In Defense of Loadouts In H4

For just a moment I would like to talk another recently released title and it’s mechanics. It’s all relevant so bear with me.

Mass Effect 3 launched with a Co-Operative MP feature. In it you get your choice of six different classes with a total of 84 points to spend out of a possible 105 across five different categories with six ranks each with branching ranks for the second half, each class has three abilities with a total of four different races, another set of classes are coming Tuesday, which swap those abilities for different ones. There are a total of 43 different weapons, three more coming this Tuesday, and each weapon can pick a two out of five attachments to add on to each weapon that alter it’s various stats.

What this amounts to is a high degree of customization and creation on the players end. I myself have been drawn into it, spending countless hours in the game, not just crafting my ideal classes but theorizing about it. And not just while I’m at home at the game. I’m doing this during downtime while I’m at other places. Work, red lights, doctor’s office.

I’m trying new things with characters. Just now I tried rolling my Human and Salarian Engineers ability heavy with their talent point applications. Didn’t pan out for me since their powers aren’t enough to outright kill and can’t explode like Biotics do with Adepts and Vanguards so I’m going to be rerolling them soon to be more evenly split in terms of damage between their abilities and their weapons. I’ve been juggling which weapon setup to use for my Quarian Infiltrator. She can’t strip shields like a Salarian Infiltrator would so it can instantly one shot most things, but with Sabotage she can perform a similar setup, stripping shields with her weapon and letting her Sabotage power take the kill on the weakend target. Sadly this doesn’t work on a specific class of enemies where Sabotage just makes the hostile friendly instead but a quick change of tactics make’s it worth while.

Before I start rambling on and on about this, I hope you can see my point that the high degree of customization and creativity in the options I had has created an engaging experience that I readily want to revisit even though there is only one specific achievement for ME3’s MP and the gametype elements are rather limited. As a horde mode it’s only 10 waves with one 2 minute extraction wave, three enemy types and three difficulty settings. Though I would argue that the 20 minute average completion time makes it the perfect balance of length and satisfaction.

What does this mean for H4?

That customizable Loadouts can offer everything that I’ve experienced in ME3’s MP in H4. That same engaging and compelling experience and drive that is nearly addicting to perfect your characters and builds. I have fun while doing it. And clearly as CoD has shown, so do many other people.

The only downside is that balance is diminished. But I would argue that this only effects high end play. After biting the Loadout bullet and playing other games with customizable Loadouts, such as SPESS MAHREEN!, I found it wasn’t as horrible as I initially thought it out to be. Instead I found it to be much like my typical Team Slayer matches. In my typical Team Slayer match, I don’t worry about Map Control, I don’t worry about Power Weapon spawn timers. For all intents and purposes, players might as well start off with different weapons since all players are likely to have different weapons 15 seconds after the game starts. Or they would if the only options weren’t DMR/Power Weapon. Different rant though… Everyone spawning with the exact same weapon might matter in high end play, but for most everyone else, it doesn’t seem to be doing anything productive. Just artificially holding back players.

The other upswing is that by allowing players to pick their weapons at spawn, you theoretically could have more of the weapon sandbox being used. Right now, the Repeater doesn’t offer a compelling reason to go out of your way to pick it up. Partly it’s because the weapon is garbage but the other reason is because that most players are just focused on their primary objective: Find target, kill target. Letting players pick that weapon before they get into their single minded rut might give more weapon variety to the game this time around.

Should Loadout choices be severely limited in playlists that cater to the high end player? Playlists like MLG, Classic, a potential Hardcore one, or replacement to Arena? Sure. But customizable Loadouts offers a lot of potential benefits to the game that many seemingly want to throw away for the sake of tradition.

This is one of the best posts I’ve read on this forum thus far. I completely agree with you in every way.

People seem to be forgetting that the loadout system is a highly customizable and VERSATILE system. For high-end gaming like MLG, it’s likely the system will just be constricted or rendered inoperative.

Thanks for this post, Methew.

> For high-end gaming like MLG, it’s likely the system will just be constricted or rendered inoperative.
>
> Thanks for this post, Methew.

If MLG decides to include H4.

> > For high-end gaming like MLG, it’s likely the system will just be constricted or rendered inoperative.
> >
> > Thanks for this post, Methew.
>
> If MLG decides to include H4.

