Ask343 February 2021 - Sandbox Team Q&A
Updated: Feb 9
After each Inside Infinite article, fans can ask questions of the team interviewed in the article on social media using #Ask343. Two weeks later, in the Community Update for the following month, they will put out a video interview in which some of the community’s questions are selected and answered. Although one might expect that it would only be clarifying what was already in the Inside Infinite blogs, there is new information too. This month, John Junyszek sat down with Quinn DelHoyo, Lead Sandbox Designer, to answer several community questions about Halo Infinite’s sandbox. Here’s a summary of what we learned.
Q: “Will weapon tuning for Multiplayer affect the weapon tuning for Campaign?”
A: “We on the Sandbox Team are working to get tools in place to allow us to be able to make more changes and tweaks to the system that doesn’t necessarily affect the other side of the experience.”
Since we have now learned that the Multiplayer meta will shift over time, it is good to hear that Campaign and Multiplayer can be tuned separately. That means that weapons that are prominent in Multiplayer may not be in Campaign. We already knew that equipment functions slightly differently between Campaign and Multiplayer, but confirmation that these slight differences can extend to other areas of the sandbox is reassuring, as changes in PvP won’t necessarily affect PvE changes in an adverse way.
A (cont.): “We are doing everything we can to try to keep everything cohesive and cohesive in feel of how a weapon shoots, how it fires, how equipment is deployed, how a vehicle drives.”
Although there will be differences in how much reserve ammo is available, how powerful a weapon is against enemy players, and other such values between Campaign and Multiplayer, the general feel of weapons, equipment, and vehicles will remain as close as possible so the player doesn’t need to relearn a sandbox item when switching from Campaign to Multiplayer or vice versa.
Q: “Will I be able to use a grappling hook to hijack a flying Banshee?”
A: “In short, yes. There is some skill involved. If you’re good enough, if you position yourself correctly, and the Banshee is close to you, you can absolutely use the Grappleshot to skyjack the Banshee, but it’s not something that is just going to be given out for free.”
If you are able to use the Grappleshot accurately and from a relatively close range to the Banshee, yes, you can skyjack the Banshee. It is exciting to hear that the sandbox items interact in this way, but Quinn Delhoyo emphasizes that such an action will be difficult to pull off and require significant skill.
Q: “Can the Grappleshot be used to pick up weapons from the floor in Campaign and/or Multiplayer?”
A: “Yeah, absolutely.”
Remember how the Master Chief used the Grappleshot in the July Campaign Demo to pull a Fusion Coil to him? Players can do the same thing with any weapon on the ground to swap to it.
A (cont.): “We’re trying to make sure all the systems intertwine and intermix with each other so there’s player creativity.”
This statement is particularly important to understanding the motivation behind all the different parts of the Halo Infinite sandbox. Not only are there unique weapons, vehicles, and equipment, they all interact with one another in exciting and creative ways, allowing the player to combine elements of the sandbox to accentuate their ability even beyond mastering the individual items.
Q: “I’m confused about the line ‘weapons on day one will assuredly be different after multiple updates and patches.’ Does this mean the weapons included in the base game in the 1.0 version will be altered or simply that new weapons will be added?”
A: “In short, the answer is yes to both. We are going to have weapons that are altered (the weapons that launch with the game originally). Those’ll be altered over time. And then, we’re definitely going to be introducing new weapons: brand new weapons, never-before-seen weapons, classic weapons, legacy weapons.”
Not only will we have balancing patches to modify or alter the viability of existing weapons, brand new and legacy weapons will be added to the sandbox as time goes on.
A (cont.): “When we say alter, we’re primarily going to be looking at things that are meta-shifting and tuning knobs, but we’re going to do everything we can...to keep weapons--the feel of the weapons--the same. And the roles of the weapons. We’re not going to take a weapon and change its role all-up. We’re not going to change the feel of the weapon.”
Although players can expect the starting sandbox to be different as the game progresses, weapons will maintain their role and feel. For example, a BR75 Battle Rifle will keep its 3-round burst feel and precision rifle role, no matter how they alter its damage output, accuracy, starting ammo, etc.
