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Halo 5: Guardians Design Changes Explained

by Damian Seeto

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343 Industries’ Josh Holmes has now spoken out to some of the gameplay design changes the studio made in Halo 5: Guardians.

As some people may know already, Halo 5: Guardians has some all-new Spartan Abilities that changes the gameplay somewhat. They’ve added a sprint function as well as other features that are common in other FPS video games.

Holmes explained in a huge forum post on Team Beyond more about the Halo 5: Guardians design changes. His explanation is quite long, but he gives numerous reasons as to why the features have been added to the game in the first place.

The team’s goal in Halo 5: Guardians was “immersion” as he puts it. They studied how a real human being would react and move “in our world” but you are a Spartan “wrapped in Mjolnir assault armor“.

He also said movement and gunplay was important in Halo 5: Guardians. The team wanted to right get the feel when you are firing a gun to make sure it has both “weight and impact“. He went on to say that mobility “was under-developed” in Halo 4 so they made changes to how a Spartan can move for the new game.

Here’s what he had to say about the Spartan abilities:

“Some of the Spartan Abilities are core mobility options like Clamber, Sprint and Thruster that allow for more fluid and natural movement through the environment. They should augment combat in interesting ways, when used effectively. Other abilities are offensive in nature and more oriented toward “crowd-pleaser” moves (like Charge or Ground Pound) that provide a big punctuation point in a match. At a competitive level you are not going to see many GPs attempted in close games because the risk is too high. But when someone does go for it and manages to land it, they deliver a big wow moment that pays off both for them and the viewers of the match.”

Here’s his very long explanation why Sprint has been added to Halo 5: Guardians:

  • As a Spartan, it makes sense that you can push yourself in a situation where survival is imperative. It’s an action that feels natural in the context of a firefight. It’s the extra gear that a Spartan draws upon if they focus purely on mobility and speed.
  • It creates opportunities and meaningful choices on offense and defense. On offense you can commit to an aggressive push or flank at a slight cost to weapon readiness. On defense, you can try for a rapid retreat but it carries the trade-off of stalling your shield recharge. Should you be able to escape from a situation where you are over-matched or have lost the upper hand? Yes, in a skillful manner (using mobility and spatial awareness to your advantage) and so long as your opponent has opportunity to counter using their own skills. The key for us has been to balance the potential escapability of sprint with mechanics like shield recharge and sprint ramp-up, while maintaining a sprint mechanic that feels good. This is something that we will continue to focus on post-beta as this careful balance is so important.
  • Sprint is also an action that the vast majority of Halo players expect to be able to utilize in both an offensive and defensive context. I know that this community does not feel that way (or likely believes that statement to be accurate), but the larger Halo community is very diverse and we are building a game for an audience with many different perspectives represented amongst them. Within that larger audience, most people expect to be able to sprint. Particularly as this is the third Halo game to feature the mechanic.
  • Another important consideration for us is to keep the core play experience as consistent as possible between Campaign, Arena, and the larger MP experiences that we are building. We feel that sprint, done right, works well in Arena. I know that’s a point of significant contention amongst this community. Sprint also works tremendously well in the context of those other experiences that I mentioned. When a player crosses over from Campaign to Arena, or from Arena to big team MP, we want the mechanics to translate across consistently. It’s jarring to become accustomed to a core mechanic only to have it disappear, or vice versa. That’s something that we want to avoid.

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