right guys bungie have started to release info on the new maps and below is the first of these installments
Bungie.net New Map Preview!
The Halo 2 Multiplayer Map Pack is just a few weeks away which means the wait for five brand spankin new maps is almost over. Each week between now and July 5 th we'll be taking a closer look at one of the new upcoming maps. This week we dive into the orbital conveyor-filled fun of Elongation…
Welcome to Elongation
First there was Blood Gulch which later became Coagulation Canyon. Then Wizard morphed into the recently released Warlock. Now the migration of maps from old to new continues with the soon-to-be-released Elongation, the evolution of Halo 1 favorite "Longest."
More than a mere cosmetic update, Elongation takes the basic building blocks of Longest but adds in a few new tricks to provide a fresh yet familiar gameplay experience. The core layout hasn't changed much – the map is defined by two long parallel hallways with a base at either end. You can see the similarities between the two maps in the shots below, as well as some obvious visual upgrades (can you guess which is which?).
The dark, dull textures have been replaced by vibrant, bright colors creating an entirely different mood while retaining the overall flow that made Longest fun. Where Longest seemed to take place somewhere deep in the inner bowels of Halo, the setting for Elongation is an orbiting space freighter. For base defenders, this new locale makes for a much more interesting view, as seen below in the before and after screenshots.
Taking a Halo 1 map and adding it to Halo 2 is more than matter of swapping out weapons and textures. Elongation Lead Designer Tyson "Ferrex" Green explains a few of the challenges they faced:
"Coming up with an interesting variation on an old favorite without ruining what made the old map fun. Also, making it a good map for one on one fights, which usually don’t work that great in Halo."
Another design element that had to be addressed were the ladders originally found in Longest. You'll notice that in Elongation there are no ladders. Instead, a series of ramps have been added to provide a smoother flow.
One of the defining elements of Elongation is the conveyor belts that span each long hallway. Gone are the static and boring plain "halls", replaced by dynamic belts that continuously shuffle crates from one end of the map to the other throughout the game. Here's how the conveyor belts came to be, according to Tyson:
"One of my favorite tricks on Colossus is to ride the conveyor belts into the enemy flag base. It works great because you don’t show up on the motion tracker, so you can actually take the enemy by surprise. In small games, the motion tracker gives everything away, so being able to be sneaky like this is important to making one on one games work. So it seemed like something that would work well on Elongation.
I also have this sort of general fondness for perpetual machines that you can poke and prod, and see what happens when you throw a grenade into it. This is sort of a simple one, but sometimes it jams up in interesting ways."
Players on Elongation can literally start at one end of the map and end up at the other, without ever appearing on their opponent's motion trackers. In addition, the various crates provide ample opportunities for cover as well as a means to jump to the upper level. As Tyson indicates, explosions (of the rocket variety) can interrupt the flow of crates and cause a crazy log jam that will clog up the nearby base.
Small on Size, Big on Fun
Elongation offers something for everyone. For me personally, I really enjoy the two-tiered close-quarters action, which can get really intense with six or more players. The pace is frantic and average life spans tend to be on the short side.
What is Tyson's favorite part of Elongation?
"Since I’m a shotgun fiend, I love the tight sparring that occurs all over the map, especially around the crates on the conveyor belts. I also really love the way a player can learn to jump and move quickly between the levels. Losing an opponent by smoothly going from ground to crate to catwalk and around a corner is enormously satisfying. Especially if you can then loop around and drop behind them with your shotgun."
What about Frankie and Shishka? What do they like the most about Elongation?
Frankie: "Oh, definitely the length, rather than the girth. I like how when you press fire, something ‘splodes. Grab a rocket launcher or a Brute Shot and somebody, somewhere down that conveyor belt, is gonna die."
Shishka: "I’m torn between answering with the new look of the map, or the chaotic gametypes that Elongation creates just by being a small map. Elongation is this gorgeous evolution of what was, in the first game, a rather straightforward map. It’s the prettiest section of cargo-ship-bowels I’ve ever had the opportunity to kill people in. Further, because of the tight corridors and exposed catwalks means that, even in a two versus two game, you can’t wander for long without finding someone to shoot (or alternatively, find someone to shoot you)."
