Those who have been keeping up to date with Halo 4 news will likely already be familiar with the Haven multiplayer map. It was the first location to be featured extensively in screenshots, and has provided a backdrop for numerous gameplay impressions and video footage. But that doesn’t mean a walkthrough narrated by Lead Multiplayer Level Designer Kynan Pearson wouldn’t be appreciated.
In case you missed the latest video walkthrough for Halo 4‘s multiplayer, the Forerunner architecture and free-floating installation of Haven seems to be one of a kind. And in the high-speed carnage of gameplay videos there’s a good chance that the map’s finer points have been overlooked. Take a look.
343 Industries has recently pulled back the curtain on the thinking behind their new and improved approach to Infinity War Games, injecting story and fine-tuned engineering into the perceived free-for-all that is Halo multiplayer. We’ll need to wait and see if the progressions system is as deep as they claim it to be, but for now the foundations are looking plenty sturdy.
Pearson explains in the walkthrough video (provided by IGN) that Haven was one of the first locations designed and perfected by 343, and it shows. The complex layering of platforms, walkways, ramps and alternative access routes are strongly keeping in the Halo tradition, but seem far more intuitive when it comes to navigation and orientation than Meltdown or Adrift. Granted, those maps are quite a bit larger than Haven, but the level of complexity and possible strategies in this location are just as rich. But the strength is in the details.
The map itself is symmetrical along one axis, with a larger square at its center to encourage skirmishes. Yet the use of light and shadow make it clear which side of the map a player is situated and moving toward, aided by the pulsing Forerunner energy traveling along the walls and floor towards the map’s center. It’s doubtful that seasoned players would need such road markers, but for newer players (which 343 hopes to have a lot of) it offers direction on even a subliminal level.
The Haven map is built around smaller scale, 4v4 sessions, making it yet another ‘less-is-more’ location for competitive players to flex their muscles – in a much tighter map as opposed to something like Complex. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be ways of leveling the playing field. Haven’s narrow hallways and choke points mean that the new Armor Abilities – Hardlight Shield, for instance – will be even more potent if used as part of a team strategy.
On a purely aesthetic level, Haven shows the kind of architecture that fans can expect to see more of on Requiem, the setting of Master Chief’s next mission. Massive platforms and buildings held in place by ‘harmonic resonance’ – a feature incorporated into the design of Promethean characters. The fiction of the Haven installation itself (as utilizing energy harvest from artificial suns) may not be as intriguing as the breached laboratories of Abandon, but it will more than suffice.
Is Haven looking like the kind of multiplayer you’ll be most excited to jump into, or do the larger-scale environments like Ragnarok, or the madness of the new Flood Mode seem more to your liking? Choices, choices.
Halo 4 will be released on November 6, 2012, exclusively for the Xbox 360.
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