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Vehicles

If you forge a map for 4v4, you almost certainly don’t need to include vehicles, though perhaps a ghost or mongoose might be fun. But as you increase the sizes of the teams, you will want vehicles and more powerful vehicles as well. You will need to consider the team size as well as the purpose for the vehicles, and if you are seriously forging for a playlist, follow the examples you find in the playlists, and take advice from those that have studied the performance of the vehicles.

Vehicular Power

When we talk about the power of a vehicle, we are talking about its aggregate power. This includes how much kill power it can produce and how much kill power is necessary to take it down. The more powerful the vehicle, the more counter measures the other team will require, or the Game Play can become severely unbalanced. For example, in Halo 4, I was advised not to include a Mantis unless the teams had at least six players. (The only maps in a 5v5 playlist that I have seen with a Mantis is Ragnarok and Shatter.) You need to consider that the size of a team is a degree of counter in and of itself, because they represent the number of players that can fire upon a vehicle.

Vehicular power can also be measured in part by the number of players necessary to operate the vehicle fully. Requiring more players is a negative for overall survivability and offensive capabilities, because you may not have a team mate immediately available to help you utilize a vehicle.

The Warthog is a good example. You cannot shoot and drive at the same time. You need a gunner to make the Warthog any kind of offensive weapon (the tiny segment of the Halo population that is into splatters is too small to factor in here). The scorpion is a good example of a one person offensive weapon system, but a second player adds significantly to its survivability.

Vehicular Purpose

The purpose of vehicles on your map is to provide teams with means to interact with each other in ways that are beyond the typical infantry weaponry, and thus increase the fun factor across a wider range of players. Typically you see more vehicles with more players, so that there are more ways of players to Engage each other, nothing more.

New strategies can be implemented with the introduction of vehicles. Larger maps for larger teams offer more room for vehicles to execute new strategies. And the type of vehicles you add determine how the Game Play will enhance.

For example, Scorpions and Wraith have their greatest success as defensive weapons as they help to control their team’s side of the map. This isn’t to say that one cannot push forward with a Scorpion to dominate the other team’s side of the map. But the point is that these tanks are slow and more effective more often when kept back as defensive weapon systems.

The Gausshog, on the other hand, can deal an instant killer blow with a single shot on target like a Scorpion, except it doesn’t produce the same wide spread damaging shock wave that the Scorpion’s shell does. The Gausshog is far more maneuverable than the Scorpion and can readily lend itself to flanking the enemy with deadly precision and excessive kill power. But like any Warthog, it can support flag capturing behind the enemy base, run circles around pockets or other slow vehicles like the Wraith or Scorpion, distract and duck behind cover, etc.

There is a vehicle for just about any kind of Game Play experience and balance for a map. As a forger, you need to decide why you want a vehicle, and then choose the vehicle that will provide you with the desired Game Play for your map, while not creating other issues. One of the concerns you need to address is how will people use the vehicles? As you intend them or in ways that they feel are more advantageous?

Keep in mind that you cannot just drop a vehicle onto a map to achieve the Game Play that vehicle offers most. The map must support the Game Play as well. The vehicle must support the map, not usurp the map. What I mean by this is the vehicle you place on the map should make the strategies and the Paths that your map has to offer work well or even better with the vehicle; the vehicle should not alter in significant ways how the map plays other than adding the variety of Game Play that the vehicle itself has to offer. Another way of looking at this is that the vehicles should flow with the Geometry, not break the intent of the Geometry.

Going Heavy

This last point is very important for heavy variants of large team maps. Adding a tank to a map may break the map or alter the Game Play significantly than the original version of the map that may have only light vehicles on it. Clearly the term heavy originally came from the fact that the heavy class of vehicles are added to a map. But you don’t always need a heavy vehicle to make a heavy variant of a map. A more meaningful perspective of a heavy variant is simply more vehicular Engagements – there are simply more vehicle on vehicle encounters to be had and with a wider variety of fire power to choose from. [1]

Vehicles are about encouraging a wider range of Engagements between opponents. Going heavy is about encouraging more vehicular Engagements with a wider range of vehicles to choose from still.

Anti-Vehicular Weapons

The laser is a classic example of an anti-vehicular weapon that has no other real value. Yes, you can use it in shooting other players, but it isn’t nearly as efficient as the sniper or DMR for taking down infantry. One can say it really works wonderfully against any vehicle, and that it is perhaps the best long range anti-vehicular weapon in Halo. The laser is a prime example of a weapon you do not want on your map unless you have a vehicle – in which case you do want it on your map.

But also consider, again, the sandbox performance data of all weapons. For Reach and Halo 4, the sniper is a good anti-vehicular weapon, and as such adds some additional dynamics when vehicles are added to the map. Unlike the laser, the sniper now has to ask himself if he wants to save his sniper rounds for a scorpion or banshee (or yes, even a Warthog), or does he want to share the love with his adversarial infantry? The point is that the sniper can add additional decision making burden upon a player’s strategy, and this in turn can help make your map more interesting to play on.

Plasma grenades and plasma pistols are very powerful anti-vehicular weapons. In Halo 4, these were a love fest amongst many Big Team Battle players who would load up their personal load outs with both.

When planning to add vehicles, you need to consider the anti-vehicular weapons you want to deploy as counter measures. There are two groups of players you need to forge for – the vehicular lovers, and the infantry lovers. The balance is not always easy to find, but you need to forge your map for both groups if it is going to gain wide spread acceptance and appreciation.

Summary

Vehicles add more Game Play dynamics and are necessary for large teams, but you don’t want too many vehicles – not everyone should be in a vehicle.

Widening the variety of vehicles with the correct choice of vehicles is more important than having a heavy class vehicle for the sake of having a heavy class vehicle.

The right vehicles should help the map work as it was originally intended, not alter it significantly.
Consider the various weapons that are anti-vehicular and what roles they can serve, and what decisions players will encounter as a result.

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[1] HWM Sarge – Heavy Enough?


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