On 29 November 2007, “Tied the Leader” bypassed lobby security and infiltrated the multiplayer test lab at Bungie Studios for an advanced view of the downloadable content [hereafter to be referred to as “DLC”] in the Heroic Map Pack. Since that time, we have existed in a cone of silence at an undisclosed location, honoring the terms and conditions of a Non-Disclosure Agreement that we didn’t read as carefully as we should have. With the press embargo lifted, the story can be told…
The developers behind this offering put a carefully selected press corps through the paces of what awaits the Halo Nation on 11 December 2007. Various objectives were prosecuted in test matches hosted within each new environment. They also shared with TTL their perspectives on the rigors of keeping the Halo Experience fresh and new on Xbox Live.
You are welcome to listen in on the dialogue.
Special thanks to the Bungie guys who were gracious enough to sit before the mic and submit themselves to our curiosities.
Lars Bakken, Multiplayer Designer
Steve Cotton, Mission Design Lead
Brian Jarrard, Community and Franchise Lead
The hospitality of everyone at Bungie Studios was immensely appreciated. This was not a press event as much as it was a LAN Party – right down to the sprawling spread of pizza boxes that showed up at Noon. TTL was thrilled to lock horns and butt heads with everyone from HBO to IGN. The mood was casual and the gaming was good.
What’s that? Oh! You want to see the new maps? Why didn’t you just say so?
Very well then. Commencing full disclosure of all that was revealed…
This is an Official Warfare Briefing from the Tied the Leader Intelligence Agency. What you are about to see is Classified. Below the line, you will access tactical analysis and file photos for the next three theatres of combat in the Battle of the Halo Nation.
This skirmish zone has been compared to “Blood Gulch, except squished together, with 4000 foot satellite dishes”. While the resemblance to that coagulated classic is obvious, this map provides a more intimate gaming experience. By “intimate”, we do in fact mean more violent. You won’t find yourself joyriding across the plains of Standoff in search of targets – they will be everywhere.
On a symmetrical field that is perfect for team-based gameplay, opposing bases stare each other down from across the map. Missile silos border the midfield and add shape to the space. You can exit the map quite easily, but your time outside the boundaries will be spent in freefall – briefly.
With a Warthog [as well as a Mongoose or two] in every garage, there a lot of ways to get from one base to the other – and safely home again. Some are more dangerous than others, it should be said. Holding to the perimeter is a better means of insuring a strike team’s safety.
Love your motorpool on this map. No one gamer will carry their team to a win in a match on Standoff alone. It may be a smaller map, but it’s still a long walk home, carrying that flag all by one’s self. The Spartan Laser in the center will be the prized possession of both teams.
Anticipate a ruthless crossfire in the midfield. They don’t call this map ‘Standoff’ for nothing. When the objective is in play, both teams will find themselves fighting toe to toe to decide the outcome. The shortest distance between two points is not necessarily a straight line.
Of course, in the effort of balanced gameplay, there are many ways to take down the vehicle team that tries to skirt the fight in the center. Power weapons litter the lanscape, and a turret perches atop each roof. No free rides. Weapon control equals map control.
Like the name suggests, “Foundry” is the perfect companion to “Forge”. The hammer and anvil of the custom game architect will be gifted with a blank canvas to fill with howling darkness from every corner of their imagination. The default maze of scenery will provide a willing thunderdome for game variants found in every matchmaking hopper.
Prepare for close-quarters combat. Danger lurks around every corner. If you can hear that grenade bouncing at your feet, you may find that it is already too late, as you have nowhere to run! Get comfortable and make some friends – and some enemies.
Don’t let the tight spaces fool you, however. There is enough room to make the outcome of any objective uncertain. When you see your territory marker winking under the assault of your opponent, you will actually find yourself wishing Foundry was smaller.
Rule of thumb: Hold the high ground. Rain down ordnance on your opponents, or choose a route for safe passage above the carnage below. Death awaits any foolish souls who patrol the trenches. How is your crouch jump? It will be tested.
Memorizing every nook and cranny of this killzone will take more than a few games. Foundry is a camper’s delight. Cover is ample. Hiding spots are abundant. With one’s favorite power-weapon, and a little patience, the pickings will not be slim. Look to the skies for vultures if your boots are on the ground.
Everything you see in Foundry can be made to go away in Forge. Drop in your own scenery. Add your favorite weapons. Throw down a vehicle or two. Maybe even add a soccer ball [that’s right, I said a soccer ball]. The potential for customization of Foundry is as endless as any gamer’s imagination.
This gamerblogger’s favorite environment in the Heroic Map Pack, Rat’s Nest is an indoor track with a very hostile infield. Hit and run vehicular tactics will come into play on any objective match. The call for a race game forged onto this map is so obvious, you can almost smell the smoking rubber.
Welcome to blue base. Your objective site lives here. To your left is a multi-level passage-way [bristling with power weapons] that leads to red base. To your right, outside the arch, is your motorpool. Use it well, or perish you will.
The “outer ring” promises a demolition derby at every turn. It’s the fastest way to the other side of the map. Your opponents know this as well. Ready yourselves for some head-on collisions, as there is not much of a passing lane on this obstacle course.
You are looking at the only sunlight you will see on this indoor map. Enjoy the view, but don’t fall – or get blasted – off the cliff. You are also looking at the best way to see your flag carrier home safely. Don’t make a brother walk! It’s a tough road to travel.
Your alternative is a field trip through the middle of the structure. As you can see, it is not a quiet neighborhood. The locals have access to just about everything that makes you dead, fast. They have been known to sport itchy trigger fingers.
If you must walk home, try not to play in traffic. There are no crossing guards in the Rat’s Nest. Pedestrians were seen coming to an untimely end on most occasions. While some game protagonists travel through the ductwork, a SPARTAN rises above it.
Here endeth the lesson. Your access to the DLC goes live in a week. See you in the game. Thanks again to Bungie Studios for the sneak peak, and for the chance to learn more about the motivations behind their creative process…