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Halo 2's Matchmaking, designed to mirror the on-the-couch experience of playing with your friends in the living room, returns, retuned and upgraded for Halo 3. Since the Halo 3 Public Beta, some things about Matchmaking have changed, some things remain the same. Here's what we said then, updated where appropriate for Halo 3:
In Halo 3’s Matchmaking system, you’ll find a ton of new options and
abilities. We’ve made our best effort to improve the already social
nature of Matchmaking by giving you some new powers while you use the
system to find games and opponents. Now it’s easier than ever to meet
people you like, with similar skills and experience.
Experience Points (EXP)
One of Halo 2’s defining features was its ability to match players
of similar skill levels, for the most enjoyable possible games, with
the fairest outcomes. Although it was a success, we’ve used that
experience and data to build an even better, more accurate, and fairer
system, that will ensure even more balance, better matching and less
cheating and abuse than ever before.
We measure both skill level and experience (this
experience is signified by "EXP" standing for Experience Points) in our
Matchmaking system. Some players are destined to become pros, while
others will prefer to haunt the middle ranks and enjoy the game just
for fun. But we’ll reward every player with experience points - earned for time served in Halo 3 Matchmaking. Progress from raw
recruit to decorated officer, a reward for good sportsmanship and yet
another way for us to make sure games are evenly matched.
Wherever people see your Gamertag in Halo 3, they’ll also see your
universally visible experience "EXP" and their associated rank status (Sergeant,
for example). They’ll have an instant feel for how long you’ve been
playing – and how that compares to your relative skill level in a given
playlist. Someone with lots of EXP and a low Matchmaking skill level,
might simply be new to that specific matchmaking playlist. Knowing that is
the key to knowing your enemy. The layers of complexity we’ve built
into the system should make it better and less prone to abuse than
ever, while simultaneously enriching the player experience.
Stats, medals and other data will all be displayed right in the
game, highlighting top performing players in the postgame carnage
report, and visible to anyone who highlights your Gamertag. And yet
with all this emphasis on progress, behind the scenes we’re making huge
strides in making the act and the consequences of cheating and
griefing, less rewarding for those who tend to do that kind of thing.
We told you that Halo 3 was going to be more social than ever
before. At the heart of that is some incredible technology, but the
spirit is simpler. We’ve introduced a way to recruit players into
friendly, social groups who can play for just-one-more-game, or
stick together all night as a cohesive group, even if they’ve never met
before. It doesn’t matter if they’re on your friends list or not. After
a fun game, any player can check a box to “Party Up” and form a new
fighting unit. You’ll stick together until you choose to disband.
Parties mean that inviting friends is less of a hassle, and it also
means that players don’t get lost in the jump between games. Parties
allow folks to form new alliances and play in cohesive teams, even when
a regular crew isn’t available. And Parties are available in some
ranked games too, so (team size permitting) no matter where you’re
playing, you never have to split up.
Using the Veto
As part of the social experience, and the cooperative nature of
recruiting new friends, we introduced an element of democracy. It’s
called the Veto! Teams and individuals will get one chance to veto (reject,
in other words) a game or map type they dislike, with a simple majority
vote. To avoid abuse, you only get that single Veto opportunity, but if
for example, the majority in a matchmaking lobby just isn’t in the mood
for a game of Oddball, check the Veto box (by pressing X) and you’ll
skip at random to another selection. Hopefully it’s going to be
something more to the group’s taste, because there’s no second Veto.
Of course, keeping an eye on what’s being vetoed and what’s not also
helps us keep track of what’s popular and what’s unpopular for future
Halo 3 Matchmaking updates. This is just one of the tools we’ll be
using to make Matchmaking playlists more fun, with more frequent
updates and faster reaction to trends and dislikes.
Our playlists are broken into two broad categories.
Ranked Playlists are for the player who wants to test his and his team’s mettle in a straight up competitive game. These playlists are sport-like in that they are tightly focused—you won’t have the rug pulled out from under you by an unexpected game of Hamster Crack. You will know what to expect, and over time, become versed in the nuance of your preferred playlist’s maps and games.
In addition, enemy player voice is disabled in game in Ranked Playlists. This is because these playlists are about the contest, and not about being Chatty Mc Chatterson. Some people love the art of trash talking above all else—there is a home for you, but it isn’t a Ranked Playlist. The scoreboard does all of the trash talking here.
