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Halo 4 Review - War Games Experience
Posted By: UnrealCh13fDate: 1/9/13 3:01 p.m.

So, after I have played Halo 4 for more than 4 days (logged from Halo Waypoint), I feel like it is finally time to make my review of Halo 4's War Games Suite. I am going to go ahead and split this review up in 4 different sections (Gameplay, Maps, Matchmaking experience, and Misc. features). Since I am not a forger, I will go ahead and link you to PeteTheDuck's Forge review.


I can say that the experience was not what I expected. There are a couple of things that I like, but there are also a lot of things that I dislike.

Mechanics such as instant respawn, random map ordinance, and (almost) instant weapon despawn are the first things that come to mind when it comes to things that I do not like about the game. As Halo 4 was still being developed, I had an open mind when it came to instant respawn and random map ordinance and thought that I was able to get used to these changes over time. These mechanics end up being more of an annoyance and feel that it does more harm than good.

It becomes very apparent in the Regicide (FFA) playlist, where when you kill someone, I find that more often than not, the killed player will respawn at a location near your position where he/she can "finish what he/she started". And if you had a power weapon, if that person that killed you (or any other person) does not pick it up, it disappears in seconds.

Oh, and the Situational Record (aka 'killcam'). I am sorry and I am sure to frustrate the QA team when I ask this, but how the hell did this feature get past testing? This thing is NOT reliable at all.

Now, as mentioned, there are some introduced mechanics that I feel was executed pretty well. I am actually having fun with personal map loadouts and personal ordinances. When it comes to ordinances however, this could be tweaked just a little bit .

However, there are some ugly issues as well. Some of the weapons in the sandbox are just inconsistent and/or overpowered. Take the boltshot for example. Anyone can spawn with it and can just wreak havoc in close quarter situations. A charged shot up close will kill you, and if you're just a bit farther away, you can instantly drain shields instantly and follow it up with a headshot. Also, the scattershot is massively inconsistent from what I have seen. From a range of about 10-15 feet, it can take up to 4 shots to kill someone and can take as little as one.

Onto the topic of vehicles, I feel like they are balanced enough. The gauss cannon was toned down when it comes down to rate of fire, and the Scorpion Tank’s shell travel time has been lowered. I have a slight issue with the Banshee however. When you perform the backflip maneuver, and put your analog stick to one side, when you complete your backflip, your Banshee will jerk the other way. How does that work? Am I the only one with this issue?

It is unclear that 343i will tweak these issues or improve on these mentioned mechanics in a future Title Update, however they did mention that they are issuing multiple updates over Halo 4's lifecycle. We'll just have to see if that ends up being the case over time.


Good: Loadouts and personal map loadouts are fun. It adds a unique twist to Halo. Vehicles are more balanced this time around.

Bad: Ordinances should be tweaked/balanced a bit more. Instant respawn a problem. Killcams not reliable.

Ugly: Inconsistent and overpowered weapons exist... And one of them can even be loaded in you loadout. WTF? Oh, and “killcams” are currently pointless.

Score: 7/10 (Title updates may change this score)


Excluding the forge maps created by Certain Affinity, Halo 4 has 10 maps ready to go on the disk and is being utilized in Matchmaking. For this section, I will not cover the DLC maps. I may revisit this once all of the 3 announced DLC packs have been released.

Here are the maps that I believe has the biggest issues.

Adrift - This map is so symmetrical, that it is actually tough to figure out where you are specifically at any moment. No side is unique. Take for example that if you are at top-mid: If someone calls out man cannon, how do you figure out which one (if a teammate isn't already at the location)? Also, based off my experience on slayer/teamRegicide, everyone either a) moves as a group, b) holds down spawn, or c) moves around in circles until they find someone so I realize that I am not the only one with this particular issue.

Exile - I am quite confused to the logic in vehicle placement. In BTB games, why does one side get an easily accessible Scorpion Tank and the other gets a Gauss Hog? Unless coordination is used to distract the tank, 9 times out of 10, the tank will easily take that hog down, and easily shrug off a Gauss shot or two in the process.

Other than those two, all of the other maps are manageable.

One thing that I would like to see back, is the map "callouts" being displayed on the HUD. It would probably make it easier for me (and my friends) to use.

I have also noticed, there are not maps on disk that are not entirely indoors. 343i apparently insists on showing off their graphical capability and show vistas off in the distance.


Good: Majority of maps are usable and unique. Incredible vistas in most maps.

Bad: Issue of creating "callouts" that are easily understandable to everyone. Placement of items in some maps are questionable.

How is there not any of this?: Indoor maps.

Score: 7.5/10

Matchmaking Experience

There are a LOT of issues in the matchmaking experience thus far. Will this be fixed in a future Title Update? I don't know, but here's the current issues I have seen.

Constant changes to the hoppers: 343i apparently wants the most successful playlists out there, but does not want to edit/remove the "default" playlists and wants to have a limit of 10 or so hoppers at any one time. We have seen playlists like Team Snipers come and go and I don't like it. For me, that was my most liked playlist, and to see it gone in 1 week is very disappointing.

UI: Why is it that when I select a hopper, I have to select what I want more than once in some cases? Why is it that when we back out of a search (to gain a player, or two), the playlist below the one I selected prior is now highlighted when I re-enter the "select" menu?

