On Wednesday night in Covent Garden, Halo fans from around the UK were invited to come and get hands on with Halo 4.
We played three Spartan Ops missions as well as CTF, Dominion, Flood Mode and Infinity Slayer. We were able to play on Solace, Complex, Haven, [REDACTED], Adrift and Exile. We were shown a few things that we were asked not to talk about, they are elsewhere on the net, but I'm not going to discuss any of that stuff here.
This video from adamskigaming is worth a watch, he was allowed to capture a lot more video than I was. I'm in it a few times too :P
This was my first chance to play Flood mode and I thought it was very good, the extra polish 343 have added really makes it feel like a legitimate game mode, elevating it above its fan-made origins. Even though the gameplay isn't a million miles away from Reach's Infection mode I can see the extra graphical embellishments making this an even more popular mode.
CTF is my favourite mode in Halo by some margin, so I've been apprehensive about the changes being made in Halo 4. I think it was Josh Holmes who said they wanted to make the flag carrier feel like 'an ultimate bad-ass' and I could definitely see where they were coming from. If the carrier has an escort then the ability to team shoot with the pistol means the defending team needs to be chasing in numbers to stand a chance. Me and a friend were able to comfortably walk it back to our capture point as the opposing team kept attacking us individually. I imagine this won't be so easy once people have spent more time with the game.
The inability to drop the flag was interesting, even though in previous Halos I didn't often drop the flag when in trouble, preferring to charge for the melee kill instead. Knowing that I couldn't drop it changed the way I moved with it, it made me check my motion tracker more or look out for FOF icons indicating team mates under fire. It certainly felt as though I was more tactically aware as a result.
I played two games of Dominion and I don't think I got the best experience of it, both ended quite quickly as I think a few players may not have understood what was going on. It felt as though it really needs well balanced teams as otherwise the better team can quickly assert their dominance. In other modes a good player can carry weaker players, but that wasn't really the case in Dominion as fights are happening on too many fronts.
Spartan Ops was a mixed bag for me, fighting the Prometheans for the first time was fantastic, but the actual objectives were a bit disappointing; push button, hold this area, destroy power generators and so on. The demo didn't have any of the story wrapper that has been touted by 343 and that could (and hopefully will) change things. Frankie was quick to offer reassurances.
Gamers are funny things and it doesn't actually take a lot to add genuine meaning and value to objectives. On the one hand it's "Capture this area" on the other it's "We only have 20 minutes before the Covenant get to the control room and fire the Halos killing all sentient life in the galaxy. Hold this area so we can fly in back-up before pressing on to the Control Room". In terms of the actions the player does, nothing changes, but in the latter there is meaning and consequence to those actions and so it's much easier to become invested. So it's easy to believe that these missions will be much more impactful when in the context of the full Spartan Ops campaign. I have high-hopes for Spartan Ops, done right I think it could change the way videogames are delivered to us forever.
- Cowboy Out.