Lone Wolves is our FFA (free for all, every person for themselves) playlist, and the focus is on gametypes where you only need to rely on yourself. The player count is 5, slightly reduced from Rumble Pit, so that it is harder for a player to win simply because he was more effective at farming the weaker players than second place was.
Typical Games: Slayer, Oddball, Crazy King
The reigning champion from Halo 2, Team Slayer is a straight up Slayer playlist for teams of 4. The majority of games are vanilla Slayer, but there are some weapon variants to mix things up. However, there are no gametypes which overemphasize a single aspect of Halo MP, like Rockets or Swords. Shotty Snipers is as far from home as it gets.
Typical Games: Team Slayer, Team Shotty Snipers
Team Objective is our non-Slayer playlist for teams of 4, and is for the team which wants a more rounded experience. The focus is on round based asymmetric gametypes, like One Flag CTF and Territories. There is no Team Slayer here, but there is some VIP for when you just need to kill things.
Typical Games: One Flag CTF, Territories, One Sided VIP
Don’t let the name fool you—this is a new and somewhat experimental playlist. The focus here is on gametypes which place a high premium on cold, calculated cunning, and careful play. This does not necessarily mean twitch reflexes or mad headshot skills. The basic gametype here is Eliminatio, so named because it’s not quite elimination. You will respawn, but rounds end at 5 kills, so you and your team cannot afford to blunder into a prepared ambush. Work together, and know every inch and every corner of your maps, or you won’t get far.
Typical Games: Eliminatio, Eliminatio Snipers
Team Doubles is our 2 vs. 2 playlist, for when you and your buddy don’t want to mess around with organizing big teams. The gametypes here are Slayer and VIP—more diverse than straight up Slayer, but the emphasis is firmly on working as a team and killing your opponents.
Typical Games: Team Slayer, VIP
Social Playlists are for players who are looking for other players. The game matters less than the people in it, whether you’re looking for people to party up with, or just want to engage in verbal sparring with the guy you just humped. The selection of games is wider here, and the maps are more diverse, so even after several dozen games you might be surprised.
Unlike Ranked Playlists, you’re welcome and encouraged to bring a full party into Social Playlists, filling up both teams with people you know. Matchmaking will offer up games all night long, and even try to balance the teams to boot.
And if you’re working on your Rating, you’re still welcome here—Social Playlists do award XP for wins, though to attain the higher Ratings you will need to prove yourself and earn the required minimum skill level in a Ranked Playlist.
Rumble Pit is our social FFA hopper for up to 6 players. Anything goes in the Rumble Pit, and you’ll see a games from Swords to Ninjanaut. Slayer is weighted heavily, but the majority of the selection is more varied.
Typical Games: Slayer, Mosh Pit, Hammerzeit
The social version of the Team Slayer playlist, Social Slayer is for teams of 4 to 5, and is a bit looser in terms of map selection and weapon variants. If Slayer is your thing, but you like the more casual nature of a Social playlist, then this will be a good home.
Typical Games: Team Slayer, Team Rockets
Social Skirmish is our mixed, non-Slayer playlist for teams of 4 to 5. There’s a lot of CTF, Assault, and Territories in this playlist, and it’s ideal if you’re looking for a well rounded selection while building up a party over the course of multiple games.
Typical Games: Multi Flag CTF, Neutral Bomb Assault, Territories
Big Team Battle
BTB is our hopper for teams of 6 to 8. The selection includes both Slayer and objective gametypes, on the larger maps in the game.
At launch, BTB is going to be limited to teams of 6—this is a temporary step to allow Halo 3’s networking systems to figure out who the good hosts are, so that matchmaking can function properly and set up games that aren’t crapshoots. However, once things are firmed up, we plan to increase the limit back up to the traditional 8 per team.
Typical Games: Team Slayer, VIP, Multi Flag CTF
Multi Team is a slightly different take on team games, with four teams of 2. The games have more of an FFA feel, but you still have a teammate with whom to share your victories and commiserate about your defeats.
Typical Games: Team Slayer, VIP, King of the Hill
The social version of the Team Doubles playlist, for teams of 2. This playlist is ideal for people looking for smaller, head to head games, whether by preference or by player count. The games lean towards Team Slayer and weapon variants thereof, but there’s also some VIP and Territories in there to mix things up.
Typical Games: Team Slayer, VIP, Flag Rally