New York Comic Con came and went and with that, another convention dedicated exclusively to Halo 4 that we can add to our illustrious convention belt. Many lines were had, many hours spent in said line, and tears were shed over the lack of a certain 343 princess’ presence, all for the sake of playing Infinity Slayer on Ragnarok or Dominion on Longbow. Now let’s jump straight into the nitty gritty details that is Halo 4 at New York Comic Con, shall we?
Ragnarok – Norse Mythology or Halo 4 Map?
Our first day at New York Comic Con was interesting. And by interesting, I mean amazing, because Thursday, October 11, was open only to those with four-day passes. This equaled to twenty minute long lines to play a game of Halo 4 and plenty of room to spread our [literal] wings. We took advantage of this to play game after game of Infinity Slayer on Ragnarok.
Ragnarok, as you already know (and if you don’t, get your head out of the sand ASAP), is a near-perfect remake of one of Halo 3′s best maps, Valhalla. Ragnarok stays true to Valhalla in every sense of the word aside from the addition of a few new toys that Halo 4′s sandbox has to offer (what’s up, Mantis). Ragnarok plays very similarly to Valhalla. You’ll find yourself making your way around the map the same way you did in Halo 3, but with being able to close the gap between where you are and where you want to be with the inclusion of sprint as a default mechanic in Halo 4. The initial moves in any given match on Ragnarok are expected: one person gets the Sniper and waits at the base to pick apart unsuspecting man-cannon users, a couple go on the man-cannon to grab the Laser and get control of the middle hill, while the rest hop in their respective vehicles (what’s up, Mantis). Oh and did we mention that someone could get on a new Halo vehicle akin to a mech (what’s up, Mantis)?
What’s Up, Mantis?
The Mantis, Halo 4′s new vehicle closely resembling that of a mech you’d see in MechAssault or Chromehounds, is quite the beast in almost any given situation. The Mantis fires a beefy turret (albeit there is quite the spread on it) on its right side with rockets on its left side. The rockets have dual firing modes: single shot and holding down the left trigger (LT) for a few seconds to fire all five rockets in rapid succession. The Mantis, taken control of by someone with destructive intention, has the potential to be the equivalent of a competent driver and gunner hopping into the Warthog and roaming the opposing team’s base on Standoff.
The Mantis’ drawbacks are the fact that its shields take quite a while to recharge, the turret’s spread is pretty noticeable, and the stomp maneuver (ant, meet boot) is focused in one direction and doesn’t affect all directions. Couple this with facing a competent team working together at any given moment to take your Mantis down and you have a powerful vehicle capable of meeting its match. But enough about the Mantis, we want to continue by focusing on a couple power weapons we got our pesky hands on.
Railgun – How I [Really] Met Your Mother
The Railgun is a brand new weapon in Halo 4′s expansive sandbox and is also one of funnest weapons to use in the Halo series to date. Yes, you read that correctly. It’s also one of the weapons our dear friend and fellow HaloGAFfer, Hypertrooper, insists on going for at the beginning of every Ragnarok match.
The Railgun is akin to a direct-hit, low splash-damage rocket launcher that kills infantry on impact. If you were to picture the Grenade Launcher’s functionality from Halo: Reach being split between the Railgun and the Sticky Detonator in Halo 4, the Railgun would be the fast-twitch, offensive portion of the Grenade Launcher that’s meant for quick decision making. Holding the trigger down for two seconds causes the weapon to reach maximum capacity and discharges its explosive projectile wherever you’re aiming for massive damage in real-time. The audio for this weapon when you fire (‘BADUMP’) adds to the satisfaction of getting a kill with this instant-gratification mammoth. This weapon falls short of dominating over vehicles, however, unless you want to unload quite a few rounds into one that could be used for taking out the entire team.
We chatted with Jeremy Patenaude, franchise writer at 343 Industries (you may know him as Mr Vociferous of ascendantjustice.com fame), about the Railgun when we were given quite a nifty little detail on its use. If you hold down the trigger for a second instead of two seconds for its full charge, your shot will still be instant, but only take out your opponent’s shields. This could be used for some interesting scenarios: do you want to hold down the trigger for a second longer in order to risk an instant kill or do you want to get a quick shot off to simply remove your opponent’s shields then switch to your rifle for the kill? These are the types of on-the-fly decisions you’ll have to make with the Railgun. Let’s move on from the Railgun now and discuss a couple other power weapon behemoths, both belonging to the Prometheans.
