While I’m not one to rant, I just have to let this one out.
Ever since it was announced as a part of the Halo 3 remake of Valhalla, Ragnarok, the HRUNTING/YGGDRASIL Mark IX Armor Defense System, or Mantis, is a vehicle that seems to cause much more harm to gameplay than it does good. Over Halo 4’s existence, the Mantis has found its way into quite a bit of maps, and it certainly has caused quite a bit of changes, some of them are negative.
ITT, I’ll highlight the negative AND positive aspects of the Mantis’s effects on map flow for each map that it exists on. I’ll start with it’s birthplace, Ragnarok…
The Mantis and The Remake
First introduced as a spiritual successor to Blood Gulch in Halo 3, Valhalla, remade as Ragnarok, was loved for it’s strategic flank points, smooth map control, and semi-symetrical combat that made it brilliant for objective based games. However, in Halo 4, Ragnarok had a small, yet noticeable difference from its Halo 3 predecessor. And that, my fellow Spartans, is the Mantis.
The Mantis, as fun as it is, shatters a great deal of Valhalla’s features that made it so great. The once strategic flank points, such as the caves, and the river, are blocked off by the Mantis slaughtering anyone who crosses the central ridge. These caves are turned into blood baths by the Mantis forcing everyone to use them as a means of escaping its wrath. Too many people are packed into a single place, and the purpose of that particular element of the map is drastically changed because of the Mantis forcing everyone inside.
To make matters worse, objective based games such as CTF are turned into stalemates due to how the Mantis either X, destroys any attempts to go past that central ridge, or Y, turns the flank-points into blood baths by forcing everyone inside of them.
Finally, above all issues, the Mantis contributes nothing to map-control. The moment the beast crosses that central ridge, it is obliterated by the heavy firepower of the opposing team. Essentially, it adds nothing to map flow, and it destroys it.
The next order of business is the promising, yet hated, map known as Meltdown.
Built on the hegemony that was introduced in CE through maps such as Infinity and Danger Canyon, Meltdown is the heir of CE’s BTB throne. The map’s structure is almost brilliant. A 2-leveled figure 8 shape with caves and teleporters that allow strategic flankpoints, and an array of mancannons that send players to strategic sections of the map make it a brilliant spiritual successor to both Infinity and Danger Canyon. However, each and every positive element of Meltdown is cheated by a single usurper: The Mantis.
Meltdown’s upper level and central bridge are rendered into a Mantis vs Mantis battle that result in the other areas of the map, especially the ones that offer immense strategy, are ignored. Any person who crosses that infamous bridge of death is stomped to hell by an army of Spartans led by a Mantis, and the entire match revolves around just that. Rather than elements such as map control and flow resulting in victory, the winning team is decided by whoever’s Mantis is destroyed in the last minute of the game.
Even more disturbing, Meltdown’s strategic caves and teleporters are over crowded by people who seek to escape from the Mantis. Just like in Ragnarok, these what would be strategic areas are turned into blood baths.
And finally, above all else, the Mantis is unable to cross that central bridge without being destroyed. Again, it adds nothing to map control, and it negates map flow to the extreme.
However, the Mantis does do some good to certain maps.
The wreckage of the UNSC Diadochi, home of the Halo 4 map known as Exile, was once widely criticized for having unbalance between vehicle spawns. Before the Weapon Tuning, Exile offered one team a Gauss Hog, and the other a Banshee. To exaggerate the issue, the Scorpion Tank seemed to favor one team over the other, causing serious unbalance.
However, in the Weapon Tuning update, that all changed. The Scorpion Tank was removed, and the Mantis was introduced in it’s place, and spawned equally apart from both teams. Unlike ever before, the Mantis contributes to map control, and saved a map from imbalance.
Taking the issues of the Mantis, and its advantages, it’s possible to save it from extinction. If in Ragnarok, we remove the Mantises from both teams, and place one in the center of the map near near the massive Forerunner wall, the Mantis will contribute to map control and revive Valhalla’s gameplay. Meltdown, while some of its flaws go beyond the Mantis, can be restored by placing one Mantis in the lower level of the Canyon in the center of the map. The Mantis will not only contribute to map control, but the one who enters it won’t be in a direct line of fire.
The Mantis may be flawed, but it can be improved. Let’s not forget that.