Following the announcement of new HCS settings earlier this week, Halo has added a ranked preview playlist to Halo 5. The playlist offers players the opportunity to test the new HCS settings, and provide feedback. The feedback will be used to help decide further tweaks to the settings. The final settings will be used for both HCS Daytona and the Summer Season of the HCS Pro League.
The playlist is a step in the right direction for 343 Industries, listening to the Halo player base. While it has yet to be seen how the decision-making process will reflect player feedback, it is refreshing to see eyes and ears turn toward the Halo community.
This piece will preview some of the more specific mechanical changes, and discuss the importance of 343i’s new move to the competitive community.
Map and Gametype Changes
For all competitive maps, 343i has removed all traces of automatic weapons. Silenced Assault Rifles, SMGs, Brute Plasma Rifles, and Storm Rifles have all gotten the axe. The removal of such weapons will likely satisfy the community, who has sought their removal for some time. Splinter Grenades have also been removed, as 343i follows up on their promise given last week.
Also changed are the respawn timers for Tier 1 and Tier 2 weapons. Battle Rifles, Carbines, DMRs, Light Rifles, and Boltshots will now respawn every 40 seconds. The Plasma Pistol, Shotgun, Scattershot, Hydra, and Needler will see respawn timers of 20 seconds. The change will hopefully reduce the ubiquity of each weapon, and disallow snowballing during gameplay.
Another interesting change is the switch on Coliseum from the default Rocket Launcher to the SPNKr Rocket Launcher. Additionally, pad formerly featuring the SPNKr Rocket Launcher on Eden will now host an Overshield for Slayer games. It seems 343 Industries is making the SPNKr the standard Rocket Launcher, and alleviating some of the power weapon reliance in Slayer gametypes.
Also specified are the initial radar changes. The Motion Sensor Inner range has been changed to 60%, and the radar will no longer pick up players traveling at base movement speed. Because of the controversy surrounding the radar, it will be interesting to see how these settings are tweaked over the next few weeks.
Everyone Has a Voice
In the announcement, 343i revealed that the Multiplayer team met with top HCS players to discuss feedback. The players brainstormed several ideas for the settings, and had a heavy influence on what is now being called “Version 1” of the HCS Summer Season settings. This is reminiscent of the MLG days, where pro players were surveyed periodically for updates to competitive gametypes. Pro player preferences often reflect the opinions of the community at-large, so many players trust they will help keep the gameplay fresh and balanced.
Pro players are not the only group providing feedback, however. An official forum thread now exists for any community members to share opinions on the settings. This feedback will be used as a consensus to sway decisions regarding tweaks to the Version 1 settings. As players continue to test the new settings, look for more changes to be made accordingly over the next few weeks.
343 Industries placing their trust in the community is a fantastic move. They have finally moved away from keeping competitive play as “vanilla” as possible, and now allow the players to craft the settings that they want. This will keep players engaged with the game, and hopefully point the competitive meta in a new, better direction.
The one question that many have is, “Why now?” Halo 5 is in its final year, with two World Championships already under its belt. While the changes are certainly the correct move, is 343i offering too little, too late? Is this a move to appease a community growing in resentment for the developer? Or conversely, is it the start of a long-term plan to be more involved with the players? We must wait and see if the involvement continues into Halo 6. But for now, the changes are undoubtedly a step in the right direction.
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