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Thursday, March 18

News on Multiplayer: Active Roster and Arena


News on Multiplayer: Active Roster and Arena 


Shack News has got the inside running on some new features of Halo Reach's multiplayer. It sounds like Bungie have raised the bar once more. Shack news reports on the following new features.

New Features:

Active Roster - This is a throwback to Halo 2. When you boot up Reach, right at the main menu or lobby, you'll see a list of what your Xbox Live friends are doing within Reach. You'll get detailed information about any friends playing Reach including who they are partied with, what game they are in (plus score and remaining time), and more.

Basically, Bungie wants to make it so that you do not have to utilize the Xbox Live Guide to find out what your buddies are doing in Reach.

Sweet, good common sense approach to finding your mates.

Queue-Joining

In Halo 3, it was difficult to join friends that were already playing in a match. You had to wait until they were finished. If you started a game while you waited, they would then have to wait for you. Instead of going back and forth, Reach will support queue-joining. Simply put, Reach will automatically join up as soon as your friends are joinable.

Genius
Improved Voting System

Halo: Reach will utilize a new voting system, which Bungie described as "Veto 2.0". Each playlist will provide players with four options. The first will be a combination of map and gametype, much like you would see in Halo 3. The other three options will offer players additional choices to vote on. Thankfully, you'll know up front what your four options are so you no longer have to risk voting down a favored map, but unfavored gametype and getting an unfavored combination.

Behind-the-scenes, a lot of work has been done to give more flexibility to the playlist designers. A designer could, for example, ensure that the first choice is always Team Slayer on a set of 3 popular maps, but offer different gametypes in the additional choices.

Hmmm sounds like a lot of work...?

Arena Playlists

Possibly the largest change coming in Halo: Reach is the Arena. This is a Slayer and Team Slayer set of playlists entirely geared toward the hardcore. If that wasn't enough, players will be rated and placed into skill divisions in month-long seasons.

The rating system is smart enough to realize that kills aren't the other determining factor behind skill. This is especially true for team games where assists play a huge roll. Similarly, players that have a greater kill/death ratio (had more kills than deaths) will rank higher than players that die as much as they kill.

The divisions are Onyx, Gold, Silver, Bronze, and Steel. It is possible to move up or down within a single season. To qualify for ranking, players will have to play a certain number of games a day to gain a "Daily Ranking", which will be an average of a player's best games from the day. To get a divisional ranking and compete in a season, players will need a certain number of Daily Rankings.

Casual gametypes will not appear in Arena playlists. You won't be seeing Rocket Race or Fiesta here.

Even though Arena is geared toward top-level players, it should help less skilled players avoid being matched up against people they have no chance of winning against.

Oh no more noob pwning? Denied. I hate Rocket Race too, so this pleases me!

Ranked and Social Combined

Since the hardcore will be in the Arena, Bungie doesn't want to further splinter the community. In Halo 3, Ranked and Social playlists served two different purposes. Ranked games were generally of a higher quality, while social games were more casual.

In Reach, the playlists will be smart enough to put you and your party in the proper match based upon how many players you have. Say you're looking for a game in a four-on-four playlist. If you bring four people, Reach will attempt to match your team against another group of four at a similar skill level. If you go in with more than four, it will properly split your party across the teams and fill in the blanks with additional players.

Streamlined Party-Up

After a Halo 3 match, players were presented with the option to "Party Up" and merge lobbies with all willing players. In Reach, it will be an opt-out system. After a match, players will be kept together and it will automatically roll into looking for the next match. The system is flexible enough to allow Bungie to determine, per playlist, whether to keep a team together and find a new set of opponents or keep an entire game together and move onto the next map.

Ha, this will lead to more chatter and banter for sure!



Matchmaking Connection Options

The options for finding games in matchmaking will be more open to the player, if they so choose. If you only ever want to play in games with a good connection, that can be set in the options. If you only ever want to play against players of a similar skill, that can be set. The same goes for finding players that speak to same language.
That's a nice move by Bungie, nothing worse than being 'that guy from New Zealand who lags'.

Social Settings 

In addition to these connection options, players can rate themselves along four axes to add another layer of criteria to the matchmaking. These won't trump anything else, but it will help Bungie build better teams. Players will define their playstyle in the following four categories:
  • Teamwork - Team Player vs. Lone Wolf
  • Motivation - Winning vs. Having Fun
  • Chattiness - Chatty vs. Quiet
  • Tone - Polite vs. Rowdy
This allows Bungie, for example, to try and build a team of chatty, polite, team-playing, winners in serious playlists.

This will make for some serious good times - if you can find a group of people with the same mind set as yourself, your playing experience will be better for it.

In all, these new rosters and ways to group players and teams is a truly fresh approach to Halo match making. The ability to mix the parameters up to best suit individual needs will no doubt boost the enjoyment factor of Halo online - and that enjoyment factor was pretty high to begin with!

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