Furian Fridays | Multiplayer? I disconnect from you

I’ve come full circle.

After 22-years of 8-bit consoles, gold controllers, memory cards and digital downloads, my taste has finally hit a theory of relativity and arrived back where it started.

Okay, for those who aren’t me (how do you live?), let me clarify: once upon a time I was a very secular player of games. Games were less of a clichéd escape for me, they were simply the only thing I really cared about. They were worlds to explore, characters to meet and things to blow into various pixelated bits. I took a kiddish-price in beating my favourite games, delving into the greats of the MegaDrive and the SNES and into the ‘golden age’ of the PlayStation 1 and the Nintendo 64.

multiplayer
Remember when multiplayer was all about crowding around one of these?

I loved games like Mario Kart, Super Street Fighter II Turbo and Sensible Soccer – games that are fondly remembered for their sofa-filling multiplayer modes. It wasn’t a conscious desire to avoid playing with others (I spent far too much time at the local arcade playing Mortal Kombat 2); perhaps it was just subconscious control thing.

Then through college and uni things seemed to shift. In came Call of Duty 2, 3 and 4; in came Guitar Hero 2 and 3; in game Pro Evo 2008. These are games made for hanging out with your mates, screaming the air seven shades of blue. Literally wasting hours in tourneys on Pro Evo or handing over the controller once you died on Call of Duty single-player (yeah, because a warning about grenades tending to explode is so useful after you died from a grenade-related explosion).

multiplayer
“Dude? Dude! DUDE!!!”

Soon that shifted into online bouts of Gears of War or various Halos and Tekkens. But after a while, I seemed to lose heart with it. Nothing drove me away from the good the good ship multiplayer – even those idiots that play FPS games online and take it far too seriously (“I just shot you, how did I die? I F**KING EMPTIED A F**KING WHOLE CLIP IN YOU!!”) I just wanted to be able to dive back into a world where I was the one and only influence on events. Call it a God complex, if you will.

There’s a time, a place and mindset for playing with strangers (experiences like Journey feed off such anonymity), but multiplayer isn’t really multiplayer unless you’re playing with your friends. It’s like playing Mario Party with some random bloke at a party. It’s a little, well, weird when you start looking at it like that.

multiplayer
Ah, all the joy of the online fair.

Perhaps it’s life starting to dictate the direction of our gaming tastes. Playing online is hard thing to drop in and out of. One round of Halo 4 is pointless. You need to settle down with a can of Monster Ripper (other energy drinks are available) and carve out a four-hour, eye-melting session and find your groove. It’s also a pretty impersonal thing (unless you have a group of friends/online friends you regularly play games with). Or, perhaps, I’ve just become a little disillusioned with what multiplayer has become – a giant network of strangers playing a game with the lights off.

People, I’m advised, are great. But there’s nothing like switching off Xbox Live/PlayStation Network/whatever the hell Nintendo are using and play something nice and closed off. Who need’s friends when you’ve got NPCs? NPCs are GREAT!

Everything you need to know about Halo 4

Everything you need to know about Halo 4

Halo 4 is the eagerly awaited return of Master Chief. It’s been 5 years since we last stepped into his hefty shoes to save the universe, or if like us, your still playing Halo 3, then its time to put down your 5 year old game and grab the latest installment due for release in November. If your new to the series or a seasoned pro, then Infinite Robots is here to bring you up to speed on what you can expect. Go get em’ solider.

Campaign:

Halo 4 Campaign

I have to admit something here… The Halo Campaign has never excited me, I have never enjoyed the campaign nor will I ever look back on previous titles with fondness. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Halo universe, I’m currently enjoying the Ghosts of Onyx novel, but I’ve found the constant grinds and endless Flood encounters just not very enthralling. First person shooter’s of our day and age do a good job at making you feel some sort of attachment for the main protagonist whilst also providing  6 hours worth of entertainment. In the previous installment, Halo: Reach, I couldn’t care one bit when Noble Team finally perished. I was glad.

