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Halo 4

Get Sucked Into The New Vortex Map
by Jeff Cork on Oct 26, 2012 at 06:06 AM
Platform Xbox 360
Publisher Microsoft Game Studios
Developer 343 Industries
Rating Mature

Halo 4 masterminds 343 Industries have released info on one of the game's new multiplayer maps, Vortex. You can see it in action in a seven-minute gameplay video, too.

Take a gander at the embedded video below, and then read part of 343's extensive development notes on it. From the looks of it, it's money well spent.


Early in development, Vortex was large and open. After initial playtests, we realized it was slightly too large and engagements were too infrequent. One difficulty we encountered when shrinking the map was that it made vehicle paths more constrictive, so we had to slowly expand the roads. This expansion impacted the placement of the bases, which we had to adjust in order to line them up along the highly geometric, symmetrical axes of the Forerunner architecture. Through subsequent iterations, large rocks were added and the bases became more closed off to focus the encounter spaces.

There are upper and lower paths that link all the bases together and provide vehicle lanes beneath the central base. These lanes have plenty of rocky cover and some connecting paths to allow infantry to utilize them with some degree of safety. If you happen to prefer vehicular combat, the power vehicles are located in the cave and side bases. 

Sitting high in the map is a large, central Forerunner structure that is accessible by ramps, man cannons and gravity lifts. It has a few sniper points but much of the base is only accessible from the interior. The smaller bases around the edges of the map are used for spawning and as Dominion bases. All of these have multiple access points, as well as various vehicle spawns and ordnance drop locations. 

The hardest design challenge we had with Vortex was making sure there was fun interplay between vehicles and infantry. We went through iterations where vehicles were dominant and people were complaining that they couldn’t traverse from base to base without getting killed by a vehicle. Adding man cannons as quick entrances into the middle base helped this problem greatly. Semi-related, at one point during Vortex’s development, the man cannon on the eastern end would always shoot the player into a wall and kill them. While I found it hilarious, others found it frustrating, so we improved the consistency of the jumps.

Sightlines made long range weapons initially dominant on this map, so we added caves and tunnels to circumvent the long open roads and provide additional options for medium and short range players. Despite being a very large map, the traversal time from one side to another is surprisingly short. One small piece of advice, though: getting caught in the open on the vehicle paths will result in a one-way ticket to Splattersville. Consider yourself warned. 


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