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Ranked/Competitive Reveal - Halo Waypoint News Article

Updated: Feb 12

https://www.halowaypoint.com/en-us/news/ranked-competitive-reveal


On October 14, 2021, 343 revealed the Competitive settings for Halo Infinite. These settings will be used for Ranked Competitive modes, and they differ from Social settings in their focus on accuracy, efficiency, and utility in the starting weapon set and the overall map sandbox. The reveal consisted of a text-based article posted to Halo Waypoint and a video showcasing some competitive Strongholds gameplay on Recharge. Both of these sources can be seen above.


News Article

The news article posted to Halo Waypoint contained interviews with several people on the Multiplayer, Sandbox, and Competitive Insights teams for Halo Infinite.


"[B]efore we get into it all, here’s the TL; DR on today’s news for Ranked/Competitive in comparison to Halo Infinite’s social multiplayer settings::
  • The BR75 will be the starting weapon.

  • Motion Tracker will be disabled.

  • Grenade Hitmarkers will be disabled.

  • Friendly Fire will be turned on.

  • Modes will be Slayer, Capture the Flag, Strongholds, and Oddball.

  • Weapons, equipment, and grenades on maps will be set on static spawners meaning they will always appear in the same location on each map and mode combination, and will respawn at the same intervals."

So far, all the gameplay we've seen in Multiplayer has been focused on a Social experience. There, the goal is to provide players with match-to-match variety and allow them to explore the full extent of the sandbox. Although skill-based matchmaking is present in both Social and Ranked environments, Social experiences tend to be a bit more relaxed than Ranked.


In Halo Infinite's Ranked Competitive modes, the BR75 will be the only starting weapon (rather than the MA40 AR and MK50 Sidekick). Unlike in Social, Competitive modes will have the Motion Tracker and Grenade Hitmarkers disabled entirely, requiring players to discover the locations of their enemies through line of sight, communication, and clever predictions. Friendly Fire will also be enabled to act as a deterrent to blindly throwing grenades or firing rockets when attacking an enemy near a teammate.


At launch, Halo Infinite's Competitive will feature four modes: Slayer, Capture the Flag, Strongholds, and Oddball. These same modes have also been seen in Halo 5: Guardians' Competitive playlists for the last few years, so they are standard fare for Competitive Halo experiences.


Finally, Halo Infinite's Competitive will feature static spawns for sandbox items. In Social, the same weapon spawner could contain a BR75 in some matches and a VK78 Commando in other matches. This will not be the case in Competitive. Each Competitive spawner will have a fixed item, respawn time, and behavior (Tier 1, Tier 2, or Tier 3, as discussed in my Item Spawners article from the July Tech Preview), depending on the map and mode combination selected. So, if a spawner contains a VK78 Commando when playing Competitive Slayer on Recharge, it will always contain that weapon in every Competitive Slayer match on Recharge.


"Going back to the Arena pillars, we want power to be earned on the map and scavenging gameplay is super important for us to maintain even at the competitive level. If players have a full inventory of effective items off spawn, they may not need to contest for other items in the map. We eventually playtested with only a Battle Rifle in the player’s inventory and the response from our competitive matches was positive. Players felt effective off spawn but also felt the need to contest for other items on the map to fill their inventory so they can best optimize their impact on the match." - Andrew Witts

The BR75 was chosen as the primary weapon due to its versatility within Halo Infinite's sandbox. It can perform well in a large number of situations, but there are frequently weapons that can perform better in their own niches. When designing the Competitive ruleset, the team tried various secondary weapons before ultimately deciding to give players none off spawn. The BR75 allows any player to hold their own immediately, but to gain an edge in a more specific situation, it is important to scavenge and acquire more effective weapons, equipment, and grenades on the map.


"With bringing the Halo 3 equipment-type gameplay into the modern era, one thing that stood out was the lack of equipment in the Halo 3 competitive scene. This was something we wanted to rectify, bringing equipment into the core of Halo’s combat dance in a way that compliments, enhances, and respects the competitive legacy. Equipment in Halo needs to be an extension of the player's skill, a way for them to utilize their mastery of Halo knowledge (mechanical and movement skill, map knowledge, spawns, etc.) to gain an advantage, rather than a strict buff advantage (usually reserved for our Power Equipment)." - Elan Gleiber

Although Halo 3 originally introduced equipment as an additional sandbox element for players to use, the Halo 3 competitive scene saw very little of it used. In Halo Infinite, the sandbox team wanted to design their equipment to be viable in a competitive environment, beyond the usual Active Camo and Overshield pickups. This means that not only will equipment be featured more prominently in Halo Infinite's Competitive, it has been explicitly designed to accentuate skillful gunplay and clever use of the existing elements of the sandbox.


