Bungie devs outline new multiplayer features in Halo 3 trailer

In Bungie's latest "vidoc", a host of developers illustrate many of the changes made to Halo 3's multiplayer modes, giving gamers an idea of what to expect in the near future.

By Eugene Huang

We know that the Halo 3 multiplayer beta is still more than a month away, but those who mumble the word "Covenant" in their sleep might want to look into Bungie's latest video documentary, Is Quisnam Protero Damno (Latin for "I trample my oppressors"). In the vid, which is now available on both the Xbox Live Marketplace and on Bungie's website, a number of developers list some of the new features available to multiplayer gamers.

Offense vs. Defense

As we mentioned in our previous report, the Halo 3 beta will come pre-packaged with three multiplayer maps: Snowbound, High Ground, and Valhalla. But those used to the symmetrical maps of Halo and Halo 2 might be a little surprised with what's been done with High Ground, according to multiplayer environment lead Chris Carney.

"We started getting more into these asymmetrical maps where it's offense versus defense, where that's a choke point that you want to hold, and I think High Ground is an example of that," Carney revealed.

As an example, the choke point in High Ground comes in the form of a single gateway, which is the only means of entering the enemy base at the top of the hill. However, since it is the only means of entry, the defending forces can assemble above the gateway and pick off any and all intruders that they see.

Now that's a man cannon.

Another aspect that Bungie wanted to explore in greater depth was the idea of player movement. Although the series has so far provided instantaneous transport through its implementation of teleportation portals, some of the developers had noted that there's no inherent danger involved in going from one place to the other. From this observation comes the "man cannon".

From what we've seen of the video, the man cannon is simply a human catapult that launches characters into the air towards a pre-determined spot somewhere else on the map. As your warrior is thrown into the air, he is susceptible to enemy sniper fire, making transportation a much more dangerous task than previously assumed.

The three pillars of Halo

"There's this thing we didn't really identify in Halo 2 that if you spawn everybody with a dual wield of a weapon, like the SMG, it changed the game," commented Adrian Perez, Software Design Engineer. "People stopped melee-ing, and people stopped grenade-ing because when you're dual-wielding, you can't do either of those."

Because of these concerns that two vital aspects of the game had been largely ignored in favor of the dual wield, Bungie developers decided to strengthen certain single-wield weapons to provide even more balance to the game. The most prominent example of this is the thorough restructuring of the Assault Rifle.

The weapon now has a shorter clip, but also excels as a powerful close-range melee weapon. Plus, the fact that the weapon only requires one hand means that grenades can be freely used, adding to the weapon's versaitility. According to multiplayer designer Lars Bakken, this weapon update now brings back the tandem of the three pillars of Halo: weapons, grenades, and melee.

Where do they get those wonderful toys?

Also new to the Halo universe are two nifty gadgets: the bubble shield and the tripmine. The bubble shield is a device that creates an impenetrable barrier around a player for, we assume, a limited amount of time. During that time, nothing gets in and nothing gets out, although it's still unknown whether other units can freely enter or exit the shield while it's up.

The tripmine is also a defensive weapon, but is meant to be used primarily against vehicles. If a player is pursued by, for example, a Warthog, the immediate planting of a tripmine automatically results in the destruction of the vehicle, as well as anybody riding inside it. However, the video also indicates that many of these cases also involve the self-destruction of the player as well.

Your failures and successes in full, plain view

The last feature shown in the video is the addition of replay saves, which allows players to relive their greatest/worst moments in full, panoramic glory/humiliation. Replays can be paused, camera angles can be shifted and rotated, and saves can be uploaded to the internet for the purpose of embarrassing one's opponents.

But, according to Jaime Griesemer, sandbox design lead, these replays may have another added benefit in helping to improve an individual's play. Players can now see their games from the perspective of their enemies, which allows them to not only examine their own mistakes, but also clues them in on how their enemies think.

But there's no crying in Halo!

All in all, Halo 3 is shaping up to be a pretty solid multiplayer experience, but we won't know for certain until the beta finally hits on May 16th. But still, players should always keep in mind that whatever they experience on the beta will not be 100% indicative of the final product. Things may be changed drastically at the last minute to make the game as perfect as possible, which keeps some developers up at nights, such as multiplayer environment artist Steve Cotton. He ends the video by saying:

"We're going to be what we're going to be. And we think it's really good, but everybody's expecting it to be really good, so we gotta beat those expectations somehow. That's what's tough, yeah. That's what makes me cry at my desk."

He's kidding, of course. We hope.