Sandbox Balance Updates | Winter Update
Recently, we’ve been sharing a lot about improvements to the overarching Halo Infinite experience with topics such as playlists, Match XP Beta, and more. Today, we’re diving even deeper into the game and focusing on the sandbox and our core gameplay experience.
We’re happy with where our sandbox is overall, but we know that there is always room for improvement. Since launch, a few common themes (such as weapon balance, aiming feel on M&K and controller, etc.) have emerged as players got more and more familiar with the game.
With the Winter Update’s release on November 8, we’re happy to bring in some changes that will address many areas of community feedback. After the Winter Update, even more updates and tuning changes will be coming down the line based on what we’re seeing in the data and out there in the community.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the sandbox improvements we’re making in the Winter Update and beyond to improve the in-game experience.
Winter Update Balance Adjustments
For the Winter Update, we wanted to go after weapon tuning updates that would address prevalent themes in community feedback. These adjustments are small, yet impactful, and focus primarily on weapons.
Sandbox Team Dev Note: Many players reported that the Plasma Pistol was underperforming against Spartans, especially when using its overcharged shot. To help the overcharged shot track as expected at mid-to-close range, we’ve updated its values slightly in the Winter Update. We also noticed the base shot was not seeing much use, so we’ve increased the damage of the base shot to make it a more viable option for players.
- Increased base shot damage from 20 to 28
- Increased charge shot angular velocity from 20 to 35 degrees per second
- Increased charged shot guided angular velocity at rest from 50 to 70 degrees per second
Sandbox Team Dev Note: Even as players have gotten more proficient with the Pulse Carbine, it has not been as successful in short-to-mid range as we would like. To help with this, we’ve updated the tracking to help it out in shorter range. To help balance out its power though, we’ll be reducing its tracking at longer range. These changes should help player land shots more consistently in short to mid-range while slightly reducing the effectiveness at longer ranges.
- Increased guided angular velocity at rest from 25 to 35 degrees per second
- Decreased angular velocity from 50 to 30 degrees per second
- Increased targeted leading fraction from 0.35 to 1
- Increased guided projectile error radius from 0.2 to 0.22 degrees
Sandbox Team Dev Note: One of the most common pieces of feedback we’ve seen is that aiming with the VK78 Commando felt loose, especially at shorter range. To help increase its effectiveness up close, we’ve slightly increased the bullet magnetism and slightly reduced the high minimum error. We’ve seen this help players finish off targets at closer range during internal playtests, so we’re eager to see how this plays out in the wild.
- Increased Headshot Prioritization Angle from 0 to 0.1 degrees
- Increased Bullet Magnetism Angle from 1.25 to 1.3 degrees
- Increased Aim Assist Angle from 5 to 6.25 degrees
- Decreased minimum error angle max from 0.8 to 0.6 degrees
Sandbox Team Dev Note: We want the BR75 to remain the versatile weapon we know and love, but also have noticed it has been performing a bit too well – making it not feel as rewarding as it should. In the Winter Update, we wanted to raise the skill ceiling on landing the final kill shot as well as reduce its effectiveness at range from the hip. These changes should help make kills with the BR75 feel even more rewarding.
- Headshot Prioritization Angle reduced from 0.25 to 0.2 degrees
- Bullet Magnetism Angle reduced from 2.4 to 2.2 degrees
- Bullet Magnetism Range reduced from 20wus to 18wus
- Bullet Magnetism Falloff Range reduced from 12wus to 10wus
Sandbox Team Dev Note: The Frag Grenade has received feedback that it's a bit too effective and that throwing one just before dying results in easier trades than intended. In order to help address these issues, we have increased the detonation time slightly. This will give players a little bit more time to react to a grenade that has landed near them. It will also reward players for better placed grenades.
- Increased detonation timer by 0.2 seconds
Sandbox Team Dev Note: Movement is always tricky to balance. We want to allow players to express their movement skill in matches, but we also don’t want that movement tech to completely break maps or create unpredictable gameplay flow. For example, “Curb sliding” and its current uses have been fun to watch and hasn’t been interrupting gameplay flow too much. On the other hand, “snap sliding” allows players to make jumps that could truly break the game flow.
- Fixed a physics bug that allowed “snap sliding”
Sandbox Team Dev Note: The Disruptor has started to see more use as we’ve gotten further into Halo Infinite’s lifespan, but it still isn’t doing as well as we’d hoped. To help with this, we’re updating the ammo count to help players close out kills a little more easily. We’ve also spotted reports of the damage over time (DoT) effect being inconsistent and will be working to get an improvement out in a future update.
- Increased magazine ammo count from 10 to 12
We’ll be watching the data and community feedback closely when these changes land with the Winter Update, so be sure to let us know what you think once you’ve had a chance to give them a go.
Future Updates (Desync, Aiming, and more)
Beyond the Winter Update though, we do know that there’s still more to go after to improve the feel of the game. So, in the next few months, we’ll be releasing balance updates, M&K input improvements, and bug fixes for networking (“desync”) issues faster than we have been previously.
In addition to any topics that may emerge after the Winter Update, here are a few other things that are on our list for the next few months.
Please note that this list isn’t exhaustive, but it is meant to provide some insight into what we’re already working on.
PC & M&K Input Improvements
Sandbox Team Dev Note: As players have gotten more hands on time with the game, we’ve seen feedback emerge around how aiming and tracking players feels on M&K. We know there’s room for improvement and some updates are on the way.
