April 8th not only marked the launch of the Castle Map Pack but also the beginning of a full week of Halo 4 festivities. While we’ve been busy keeping the contests, challenges and giveaways going, I thought we’d stop for a second to both catch our breath and get you up to speed on what exactly this week has to offer. Spoiler: It’s a lot!
Castle Map Pack
Daybreak, Outcast and Perdition are officially here. Whether you fancy yourself a driver or just have a thing for large battles over open spaces, this is the add-on for you. Featuring three brand new medium-to-large maps, the Castle Map Pack can be yours for 800 Microsoft Points or the low, low price of nothing, should you be a Limited Edition or War Games Map Pass owner.
Competitive Skill Rank
For the past several weeks, one of the most common questions across the Halosphere has been, “When are we getting ranks?” On Monday, I was able to stop using everybody’s favorite word (soon!) and start saying, “You can haz.” Your Competitive Skill Rank, or CSR, is now available on all screens of Halo Waypoint – mobile, web, console and SmartGlass. If you’d like a detailed write-up about how this brand new, 1-50 skill-based system works, check out last week’s Bulletin. To see your set of numbers in action, make sure you’re signed in and then click the Halo 4 logo on the navigation bar at the top of the page.
For the five-oh fans amongst you, anybody who reaches CSR level 35 or higher in the Castle DLC playlist at any point on or between April 8th to April 22nd will receive a free Avatar t-shirt. It kind of looks like the image you see to the left. And by “kind of”, I mean “totally”. Because it is.
Halo 4 Original Soundtrack Volume 2
Some people like the steady hum of Halo in their earholes. If that describes you, you’ll be excited to hear Halo 4 Original Soundtrack Volume 2 is now available for your purchasing pleasure. Frankie uses it in conjunction with a fire, glass of wine and bearskin rug. You should feel free to do the same.
Spartan Ops Challenge
Maybe you’ve played through all 10 episodes or perhaps you have yet to venture into this particular game mode. Regardless of which group you fall into, playing and completing any 5 missions of Spartan Ops starting April 11 at 2:00 a.m. PST and ending April 12 at 2:00 a.m. PST will result in a t-shirt being added to your Avatar’s virtual wardrobe. Speaking of which…
New Halo-themed Avatar Items
You may not be able to don the ancient armor of the Didact in real life but that doesn’t mean your virtual mini-me should be stuck with the same fate. Get stomped on by a Mantis or enjoy the sight of balls flying around your face by dipping into the newest additions to the Halo Avatar Collection, which includes Didact Avatar Armor, a Cryptum Ball prop and more.
Halo 4 DLC Sale
On Friday, April 12, there will be a Halo 4 DLC sale for anyone who has not yet purchased the War Games Map Pass or the first two individual Map Packs. A listing of the sale prices is as follows:
- Halo 4 War Games Map Pass: 1600 Microsoft Points (Originally 2000 Microsoft Points)
- Crimson Map Pack: 600 Microsoft Points (Originally 800 Microsoft Points)
- Majestic Map Pack: 600 Microsoft Points (Originally 800 Microsoft Points)
We hope all of the aforementioned features, items and challenges keep you busy. Should you need one more thing to add to your to-do list, however, I invite you to continue reading this Bulletin. Word-wise it will be a bit lighter than usual this week, but we will still cover a few relevant points of interest. Here to tackle the first one with you is Bravo, who some people say is based but I say on what.
Current State of Weapon Balancing
Bravo here with a weapon balancing update! As we have mentioned in various Halo Bulletins, panels and live streams over the past few weeks, we are currently evaluating the state of Halo 4’s weapon balance. The sustain, sandbox, multiplayer and test teams have been working together and evaluating which weapons and categories of weapons need some attention, and we are happy to say that our internal testing has allowed us to make great progress.
We have also mentioned that we are approaching weapon re-balancing very carefully, as each change that is checked requires vigorous testing to ensure that it benefits the entire sandbox, and that gameplay is improved on a global level across all of Halo 4’s maps, game modes and scenarios. Because of this, the process takes several weeks while we are in a constant cycle of making tweaks, testing and retesting. This being said, we are well underway and will be bringing this update to Halo 4 Matchmaking as soon as it’s ready.
Here are some of the big ticket items we’re currently looking at:
Precision Weapon Balance
Our goal of the upcoming balance update is to create an even balance across all precision rifles (DMR, Battle Rifle, Carbine and LightRifle). Our latest tests have included (but are not limited to) rate of fire and damage tweaks to several weapons within this category. Additionally, it is important to create balance amongst all primary weapons, which leads into the next category.
