Developer Interview: Kevin Franklin – Multiplayer Design Director on Halo 5: Guardians
Kevin Franklin sat down with Netguide recently to tell us all of the new multiplayer changes that have been made in Hao 5: Guardians and more. What’s more important to Halo fans: Single player or multiplayer? If you ask 100 different Halo fans, they will give you 100 different answers. I think it is different for every Halo fan. I don’t think there’s a single thing that is more important. How has the gameplay progressed since the beta that took place several months ago? We had a lot of modifications to our Spartan Abilities. Ground pound has changed quite a bit, we’ve also done a lot of revisions to Thruster and a lot of the weapons you see here have been updated with the new smart link system. It’s gone through a ton of iterations, with a lot of tuning focused from the competitive gaming team and pro teams that are in house. A lot of balances have been made. Have you added anything to the Spartan Abilities? The feature sets are generally the same since the beta, but there’s been a lot more refinements and improvements. One thing that you might notice in Warzone is that you can shoulder charge through some of the walls and barriers. That was something that we didn’t have in the Arena, but we showed off in multiplayer for the first time in Warzone. How has the level designed changed from the previous games? In Warzone, we have maps that are four times larger than in any other Halo game we’ve had before. This was a huge challenge for us because everything got so much bigger so quickly. They have bases and spots for AI. It has been a really big chance. Was the Warzone mode inspired by other video games? We started working on Warzone three years ago; I think we take inspiration from lots and lots of multiplayer video games. If anything, we have been inspired by Halo Wars. We really liked the idea of having all the vehicles in the same place. We also used some screenshots from Halo Wars for some of our early ideas for scale. We wanted 5-on-5 Scorpion battles, and we needed to build a mode around that. Tell us more about the REQ system in place for Halo 5? It is a reward system where after every game, you are going to get a certain amount of REQ points which you can use to exchange for packs of cards. You can open up REQ packs which open up to customization options, permanent weapons, consumable weapons and all sorts of different things. You can use all of the different customization options in both Arena and Warzone, and then weapons and vehicles you can use in the Warzone mode. How important was it to add sprinting and aiming down the sights in Halo 5? It was a big change for us. It was something we wanted to do but it wasn’t something we did take very lightly. We spent a long time working with the community, our designers and our own pro-gaming team to make sure the changes we made were the right ones. We questioned ourselves on the decisions. We spent a long time iterating on them. Sprint in particular we wanted to make sure your shields don’t recharge. There has been a balancing aspect to it. At what state right now is the game in terms of resolution and framerate? We are running at 60fps and resolution is up to 1080p. Halo: The Master Chief Collection had a rough start online. What methods have you taken to ensure this doesn’t happen in Halo 5? We ran our multiplayer beta, which was a real big deal for us as we got a lot of tech built up for that. Halo 5 is also built from the ground up for Xbox One. It was only made for Xbox One which made it a lot easier to have that focus. Also we have done a lot of internal testing. We are stressing out our servers with high volume gameplay testing to ensure we have a smooth launch. Was is a painful decision to drop split-screen multiplayer? Yes it was an absolutely painful decision. It was not something I wanted to lose; it was a feature I really liked. We just really wanted to make sure that the game was looking really good, hitting 60fps and that we were able to deliver that. How does the 4-player co-op work in the single player mode? With this campaign, we really built it with co-op in mind. Whether you are playing as Locke or Chief, you have a team of Spartans. I think it has been fantastic because I play co-op almost exclusively. Having such a focus like that made a huge difference in development. Revive is a good mechanic that shows a new feature for the campaign as well. Could you describe more about the customization options? We have weapons skins, armour skins, emblems, different armour bits and visors. You can also customize different assassinations too. All of this is done via the REQ system. Did you add any new vehicles? There’s a new vehicle called the Phaeton. It’s a four runner vertical take-off and landing vehicle. It rains death and it’s pretty amazing. There are also some modifications to the Mongoose as well. Why should fans get excited to play Halo 5: Guardians? One of the reasons you should get excited about the multiplayer is because we have built two completely different multiplayer experiences. You are getting a four-on-four eSports mode that lives up to the tradition of Halo. Now you are getting Warzone which is our 12-on-12 experience with everything in the same place. It is just a tremendous offering, and that’s a good reason to get excited about the game.