PAX East 2013: The Future of Halo 4

I love Halo 4. It represents many of the best qualities of modern game development: 343 Industries took a tremendous risk in dramatically changing the look, sound and feel of a functionally and financially established franchise. In an era where creating new franchises is increasingly difficult, 343 really went out on a limb with Halo 4.

One of the developments in which they excelled is in the creation and sustained updates for gameplay additions from new playlists, modes and settings that continually refine the Halo 4 multiplayer experience. Managed by the maintain team, there’s a lot of new content coming in the near future for War Games participants. The Castle map pack (which will be the first one not included for Limited Edition owners) features a trio of new maps built around vehicular combat. With wider and more open maps than infantry focused options, Castle promises the kind of high volume mayhem and speed that only a combination of land and air vehicles can bring (which is my preferred way to experience Halo).

For map creators, the new (and free!) Forge Island core map set and building elements will arrive in April with the promise of new and exciting user created maps. The panel discussed their hope that a fan made recreation of Blood Gulch would be among the first wave of maps built with the new tools, which will undoubtedly be a huge hit.

Last but not least, integrated game balancing will be introduced in the next title update. Akin to similar functionality in Gears of War 3 and NBA 2K13, the start of online sessions will check for an updated configuration file/rule set that is standardized for all multiplayer games. It’s a big step forwards in dynamic adaptation of multiplayer game environments, and a positive sign for the long term future for Halo 4.

Combined with the possibility of a second season of Spartan Ops (which was not mentioned but I have high hopes for), Halo 4 fans have a lot to be excited about.

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