Hands on “Halo 4” multiplayer modes

Master Chief has a posse, apparently.

Less than one hundred days remain until the newest (chronologically and developmentally) installment in the “Halo” series is released, and every day the hype train grows by a few cars.

Many fans early on in the development of “Halo 4” feared that is was being driven toward “Call of Duty”-style gameplay, but having gotten hands-on time with it at both E3 and San Diego Comic-Con this year I can safely say that is not the case.
This game stills looks and feels like the “Halo” you know and love, only with a few more characters and a new coat of visual and aural paint.
At E3 I got the chance to play a round of War Games, which is what the company now helming all things “Halo,” 343 Industries, calls the competitive multiplayer portion of the game. If you’ve ever played a round of competitive multiplayer in a “Halo” game, you’re going to feel right at home in this mode. It’s the same basic premise of red team versus blue team in a variety of game types including deathmatch, which is the mode I played, oddball and king of the hill.
Players take on the identity of their own Spartan-IV in War Games.

There are few new game modes including one called Regicide, in which the player with the highest score becomes the primary target for all other players.

Several fan-favorite weapons return in “Halo 4,” including the DMR (designated marksman rifle) from “Halo Reach” and Battle Rifle from “Halo 2” and “Halo 3.” Brand new weapons added to the playable arsenal include a shotgun-type weapon called the Scattershot and the Light Rifle, which acts like a fancy alien sniper rifle.
These new weapons are available for use in both competitive multiplayer and “Halo 4’s” new cooperative multiplayer story dubbed “Spartan Ops.”

Spartan Ops follows the crew of the UNSC (United Nations Space Command. The good guys) Infinity a few months after the end of the main, single-player storyline. It will be delivered to players over ten months after the release of “Halo 4,” and one chapter will be made available for download free of charge each week. Each chapter will consist of five missions as well as a few-minute long cutscene of story material.

Not much has been revealed in terms of story for this mode because it takes place after the events of the main game, which inevitably means spoilers galore, so at San Diego Comic-Con I got a chance to play one chapter in an episode of Spartan Ops without being given any story background.


Promethean Knights are one of the new enemy units in “Halo 4.”

The chapter I played involved myself and three other players moving through a mountainous, lava-ridden area toward some kind of artifact of unknown use or origin. Covenant enemies return to bar the Spartans from reaching their goals as well as a few new enemies of a species that has not yet been revealed by the developers aside from being related in some way to the mysterious Forerunners.

These new enemies are highly advanced artificial intelligence constructs, according to in-game dialog, and they work together to take down the player characters much more cohesively than the Covenant ever has in past games. If a grenade is thrown at one enemy, another can catch the airborne attack and hurl it back at the player. This type of enemy cooperation leads players to rethink their strategies, and mixes up the game just enough to make it fresh and new.

An issue I had with my time with the game was that the chapter only took about 15 minutes to complete, and consisted mainly of walking to a door and fighting off a wave of enemies while we waited for it to open, only to move onto another door and then onto the final objective. It seemed quite simple and repetitive, but that could have been because the developers chose a mission that was not too heavy on story content as not to spoil it for those who played.

One of the biggest qualms I had with the game is that none of the weapons felt hefty enough to take down the massive Spartan-IVs I was up against. I think this feeling of lack of weight comes directly from the revamped sound design, which actually threw me off pretty good for the better part of the match.
Everything sounds different than in past “Halo” games. Guns, vehicles and even the characters’ footsteps have been rethought and rerecorded

The Covenant have been redesigned to look more fearsome.
There are a considerable amount more customization options for players to choose from as well, and 343 Industries hasn’t even revealed all the different armor permutations, skins and emblems yet.

Despite some fans’ fears, “Halo 4” appears to be keeping in tune with the legacy left behind by its creators, Bungie, and will most likely be a huge success for 343 and Microsoft come Nov. 6 when it’s released.