"Grenade Hitmarkers added a layer to Grenades that made them that much more powerful than before, and that was the ability to “fish” for enemies. This ability had cascading effects on the entire game where you could throw a grenade, get a hitmarker, know where the enemy is and that they only have half shields, and thus is an easy kill. In my opinion, the even more negative effect being when you make a really good sneaky play to stay alive and get hit by a pretty random feeling grenade all but ending your sneaky play." - Austin McCleary

A significant complaint from competitive players for years has been that Grenade Hitmarkers make it too easy to locate weakened enemies after a random grenade throw. Players could throw a grenade around a corner and watch for hitmarkers to see if it damaged an enemy player. Knowing that a player is sitting around the corner with weakened or depleted shields without ever having seen them is essentially free information in the eyes of competitive players, and thus Grenade Hitmarkers have been removed in Halo Infinite Competitive.


"Like Battle Rifle starts, the call to disable the Motion Tracker from Ranked Arena and competitive settings was determined by lots of playtesting. Over time, we found that the more information players would have at their disposal, the more combat encounters would begin before combatants would see each other. ...[F]or competitive settings we want to push players’ map awareness and target acquisitioning skills to the forefront of the experience. We know this will ultimately raise the skill floor on coordination and teamwork, but we think it gives players new opportunities at the same time." - Andrew Witts

In the same vein as Grenade Hitmarkers, the Motion Tracker is entirely disabled within Competitive. Again, competitive players feel that receiving free information reduces the opportunities and necessity for skill expression. Earning the knowledge on enemy locations, movements, and other information through map control, observation, and communication is fundamental to Competitive Halo.


"In Halo 5, a contested zone (some progress made by the enemy team on a zone owned by your team) would still be considered “owned” and thus would continue scoring. We felt like this did not allow for comeback moments specifically towards the end of a close match. A team could be in the process of capturing a Stronghold to begin scoring but during the capture loop, the other team wins the game. Our new rule avoids this situation by stopping a team’s scoring updates as soon as their Stronghold majority is challenged by the other team." - Andrew Witts

In Halo 5's Strongholds mode, a team earned points by owning a majority of the zones on the map (at least 2 of the three). However, if a zone were contested, with partial capture progress on it for the other team, it would still count as being owned by the original team, allowing that team to score the whole time.


In Halo Infinite's Strongholds, contesting a point temporarily causes it to stop counting for the owning team's zones. So, if the owning team has 2 zones and one is contested, they will stop scoring entirely. If the owning team has all 3 zones and one is contested, they will earn only 1 point per second instead of 2. This allows the trailing team to make a comeback and prevent a defeat at the last second, even if they aren't able to capture a majority of zones before the score would have caused their defeat.



Video

Alongside the Halo Waypoint News Article, a video showing a match of Competitive Strongholds on Recharge was published to the Halo YouTube channel. Most of the discussions included in this video covered content already discussed in the news article, so this section of the post will focus only on new information from the video itself.


1:53

Right at the start of the Strongholds match, we can see the player run past the Mangler spawn on Recharge. This is the first time we've officially seen the Mangler since the July 2020 Campaign Preview, and it's the first time we've ever seen that its damage type is Kinetic. We can also see what appears to be the Crimson Skyed coating on the BR75, which even colors the scope lens with a red tinge.


1:57

Here, the player gets a quick double kill with some scavenged Plasma Grenade, earning the Double Kill and Cluster Luck medals. While they are still fairly small, the designs themselves have been updated to look more like real medals, with a symbol surrounding by a metallic outline.


4:29

Around half a minute prior, the player had picked up a Disruptor, but he only equips it here. The Disruptor has a 10-round magazine with 30 rounds in the reserves off spawn. It is also a Shock-type weapon, as one might have guessed.


5:17

Here, the player equips an Energy Sword that he'd picked up a few seconds prior. The Energy Sword uses the Power damage type, just like the Gravity Hammer, S7 Sniper, Skewer, and M41 SPNKr. Note that the weapon currently has 35% battery.


5:20

After killing an enemy with the Energy Sword, the weapon only has 21% battery left over. It appears that kills with the Energy Sword cost 14-15% of its energy, suggesting that one can successfully strike 7 times with the weapon before it is depleted.


Summary

The new settings for Competitive/Ranked play in Halo Infinite seem very promising. While it may be too early to be sure, I imagine that Halo Infinite's Competitive will be a very enticing mode for both new and returning players. Here's what we learned in the recent announcement.

  • Competitive modes will have the following differences when compared to Social modes:

  • The BR75 will be the starting weapon.

  • Motion Tracker will be disabled.

  • Grenade Hitmarkers will be disabled.

  • Friendly Fire will be turned on.

  • Modes will be Slayer, Capture the Flag, Strongholds, and Oddball.

  • Weapons, equipment, and grenades on maps will be set on static spawners meaning they will always appear in the same location on each map and mode combination, and will respawn at the same intervals.

  • The Mangler is a Kinetic-type weapon with 8 rounds in the magazine and 24 rounds in reserves off spawn.

  • The Disruptor is a Shock-type weapon with 10 rounds in the magazine and 30 rounds in reserves off spawn.

  • The Energy Sword is a Power-type weapon that uses 14-15% battery per successful strike.

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