weapon you’d like them to be holding when they spawn. The AI units can hold any weapon they used in Campaign, plus a few instances of increased functionality where possible. For example, Jackals can hold Stalker Rifles, so we’ve added the ability for them to carry S7 Snipers and Bandits.

AI Move Zone

From there, you can even lay out a path that you’d like them to follow by placing an AI Move Zone on the map. When linked, this will tell the specified AI units to go to the zone’s set location. Fortunately, the AI Toolkit functionality can use the pre-existing nav mesh data, so you don’t need to rebuild nav mesh data unless you add new geometry to a play space.

If you place multiple move zones, you can dictate where the AI units will move—essentially allowing you to make a squad of patrol units that will scout out a certain area of the map.

A screenshot of AI units fighting each other on Prism.

AI Difficulty

To provide more control around the experience, players can also select the AI difficulty.

Easy/Normal/Heroic/Legendary—you know them well. This makes enemies tougher, smarter, and deadlier. You can set it on each Custom Game, or you can use a node graph script to change it mid-match and keep players on their toes.

There is also a Player Count Difficulty Multiplier setting, which is the way co-op campaign scales up health based on how many players are there. Just like the Campaign difficulty above, we've enabled it as a global Custom Game option, or players can use a node graph script to change it mid-match.

AI Behavior Modifiers

Beyond just selecting the difficulty, there are also behavior settings for AI units that can add flavor to your experience.

  • Deaf – AI Units will not perceive audio cues such as gunfire
  • Blind – AI Units will not perceive visual cues
  • Inactive – AI units will not make any behavior decisions or be active
  • Magic Sight – AI Units will be able to see enemies through walls and terrain

All of these settings can be dynamically changed on a per-squad basis using the nodes in the AI Modifiers section.

AI Allegiance

One of the most unique aspects of this new toolkit is that it’s also possible to set AI allegiances in the match. With up to 8 different team allegiances, the Campaign AI can be told to work with you, against you (even alongside an enemy team of real people working against you), and the one setting we’d all expect—against everyone.

AI Nodegraph Scripting

As part of the 100+ new nodes being added to Forge this season, more than 75 of them are focused on the AI Toolkit.

For example, with scripting, you can set it up so that AI units spawn whenever a player enters a trigger volume or presses a switch. We tried to make this as simple as possible, so you can make this happen with only three steps. All you do is pick an Event like "On Gameplay Start", place the "Trigger AI Spawner" node, and link an Object Reference to the spawner you like to trigger. When the event happens, you'll see the AI units appear.

But, that's just the beginning. With just a few nodes and a spawner, more advanced scripters could make a button that spawns friendly Hunters for whoever can reach it.

The Forge team went all out on quality-of-life nodes so that you can make custom events out of various things like an AI changing combat state, a squad arriving at a certain move zone, or whether a squad came from a spawner with a specific label.  We also created nodes that will manage waves of enemies so you can build Firefight-like experiences or avoid the hassle of triggering spawns yourself.  We can't wait to see what the community comes up with all these tools.

Besides managing spawns, you can also do things like kill all the squads on a map, set health bars visible with a single node, make a squad follow an object or player or set up an object as something the AI can target. Finally, we also took some player-specific nodes that shipped in the Winter Update and made updated copies that will work on AI units.

AI Toolkit Settings

We also wanted to provide additional settings to help Forgers test their AI creations:

  • Deathless: prevents the player from dying to AI-inflicted damage.
  • Valhalla: prevents the player and all AI from dying 
  • Undetectable to AI: AI units cannot detect players.
  • Squad Information: prints debug information over an AI unit's head giving insight into its behavior. 
  • Pathfinding information: draws debug arrows on screen showing where the AI is trying to navigate so you can diagnose navmesh errors more easily.
A screenshot of a Marine with debug text above their head on a Forge canvas.

We're constantly delighted with the creativity of our players, so we tried to create as many building blocks as possible.

Whether you decide to recreate Halo Campaign moments, make a Firefight-esque mode, build a mode with MOBA elements, construct a tower defense mode, or just add AI interactions to a normal match of Slayer—we can’t wait to see it.


BARRAGE & PERMAFROST CANVASES

Diagonal cut screenshot of the Barrage and Permafrost Forge canvas maps in Halo Infinite

We also knew the Banished objects and Campaign AI would both need a home. Barrage, a brand-new canvas coming next week, is themed around what remains after a Banished bombardment. The play area is blackened and littered with craters, some of which have filled with water. Broken and dead trees are scattered throughout, with a handful of unscathed trees on the outskirts of the play space.

Permafrost is a snow-covered canvas nestled in between sharp mountain peaks. Surrounded by frozen ponds, ice, and snow dusted jagged mountains, Permafrost provides Forgers with the ability to create snow and ice themed maps.

