Thursday, March 25, 2010
Halo: Reach's Player-Investment System
Fans of Bungie's Halo series have noticed that the multiplayer, for the most part, works basically the same from game to game. The only way to distinguish one player from another was by the color of armor they wore and the symbols they had. Bungie tried to one up that in later games by adding special armors that you could win like the coveted Recon Armor in Halo 3. Well now Bungie is adding in a whole new component to the multiplayer in their newest (and possibly final) Halo game Halo: Reach.
The new system is being titled Player-Investment and it is Bungie's answer to the sort of RPG-influenced multiplayer experiences and level systems found in games like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. As seen in Modern Warfare 2, the perks and experience upgrades were solely for multiplayer use only. Bungie, however, is hoping to bring all players under one roof, both single-player and multiplayer alike. According to Luke Smith, Bungie's Player-Investment Designer, " Whatever your preferred flavor of Halo is, we're gonna find a way to reward you. Whatever you enjoy doing in multiplayer, we're gonna find a way to reward you. Through the Player Investment System, you're going to be building an identity for the first time in a Halo game."
Bungie has detached the Trueskill ranking system that drove matchmaking in Halo 3. In Halo 3, on-screen ranking users saw reflected how different players would be matched up competitively. This just basically means that a high ranking player would more than likely be a good player. However, that may not necessarily be the case in Halo: Reach. More specifically, Trueskill is handling matchmaking still but the Player-Investment System is more reflective of the amount of time a player has dedicated to the game, not necessarily their skill. It seems like it resembles the Prestige mode in Modern Warfare 2. A high ranking Prestige does not necessarily mean you are good, it could mean that you spent a lot of time playing.
The Player-Investment System is driven by credits (shortened to cR in the game). Players will receive credits by simply playing the game either by blasting your way through the single-player campaign or by going through round after round of multiplayer. The amount of credits you receive from playing, however, varies depending on what you do in the game. Different actions award different amounts of credits though Bungie is being very careful to not encourage player actions that could potentially damage the overall experience of the game. Challenging tasks, like multiple consecutive headshots in a certain amount of time, will produce a lot of credits. Bungie is currently in the works of balancing the credit system but overall, credits drive the Player-Investment System by increasing your military rank as well as allowing you to purchase customization items in Halo: Reach's "Armory".
Fans of Modern Warfare 2 have undoubtedly noticed a sense of player inequality. Rank one players are naturally unable to go toe to toe with a higher ranking officer due to lack of perks, equipment and weapons. Bungie doesn't want the same thing ti happen in Halo: Reach. All the extras earned in the game via credits are strictly different helmets, shoulder pads, chest plates and other accessories used to create an entirely unique look. "There are no in-game benefits to Spartan armor. It would definitely make Halo something different than what it is." said Smith.
Probably one of the coolest things about the customizable appearance is that it isn't restricted to just multiplayer. The same, unique Spartan you are using against your friends online is exactly the same one you use in the single-player campaign, customizations and all. You can even see your customized Spartan in in-game cut-scenes. "When the cut-scene comes up in campaign, we ant you to see you," said Smith. "For instance, that trailer that we showed with the helmet and soldier picking it up, the Noble 6 trailer, that helmet is going to be your helmet. If you're pink and adorned with unicorns, that's how you're going to look. With Reach, this is your story, this is your identity, this is your version of a story that we want you to be a part of."
Another feature Bungie is adding to multiplayer, mainly for the people who are not that good at Halo's multiplayer style, are Challenges. There are two types of Challenges, daily and weekly. The Challenges are Bungie-designed obstacles that provide goals, some short some not so short, that can be achieved solo or with a group. Many of the Challenges will also have a notable difficulty curve as well. According to Smith, "Some of the simpler daily challenges are aggregate actions like kill X amount of dudes, help kill X amount of dudes etc... Sometimes those dudes we want you to kill are gonna be in multiplayer, or they're going to be in another mode. sometimes it's going to say just kill anyone anywhere, we don't care what you do, just kill people and we will reward you for that."
Commendations are another added feature to Halo: Reach. Commendations are persistent medals that reflect a players actions over a long period of time. If you are a player that plays a majority of the game sniping people, then your Commendations will show that. The profile you build up could eventually represent a snapshot of your Halo style which could provide a better understanding amongst friends about your strengths. Plus, earning Commendation medals also earns you credits. According to Smith, "There are guys out there who just want to drive people around. We haven't done a good job of reinforcing that kind of behavior in the past and Commendations are one way we are doing that."
This new Player-Investment System could create a more efficient, more persistent player experience that extends to both single-player and multiplayer users. Now those of you still feeling the burn of your friend getting that Halo 3 Recon Armor, you got a whole new set of things to play with. This new system could very well bring payers (like myself) that have turned away from the same old Halo multiplayer experience. I for one know that I can't wait to get my hands on this game and try out the new system. The multiplayer beta for Halo: Reach goes live on May 3rd with the full version of the game coming out later this year.
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