Halo 4 kicks off after the events of Halo 3, Master Chief and Cortana fresh from putting an end to the Covenant, the Flood, and the threat of the Halo Array, awake aboard the remains of Forward Unto Dawn slowly approaching a mysterious artificial forerunner planet called Requiem. The UNSC Infinity originally designed as a warship was recommissioned for peaceful exploration and research—until it discovered the Forerunner world of Requiem and was mercilessly pulled into the maw of the planet. Now, the fate of Infinity and its crew is inexorably tied to that of the Master Chief.

I have faith in 343i and from the screenshots & videos below, early signs are good. They are taking the new trilogy in a very different direction with a new set of enemies, weapons and worlds.

Halo 4 | Campaign Screenshots

Halo 4 | Campaign videos

Multiplayer:

Halo 4 Multiplayer

Now we come to the game mode which will make or break Halo 4 in the long run. 343i have set the multiplayer on board the UNSC Infinity in a simulation system for SPARTAN-IVs to hone their skills. All your favorite game modes are here with Griftball now added from the start and the “Flood”, basically the zombie game type with added vision and claws for extra melee damage.

Armour Abilities are here to stay but appear to be less game breaking then the controversial Armour Lock. We have the jet pack, Hologram, Promethean vision & Hardlight Shield.

Hardlight ShieldPromethean VisionHologramJet Pack

Player progression is dealt with in a similar fashion to Reach, you earn experience points which allow you to level up and spend these points on armor kits, components, and skins, for use within their custom loadouts. “What’s more, Spartans earn points while ranking up that they can use to purchase items to improve their combat performance and abilities in the field.”

This brings us on to a new addition to Halo 4, Loadouts. A main stay in many modern day competitive online games finally comes to Halo. These are available to switch between during games in order to best suit the map currently being played as well as the current player’s play style. There are a total of five loadouts available to customize. Each of which allow the player to alter the primary weapon, secondary weapon, grenades, armor ability, tactical package, and the armor mod. Due to the amount of options you have in your loadouts, here’s a handy walk through from IGN.

Ordnance Drop

During the course of “War games” simulations and Spartan Ops, drop pods can deploy ordnance into the field. Once on the ground, these pods are marked on the heads-up displays of all nearby personnel who can then acquire the weapons or power-ups for use against enemies. In some simulated matches within War Games, Spartans can earn and manually call in their own ordnance drops. Ordnance drops will not be available to use in all gametypes.

Halo 4 | Multiplayer Screenshots

Halo 4 | War Games Gameplay

Halo 4 | E3 2012 Multiplayer Wrap Up

 

Spartan Ops:

Halo 4 Spartan Ops

 Spartan Ops is another fine addition and a smart move by 343i, Spartan Ops will replace the seldom liked Firefight mode for all your cooperative needs. It will support up to 4 players and tie into the SPARTAN-IV Program and the Campaign of Halo 4. Spartan Ops mainly revolves around Majestic Squad who will interact with the Chief during the campaign. Seasons will be made up of Chapters containing five missions. Chapters will be released in weekly, free DLC’s which may in the future be paid DLC’s dependent on their success.

Halo 4 | Spartan Ops Screenshots

Halo 4 | Spartan Ops Videos

Enemies:

Halo 4 Promethean Knight

The new trilogy begins with a new race of enemies known as the Promethean’s. The Promethean’s are an elite Forerunner class tasked with defending Requiem. So far we’ve seen the Promethean Knights (above) which appear to be the new bad asses of the game, move over Elites. They start at Knight level and work there way up to Battlewagon’s, your Zealot Elite’s if you will.

Promethean Watcher

With the knight’s come the Watchers, they summon Crawlers (below) and help protect and resurrect the Knights. Something I can see becoming fairly annoying on Legendary.

Alpha Crawler

Don’t worry the Covenant return with Elites, Grunts, Jackals & Hunters but no sign of brutes and speculation that the Elites will team up with the Promethean’s at some point in the campaign.

