Microsoft’s massive first-person franchise, Halo, is getting a new entry in just a few weeks with Halo 5: Guardians, and 343 Industries sent Kevin Franklin, the title’s Multiplayer Design Director, along to XONZ with a build of “Warzone”, the new multiplayer mode, for kiwis to check out.
While he was here, Luke thought it might be a good idea to have a sit down and work out what’s new with Halo 5’s online options.
Luke Batt: Hey Kevin, thanks for talking to NZGamer.com here at XONZ today.
Kevin Franklin: Hey, yeah, no worries.
Luke: Cool, so let’s get things going with your inspirations for Halo 5’s multiplayer. As the Multiplayer Design Director, what were the big things that you wanted to change and add to this new title’s experience?
Kevin: The biggest thing we wanted to do was upgrade the tech. We moved to 60 frames per second (fps) and we got on dedicated servers, which made a huge difference for us because we’re able to bring some of our crazy ideas to life.
The whole team were fans of Halo Wars, and our lead producer (Brian Lemon) on Warzone actually worked on Halo Wars. So we had a really good base, and some of the screenshots we were looking at from Halo Wars were actually a huge inspiration for how we could get the scale right on Warzone. Some of those battles were really inspirational.
On the arena side, which is our 4-on-4 mode, we really just wanted to make an eSport. We were inspired by the glory days of Halo 2 and Halo 3, and wanted to bring back that core competitive legacy.
Then with Warzone, there’s this dream that we think a lot of Halo players have had. If you read the forums it’s like, “We want 5-on-5 Scorpion battles”, or “We want AI in multiplayer”, so we said, “okayy, how do we take on this challenge?” So, with Warzone we really just wanted to make this epic, epic mode, and that meant building maps four times larger and getting all the AI, vehicles, and weapons into one place.
Luke: That’s really cool, and yeah, getting my hands on it earlier, it runs really smooth. It seems to be pretty forgiving as far as locking onto enemy AI targets.
Kevin: Absolutely. You’re probably feeling the 60fps, and when it’s on dedicated servers, all the AI is being run by the servers, so you get quite a good experience. We did want it to be accessible for players who like the campaign, and the players who played Firefight before. So if you knew how to take on AI we wanted to let you be able to do that in MP while playing with and against other players.
Luke: You say dedicated servers, is Halo 5’s multiplayer taking advantage of Microsoft’s Azure cloud?
Kevin: Yeah, it’s all being run in the cloud. There’s a very, very beefy server that runs every Warzone game - which is pretty awesome.
Luke: Because it’s using the cloud, can we expect Australasian servers?
Kevin: I don’t know the exact details, but we’re doing tests right here [at XONZ] today in Auckland, and we’re getting a 40 millisecond ping, which I thought was pretty fantastic.
Luke: Is everything we’re playing today running over the internet?
Kevin: Yeah. Forty millisecond ping over the internet, so hopefully we can keep that up.
Luke: So you’ve mentioned this new game type, Warzone. What exactly is it?
Kevin: It basically identifies as anything that is 12-on-12; anything that uses our new Requisition system - so you can call in items in-game; anything that plays on our maps that are four times larger; and anything that features AI in multiplayer.
It’s sort of an umbrella for all eight of our Warzone experiences at launch, and we’re going to have more released post-launch.
Luke: And how do players win a Warzone match? What are their goals?
Kevin: In standard Warzone, it’s either to get 1000 points, or blow up the enemy’s core for victory. And then in Warzone Assault, you either want to defend your base and core if the other team is attacking you, or if you’re on the attacking team, you want to blow up the enemy’s core.
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