H5's play spaces: branching paths and verticality

With all the discussions about linearity and verticality going on I would like to contribute with this little analysis.

Let’s talk about linearity
First of all: Does H5 really offer more open maps, more freedom to choose where to go or how to approach an encounter or is it just another ‘linear corridor shooter’ in disguise? While people seem to have different definitions of ‘linear’ most fans agree that H2 and (especially) H4 are much more linear while HCE and H3 offer more freedom.

For me less linearity in Halo doesn’t equal moving freely around a huge map as in an ‘open world’ game (think Far Cray). In fact every Halo game has it’s fair share of linear corridors and in fact most Halo levels are simply tubes which are blown up or constricted as it fits. Most of the time direction of movement is very clearly communicated with one entrance and one exit of an arena. One rare exception is HCE’s Silent Cartographer which uses a very clever trick to simulate freedom of movement – the ‘tube’ runs in a circle (see picture).

When people talk about great ‘non-linear’ Halo levels they often think about H3’s ‘The Storm’ or ‘The Covenant’. However that comparison won’t work in regards to H5 as we would compare heavily vehicle based maps with relatively large arenas (to compensate for the vehicles) to the on foot play spaces we’ve seen of H5 so far. But just with the limited footage of H5 it’s pretty obvious that H5 can easily keep up with and/or surpass similar sequences in HCE or H3 when it comes to offered options of movement. Here are some screens I’ve doctored with in paint just to illustrate my point.

Screenshot 1
Different branching paths from the recent Swords of Sanghelios gameplay. There are two ledges that cross at the top and a third (not so) ‘secret’ path that the player opens in the video which has the advantage of leading right to the top and behind the covenant troops.

Screenshot 2
… shows the left ledge that you can’t fully see in Screenshot 1. Please note that you can shoot from one ledge to the other and that the pillars in the right of the picture can be climbed up to (which the player does in the video coming from the third secret path).

Screenshot 3
… shows another area with a multitude of flanking options, objects to climb on to and two levels of elevation (bottom area and upper area). While the player orders his Spartan team to jump to the other platform and fight troops on the ground he uses a hidden path to flank an Elite.

Screenshot 4
… shows the player’s perspective from where he kicked the Elite. The player doesn’t really use the high ground and jumps down relatively soon. It seems as though there is another elevated ledge on the left side or a pillar on the right he could have jumped on.
These pictures show the many options/approaches to choose from which should offer a lot of replayability. Not only are there more branching paths in H5 – the added bonus of verticality makes it even more interesting which brings me to the next point.

H5 – in love with verticality
The Swords of Sanghelios gameplay shows in a very impressive way that H5’s levels are not flat anymore. Practially every bigger area shown offers at least two levels of altitude with steep hills and lots of objects to climb up to.

Screenshot 5
… shows the same location (same mission?) with at least three different levels of altitude (indicated by color) and lots of options in terms of movement.

Seriously that alone makes me giddy with anticipation. Can’t wait to explore these amazing play spaces, amazing job 343i!

I’m a bit iffy on the pillar clambering section though, since by all rights he should have been destroyed by the nearby elites on any difficulty higher than normal, but I do like that the levels are opening up a bit.

I hope they make the maps like H2 maps where you can get out and explore.

> 2708861561595655;3:
> I hope they make the maps like H2 maps where you can get out and explore.

I think you will find they were unintentional glitches, If 343 make makes which we can glitch out of in Halo 5 that is bad design.

> 2535416383459646;4:
> > 2708861561595655;3:
> > I hope they make the maps like H2 maps where you can get out and explore.
>
>
> I think you will find they were unintentional glitches, If 343 make makes which we can glitch out of in Halo 5 that is bad design.

Nope, that just means Bungie was more creative. Maybe you forgot the Scarab gun? You have to go outside the map to get that thing, and Bungie definitely didn’t just leave it in there for show.

Hell, a few H3 skulls required you to get out of the map in order to get to them. Tsavo Highway, The Ark, and Cortana come to mind.

Awesome post. Made me more hyped then the gameplay itself.

