When 343 Industries released the long-awaited weapon update for Halo 4 on Monday, I was ecstatic. Finally, I thought, after seven months of meaningful, though still relatively small changes, we’d be getting something really substantial. After spending some time with the update, I think we’ve got something that can satisfy both longtime Halo fans and newcomers (much like, you know, the rest of the game). While you can find the entire list of changes made here, I want to talk about the ones that I see being most important, and how they may change the way that people play the game.
First and foremost, there’s the update to the Battle Rifle that takes it from a three- to a four-round burst. Although that single extra round might not seem like much, it significantly reduces the number of bursts you need to put into an enemy before you take them down. This, combined with the return of a two-burst-melee kill combination, has effectively brought the Battle Rifle back to its glory days of Halo 2 and 3. What this means for popular matchmaking is that it’s no longer a DMR only show, and while the other precision weapons have seen some pretty significant upgrades, the BR has become the ultimate utility weapon. Be prepared to be seeing even more of these than we already were.
Perhaps my favorite part of the update affects the automatic weapons. The Assault Rifle, Storm Rifle, and Suppressor now kill in three fewer shots. The bullet spread and auto-aim tilt are also both decreased here, making these weapons not only more deadly, but a little bit more skill-intensive. All I can say is that I am positively giddy at the fact that the AR has become a viable weapon choice. No longer am I confined to playing smart, ranged combat if I want to win. Now, on occasion, I have the opportunity to throw together a run and gun class, and actually have a decent shot at ending the game with fewer than 15 deaths. I. Can’t. Wait.
There are two more bits to the update, however, that really change the way that the game plays, not just the way that we play the game; there’s the 10% increase in movement speed across all game types, and the relocation/organization of on-map ordinances. The movement speed increase works the way that we would expect — it makes the game faster. However, it does not make the game so fast that it no longer feels like Halo. All this does is make it easier to close the distance to an enemy, or provide more possibilities to escape an unfavorable situation; nothing over-the-top.
The changes to the placement of ordinances, however, are huge. Example: on Adrift, there is no more Energy Sword or Scattershot. Instead, there are Sniper Rifles on opposite platforms for each team, an Overshield where the Sword used to be, and Needlers mirrored to the Snipers in the center chamber. We no longer have a mad rush for the Sword at the beginning of the game, and the addition of the Snipers really adds a great deal to the way that you have to approach those long corridors and the man cannons on the outside of the map.
“But Keith,” you say. “In the grand scheme of things, these changes are tiny!” The thing is, though, because so many people had a specific way of playing certain maps, they have to now rethink the way that the maps are played (my friends and I are quite guilty of this, and got very mad when the placement of the Sword/Incinerator Cannon was messed with on Solace). The physical locations themselves are the same, but they are by no means the same maps that we’ve been playing since November. Put this together with revamped weapon balancing, and we’ve got a whole new game to be playing.
Sound off below in the comments and let us know what you think of the weapons update!