Sandbox Additions in Campaign and Multiplayer

We’ve all seen the new weapon leaks, and many of us are quite excited at the prospect of old favourites making a return. What I would like to discuss is how these new sandbox weapons will be balanced with the original, mostly well balanced sandbox (really only the plasma pistol seems to be obsolete right now).

One of the greatest things about Infinite’s sandbox is how each and everyone weapon (barring the plasma pistol) have their own role and function. In fact, this degree on sandbox purity hasn’t been seen since Halo CE days.

With the reintroduction of weapons like the DMR, the Pump Shotgun, the Fuel Rod Cannon, and the Saw (at least as new leaks and old data mining would have us believe), as well as the Brute Shock LMG and Plasma LMG we’ve recently seen leaked, a potential issue that goes back to Halo 2 days will be sandbox overlap and weapon obsolescence.

I would like to start a friendly discussion that hopefully 343 will see and even get involved in on how to balance these new sandbox additions to avoid the problem of obsolete sandbox items. Below I’ve detailed my ideas, but it would be great to get opinions from the rest of the community to hopefully identify common trends and get 343’s attention.

My idea:
First I need to establish the 3 different ways the halo sandbox items are sorted:

  1. Role/Class (Think: Sniper/Beam Rifle, BR/Carbine/Needle Rifle/Commando/DMR, Needler, Rocket Launcher/Fuel Rod, Brute shot/Concussion Rifle, Shotgun/Mauler/Boltshot, etc etc). These roles are all distinct, with many roles having multiple varients filling the same role.

  2. Function - Think the 3 round burst of the BR vs the single shot of the carbine. Think the projectile of the Mangler vs the hitscan of the sidekick or magnum. The 4 round magazine of the sniper vs the ability to immediately follow up with the beam rifle before overheating, or never having to cool down/reload if shots are spaced. The standard DMR fire rate vs the autofire and super combine of the needle rifle. This level of classification allows multiple weapons to fill the same role, so long as the way they deal damage and function is varied enough to avoid redundancy.

  3. Stats - Rate of fire, magazine capacity, reload times, damage type, battery capacity, heat generation, cooldown, cooldown overheat, max ammo capacity, emp damage to vehicles, etc etc.

Using the original sandbox roles as a baseline, consider that most weapons being reintroduced will likely be taking on the same or really similar role as existing sandbox weapons, so if these new/reintroduced weapons are treated as alternatives within the same ‘class’ of weapon, balancing for both campaign and multiplayer will be much simpler.

The way to differentiate between weapons filling the same role then becomes a matter largely of function, with differences to base stats also playing a large part in keeping things varied.

For example, if I had my way with the reintroduction of the DMR, I would try to get it to fill the same role as the Stalker rifle, but with some function and stat differences. These could include a higher magazine capacity than the 6 or so shots you get before overheating the stalker rifle, a bit more magnetism, and better damage against flesh and armour, but having less magnification, overall damage and TTK (though TTK should be somewhat comparable). But someone else who considers the DMR more of a contender with the BR would like give it a similar TTK to the BR instead of the Stalker Rifle, and use the single shot functionality to differentiate the DMR to the BR, but perhaps give it a slightly lower TTK in exchange for slightly less magnetism and more recoil.

Of course now we’ve seen the Bandit rifle, which has a TTK a bit less than the BR and more than the Stalker rifle, while lacking a scope entirely. This is an interesting direction to me (mainly because I would like to see the carbine and needle rifle make a return too), but it will be interesting to see how it will be balanced, whether the Bandit only lacks a scope in the Tatanka gamemode where attachments can be found, or whether the Bandit as is will be a new sandbox addition to arena and campaign game modes, time will tell.

Never the less, I’ve included some more of my ideas below, and would love others to join in listing their ideas too.

Carbine - fills role of BR. Single shot with little to no delay between trigger pulls, potentially a fast projectile rather than hitscan. High damage against tough-flesh and armour compared to bullets. Similar TTK to BR, balancing can be achieved by tweaking magnetism, accuracy, projectile speed, etc.

Needle rifle - fills role of Commando, and has similar function of being full auto capable, but again no longer hitscan, can supercombine unshielded foes, rounds will ricochet, but has a higher TTK without supercombine, though minimal if any recoil.

Spiker - Similar role to SMG, so an up-close spray and pray weapon. Large spread that makes mid-long range fights difficult to impossible. Mangler-like projectile speed and drop. Not quite mangler damage, but high recoil and physics impulse, additional melee damage. Good damage to tough skin and armour. Lower capacity and not hitscan, unlike the SMG which would be similar but with hitscan bullets, a high capacity, and lower recoil, but with lower damage.

Fuel rod - self explanatory - we all know it functions differently to the rocket launcher but fills a similar role. I’d probably want the CE one back, or perhaps the Halo 4 one.

SAW - I don’t know how to really balance this weapon that is going to fill a role similar to the AR. In Halo 4 it seemed to do more damage, have better accuracy, and have a higher capacity, but with a long reload and ammo scarcity, while in multiplayer being a rarer power weapon. I love how the AR functions in infinite finally being viable, and am not sure how to balance that with the SAW. Perhaps with the higher RoF, Damage, capacity of Halo 4, along with the slow reload and rarity of being a power weapon. That sorts out multiplayer, but for campaign I don;t know that you’d want it to be just a better AR. Perhaps lowering bullet magnetism and aim assist, and giving it increased bloom and recoil. I’d rather it didn’t exist but I know others love it and the files are in game already.

Beam rifle - bring it back, it still has a place along side sniper and shock rifle.
Focus rifle - also bring it back, and balance its ease of use with its TTK and power weapon status in multiplayer to make it fair.

DMR - fill role of stalker rifle, but with bullet damage, a higher capacity before reloading/overheating, more magnetism, a slightly higher ttk, less scope zoom, but otherwise still more comparible to stalker rifle than mid range, higher magnetism BR.

Brute shot and concussion rifle - Ravager role. Brute shot from halo 2 explosive damage and individual shell loading, lower capacity, melee buff. Concussion rifle also explosive damage, no bounce to projectiles, higher capacity, magazine loading, lower explosion radius and damage to brute shot.

Plasma pistol - standard shots need to strip shields much quicker, and charged shot range needs to increase. No reason to use it currently over the pulse carbine and the ravager.

The point of these ideas is that really similar weapons can coexist in Infinite’s multiplayer and Campaign sandbox, but the function of these weapons needs to be varied enough to differentiate them in a fun way, while intelligent stat differences give each of these similar weapons different strengths and weaknesses so that, along with variety in weapon function, the weapons filling the same role within the sandbox still feel unique and viable.

As for multiplayer balancing? Cycle them on the weapon pads! Think how Gears of War used to cycle similar weapon pickups between rounds, or even how Infinite currently cycles similar weapons such as the BR and Commando. Using my above examples, you’d cycle between the Ravager and Brute shot and Concussion rifle, the BR and Carbine, the SMG and Spiker, the Bulldog, Heatwave, and Pump shotgun, the Sniper and Beam rifle, the Shock rifle and Skewer, the Rocket and Fuel Rod, the DMR and Stalker.

PVE balancing? Their different damage types will give each weapon a different utility against different enemy types, so no one weapon from any sandbox class/role will outshine the others. The BR may be more accurate and easier to use with its hitscan bullets, but the Carbine’s heavy projectiles may stagger/hard ping the armoured brutes much easier.

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