Halo 4 brings Armour Abilities back and also adds Tactical Packages and Support Upgrades, the idea being that by creating a personalised loadout you tailor the game to your own strengths and playstyle. Halo purists will inevitably feel that they dilute the purity of Halo combat. Whilst this is true, as players we have to accept the need for the game to move on in the face of stiff competition.
If you play Halo in any sort of team you already have specialisations, you'll have a sniper, a driver, a shotgun guy, a guy who's a sticky pro, even the most casual teams have these sort of "specialisations" the new tactical and support upgrades are intended to be an extension of this concept.
Let's take a look at what we know so far about Armour Abilities, Tactical Packages and Support Upgrades.
Promethean VisionThe ability to see through walls. It doesn't last long, but for a few seconds you essentially have x-ray vision. When asked if there will be a counter to this various members of the 343i team have said "that's not something we can talk about at this time", which would suggests there will indeed be a counter revealed closer to launch - Possibly Active Camo?
Hardlight ShieldPresumably intended to be a replacement for Reach's Armour Lock, this works much like a riot shield seen in various other FPSs. Player movement and turning is slowed and they are unable to shoot whilst using it. There have been suggestions that it only blocks ballistic attacks with explosions still causing damage through the shield.
Auto-SentryWe've not seen much of this, but expect it to function in a similar manner to the auto-turrets in Halo 3, more of a nuisance/distraction than a genuine threat to other players. We don't know how long they stay active for or if they run out of ammo, however we do know they are destroyed when the player who dropped them dies.
JetpackThis was seen used in Spartan Ops during E3 and has been talked about in some of the closed beta leaks. We don't know much about it so can only assume it's similar to the Reach incarnation.
Thruster PackTwo boosters on the Spartan's back thrust the player in a horizontal direction of their choosing. This seems to be a replacement for Evade, it can only be used once per charge which is down from 2 uses Evade had in Reach. I suspect they felt that Evade made little sense as an Armour Ability canonically - why wouldn't any Spartan be able evade as many times as they like?
Active CamoNot shown officially, but was seen on leaked menu screens from the beta.
HologramPeople who've played the E3 demo say this is identical to the Reach version - Holograms show up as normal players when seen using Promethean Vision.
Regeneration FieldNot shown, but discussed by players who've played the closed beta. Likely to be similar to the shield regenerator in Halo 3.
Firepower PackageAllows the player to choose two primary weapons in their starting loadout, so you could start with both a DMR and BR as opposed to BR and Pistol.
Shield PackageShields will recharge faster.
AA EfficiencyFaster recharge on Armour Abilities - Not shown publicly, leaked from the beta.
GrenadierCarry an extra grenade at spawn.
ShieldingPossibly the same as "Shield Package", but the leaked beta screens and Waypoint use different terminology so I'm listing this separately.
AwarenessAllows the player to see their radar whilst using a scoped weapon. It also offers "heightened locational intel of all nearby enemies", although it's not clear what exactly that entails.
Sensor UpgradeIncreases the range and sensitivity of the radar.
Ammo UpgradeAllows the player to spawn with more ammo.
Allows you to pick up grenades from dead players - which also means that without this upgrade you will not be able to pick up grenades dropped by other players.
Infinite sprint. People who've played the game at E3 say that this isn't as big a boost as it sounds, you get quite a lot of sprint by default.
Power UpsOn top of all this, players can call for power ups in Ordnance drops, in the E3 demo we saw:
OvershieldIn this video we see that it gives the user TEN SECONDS of invincibility:
This is probably the most worrying thing I've seen in Halo 4. Just imagine what you could do to an opposing team in ten seconds with a shotgun.. I guess it will make Exterminations more common, that's a good thing.. right?
Speed BoostLike it says on the tin, increases the bearers base movement speed, reload speed and weapon change speed.
Increased DamageDiffering reports on how much the damage is increased by, but it doesn't seem as though it's a game breaking amount.
There's a heck of a lot there, and it's possible that I've missed something or that things will change between now and launch. It's a huge task to balance all of this, especially without a public beta. I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of this was tweaked shortly after release with playlist/title updates. Regardless if there's any of this you're particularly concerned about, now is the time to canvass 343i, there's still time for anything here to be tweaked or dropped before launch.
- Cowboy Out.