Automatic Weapon Balance
An important part of overall balance is ensuring that each weapon excels within its intended role. As we move the dials to tweak some of the precision weapons, it demands that certain tweaks also be made to automatic weapons, which include the Assault Rifle, Suppressor and more. We are investigating modifying the rate of fire, accuracy and damage on these weapons.
Vehicle Weapon Balance
We have seen many community concerns that certain vehicles may be examples of sandbox elements that could be improved. We are currently looking at tuning some of the weapons that these vehicles have at their disposal in order to increase their usefulness and viability. We greatly value the teamwork (and fun) required in riding around in a Warthog with a buddy, and want to ensure that this and other vehicles have great draw and value.
Also, we are taking a look at many weapons that do not fit within these categories to ensure that the sandbox is providing the most ideal experience possible for all users in all playlists and game modes. As we finish up our internal testing, we look forward to providing further updates on the weapons that will be receiving attention and the specific changes that will be made, once finalized.
Competitive Skill Rank Challenge – The First 24 Hours
Many of you have already been introduced to CSR. For the uninitiated, your Competitive Skill Rank (CSR) measures your performance against other players in Halo 4 Matchmaking War Games. You have a CSR specific to each active playlist, which can be seen on all screens of Halo Waypoint. It is a number from 1 to 50 (higher is better) which goes up and down based on match outcomes. Your best CSR is shown on your Player Card and Service Record, as well as Player Compare.
Competitive Skill Rank is a brand new feature for Halo 4 and to celebrate, we issued you a challenge: Play in the Castle DLC playlist from April 8th at 2am PST to April 22nd at 2 am PST, reach CSR level 35 or higher at any point on or between these dates, and you'll receive an avatar tee. If you’ve been striving to hit that magic number and are curious about how you stack up when compared to everybody else, here are some stats from the first 24 hours CSR was live.
If you’re hoping to get your hands on the CSR Challenge’s avatar item, check out the below tips, courtesy of Bravo.
Capture the Flag – Daybreak
Daybreak CTF is probably my favorite game type in the Castle DLC playlist. There is always a lot of action on Daybreak, but here’s what’s most important:
- Use your Sniper Rifle wisely – Daybreak’s two-base feel is complimented by an opening Sniper Battle. Talk to your Sniper and decide if they want to challenge the enemy Sniper, assist with Rockets or help in securing the Banshee.
- The Banshee is king – I’d recommend sending at least two players towards the Banshee, and maybe even your Sniper. If the enemy team gets the Banshee, have your Plasma Pistols ready.
- Treat the map as if it were an arena-style map – When running a flag, run it along the outer edge (Banshee side or Rocket side) towards your team. If your team is supporting you, the enemy will spawn at their base or on the opposite side. Escort your flag carrier, rinse and repeat.
King of the Hill – Perdition
Perdition KotH is an exciting and refreshing game type in that all of the hills offer totally different sightlines and playspaces. Several things to remember on this game type:
Go for map control, not just hill control – Several of the hills are in closed spaces, e.g., the control room or “Ghost Garage.” Because of this, you’ll want to establish a presence outside of the hills while one or two teammates lock down the hill itself. If you turtle inside the room, you’re a sitting duck.
The Ghost is your friend – Because of its mobility and usefulness, the Ghost is your best bet when trying to clear out one of the open hills, such as the Reactor. If your teammates are using precision weapons, they should have no trouble cleaning up all of your weak, helpless enemies as you run laps around the map’s outer track.
Infinity Slayer – Outcast
Outcast Slayer is a fun game type for several reasons, including the Mantis vs. Wraith battle, and the fact that all action seems to funnel straight into the middle. Stick to the outside – and these tips – to find victory on this map.
Use your vehicle wisely – Each team is given a powerful vehicle. When you have the Wraith or the Mantis, make sure you’re not blindly charging into the middle of the map, as the corresponding enemy vehicle could be around any turn.
Use the Mongoose to flank the enemy – If you can find a pathway that is clear of vehicular opposition, you may be able to flank the enemy by hopping into a Mongoose and getting behind enemy lines. Once there, let your teammates know, and time your attack accordingly.
Rush the Rockets – The Rocket Launcher spawns in the middle of the map, so be sure to sprint in and bring it back to give you the upper hand against the inevitable infantry vs. vehicle battles that are soon to be underway. The enemy team is undoubtedly looking to do the same thing, though, as this area is the first choke point in most matches.
Halo 4 Screenshot Spotlight – Space
Last week we shined the spotlight on vehicles. This week we decided to go with outer space. Take a gander at the images below, which were taken in the void that exists between celestial bodies, and then capture your own for your shot at being featured in next week’s Bulletin.
For your chance at being in the next spotlight, take a Grifball-themed screenshot. Then tag it with “Grifball” and “Halo Waypoint”, and maybe, just maybe, yours will be featured in the next Halo Bulletin!