343 Industries will strive for multiplayer balance.
The Halo 5: Guardians beta is now done, and 343 Industries has access to all of the data that it generated. Specifically, they now know which of their map designs work, which don’t, which weapons are overpowered, which are underpowered, how players react to Spartan abilities, and so on.
And they are going to be using this data to make sure that the game is balanced when it eventually launches. For them, you see, these beta tests aren’t about infrastructure or stress testing (well not primarily)- it was more about gathering real world data for balancing purposes.
“While betas are useful for stress-testing, what we were really looking for was different views,”Josh Holmes, Halo 5’s executive producer, told OXM. “We particularly focused on how players interacted with the new Spartan Abilities, and anecdotal feedback on how they used them. We were also interested in their experiences of the map layouts – particularly, in how they flowed and how people moved around them.”
And how has this data helped them so far? “It’s important for the primary weapons to be perfectly balanced, so each gun is as effective as it’s supposed to be within its own engagement zone,” said Holmes. “With secondary weapons however, there’s a lot more flexibility for us to play with the balancing… we want these to be cool things that you want to scrap to get control of.”
“Internally, the Hydra is one of the most divisive weapons in the whole game,” laughed Holmes. “Some of us love the trick shots, others aren’t so sure. It’s still up for discussion. The idea behind making the gulf so wide is that we wanted it to be a meaningful choice,” he explained. “We wanted it to be substantial enough that you’d be willing to give up your weapons and ability to regenerate just to sprint. But in practice the difference was too much. We want to rein it in to make it easier for pursuing players to track their prey.”
The question, now, is, will they manage to balance the weapons properly? Or will the balances require further balancing? One can only hope 343 will get it completely right this time around. I am personally keeping my fingers crossed.