> 2535416383459646;4:
> > 2708861561595655;3:
> > I hope they make the maps like H2 maps where you can get out and explore.
>
>
> I think you will find they were unintentional glitches, If 343 make makes which we can glitch out of in Halo 5 that is bad design.

I enjoyed getting outside the map in Cairo Station and Delta Halo in H2. Guess those were bad level designs then since those were never fixed? :frowning:

> 2535416383459646;4:
> > 2708861561595655;3:
> > I hope they make the maps like H2 maps where you can get out and explore.
>
>
> I think you will find they were unintentional glitches, If 343 make makes which we can glitch out of in Halo 5 that is bad design.

What if it was intentional? What if there were no invisible walls or kill zones in campaign at all? Because I think that’s what he means, not leaving holes unintentionally, but not having artificial boundaries in the first place. And by “artificial” I mean boundaries that are not part of the visible environment, i.e. invisible walls and kill zones.

> 2535432359236232;5:
> Nope, that just means Bungie was more creative. Maybe you forgot the Scarab gun? You have to go outside the map to get that thing, and Bungie definitely didn’t just leave it in there for show.
>
> Hell, a few H3 skulls required you to get out of the map in order to get to them. Tsavo Highway, The Ark, and Cortana come to mind.

To be fair, none of those skulls really required you to get out of the level. They were all within the intended boundaries. That is, you didn’t see any of the oddities like extremely low-fidelity models, untextured geometry, or plain emptiness that are associated with getting out of the map.

Easter eggs, though, are sometimes left out of the map, but that’s not as much that the developers specifically want players to go there is it is that they know that somebody will get there at some point, so they’ll leave a surprise.

Everything we’ve seen so far from Halo 5 has shown the player traveling through corridors that have some little detours or shortcuts here and there and has overall been pretty underwhelming.

What I’d like to see is some spaces like “Halo” & “The Silent Cartographer” from Halo: CE where the game just drops you into a giant space with objectives to complete in all different directions. You can go whichever direction you want, you can go back to anywhere you were previously without a door locking behind you, & you have to actually remember where stuff is, find your way & explore to move the mission forward.

Halo- is a giant interconnected space with valleys, bridges, tunnels and you can complete some of the objectives in whatever order you want.

The Silent Cartographer - you get dropped onto an island with a mountain in the middle. You can circle the island from the left or the right, whichever you choose, & eventually end up back where you were. Eventually you run into a locked door, and travel toward the top of the mountain to unlock it. You go back in and enter the mountain where you fight your waythrough & navigate a labyrinth of tunnels with all sorts of hidden areas & shortcuts. Then you have to fight your way back the way you came.

These levels actually make you look for things and explore. You’re actually interacting with an environment that doesn’t close the door behind you and block the path every time you reach a new area. If you wanna backtrack and travel all the way back across the level to go pick up that sniper ammo and health, you can.

Halo (and FPS games in general) should be taking that level design style that made the series and many older FPS games great, and putting it on steroids for future titles instead of turning it into linear corridor shooters where the door always locks behind you. Halo 4 was very disappointing in this regard & so far, nothing I’ve seen really indicates that it’s gonna be much different from Halo 4. Hopefully, I’m wrong.

yeah the vertical gameplay impressed me greatly.

> 2533274866682248;9:
> Everything we’ve seen so far from Halo 5 has shown the player traveling through corridors that have some little detours or shortcuts here and there and has overall been pretty underwhelming.
>
> Halo (and FPS games in general) should be taking that level design style that made the series and many older FPS games great, and putting it on steroids for future titles instead of turning it into linear corridor shooters where the door always locks behind you.

Exactly this whole comment.

I’m assuming this thread is directed at the comments me and one other guy made about the new gameplay. We’re not saying we are expecting a literal “open world” out of 343, but we would like for them to have those sequences of minor exploration that Halo has always had as well as levels that give you the entire Halo sandbox, drop you in and just let you have at it.

Where it’s you, your Hog, maybe a power weapon and some friendly AI, and a wide-open vista dotted with squads of enemy troops and vehicles, and you can take a long drive between skirmishes and just take in the scenery or screw around with friends.

I feel like those mission structures are what made Halo stand out from the very beginning in the growing pool of FPSs it triumphed over, and I hope Halo 5 still has them.