Banished Objects

A new Season wouldn’t be complete without a plethora of beautiful Forge objects being added as well. Next week, with the launch Season 5: Reckoning, over 100 Banished-themed objects will be joining the lineup.

Winter Objects

We’re firmly in fall, but winter is coming. To help you add snow and ice to your maps, over 100 new winter objects will be at your fingertips.

Forge Objects Collision Toggle

In addition to the standard (Normal/Physics/Phased) setting for objects, you can turn off collision entirely with the "No Collision" setting. This will not only make it easier to move objects through a crowded level when editing—you can also use it to toggle off collision on art pieces.

For example, if you have a light sticking out of a wall high above the playspace, there's a good chance you previously spent a blocker or two making it so that players would slide off or at least be unable to escape the map. Now, you can disable the collision on that light entirely and get the awesome environment art without consuming your dynamic budget on containment and smoothing.


LIGHTING

Even though Flood customizations will be landing in Season 5: Reckoning, there’s no need to be afraid of the dark because it will also bring numerous improvements to Forge lighting systems. 

Light Generation Improvements

We’ve optimized light generation times drastically for all platforms. Naturally, this may vary depending on your platform of choice, but the change should be quite noticeable.

For example, here are the light generation times for Argyle when using an Xbox Series X:

  • Argyle (Winter Update): 13663 probes took over 8 minutes to generate
  • Argyle (Season 5): 13663 probes took around 1 minute to generate

Local Light Improvement

New options for light objects are coming as well, which should provide even more control for Forgers:

  • Minimal Roughness: Allows Forgers to disperse or concentrate the specular light on objects.
  • Area Lights: Adjusts the specular highlight of lights, allowing light casting to better match the light source.
  • Light groups (spec control): Forgers now have the ability to control shadows or adjust fade distance to apply on a per-hardware capacity. This allows them to optimize performance on their maps as much as possible.
  • Near and Far Begin (optimizations): Adjusts the distance that a light starts to render from source. The Far settings adjusts the softness of the edge of the light.
  • Rotating OBBs: Forgers can now rotate OBB volumes to better control the lighting in certain areas of their maps, allowing for better performance management.
  • Volumetric Fog Per Light: Allows Forgers to increase or decrease the amount of volumetric fog from each individual light.
  • New Gobos and Light cones: Additional options to provide more light patterns and textures.
  • First Person Contact Shadows: Toggle option that improves the look of contact shadows on your first-person weapon.

Reflection Volume Improvements

  • Intensity Scalar: Ability to control how bright the reflections in the volume are
  • Is Active: Ability to turn the reflection volume on and off without needing delete it
  • Blend on Top: Sets a reflection volume to act as a priority in that area

Massless Children Prefab Property

When assembling a prefab, you establish a “parent” object, which is the first object that the prefab is founded upon. Any following objects added to the prefab are considered “child” objects. Currently, the parent and child objects in a prefab maintain their mass, causing prefabs with multiple objects to feel heavy and clunky.

This means that a player could weld a parent object to a vehicle, then add multiple child objects to that initial parent without adding any additional mass.

For example, right now, a Warthog with a prefab welded to it feels pretty heavy and can exhibit some wonky behavior. When Season 5 comes out, the prefab that’s welded to that same Warthog could have its child objects set to massless, and the Warthog would handle much closer to the original.


PC CONTROL IMPROVEMENTS

On top of the additions listed above, we’re also bringing some improvements to the feel of the Forge toolset when building with mouse and keyboard.

These M&K input improvements are:

  • Camera Pan (MMB + Mouse Drag)
  • Arrow key plane restricted camera movement
  • Node Graph WASD screen panning

A screenshot of AI units fighting each other on Prism.

Forge is taking its largest leap forward yet with Season 5: Reckoning. The introduction of the Forge AI Toolkit, 2 new canvases, 200+ new objects, object collision toggle, lighting improvements, additional quality of life updates, and bug fixes all come together to unlock new potentials for players.

Additionally, the ability to earn Battle Pass XP in Custom Games should pair nicely with these Forge improvements when they launch next Tuesday, October 17.


For more on Season 5 of Halo Infinite, check out our other blogs:

  • OPERATIONS & BATTLE PASS OVERVIEW Everything you need to know about how Halo Infinite’s Events are evolving into Operations and the Season 5 Battle Pass.
  • HALO GEAR REWARDS Learn more about the Halo Gear Rewards program for Season 5.
  • MODE OVERVIEW – Learn more about the return and revamp of Halo 4's Extraction mode.
  • MAPS OVERVIEW Take a guided tour of Forbidden and Prism with our multiplayer designers.
  • RANKED OVERVIEW All you need to know about Ranked, sandbox, and balancing updates and changes in Season 5.
  • CUSTOMIZATION OVERVIEW A complete breakdown of new customization content coming in Season 5, the Battle Pass, Shop changes, and more.