Seeing how strong of a reaction this announced change has caused from a lot of players, I thought it might be interesting to take a close look at what kind of impact it might have on gameplay. Since we don’t have a lot of details yet, I’m going to look at some possible ways this could be implemented and then suggest a potential alternative.
One way it could be implemented is with completely random spawns. That is, weapons could spawn at literally any location on the map. With this method, you introduce a huge amount of luck to the game. In an extreme example, a losing team could have multiple power weapons dropped at their feet. Or luck could cut the other way, and elevate one team from an already advantageous position to almost certain victory. Aside from this, unfortunate spawns could result in power weapons piling up in lesser travelled corners of the map, or in areas where they are concealed from sight or unreachable. Ultimately, it seems unlikely that 343 would choose this method of spawns, considering the obvious downsides.
Moving on, we have a scenario where spawns are randomly selected from a handful of possible locations. In this scenario, luck is less of a factor, but remains possible none the less. For example, on a map such as Hemorrhage, if one team were to have no sniper rifle spawn on their side of the map, they would be at a considerable disadvantage.
Seemingly in answer to this concern, Frankie announced via the NeoGAF forums that the weapon spawns will be predictable and telegraphed. This seems to imply that a notification will appear onscreen, showing when a drop will occur, and the location. While this would allow teams an attempt to contest weapon spawns on the opponent’s side of the map, it also removes a layer of strategy from the game. By telling players exactly when and where weapons will spawn, you essentially remove the possibility of a mistake being made, a spawn overlooked. In previous games, awareness of what was taking place around the map was a key component of success, and this would very much lessen that aspect of gameplay.
So, having considered the benefits and downsides of the current plan, what might be an acceptable alternative? I propose a compromise between the new way and the old. Implement periodic supply drops at certain key areas of the map, but also keep a limited number of static spawns around the map. This allows dedicated players to benefit from their experience and knowledge, but still achieves the stated goal of allowing new players a foothold starting out. It would also allow each map to present a more dynamic experience from match to match and adds a new layer of tactics rather than removing one. Essentially, I believe this would bring the best of both solutions, while avoiding the downsides.
I know this probably wasn’t the best written of posts, so thanks for bearing with me, and I’d be glad to hear any feedback you guys might have.