Time will tell…(Although I’m not bothered if it is or isn’t)

I would love for it to be like it is in Gears. Limited, but balanced.
Sometimes I wanna use my lancer for certain maps, other times I wanna use a retro-lancer. Same thing with Halo. Very limited… I prefer the carbine over the BR; I hate going to maps where the Carbine isn’t on the map. I’d rather be able to get it by default. If they are truly “equal” then we are still balanced. Same thing goes with AR/PR. I like the Plasma Repeater more, and may prefer it in maps like Isolation (even though it’s Halo 3, you get what I mean).
Different starting weapons that aren’t power weapons would rock imo.

> I would love for it to be like it is in Gears. Limited, but balanced.

Obviously Loadouts in H4 won’t be including Power Weapons unless they give it as an option for Custom Games.

Though I do have to wonder about the balance of the sandbox considering that 343 is adding to it. Gears remains balanced because the sandbox is small.

> > > For high-end gaming like MLG, it’s likely the system will just be constricted or rendered inoperative.
> > >
> > > Thanks for this post, Methew.
> >
> > If MLG decides to include H4.
>
> Time will tell…(Although I’m not bothered if it is or isn’t)

To me, the decline of Halo in MLG is an eventual outcome that MLG is apparently choosing to embrace.

Player tastes change, whether it’s in the most skillfull direction or not. And they are passing on the changes Halo is making to stay relevant. The logical outcome is that Halo in MLG is going to fade much like the twitch arena shooters franchises of old did. They remained pure are now they all but dead franchises.

I completely agree. I also feel that people are judging the new halo way too early.

Many people compare Halo to CoD, mostly on its loadout system. At a glance, they appear very similar. You pick 5 classes, choose how each one plays, and change out between them in each game.

However, if you take a closer look, you realize how different they really are.

Call of Duty is based almost entirely on its loadout system. In MW3, you have about 50 different weapons to choose from, and every one can be used (with the exception of the Death machine and M202 FLASH in Black Ops). 5 primary classes, 3 secondaries. On each gun, you have a proficiency and an attachment or two. Now, pick out a tactical grenade, a lethal grenade, equipment, 3 perks, and 3 killstreaks. Thats 12-15 different slots to fill.

Now cut to Halo 4, based on what we know so far. We pick a primary (which can’t be power weapons), a secondary (which probably can’t be primaries), one grenade type, one specialization, an AA, and whatever the third slot is, which may not even affect gameplay at all. 6 slots.

Now, the difference is the weapons list- Halo has always had a much smaller, more focused sandbox- 1 gun does 1 thing. With CoD, you have a bunch of weapons doing the same thing but performing differently at it (such as the FN FAL and M14). Halo’s weapon selection basically sets you for a certain situation. If you pick the DMR and get to close to somebody with an Assault Rifle, you’ll probably lose. If you meet someone else with a DMR while using your own, its a matter of skill who wins. CoD, each weapon class has a million different ways to go, with its combination of perks, proficiencies, attachments, right down to the gun itself. Halo’s pure guns are much more raw. AAs are supposed to also be useful in one situation and have a counter as well.
Even with these options, it will still be the better player who comes out on top.

I don’t think comparing it to ME3 is appropriate since one is PvP and the other is spent fighting AI, however, there are other sci-fi PvP games with that level of customization that you could compare to. Balancing isn’t nearly as much of a concern when the enemy is just mindless AI with zero emotions; it doesn’t have to be completely fair. Class systems can be pulled off, though, but it doesn’t really settle well with competitive players.

Even if the features were to be implemented into Spartan Ops or a Firefight (if it were implemented), I still wouldn’t like it. I think it would be a total buzz-kill if you got to make choices and ended up relying on the best combo of weapons and perks 100% of the time (unless you decide to challenge yourself out of boredom), removing all spice from the game; it would be, “keep on using whatever portable-death-star that you assembled,” rather than, “make do with whatever you’re given.”

Personally, I hate the idea of pre-game customization entirely. I just don’t think it is as fun when a big aspect factoring into how you contribute to the game is what choices you made outside the game; I don’t think it is symmetric, balanced, consistent, or enjoyable, but that’s just me.

The good thing is that if the load outs are not received positively by the community they will be able to modify them, just like they did with AAs.

