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Heavy Enough?

The following is a republication of a post by HWM Sarge on the Blueprint forum, itself a republication of his article on Halo Wheel Men forums. The original article was no longer available (the forums at HWM are no longer available it appears). So I took the liberty of copying the article from Blueprint (itself in a state of quasi-hibernation) to preserve the original material of my citation.


My gamertag is "HWM Sarge" and I am a captain of the Wheelmen Clan. My Halo: Reach focus is Invasion, but I was a hardcore BTB veteran in Halo 3(BTB 5-star general).

Due to the recent focus on creating heavy maps for Matchmaking, I feel compelled to voice some thoughts about heavy maps themselves and what makes them heavy. For many of the maps I've seen, forgers have overloaded the map with vehicles, particularly the Scorpion tank. I personally do not believe that the Scorpion tank alone makes a map heavy, and is a requirement. Additionally, the Gauss Hog is also not required for a map to be heavy.

The owner of the Wheelman site, HWM BrickFungus wrote, when we discussed heavies:

[Lots of vehicular action is] what heavies can be about.

What I hated about H3 heavies is the amount of power weapons. I realize you needed something to counter the heavy vehicles, but there were like missile pods & lasers galore and you couldn't even get a hog running.

IMO heavies should be about hot heavy on heavy action. Gauss taking on the gauss, gauss on banshee, tank on gauss, your mom vs my mom. Let it be about the vehicles.

Though to make it work, the vehicles need a "safe" spawn point, to allow them to at least get rolling and have a chance.

I'm not a map designer, but I think this could be a fun way to play. I once did rat's nest with only pistols, to force the hog on hog action and it was great.


Brick is the owner of the Wheelman site and is a casual gamer who gets on to run hogs and have a good time. In Halo 3, he was a Warthog driver. In a later post, HWM RJ voiced his own thoughts about the two different styles of Heavy maps in reaction to what brick posted. RJ was a footsoldier in Halo 3, and was what we called a "laser humper."

Yes, but what happens after a vehicle wins one of those battles? The vehicle then has free reign of the map for a while.

The way I see it there are two philosophies as far as Heavies goes:
A) Vehicles on Vehicles (Brick) where there are fewer power weapons. Skill gaps are magnified, but produces fun gameplay if you're the more skilled team.
B) Vehicles on Power Weapons where there are lots of power weapons for infantry to neutralize vehicles. This limits the ability to dominate the map with a power vehicle, but can also devolve into frustrating, power weapon only gameplay when two good teams match each other.

I think style A is more appealing to vehicle lovers and style B is more favorable to ground pounders for obvious reasons. I don't think either school of thought is right or wrong, and theres definitely room for middle ground. I also think that each style has its place on certain maps. Valhalla and Avalanche were definitely style B, but Sandtrap was more like A. Standoff was more a middle ground for the fact that it magnified skill gap, but evenly matched teams often got bogged down in long range combat and often couldn't get vehicles up for effective runs.

For Reach, I think that less power weapons is better because vehicles now take damage. It will be different based on the maps, but I think lasers should be neutral, and you should give each team rockets and sniper. This way, they have to choose whether to use them against infantry or vehicles. I also think that sticky grenades could play a larger role in heavy gametypes.

/2 cents


I've spent a good deal of time over the last week thinking about heavies from Halo 3 and I've come up with what I think are the key components to heavy maps:

1. Increased Vehicular Gameplay
2. Increased Cover
3. Increased Map Travel Speed
4. Retention of Map Pathing


(Please note that I stress increasing, not decreasing. Heavies is about adding to what already exists.)

1. Increased Vehicular Gameplay

On a heavy map, players should expect to see more vehicle vs. vehicle action rather than footsoldier vs. footsoldier action. However, there are never so many vehicles that every player on the team has to be in a vehicle to be effective at all. However, the vehicular gameplay does not greatly alter the overall play of the map.

2. Increased Cover

The heavy variants of the map added additional cover on extreme edges of the maps to allow players to traverse around the outside of the map against the vehicles on the map. They also add additional cover around the middle of maps to help players control the usual power positions against heavy vehicles.

3. Increased Map Travel Speed

Heavies is indeed about vehicle gameplay, but footsoldiers also need to be able to move about the map. Footsoldiers must be able to attack the vehicles on foot, because they will not always be capable of using their own vehicles if the enemy team has a strong setup. Additionally, players going for objectives need to be able to quickly get back to the front lines to attack vehicles. In Halo 3, additional teleporters helped speed up foot travel around the map to keep up with the speed of the vehicles.

4. Retention of Map Pathing

The most important part of heavies that I believe has been lost with the Halo: Reach attempts at heavy variants has been a negligence of the original pathing of the map. If players are going to be able to enjoy a heavy variant of a map, they should feel comfortable using much of the typical pathing they used on the normal version of the maps. Players could still play their BR line on Standoff Heavy, they often controlled the hill on Valhalla Heavy, they still controlled their teleporter and the keyhole on Avalanche, and they tried to maintain control of the laser spawns on Sandtrap. Heavies should not disrupt or drastically alter the standard pathing of the map.