A (cont.): “That being said, never say never. ...Anything that does change, we will communicate to you, as the players, the what and the why, always.”
Although the Sandbox Team does not intend to shift the role and feel of any weapon after it is introduced, there may be exceptions to this rule. Regardless of what change may arise after the launch of the game, the Sandbox team is committed to communicating what changed and why it changed in the way it did.
Q: “So obviously we know that bullets are sort of the ‘standard’ damage type, and plasma is the shield-stripping one. What damage type does the Ravager have, and what does it specialize in?”
A: “The Ravager is a Plasma weapon, and it’s in the Brute line of Plasma where it’s Red Plasma, so there’s a little bit nuance from the classic Blue Plasma where it burns a little bit hotter, it overheats quicker when you use it. So there’s a little bit of nuances and tendencies that we wanted to build into, even within Plasma.”
The Ravager belongs to the Plasma damage type, but damage types are not as uniform as one might think. Weapons using the Red Plasma associated with the Brutes will deal slightly more damage and overheat more quickly than their Blue Plasma counterparts, showing the diversity present even within damage types.
A: “It’s a burst weapon that has AoE to it, and the reason we wanted to have burst in there is that players can choose how much they want to spread that damage out.”
One of the more intriguing features of the Ravager was how it fired a three-round burst of explosive Red Plasma rounds. The burst gives players the option of blanketing an area in explosions or concentrating their fire on a single target.
Q: “I thought the wording for ‘equipment is earned via combat or scavenging the play space’ for MP was interesting. Do you simply mean fighting someone in combat for an equipment pickup or does this mean we could potentially start with equipment at the start of the game and charge up its use by earning kills?”
A: “In Multiplayer, you could expect to acquire equipment as if they're on the map and you go to that location to find it. And sometimes that location is contested, and you have to win a battle to gain that equipment. And at other times, you gain the equipment just by killing that enemy that had the equipment, and they drop their weapons and their equipment if they were carrying any, and you could loot it and take it for yourself.”
In effect, when you want to acquire equipment in Halo Infinite, you either need to find it on the map or kill someone holding it and scavenge their dropped items. There is no charging the equipment through kills.
Q: “From the gameplay trailer shown a few months ago, it looks like the Warthog lost the front left wheel when it ran over a suicide Grunt. Is this a new feature for vehicles in the sandbox?”
A: “We are putting more effort into a fully-fledged damage response system to our vehicles. We wanted to reward our pilots, our drivers, our wheelmen, if you will, that when they drive the vehicles...in Halo Infinite, that there’s more to it than just simply health. ...When a certain tire gets shot out, then the vehicle will drive differently. Or, air vehicles, how they will handle based on where they receive damage. ...That also plays into, as an attacker, how to deal with vehicles: I now have more interesting choices of how I want to eliminate that vehicle or affect that enemy pilot or enemy driver. I could shoot out wheels or different areas of the wings.”
In the past, there has only really been one metric for vehicle operators to consider, and that’s the health of the vehicle. In Halo Infinite, the location of the damage matters for vehicles. If a vehicle is damaged in a certain location, it will actually affect the handling of the vehicle, perhaps making it more difficult to turn or move in a particular direction.
Q: “Weapons, equipment, and vehicles were clearly the star of the show in the blog post, but I was wondering what’s currently planned for grenades? What are the goals for this part of Halo Infinite’s sandbox?”
A: “Grenades are going to be there. They’re going to fill largely the same role of what you’d expect in previous Halos, but we are going to have a little bit of wrinkles with the grenades.”
There won’t be too much that’s new with grenades, at least as far as they are used, but there will be a few surprises or unique features that will set them apart from one another.
A (cont.): “If [the Spike Grenade] has blades, why can’t we just make it deal more damage when it sticks to things? And that’s what we did. There’s some fun moments in the Campaign where there’s Grunts, which are weaker on the scale of health of enemies that you fight; you could stick them with a Spike Grenade, and it just has blades and the damage on it that they will die right out.”
One example of a new “wrinkle” in the Halo Infinite grenade design is that the Spike Grenade deals significantly more damage upon impact than other grenades, so much so that Grunts can die simply from being stuck, before the grenade detonates.
