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In the closing days of 2014, Microsoft and developer 343 Industries launched a beta test for the upcoming sci-fi shooter Halo 5: Guardians. Now, the studio is sharing many of the changes that it has in store after getting player feedback.
Halo 5: Guardians represents a significant shift for the long-running franchise. 343 is introducing new abilities that change the beloved Halo formula, and after letting many of you have a go at an early version, the company is planning on adjusting and fixing a number of Guardian’s aspects. Halo is one of Microsoft’s marquee Xbox games, and the series has sold more than 60 million copies since Halo: Combat Evolved debuted on the original Xbox in 2001. It’s clear that it wants 343 to get Halo 5 right.
To prove that it’s working hard to make the best game possible, 343 producer Josh Holmes wrote a lengthy blog on the Halo Waypoint site that details everything the company learned after the beta. Holmes wants to make it clear that the company isn’t just testing to make sure Halo 5 functions online. Instead, he insists the beta was an early look at a game in fluid production.
“In the past, betas for games on console have typically been used for online scale testing in the weeks prior to a game’s launch,” he wrote. “In our case, we provided a true ‘working’ beta that was a snapshot of our game in development.”
This upfront honesty with the fanbase is likely one of the ways 343 is trying to show fans that it is on their side. The developer is coming off a major headache with the Halo: Master Chief Collection, which launched last fall and had a number of connection problems and bugs that made it nearly unplayable online.
343 knows that it’s making “substantial evolutions” to Halo’s core combat, so this is why it did the beta early enough to react to the things they learned.
So, what did they learn? A whole bunch of stuff.
Holmes lists detailed adjustments 343 is making to Spartan abilities, weapons, and matchmaking. Many of the changes come as the result of player input provided through the Halo Community Feedback Program (HCFP), which enabled fans to vote on things that they loved and hated.
One of the first things the team addressed after the beta was the controversial sprint button, which is new to the series.
“The results from the HCFP surveys showed that nearly 11 percent of HCFP participants felt that Halo should not have sprint,” wrote Holmes. “It is important that we continue to evolve Halo multiplayer while ensuring that legacy Halo players feel right at home. As a result, I’m happy to say that we will provide toggles in custom games so that sprint and the other Spartan Abilities can be turned off.”
But 343 isn’t just reacting to negative feedback. The company noted that players nearly universally loved the pregame and postgame videos that showed off key parts of the map as well as teams celebrating a win. Holmes explained that the designers weren’t happy with the tone of the celebrations.
“Expect the final sequences to feature considerably fewer chest bumps and high fives,” he said.
343 also revealed that it will tune up or ratchet down weapons like the Hyrda, Sniper Rifle, and more. It will give players the option to either see a postdeath replay from the enemy’s perspective or a traditional Halo follow-cam. The studio also revealed that it is still searching for the ideal balance in matchmaking between fast start times and fair teams with comparable skill levels.
These are just a few of the things 343 is working on, and you can read the full list on the game’s website.
“Looking back, this beta has been an amazing gift for us,” wrote Holmes. “The feedback we have received from all of you has been invaluable in helping us to improve our game.”
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