E3 2012 Hands-On: The Battle Rifle is back in Halo 4 multiplayer

When Halo 4 was first announced at last year’s E3, fans around the globe rejoiced. Many of the hardcore fans were happy just for the purpose that there would be a new multiplayer to accompany the game. A midst all the cheering, there was still many unanswered questions, with one of the biggest being if 343 Industries could fill the large shoes that Bungie left behind. After getting a look at the singleplayer campaign, everyone’s answer would be yes. But what about the multiplayer? Does it live up to the expectations of its predecessors?

The answer to that is an emphatic YES! I was fortunate enough to get my hands on the coveted multiplayer after waiting a mere 4 hours. Yes, I stood in line for 4 hours just to bring you news of things to come with Halo 4. Walking up to the screen, I was a bit nervous. It wasn’t about playing or doing well in the match, but more about will I be disappointed.

Starting off, I went straight to the options menu to adjust my settings. Like any hardcore FPS player, you always want your controls tailored specifically to your liking, even if you’re only playing the game for just 15 minutes. In my opinion, it can be a deal breaker. 343 has brought back all the classic control schemes with added functionality. In Halo: Reach, being able to run was just an armor ability, but is now standard for everyone. Depending on your controls, it is defaulted to the L3 thumbstick like most FPS games.

After making my controller configurations, it was now time to adjust my loadouts. This is another new function that 343 has brought into the mix. In Halo 3 when players started a match, they were restricted to default weapons setup to map settings; in Halo: Reach, players had the choice of a few predetermined loadouts, to which they could not tweak or customized. Halo 4 will now allow players to customize up to 6 different loadouts, similar to Call of Duty.

Obviously with the new inclusion of customizable loadouts, comes new weapons to apply to those loadouts. There are more precision weapons in Halo 4 than there ever was in any prior Halo game. There are at least 7, but we were limited to the following in terms of rifles: Battle Rifle (3 shot burst), DMR (single shot semi-auto), Sniper Rifle, Pistol (with scope), Covenant Carbine (single shot semi-auto) and the new Lightrifle (3 shot burst out of scope, strong single shot in scope). Power weapons are the only weapons that can’t be mapped to a loadout and are usually scattered across the map.

Jumping into the game, we played a 6v6 Infinity Slayer match. Yes, all the names have changed. Slayer and Team Slayer is now Infinity Slayer (Infinity is the ship in Halo 4), Juggernaut is now known as Regicide (not too sure why) and Firefight is now know as Spartan-Ops, which is not necessarily standard Firefight, but more of a variation of it. The actual multiplayer itself is called War Games. No map in multiplayer is based off of anything from the campaign. The premise is that Spartans are training on this AR (Augmented Reality) system similar to The Danger Room from X-Men. The map we battled on is called Longbow. It’s a large, outdoor snow map with open areas and lots of room for vehicles and big firefights.

Traversing the map brought back nostalgic feelings from the Halo of old. Having the Battle Rifle back in my hands felt right as well. I was able to sample out most of the weapons and play against others using them also. 343 did a great job of balancing everything, so no single weapon felt overpowered. And speaking of weapons, a new addition to the Halo multiplayer experience comes in the form of something called an “Ordnance Drop.”

In essence, it is akin to a killstreak from Call of Duty. If you are doing well in a match, i.e. a number of consecutive kills without dying, your HUD will alert you that you have an Ordnance Drop available. The options that you have are usually your choice between 2 different weapons or extra grenades. Once chosen, a pod will land within about a 15 foot vicinity of your location with your new toy. Now if you happen to die prior to choosing your reward, it’s ok, as you can still call in your ordnance when you respawn again.

One of the weapons I got from an Ordnance Drop was a new Promethean (Forerunner alien race) weapon called the Scattershot. It’s basically a shotgun combined with the Flak Canon from Unreal Tournament; brutal up close, while the ammo has ricochet properties. Other “power weapons” I got to play with were the classic Rocket Launcher and Sniper Rifle. The Rocket Launcher hasn’t changed much throughout the Halo franchise, but the Sniper Rifle has gone through many tweaks in the handling department in each Halo iteration. My best assessment is that it handles similar to the Sniper Rifle on Halo 3, which in my opinion was the most difficult to use out of all the Halo games.

Another thing I was able to try out were some of the new Armor Abilities. There were 4 that I was able to get my hands on, but I’m not too sure if there will be more when the game releases. Of the 4, only one was a returning ability from a past Halo game, the Hologram ability from Reach. The remaining 3 were Promethean Vision, Hardlight Shield and Thruster Pack.

Promethean Vision is like a combination of a heat sensor and Detective Mode from Batman in one. It can detect enemies through walls and such, but emits a high-pitched noise when used, so your position is compromised. The next is the Hardlight Shield, which can be seen being used in the Spartan Ops trailer and by Promethean enemies. The shield is great at deflecting damage away from the front of you. but leaves your rear exposed. It is practically invulnerable, but has about an 8 second lifespan; it changes from blue to red prior to the shield dissipating. The final new Armor Ability I tried out was the Thruster Pack. The easiest way to describe this, is that it is similar to the thrusters on a mech from Armored Core. It allows you to close the gap between yourself and an enemy a lot quicker, or makes for a faster getaway compared to running.

When the match was finally over, I came out on top for my team going 18-6, but our team as a whole lost the match by 1. It was a good batle and I must say it will bring a smile to any Halo fan while playing it. 343 was dealt an ominous challenge to carry on the Halo legacy and by the looks of it, they’ve embraced that challenge. They’re looking to keep the franchise fresh and new without deterring from it’s core values and I can honestly say they’ve done a great job with it.

Halo 4 drops into stores on November 6th for the Xbox 360.


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Narvin Seegoolam
Narvin Seegoolam 712 posts

Narvin's middle name is FPS....ok maybe not, but he's like BOOM!! HEADSHOT!! I'm hungry...