Halo 4 | Enemies Screenshots

Halo 4 | Making of: Forerunners

Weapons:

Halo 4 Weapons

All your old favorite war machines return with the addition of a few more exciting weapons such as the Scatter shot (below) which looks devastatingly powerful and I imagine an instant fan favorite.

Scattershot

Halo 4 | Weapon Screenshots

UNSC Weapons Video

Covenant Weapons Video

 

We’ll keep this feature updated with any news or videos that come out in the run up to launch. 

What are you most looking forward to in the next installment of Halo? Let us know below.

Images courtesy of 343i | Halo Waypoint

Furian Fridays | Is Co-Op Really the Future of Multiplayer?

FOR SOMEONE that once swore by a single-player only way of life, I practically fornicate with the many multiplayer modes of my favourite games. Whether I’m playing Halo 3, Modern Warfare 3 or Assassin’s Creed Revelations (to name a few) I can’t help sinking countless hours into death matches, rounds of capture the flag & domination. I’m unashamedly a sheep in the herd when it comes to multiplayer, and it really doesn’t bother me in the slightest.

But of late an odd mix of developers, PR reps & games journalists are hailing the co-operative mode as the truest next transition for multiplayer gaming. But are these modes really the natural next stage for playing with friends/strangers/weirdos online or are they just another fadesque add-on that’s clogging up disk space?

As the quiet summer of 2012 draws to a close & the AAA-heavy Q4 rides ever nearer, myself & a few friends decided to do the usual ‘clear-out-the-to-do-pile’ & ‘catch-up-on-past-games-before-the-next-bad-ass-looking-sequel-comes-out’ frenzy. One game that crept its way into our disk drives during this proverbial clear-out was Gearbox’s 2009 schizophrenic shooter Borderlands. Borderlands can be taken on completely solo, with every boss beaten & level achieved without the assistance of another living soul (if you’re willing to grind like a madman that is). But in a group – more specifically in a group of friends – Borderlands is a completely different experience.

Borderlands has reimagined the co-op experience

The hub world of Pandora becomes less of a threat filled wasteland and more of a mayhem-filled playground as you and your friends barrel around each other’s playthrough carving a path of wanton destruction. The game is also unique in the fact that it escalates difficulty depending on how many players are playing and what level they’re at. It’s a great feature that balances the experience but is it really the be all and end all of online gaming? Whilst I love the oppurtinity to experience online gaming in a different way I’m still going to want to have a game of Team Slayer in Halo 3 or an online fight on Soul Calibur V. The joy of gaming is it’s such a vast playing field that almost every avenue of taste is covered should the mood take you.

It’s also odd that co-operative play has been hailed as something of an inevitable end-state of multiplayer gaming when in fact co-operative play, in its most basic terms, has been part of multiplayer since its inception. Sure, modes like Horde from Gears of War & Firefight from Halo ODST/Halo Reach have created scenarios where human-controlled players take on waves of AI opponent but haven’t anyone played a round of TDM or Capture the Flag? Quake 2, Counter Strike Source, Unreal Tournament; all these titles & more were built on the popularity of working as a team to co-operatively reach a goal. Even Halo is known around the world for its classic ‘Red Vs Blue’ imagery (or perhaps we should thank Rooster Teeth for that?).

To me it seems like a bit of moot point. Team-based multiplayer is as much a part of the multiplayer legacy as any other ingredient, so I hardly think specifically co-operative modes are the future. Developers have noted that these modes are more in vogue as of late & many have created some amazing experiences such as Syndicate & the addictive Borderlands. But the strength of Xbox Live, PSN & PC based online gaming has been built on the popularity of classic multiplayer set ups so don’t expect death matches to expire quite yet.

Dom Reseigh-Lincoln is the Content Editor for infiniterobots.co.uk and can usually be found grumbling behind a laptop or swooping over rooftops with a white hood & a wrist-blade. You can find him keeping the Creed on Twitter @furianreseigh.