Formation of teams and join in progress: I enter a 4v4 playlist with a party of 7. In many instances, the party ends up split into 4v3 and a game starts that way. Ideally, we would like to see a game have even teams before a game starts up. In some cases, the matchmaking system won't even put that last player in the game. So the team of 3 players are SOL.

Ability to find a game quickly: You hop on with your friends, and try to find a game. You find that there are network issues that prevent your group to find people. You try this in multiple playlists and get the same result. You give up and go into a custom game. You shouldn't have this issue. (Sidenote: Everyone's NATs are "open".)

Pre-Game/Proximity Voice... or lack thereof: Who's idea was it to get rid of these features? Was this in response to everyone getting mute banned in Reach for the wrong reason? Ugh!

Forge/Community Maps: When are these getting implemented? I am tired of seeing the same 3-4 maps being rotated over and over again.

Here are some of the good points to make though...

Join in progress: It works (when it does)! It will only insert you into a game in proress that either a) just started, or b) is VERY close. Very rarely do I actually join a game in progress and find that I am on the losing team with a 20 kill gap.

In-game netcode: It also works! Very rarely do I see players teleporting from one point to another due to latency or having a "black screen of doom". As far as I'm concerned, the netcode works.

All in all. I definitely feel that matchmaking can be improved and optimized. Even more than 2 months after Halo 4's release, there are still issues just even finding a game.


Good: Join in progress and netcode in-game.

Bad: Just about everything else.

Community maps?: None.

Score: 4.5/10 (Updates via code/playlists may change this score)

Fun Factor/Longevity

As of this writing, I feel that the fun factor that I found in Halo 2, 3, and Reach just isn't there in Halo 4.

Comparing to the previous Halo game, Halo: Reach, I actually find that Reach ends up being more fun for me (with friends) on the basis of that there is actually less bull---- compared to Halo 4. The typical group of friends I play with (also long time Halo fans) end up agreeing with me on this.

In addition to that, it makes me thinks as if 343i has made the game more competitive, at the cost of fun. The game is definitely playable, but the satisfaction just isn't there when I mow down players with the tank, board and hijack a banshee, splatter someone with the warthog, or even 5 shot a player with the DMR.

Looking at the multiplayer's longevity, it appears to me that Halo 4 will not last long. In week one of Halo 4's release, I saw the population go as high as 600,000 players. 8 weeks later, we are seeing numbers dip below 100,000. Of course other games that were released are a factor, but if we combine this with other issues like the Crimson DLC fiasco, the management of playlists, and the issues with the matchmaking system, it makes me feel that people are leaving and are not looking back.

As 343i mentioned, title updates are in the works which can add features to the game and fix issues, which may bring people back, but by the time a major TU is released, are they too late? We won't know. We will see when changes/additions to the game are implemented to make a call.

In the meantime, MLG has released their v1 gametypes on December 31st 2012. I have played 4 different games on 5 different maps (FFA, CTF, Extraction, Slayer) and I think that MLG's settings are actually pretty darn good. I found myself having a bit more fun than "Vanilla 4" in some cases. I am not usually a person that plays MLG games, but I may want to look at using these gametypes more often.

In about 9 weeks, I logged more than 4.25 days of War Games gametime in Halo 4. That has got to count for something, right?


Good: Hey, the game is more competitive now!

Bad: Not as fun as other games in the series. The game's population is in steep decline, 343i needs to step in and try to fix that.

MLG?: Promising!

Score: 6/10

Miscellaneous features

Other tidbits that I feel that I need to point out that just didn't fit anywhere else. This section won't have a score.

In-Game HUD: What happened? The "kill feed" at the bottom left corner above your radar is almost hard to read due to its small and opaque typeface. It's as if 343i doesn't want you to care about that part of the HUD. Also, where are the "Red Xs" on the map? "Hey! One shot on my X.... OH WAIT! S*!T! He's at the mancannon! Annnnddddd he has shields back. F#$K."

Stopping movement as you check score: When you press the back button to check your score, you should be able to keep moving, not randomly stop in place and be vulnerable.

Grieving players, destroying friendly vehicles: As you get into a vehicle that someone else wants, you run the chance of someone trolling the heck out of you and just start firing on your vehicle until it is scrap metal. If the troll succeeds, your vehicle becomes scrapmetal and you leave unscathed and without a prompt to boot the troll. How is this fair?


343i knew they had a big task at hand when they were developing the multiplayer for this game and they took very big risks.

If 343i had the goal of keeping the long time Halo players, I’d like to think they only half succeeded. And let's not talk about bringing new players to the series.

This game has a lot of room for improvement. As far as I'm concerned, I already got my $60 dollars' worth of entertainment, so I may be moving on to different games. Hopefully a soon-to-be-released Title Update, as well as DLC can bring me back.

I heard someone in a Halo community say that this game is like a Diamond covered in crap, and that all they have to do is wash the crap off. I really hope that person is right.

Average Score: (7 + 7.5 + 4.5 + 6) / 40 --> 6.25/10 = D

Message Index


Halo 4 Review - War Games ExperienceUnrealCh13f 1/9/13 3:01 p.m.
     Re: Halo 4 Review - War Games ExperienceTimothy Welsh 1/10/13 10:11 a.m.

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