Solitude Preview | Season 4
Season 4: Infection was released just last week, bringing a plethora of new content to Halo Infinite, and we’ve got a little something extra to share with you all in the form of Solitude—a remake of Plaza from Halo 5: Guardians—which you’ll be able to jump into... tomorrow!
To help celebrate the arrival of Solitude for tomorrow, we’ve sat down with multiplayer designers Cayle George (Lead Level Designer), Cliff Schuldt (Level Designer), and Ryan Bergstrom (Level Designer) to learn a little bit more about the creation of this new take on a fan-favorite map.
Let’s kick things off with some Plaza appreciation: what are some of the elements of this map that you think make it such a fan-favorite?
The first thing to say here is that Plaza really was one of the best Strongholds maps in Halo 5. Contesting and controlling zones on Plaza was incredibly fun, in no small part because traversal of the map was so interesting—there were lots of different flanking routes that always kept players on their toes while on the defense and open to a lot of engagement opportunities while on the offense. That made it work well for a bunch of different modes and gave it a lot of replayability.
Out of all of that, we really saw a lot of cool trick jumps emerge out of Halo 5’s movement on Plaza, which added a whole new layer of competitiveness that made it an instant favorite.
In Halo 5, Plaza is a neon-lit city street. In Halo Infinite, we see that Solitude looks very different. What inspired this new visual direction?
From the outset, our philosophy with remakes is that we want to explore these familiar spaces with alternate themes.
Part of that is just because it’s fun and interesting from an artistic standpoint, especially when we’re working with the new assets and palettes of Halo Infinite’s Forge mode, but it also makes it easier for players to parse some of the adjustments and tweaks to sandbox, scale, and other factors that inevitably happen across games.
If you go into a remake of a map and it looks exactly the same but the game plays differently (which Halo Infinite does compared to Halo 5), your brain can run into some “uncanny valley” territory where it just doesn’t quite feel right.
As a result of all those things, we thought it would be interesting to explore what Plaza would look like in a more desolate, abandoned setting.
Visuals aside, are there any notable differences in geometry between Plaza and Solitude, or is this a 1:1 remake?
Solitude is very close to being a 1:1 remake in terms of spacing, but the height and overall verticality of the map has been adjusted. There are some pieces of gameplay that inevitably won’t translate between Halo 5 and Halo Infinite because they play quite differently, but this is a map that aims to be true to the original with lots of cool new gameplay opportunities afforded by Halo Infinite’s sandbox toys.
Like Empyrean (the remake of The Pit), Solitude was made using Halo Infinite’s Forge. What are some of the advantages we’ve found internally that come with using this tool to create new multiplayer maps?
Forge is a tremendously useful tool when it comes to playtesting maps and making quick adjustments, which has definitely been a great advantage to have. If something isn’t feeling quite right or we want to experiment with an idea, Forge can simply make that process of ideation and iteration happen with greater speed than you’d have with a more “traditional” dev-made map.
How have we been finding that Solitude plays with Halo Infinite’s sandbox? Any fun playtesting stories to share?
At the very beginning, we put the Stalker Rifle where the Lightrifle used to be in Halo 5. As it’s so open in that middle area, the Stalker Rifle actually ended up annihilating anyone and everyone who walked into that space—especially in-combination with the Sniper.
That’s all part of the fun when it comes to creating remakes in a new game with a new sandbox. The Stalker Rifle seemed like a reasonable weapon to put in the Lightrifle spot, only for us to end up discovering that we’d basically created a new power weapon.
We pivoted that to the M392 Bandit, which players got their hands on as a new sandbox toy in Season 3.
Which modes have we found are particularly fun to play on this map?
Just like Halo 5, we found that Strongholds is a really good time on Solitude. King of the Hill is a close second, and we hope players will find this map to overall be just as versatile and fun as its Halo 5 counterpart.
Are there any cool Easter eggs that fans should keep an eye out for on this map?
With Empyrean in last year’s Winter Update and now Solitude, can you share anything more about future Forge maps from the dev-side?
We are working on maps in the Forge tool to release to players. What that means is that we’re constantly playtesting and internally reviewing what maps we think will resonate with fans, and we’re also keeping our eyes on what the community is making in Forge to be featured in the Community Collection playlist.
We have to really weigh what the biggest bang for our buck is in terms of the value that we can add to the constantly growing content pool, and those are plate tectonics that are constantly shifting.
Thank you for joining us once again to tell us more about the process of creating these awesome maps. Do you have any parting words to share?
We hope you’ve all been enjoying Season 4 so far. It’s been great seeing people share their clips online of amazing plays in Infection or looking under the bridge on Forest (despite our warnings not to!)
Keep creating, keep sharing, and we hope you have a good time on Solitude.
New Arena Unlimited will be arriving tomorrow as the featured playlist for the next week, featuring a range of modes that will be playable on Forest and Solitude, so you’ll have the opportunity to jump straight into this new map and start slaying.
Let’s see how well you remember this dance...