Q: “You guys had mentioned the Bulldog is meant to fill the role of a fast firing, low power shotgun. Considering the team’s emphasis on eliminating redundancies, doesn’t this make room for the older/powerful shotgun to fit nicely into the new sandbox as another option?”
A: “We’ve already got a weapon that is new, never before seen or talked about, that is filling that role, and we’ll talk about that and share it in the coming months.”
The CQS48 Bulldog will not be the only shotgun-type weapon in the game. There will be another, more powerful shotgun, filling a similar role to the Tactical Shotgun from previous titles. As of yet, it has not been revealed or discussed yet. We will see more of it in the coming months. There is still a chance that the Tactical Shotgun can return in the future as the sandbox team considers where it can fit in the sandbox after Halo Infinite’s launch.
Q: “Has the Magnum been reconsidered to be added into the sandbox? I like the new pistol and all, but I think having the original sidearm is a must being such an iconic weapon.”
A: “We didn’t want to do, previously, where the Magnum changed from Halo: CE to Halo 2, and then it changed again from Halo 2 to Halo 3, and then so on and so on. Every new Halo game seems to change legacy weapons, and that’s something that we don’t want to do. If we’re going to bring a legacy weapon back, we want it to be and play like that weapon that players remember and understand.”
When the sandbox team considers adding a legacy weapon to the sandbox, they no longer want to change the feel or role of the weapon to make it fit. Instead, they would rather create a new weapon to fill a new role. Of course, there are a ton of Magnums in Halo’s past, so choosing one as the defining “Legacy Magnum” would be challenging, but if the sandbox team were to bring it forward, they would aim to keep it close in feel and role to one of its former versions, rather than reinvent what the Magnum is.
A (cont.): “That’s where the Sidekick is. ...It’s that true sidearm that someone can use quickly and efficiently, and then our rifles play much more closely to rifles.”
Unlike the Magnum in Halo: CE and Halo 5: Guardians, the Sidekick is distinct from a rifle. It can help clean up a kill by being quick to swap to and fire, but it isn’t meant to be a hyper-accurate powerhouse that dwarfs most rifles.
The Q&A with the Sandbox Team was pleasantly surprising in terms of how much new information we got. Here’s a quick summary on the most important details.
Weapon tuning for Multiplayer will not necessarily affect Campaign and vice-versa. The tuning for both experiences is separated, but the way sandbox items feel in both modes will be kept as similar as possible.
A skilled player can use the Grappleshot to skyjack a low-flying Banshee. It will require that the player aims properly and positions themselves correctly, meaning there is difficulty in pulling it off.
The Grappleshot can be used to retrieve weapons on the floor from a distance.
Sandbox items are being designed to interact in many ways. The Grappleshot is a great example of this design goal.
Existing weapons will be altered in some ways, but the sandbox team will do their best to maintain the role and feel of the weapons once they are added to the game.
New and legacy weapons will be added after launch.
There is nuance within damage types. For example, the Ravager is a Plasma weapon featuring Red Plasma, which overheats faster and does a little more damage than Blue Plasma.
The Ravager’s burst fire feature allows players to spread out damage or focus it all in one area.
In multiplayer, you can only earn equipment by collecting it on the map or killing someone holding it and scavenging their body. Think of Halo 3’s equipment.
Vehicles will have a much more fleshed-out damage system. The location of damage can affect how the vehicle handles or functions.
Grenades will fill largely the same role as in previous games, but with some new twists.
The Spike Grenade does significantly more damage upon impact and can kill a Grunt before detonating.
There is a new, unannounced weapon filling the power shotgun role formerly filled by the Tactical Shotgun.
When the Sandbox Team adds a legacy item to the game, they don’t want to tweak its functionality to fit a new gap in the sandbox. They will do their best to ensure that it fills the same role and has the same feel as it did in a prior game. This is why the Sidekick has the sidearm role in Halo Infinite, rather than yet another version of the Magnum.
The Sidekick is distinct from rifle-class weapons. It is quick to swap to and clean up kills, but cannot strike accurately at long ranges like rifles can.