As part of the retention of map pathing, the spawns of the game did not change in the heavy variants. Often times on the Reach heavy variants I've seen, forgers have removed the original spawns and placed their own. Intelligent players know how to calculate and predict where players will spawn. Additionally, players will use their typical awareness of the map when they come out of spawns based on what they're used to. Do not alter the original spawns of the map.

I will now briefly discuss the vehicle gameplay and power weapon balance of the Halo 3 Heavy Maps:

Avalanche:

Avalanche always played defensively, and the heavy variant of Avalanche played the same way as well. A typical Avalanche game revolved around 2-3 players on each team fighting at Upper keyhole to keep players off their side of the map as well as an attempt to take control of the other team's upper keyhole. One team would typically hold laser on their side of the map at turret. Each team would run their hornet to help keep vehicles and players off of their side, and Warthogs would often push around the bend to try and disrupt the other side of the map.

The Heavy variant of Avalanche played this way as well. The Hornet focused more on control of Upper. Each team had their own laser, and there was a neutral laser at it's original spawn that never respawned. The Scorpion tanks would focus on keeping the other vehicles off of their side. Sometimes vehicles would push around the bend, but often players would use the two-way teleporters at the collection of boxes near the cliff to quickly travel to the opposing team's side of the map to get behind them.

Even though Avalanche heavy added a chopper, a Scorpion, a Wraith, a Prowler, and two more lasers, the overall gameplay of the map did not change drastically. Rather than BR battles, however, we saw more vehicle battles. Lastly, the Avalanche base was large enough that players could maintain control of their side of the map even if they got pushed back into their base. They had a laser spawn in their base, and a rocket spawn at their turret, so they could maintain control of their base and attempt to kill the vehicles off of their side of the map. Also, none of the vehicles were so powerful that they were invincible.

Sandtrap:

Sandtrap was my favorite heavy because it fit very well with the idea of vehicles fighting vehicles. Team on standard Sandtrap understood that the most important part of Sandtrap was about controlling your team's spawns because of the dynamic spawning. Sandtrap was also the largest of the Halo 3 maps. Sandtrap's gameplay focused heavily on controlling one of the two temples and controlling the laser spawns.

Sandtrap heavy played similarly. There were four lasers placed at the start of the game, but only the two normal lasers respawned. This helped control the Guass hogs, Scorpions, and Banshees at the early stages of the game, but afterwards it dissolved into laser and vehicle control. Now, teams also focused on controlling the Scorpion spawns near the lasers because the tanks could control the Gauss hogs.

Sandtrap heavy replaces one Warthog with a Gauss Hog, adds two scorpions and two Wraiths, adds a Prowler, and an additional Banshee. It also added additional cover near the new Banshee spawn. Overall, the Sandtrap layout has not changed dramatically. There are just more vehicular threats that players must account for.

Standoff:

Standoff Heavy is unique in that it became a heavy variant without adding a tank, and it is why I do not believe that a Scorpion tank is required to make a map heavy. Rather, a heavy version of a map is just a vehicular heavy version. It is not heavy in the sense that there's a tank on the map.

Typical Standoff gameplay involved players controlling their rocks in front of their base, controlling the neutral respawning laser, and attempting to push the opposing team's side with the help of the Warthog.

Standoff Heavy focuses more on long-range combat. After removing the neutral laser, additional cover was placed on the BR line of rocks and in the center of the map to disrupt vehicular paths, but both teams had their own laser, Sniper, and Beam Rifle. Teams also had an additional Rocket spawn and Banshee. As such, snipers focused heavily on keeping each other suppressed, lasers focused on keeping the Gauss hog, chain hog, Choppers, and Banshes suppressed. The remaining footsoldiers often pushed forward with rockets to push the opposing team's side with the help of their Gauss hog and Banshee.

Standoff Heavy increased map movement speed by extending the sightlines and providing close range players more firepower. Instead of the entire team pushing forward on the BR line, snipers helped suppress players with the help of their snipers and lasers. Overall, though, players still felt like they were on Standoff. The biggest bonus Standoff has is the size of its base. Even if the opposing team had a gauss running around outside and a banshee picking off people, players could still hole up in their base and wait for laser and stickies to spawn to deal with the hogs.

Valhalla:

Basic Valhalla strategy always revolved around the hill. Control the hill, and once controlled, control the Pelican and the turret. Both teams had a sniper hanging back, and tried to use their Warthogs and Banshees to push forward for victory while controlling the neutral laser.

Valhalla heavy did not deviate far from this. To increase map movement speed, each base had a one-way teleporter inside of it to get players to the turret and/or Pelican (depending on the version of the map). Teams used their Scorpion and Wraith to control their side of the map and to keep vehicles off their side of the map. Each team also had their own laser, and rockets replaced the neutral laser with additional cover on the hill. Overall, the gameplay of this map did not change much. After taking down opposing vehicles, players pushed forward in an attempt to secure a flag, or sat back in slayer to bait players into death if they could not push forward and take control of the opposing team's spawns.

Conclusion to Heavies

That's the basic rundown of Halo 3 heavies. Heavies is about adding to the current versions of the maps, not completely redoing them. Additionally, it's not about putting down so many vehicles that everyone is in a vehicle. It's about putting down enough vehicles to encourage vehicular warfare.