Red Reticle on PC
Sandbox Team Dev Note: Red reticle has been a common piece of feedback since flighting and we’re happy to be bringing it online in the future. While turning this on for PC does open the game up to new cheating vectors, we want to enable this and better support our PC players. If a plethora of cheats pop up because of this we may need to reconsider, but until then we’re excited to see how this feels for PC players.
Sandbox Team Dev Note: We’ve felt this one too. When using a scroll wheel to swap weapons, sometimes it would double-swap (essentially YYing). We’ll be updating how the game reads scroll wheel inputs to help reduce how often this happens.
Sandbox Team Dev Note: Right now, walking on M&K has two modes: full walking speed or crouch walking. On controller, you can choose to walk slowly, and avoid radar detection, just by how much you move the thumbstick. Since keyboards only have the walk forward at full speed option, we’ll be introducing a way for them to walk at a slower speed (without needing to fully crouch walk) in a future update.
These input improvements will also carry over to players who use M&K on Xbox consoles.
Networking "Desync" Improvements
To go after networking improvements (including “desync”), we needed to identify all the various ways the issues could present themself. As covered in our “Closer Look” blog covering the topic, there isn’t a single issue causing all of the problems many classify as desync. Each issue is its own individual bug that we have to find, investigate, reproduce, fix, test, and implement.
In the case of networking and “desync,” we focused in on a few key areas:
- Desync: When the server says you’re in one place on the map while your client shows you in a different spot.
- Blank Shots: You fire shots at a player and see them connect, but the bullets deal no damage.
- Getting shot around walls/corners: You think you’re safely around the corner, but you are dealt a fatal blow from a player who no longer has line-of-sight on you.
- Ghosts Melees: When you melee a player and hear the hit, but no damage is dealt.
To add to the complexity, sometimes there are multiple ways to encounter the same issue, which means we need to include multiple fixes to truly help reduce how often players experience it. For example, many reports of blank shots we’ve seen are the result of a fake reload bug. A player’s client shows that they have completed the reload, but the server never received that final reload confirmation – likely due to the reload being interrupted – so it thinks their weapon is still empty. The player’s client lets them fire a full barrage of shots, but the server sees this trigger input as if it was happening on an empty magazine, so it reads it as no bullets being fired at all. While it appears as “blank shots” to the player, finding and addressing the root cause is typically more complicated.
With that said, we do have desync related improvements planned to land in the next few updates.
Sandbox Team Dev Note: Hitting a player and seeing them walk away unscathed, or worse, hitting you back and killing you, is extremely frustrating. We focused on this one due to how un-fun it can be, but we’re happy to say that we’re testing some improvements for a few different bugs that were resulting in melee registration issues.
Sandbox Team Dev Note: We mentioned it a bit above, but the fake reload issue is one reason contributing to why players could have blank shots. We know there are other instances of shots not counting aside from fake reloads, and we’ll be going after those too, but we’re happy to be bringing this out first.
Sandbox Team Dev Note: Since we’ve seen that players are more likely to experience full desyncs when operating a vehicle than moving around as a Spartan, we set our sights on crushing bugs in this space. You can expect some targeted vehicle desync improvements in the next update.
There will still be more work to do on networking and desync – on the specific issues above and others that may arise – but we’re making it a priority and you should see a steady flow of improvements in future updates.
In addition to those networking improvements, we’ve also got a few more balance updates that we’ll be going after in the future as well.
Sandbox Team Dev Note: The “drop shot” (or drop weapon) meta, which allowed players to pull up their secondary weapon faster by dropping their primary weapon, was interesting at first - but ultimately became problematic during normal gameplay. We kept an eye on it, especially in high-level matches, and agreed with community feedback that it is just too strong for how easy it is to pull off. As a result, we are planning to bring the drop shot time in line with the speed of just swapping weapons in a future update.
Sandbox Team Dev Note: While we do want equipment to tip the scales of a fight, we’ve started to see Thruster come out on top of 1v1 engagements more than we intended. We plan on adjusting this a bit to make sure it’s no longer tipping the scales too far in one direction.
Sandbox Team Dev Note: We’ve noticed that the Energy Sword can be a little too effective on maps with tighter corners. To help bring it in line with where we’d like, we’ll be updating the melee trade logic on the Energy Sword. Right now, if both players are no shields and they melee each other, the player with the Energy Sword will survive with a sliver of health. This upcoming update will update the melee logic so both players trade melees and die, which should help prevent the Energy Sword from just tearing through teams without trading.
Competitive Weapon Respawn Timers
Sandbox Team Dev Note: Throughout Halo Infinite’s first HCS season, the amount of power (through on-map pickups like weapons) on each Arena map became a common discussion point. Most competitors felt like there was too much power on the map for pickup, which allowed the matches to snowball. To help address this, we’ll be reducing how quickly weapons respawn as well as how many of each weapon can be on the map at any given time in Ranked Arena. We’ll share full details around these changes before they land in a future update.
We’re excited by the promise and potential of Halo Infinite’s core gameplay, and we plan to tend to the sandbox as it continues to grow and adjust as new metas evolve over time. Balance updates, aiming improvements, networking improvements, bug fixes, and more are all on our radar.
Thank you for continuing to provide feedback, and please let us know what you think of these updates when they land. We’ll be listening and prioritizing accordingly.