Of all the forthcoming shooters that are "tapping" proven multiplayer formulae to expand their offerings, Halo 4 seems most convincing.
The scale of the new game's Spartan Ops co-op component and Infinity War Games competitive multiplayer speak for themselves, and members of the Halo pro-gaming community have already given the intricacies of play their blessing. Here to discuss these latter, subtler changes in-depth is lead multiplayer designer Kevin Franklin.
This is your first original Halo project as a studio. It must be tricky, finding the balance between making your own creative contribution and respecting Bungie's achievements.
We knew we had this core Halo fanbase, but we also wanted to make sure to send it to all sorts of new players, but we also had to do that without breaking original Halo or changing it too much. I feel what we brought to E3 respects the Halo values but adds lots of new features as we rebuild the sandbox from the ground up.
While you'll still get some classic weapons like the DMR and AR, they're really still new components in our awesome sandbox. So we brought back some things like the Overshield, but we also add speed boost and damage boost to expand the experience.
We never really designed it with that in mind; we feel like our experience is and has always been distinctly Halo. Like when we look at the all the power-ups, the way people go at each other, all of it has a Halo feel to it. What we've added is the ability for players to earn points for when they contribute to the battlefield.
So when you do style kills, assists, help your team you're now earning points that go along with the medals that you were earning before. These points translate into rewards from the Infinity. That's the biggest addition we were concerned about, but all of our fears were gone as soon as we started playing it and getting it in people's hands.
There won't be a multiplayer beta for this, will there?
No, we ran an internal beta test but decided to focus on hitting strong in November. What we brought to E3 is more than representative of a beta test. We're pretty stoked for this.
How do your new assists work, and how have you altered the existing ones?
You have the classic assist, which is just every game you get an assist. We looked really closely at the tuning of assists. For Halo 4 we looked at how much damage it took before you were given an assist, but then we went further and said "how can we reward players for other things that are going on on the battlefield?"
So if you're running and an enemy starts stars shooting at you but gets killed by a teammate because he was distracted by you, you're rewarded for distracting the enemy. This came straight from players in our feedback sessions who felt they should have been rewarded for that.
There are all sorts of assists. For instance, the King assist in Regicide is the first ever assist in a free-for-all game, so even though you're all playing against each other, we'll still give you an assist for helping kill him, even if you kill the other player a few seconds later. All of these things wrap up into our assist spree so you can get a wingman spree.