Incinerator Cannon – What Goes Around Comes Around
“We have to go deeper.”
The Incinerator Cannon has quite the punch as it’s a flesh-disintegrating rocket launcher with an attitude. There are projectiles within its projectiles (Xzibit’s on his lunch break at the moment) that spew out in the opposite direction of the original projectiles after they detonate causing a double explosion. Those who choose to run around with Rockets shooting it at or near their feet will have to think twice with the Incinerator Cannon as you’ll join your disintegrated opponent in the re-spawn queue.
Binary Rifle – One Shot On My X. Seriously.
Another instant-gratification weapon similar to the Railgun is the Binary Rifle, the Prometheans’ answer to the Sniper Rifle. The best description for the Binary Rifle is that it’s a first-person version of Gears of War 3′s heavy weapon, the ‘OneShot’. Shooting your opponent at any location on their body causes an instant, disintegrating kill. It’s satisfaction rate is up there with the Railgun aka incredibly satisfying, but it has its drawbacks. Not only is the reticle much lower than you’re used to when scoped in, but the reticle when un-scoped is quite large and shouldn’t be depended on for snapshots. In addition, scoping in with the Binary Rifle causes an orange beam of light to radiate towards whatever it’s pointing at which can expose your exact location. If you’re going to get a shot in, make sure you react quickly and appropriately or else you just wasted a few seconds letting the whole world know where you are. The next question you should be asking yourself is “how do these toys handle themselves in objective-based gametypes like Dominion?” Excellent question, invisible one!
Dominion – Domino Meets Onion or Conquest Meets Tower Defense
Dominion is one of Halo 4′s newest and most profound objective gametypes as it blends elements of Battlefield’s Conquest with base captures, tower defense mechanics with bases upgrading themselves for better defense, and ordnance drops for weapons and vehicles added to the mix.
Capturing a base in Dominion primes it to be given to your team. Once the base is yours, it begins to ‘upgrade’ itself with defensive auto-turrets, shield doors that you have to melee in order to get through them, and random ordnance drops to further establish your team’s hold on the base. At times, the ordnance drops can get pretty intense as two to three Shotguns, a Spartan Laser, a Ghost, and a Wraith can be given to you one after the other. In many cases, this might seem like overkill, but given the fact that the bases now defend themselves and attack you in addition to an increase in vehicular activity, the number of power weapons present may be appropriate. While we played this gametype on Longbow, which seemed to compliment the structure and flow of Dominion well, we’re curious to see how it all plays out on other maps such as Meltdown, Exile, and possibly Ragnarok.
Our Love For You Is Endless. Always.
All in all, we had a fantastic experience at New York Comic Con with Halo 4 like we did at E3 2012, San Diego Comic Con, and PAX Prime 2012. This experience, however, was amplified with 343 Industries continued love and commitment to the Halo community with New York Comic Con being no exception.
Back in July after San Diego Comic Con ended, I had written a personal love letter thanking 343 Industries for their love, warmth, and open heart towards the Halo community. It still amazes that they can keep this love and bond between them and the Halo community so strong day after day, convention after convention. Outside of their studio, the employees at 343 Industries don’t reinforce their titles as a way of measuring the level of worthiness between them and the Halo fans. You’re Halo fans, they’re Halo fans, that’s what matters to them in the end and that’s what brings us together. You won’t see this level of interaction between designers, artists, producers, and executives with their respective fans at anywhere else.
To 343 Industries, like I said before, always keep this ideology with you. As much as you keep your eyes and ears open, keep your hearts open, too. Love is the reason all of you came from different backgrounds to band together as a team, your love for Halo is what brought you to the studio, and love is the reason the Halo community is as amped as all of you at the studio are for the release of Halo 4. Four years of hard work that started from [literally] nothing with Bonnie Ross and Frank O’Connor probably in a small meeting room saying, “what the hell are we going to do with Halo?”
Be grateful for the journey. And love. Always love.