The new Halo game is here and it dropped with some beautiful multiplayer maps. After having played Halo on a regular basis for more than 7 years now, these maps feel like an absolute breath of fresh air. It still gives off the vibe of the old Halo games but the gameplay and design of the map is absolutely fresh since the map needs to support new additions to the game like grapple and repulsors.
Now, before we start looking at the features and details of the map itself, it is important to look at the goal of the level design of the map. This will help us categorically understand the smallest details in the map. After having played the map several times, this is what the level design goal feels like to me
LEVEL DESIGN Goal: A medium size symmetrical map with multiple loops that majorly encourages mid-range engagements and land vehicle gameplay for smaller team battles.
First let us look at how the map promotes mid-range engagements.
Types of engagements are mainly dependent on types of weapons and on sight lines set up throughout the map.
Give the player a sniper and they’ll try to engage targets from long range but if you put in too many walls or covers all over the map, they might not have a choice but to get in closer to their targets to take them down.
Lot of small different walls or covers can lead to predominantly short range fights while absence of the same can lead to players feeling completely vulnerable.
Mid range engagements means not a lot of walls and covers. We keep the walls fairly bigger and the number of them fairly limited. Moment to moment covers are limited to allow players to be vulnerable for longer periods of time as compared to smaller maps. This allows players sitting at nearby vantage points to do some damage to the vulnerable players.
Now let us look at how vehicles are included in the map.
Halo maps usually have a few major path loops for vehicle gameplay depending on the size of the map. Since Behemoth is a medium sized map, one major vehicle path loop is a good place to start.
Path needs to be wide enough for maneuvering, allowing some room for error in vehicle control without being too punishing. There cannot be obstacles in the middle of the path that can obviously block or slow down the vehicles otherwise vehicle use frustrates the players and discourages them from using them altogether in the long run.
Having vehicle gameplay means that sight lines throughout the map cannot be incredibly wrong otherwise this will put the players on foot at a big disadvantage. Sight lines are usually broken by smaller and larger turns throughout the map but here the map pretty much makes a donut shape with the vehicle paths, so the that players in vehicle have to keep controlling the vehicle actively at all times so that it is fairly balanced for the players on foot. Covers, in the form of rocks and boulders as well as trees, that are placed every few meters around the vehicle path afford fair chances to on feet players to engage in mid to long range fights along with the players in vehicles.
This map does not include any aerial vehicles and the reason is simple enough, the map is a medium size one, therefore it’s airspace is not big enough. This means it’ll be very easy for players to camp up in the air and take a unfair position over the map.
Another clever trick the map uses to promote vehicle play is to have path loops converge near vehicle positions. Certain devices called jump pads are also placed around the map that push the players directly toward the vehicles.
With new traversal additions to the game like mantling platforms and grappling to pretty much any object in the game, having a lot of different vertical platforms is key. Since there cannot be too much elevation change on the vehicle path of the map, we see more verticality in the central part as well as the very edges of the map. This in my opinion rounds out the map very nicely and provides a good balance of opportunities for on feet versus vehicle players.
While we absolutely want to avoid a camping space in the map, it is also important for multiplayer maps to provide refuge spaces to players for a breathing moment. In such a fast paced game where a single match can last anywhere from 10–30 mins, players need a breathing moment now and then to keep their adrenaline under control. Refuge spaces are great at providing players momentary safety or at least a sense of it which allows them to calm down. Refuge spaces usually have lower ceilings and are small or compact in size.
An obvious refuge space is an interior room where the player cannot be seen by other players on the outside.
It is important to make sure that there are at least two entry/exit points in this room i.e. the room actually is a part of a path loop, such that the player cannot easily cover both the entry points visually at the same time and camp in any particular spot.
The map also has a couple of spots that work as exterior refuge spaces. Though they do not provide as much safety as the interior rooms, they have low ceilings and significantly cut down angles from which the player can be targeted.
To sum it up, the map combines verticality, clean vehicle gameplay, sensibly placed covers for mid-range fights with interior and exterior spaces. All these features might seem simple on face value but work very well when brought together in a clean map design like Behemoth and give that familiar yet fresh feeling to this new installment of the Halo franchise