While the Halo games have had a significant single-player campaign, the multiplayer component has kept the Halo series on the minds of gamers. With an integrated web platform and the ability to play online or with others next to you, it struck a chord with console players. Now Halo 4 is coming later this year, and 343 Studios is out to prove that they have what it takes to create great multiplayer experiences.
We first tried out the competitive multiplayer. Set on the UNSC Infinity, these are called War Games. We played some Team Deathmatch, and it contained all of the trademarks of Halo. You are able to customize the color and helmet of your Spartan figure, and other options are available as well. Unfortunately we weren’t able to check everything out before the game started.
The map we played had several strategies to it. It had a few small hallways that could become major choke points if you got trapped there amongst a gang of competing Spartans. Wide open spaces made it important to look up for enemy snipers looking down on you. No matter where you were or what your strategy was, you definitely needed to keep on your toes.
The mission we played had the four of us land on a planet and scope out some Covenant troops. After fighting our way through, we noticed that the Covenant were giving up a bit too easily. Suspecting that they were trying to protect something, we moved forward and encountered several Covenant at what appeared to be a launch pad. Unfortunately for us and the Covenant, the Forerunners knew this too and several of them joined in the fight. While at first their presence on the battlefield was a bit daunting- for instance small flying units that caught our plasma grenades and chucked them right back at us- it also lent the opportunity to pick up their own weapons and use them against them. Of particular note was the Scatter Shot, a Forerunner equivalent of a shotgun that tore through the enemy with a satisfyingly visceral boom. Once the mess was cleaned up and everyone was accounted for, we flipped a switch and discovered some kind of chest. A drop ship was sent for us, and that ended the mission.
When we left we all wanted to have more time with the Halo 4 multiplayer. We suspect that we just scratched the tip of the iceberg with all the modes and features that will eventually be available when it is released on November 6, 2012. If the 343 Studios can keep up the episodic content, especially at the price of nothing, then I can see Spartans fighting this war for many months to come after its release.