Just gonna say it straight away. Thanks for being our Beta Battle Bros. The Halo: Reach multiplayer Beta was way more successful than we could have hoped, crushing our Halo 3 Beta outing on all fronts, and aside from a few day one hiccups (zomg server meltdown!) and a handful of particulars that we’d already anticipated and planned for, the majority of our inaugural online outing made for some silky smooth springtime sailing.
We’re not going to dive too deeply into the numerical seas just yet, though – we’re still digesting the tidal wave of data you sent ashore. But we have received your message in a bottle. The response to our call for feedback has been overwhelming. Over 50,000 unique threads were created in our Beta forum alone (every single one of which Rex read through from beginning to end, bless his heart).
We’ve done our best to bucket the worthwhile stuff into the right bins so our multiplayer and sandbox teams can put it all into the proper perspective. You might imagine that sifting through all the responses across multiple communities and coupling it all with our own various internal preferences and opinions would be a difficult task. It is. Monumentally so. Soliciting feedback is the easy part. Sifting out the love and the hate and getting down to the delicious, worthwhile nougat? Not so much.
It’s been a wild scene. The milieu that brewed up around the Beta was at times explosive. A bit scary, too. While plenty of folks weighed in with their own lists of substantial changes they’d like to see applied to the finished product, others went with the not so smooth loud and foul approach. Grown ass men broke down in the face of reticle bloom and reduced jump height to become something akin to blabbering toddlers angling for free candy in the supermarket checkout aisle.
“But I waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaant it!”
If you did go ballistic, don’t worry about it. We know you only turn into a prepubescent monster incapable of reason and mature discussion because you care so much about your Halos. It’s cool. We get it. We care, too. We care a lot.
So what’s changing from now (“now” being the Beta build) until the fall? Well, we’re not ready to distribute all those details to the public yet. It’s too soon. We need some space.
I can tell you that there were a lot of nits that had already been picked, rolled between our fingers, and flicked out the studio window before you got your grubby hands on the Beta. We’ve already spoken out about a few of those – the double melee madness, “designer art” reticles (sup, Hamrick and Hamrick’s dictionary), big ol’ mean and green grenades, and a few headshot misfires – but the full list of subtle tweaks, general fixes, and updates is even more sweet and succulent than you could possibly imagine.
So Good it Hurts
Yup, the meaty mix being fed into the crazy sausage grinder is still being taste-tested for spice and flavor. Base player traits like speed and jump height, the aforementioned melee and grenade mechanics, HUD and reticle display, weapon mechanics and balancing, vehicles, Armor Abilities, and more are all on the table and in most cases, have already seen some significant changes that range in scope and size from lil’ smoky to jumbo foot long.
While you shouldn’t expect the crazy sausage to be an altogether different animal come fall – like a tofu dog loaded with bean sprouts and blue-green algae – you should be ready for some significant tweaks the next time you get some hands on with Halo: Reach.
One small example:
Sage and Josh weren’t happy with the way shield damage was being translated to the player in the Beta. As projectiles chipped away at your bright blue bar, both ends of your shield indicator displayed the damage being dealt in a way that made it difficult to tell exactly how much wiggle room you had left. What appeared to be a fifteen percent reduction to players who’d logged a few thousand Halo 3 games, was actually much more severe. Ultimately, that might have led more than a few players to put themselves in harm’s way when they typically would have been a bit more cautious. Our bad.
The fix? The shield indicator now burns fully at both ends, lopping off the full percentage of damage from each side. Along with a whole pile of other HUD refinements, the current result is now a much more literal translation that lets the player know when it’s advisable to stay out of danger instead of blazing in, full steam ahead. Hamrick just showed me the “finished” product in action and I can confirm it does indeed do a much better job of relaying key info directly into your neural network. Bam!
So what about the rest of the changes? Well, we’ll get to them soon enough. The plan is to produce a podcast or two on the subject (no promises), to crank out an official postmortem with tons of sweet post Beta stats, and to pay it all a bunch more drool inducing lip service as we move closer and closer to launch. So not right now, but soon. You know the drill.