> I don’t think comparing it to ME3 is appropriate since one is PvP and the other is spent fighting AI, however, there are other sci-fi PvP games with that level of customization that you could compare to. Balancing isn’t nearly as much of a concern when the enemy is just mindless AI with zero emotions; it doesn’t have to be completely fair. Class systems can be pulled off, though, but it doesn’t really settle well with competitive players.
>
> Even if the features were to be implemented into Spartan Ops or a Firefight (if it were implemented), I still wouldn’t like it. I think it would be a total buzz-kill if you got to make choices and ended up relying on the best combo of weapons and perks 100% of the time (unless you decide to challenge yourself out of boredom), removing all spice from the game; it would be, “keep on using whatever portable-death-star that you assembled,” rather than, “make do with whatever you’re given.”
>
> Personally, I hate the idea of pre-game customization entirely. I just don’t think it is as fun when a big aspect factoring into how you contribute to the game is what choices you made outside the game; I don’t think it is symmetric, balanced, consistent, or enjoyable, but that’s just me.

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> I think it would be a total buzz-kill if you got to make choices and ended up relying on the best combo of weapons and perks 100% of the time (unless you decide to challenge yourself out of boredom), removing all spice from the game; it would be, “keep on using whatever portable-death-star that you assembled,” rather than, “make do with whatever you’re given.”

That depends on 343 not making a one gun game like previous Halos. Provided that the BR is only good at it’s niche while usable outside it and the rest of the guns are good in their niches and usable outside them as well, there won’t be a situation like what you’re describing.

AR/Sprint could be just as successful as BR/Holo

There are cookie cutter builds that are optimized for efficiency, I don’t think that it’s currently possible to do away with that in a class based system. It even effects ME3’s MP. But every game of ME3 isn’t Asari Adept, Salarian Infiltrator, Salarian Engineer and Human Engineer.

Never liked loadouts on any game, the only decent loadouts were on Gears of War, I’m not even fund of those. I don’t see point in them, if I chance to remove them completly I will. I refuse to use those abilities unless I’m forced into it.

> > I think it would be a total buzz-kill if you got to make choices and ended up relying on the best combo of weapons and perks 100% of the time (unless you decide to challenge yourself out of boredom), removing all spice from the game; it would be, “keep on using whatever portable-death-star that you assembled,” rather than, “make do with whatever you’re given.”
>
> That depends on 343 not making a one gun game like previous Halos. Provided that the BR is only good at it’s niche while usable outside it and the rest of the guns are good in their niches and usable outside them as well, there won’t be a situation like what you’re describing.
>
> AR/Sprint could be just as successful as BR/Holo
>
> There are cookie cutter builds that are optimized for efficiency, I don’t think that it’s currently possible to do away with that in a class based system. It even effects ME3’s MP. But every game of ME3 isn’t Asari Adept, Salarian Infiltrator, Salarian Engineer and Human Engineer.

Not every game but those are the most popular by far. Why? Because they are better. No matter how hard you try one class will be better than the other.

I have no problem with the concept of custom loadouts (not considering AA’s, that is). In fact, they sound more balanced than armor abilities turned out to be. If the sandbox is perfectly balanced, that is.

However, there needs to be a place for players like me, competitive minded players, to play consistent gametypes in. A set of classic playlists would be nice…

But just because we frown upon everything that gives imbalance at the start of a match doesn’t mean we dislike everything 343i is implementing. I’m particularly interested to see how telegraphed weapon drops will alter the flow of a game, for example.

What I’m trying to suggest here is a semi-classic playlist, comparable to Reach’s Arena.
It would have the best of two worlds: No AA’s on spawn, no ‘perks’, but includes sprint, telegraphed ‘random’ weapon drops, and maybe even spawning with the weapons you prefer.

It would be balanced and thus competitive, but it would still be considered a part of the new direction Halo is taking.

That’s cool for a co op game versus AI but most people do not enjoy playing class based MP games against other humans.

I don’t like running into people in game and being at an advantage or disadvantage based on our classes. That’s just stupid.

I don’t necessarily mind loadouts so long as AAs are left out of the mix. I don’t hate AAs or loadouts so long as you don’t mesh them together. Its like mixing peanut butter and ketchup.

> I don’t like running into people in game and being at an advantage or disadvantage based on our classes. That’s just stupid.

Yet running into them and being at an advantage/disadvantage because they decided to pick up say a Needler isn’t?

> I don’t necessarily mind loadouts so long as AAs are left out of the mix. I don’t hate AAs or loadouts so long as you don’t mesh them together. Its like mixing peanut butter and ketchup.

Why did you say that? You KNOW how these things go on Waypoint…In 5 minutes the one person in the world who loves Peanut Butter and Ketchup is gonna come on this forum and tell you how wrong you are…

Happens EVERYTIME.