We've played our fair share of Elongation here in the Studio and we've all had some great memories pwning one another. One of the aspects I really enjoy is the importance of the Brute Shots. There are two on the map, one at each end, and the tight corridors make it a devastating weapon for either a barrage of grenade blasts or a hard THWACK! to the back of someone's head.
I asked Frankie and Shishka to share their most memorable Elongation moments, here's what they had to say:
Shishka: "Elongation is where I scored my first Brute shot killtacular. Three Spartans down with the grenades, and a fourth with a jumping melee."
Frankie: "Hitching a ride, from one end to another, holding the flag, on a crate. They were running by trying to figure out which way I’d gone, and I was sitting atop a crate like a smiling Buddha."
Use caution if you want to try and emulate Frankie's techniques here - most players will find that riding atop a crate at slow speeds isn't exactly the idea situation to put yourself in. Remember there's a reason why everyone teases Frankie about his playing skills. : )
Tips & Tactics
Despite the small frantic nature of Elongation, there are some techniques that work better than others. Tyson shares this advice for first time combatants:
"When the map starts, the conveyor belts are clear, so you can move rapidly to the other side of the map. If charging in isn’t your thing, it also means that anyone on the belts is vulnerable to ranged attack. And if you ever find yourself being pushed into the crate disposal because you waited too long on the belt, stay cool and you can still escape with a crouch jump."
When you start to play, you'll see exactly what Tyson means. It's almost as if you can enter a Zen like trance, moving effortlessly between crates and from upper to lower level and back again. The ducking, bobbing, weaving and jumping take a little timing to master but will soon become an invaluable part of your tactics. And, don't be surprised if at least once you linger a second too long and find yourself being pushed into the abyss by an angry crate. It happens to the best of us.
Shishka and Frankie have also played their fair share of Elongation so I asked them to pass along some helpful advice for the rest of us.
Frankie: " Diagonal jumps across the ledges on the top level will confuse your opponents in any game type. Stay high and stay off the conveyor belts."
Shishka: " The moving crates make for good cover to dodge and weave through when running home with a flag or the oddball. However, I find them more useful for jumping from the lower level of the map to the catwalks, providing you with a sudden and easy change of course in case you need to move back to your team’s hallway for defensive measures, or just to confuse the other team."
Hmmm…I think we're starting to see a pattern here… Use the crates for cover and for jumping. Also, Frankie brings up a great point – in most cases you don't want to spend too much time on the lower levels. Chances are your opponents have the upper ground which gives them the edge.
Elongation really excels in smaller games since it's a rather small map. Personally, I've found games of 2 to 6 players to be ideal though I have endured games up to 16 players (yes, imagine 16 player rockets on a map this size, ouch). My favorite game is probably a 2vs2 game of CTF Classic. The other base is just a stone's throw away but it'll take some careful coordination to get their flag safely back to your base without losing your own.
Shishka also endorses CTF as well as a few other favorites, "2v2 CTF classic is great on Elongation, as is six man oddball. The map is perfect for most of your favorite head to head gametypes as well. And if you’re into the more whacky gametypes, I strongly suggest a game of rockets or brute shots with six to eight players."
Overall you really can't go wrong with just about any game on Elongation… well, I'm not sure I'd recommend 8 vs. 8 single-Flag CTF…. But whatever floats your boat. Remember what you have learned and give yourself a slight edge over your friends who will be confused and mesmorized by the moving conveyors and sweeping views of Earth.
Now you have a little better insight into one of the new maps that will be coming your way on July 5th. Xbox Live subscribers will be able to download all five new maps online starting on July 5th. For fans without Live or who are interested in a little something extra, the Multiplayer Map Pack Disc will be available in retail stores starting that same day - July 5th. The disc comes complete with all nine new maps (five new ones plus the four recently relesaed on Live - Warlock, Sanctuary, etc..), the Halo 2 auto updates (including the recent gameplay enhancements), a making-of documentary video and a bonus cinematic featurette.
Check back on Bungie.net next week for a sneak peek at another of the new maps – Backwash!