One change I can kind of talk about circulates around the Armory offerings that were available in the Beta. Almost as soon as the Beta went live, players have been asking if they were looking at the full run of visual accouterments they’d have access to in the final, shipping experience.
The answer is really easy. Nope, not even close. You just scratched the surface. (We had to buff that out, by the way.)
I’ve been getting a lot of hands on time as of late myself with the near final armory experience and I can tell you that if you’re the type of player who enjoys a side of wardrobe with your futuristic warfare, you’re gonna find a lot in here to suit your taste. The ultimate reveal will likely be left for you to savor in its fully rendered form in the fall, but I can confirm that not only were you merely seeing a small selection of the full complement of raiment you’ll ultimately get access to (provided you earn enough credits), you were also only privy to a sampling of the overall customization options you’ll be able to tweak and ogle inside Halo: Reach’s Armory.
Strike a Pose
It’s all pretty slick and ultra sexy. I could spend hours just fiddling with my dude and yes, I do know how that sounds. There’s just something psychologically intoxicating about seeing that sparkle of overhead light shimmering off my death dealing Spartan’s visor as I twist and turn the camera around to check it out from all angles.
Luke tells me that when the game ships I won’t have access to all these hot new options out of the gate. Seems even the Bungie folk are going to have to grind it out in an epic quest for great new gear. But for now, I got all the visual flair right at my fingertips. So you can suck it right down, Internet.
Also on the visual appeals front, Lars called me over to check out some semi-recent visual updates that got painted into the stable of Beta maps you just finished up with. While they were already looking pretty stinkin’ good, it’s nice to see that what was there was missing a few painterly strokes of finishing work.
Like a Painting Come to Life
Sword Base in particular has been given some extra special attention by our astoundingly awesome team of environment artists. I don’t want to spoil the surprise for you, but I will say that you won’t have much difficulty determining which side of the map you’re on the next time you step foot inside the ONI atrium. Aside from the enhanced color palette and lighting effects, there’s now an impossible to miss visual queue layered in to clue you into exactly where you’re camping out.
Speaking of camping out. I don’t know how things are done in whatever backwater spithole you slinked out of, but these here parts we put our toys away where we’re done playing with ‘em. Would it have killed you chumps to clean up after yourselves a little bit before you broke out all mass exodus like post Beta? What are we supposed to do with all these screenshots and saved films you left behind like a recently un-raptured and epically eschatological Kirk Cameron?
Guess we’ll dump all these files into the trash bin. Shame, too. Some of this stuff is really great.
Light the Corners of My Mind
Tell you what – if you wanna drop by and claim any of this multimedia as your own, you’re more than welcome. Just make sure you do it real soon. Let’s say before next week is out to be on the safe side.
Since the Theater requires Beta access to work, you’ll only need to worry about the stuff that’s already been saved to your Bungie.net File Share. If you want to keep it forever and ever, make sure you render your videos using Bungie Pro (epic sales pitch!
) and save your screenshots and rendered clips to your local hard drive so you have it on hand for old time’s sake.
Clean Up Crew
So what else has the team been doing while you were busy with the fun and games provided by the Beta besides making everything better? Kicking every single ass they lay eyes on, that’s what. I’m shocked and surprised most of the team hasn’t been arrested for excessive awesome. Should be a crime to be so cool under pressure.
On the heels of the fifth campaign playtest the team continues work at a blistering pace to make sure all the sweet stuff we’ve promised to include, and all the amazing stuff you don’t even know about yet, is ready to go for prime time.
For a little bit more about the phenomenal progress being made, check out Marcus’ most recent remarks over at Noble Actual
You might be seeing the fruit of the team’s laborious but glorious labor sooner than you think. Can’t wait to see the stupid look on your faces when you bear witness, too. Stay tuned.
Stosh is working on the game this week. No Blame Stosh. Forgive him?
And that’s it for this week, suckers. Plenty more on the way. Don’t wander too far off.