Halo Championship Series Pro League - Week 4 Day 2 Recap

The roster tweaks pay off for teams like LOL and Luminosity Gaming in week four of the Halo Championship Series (HCS) Pro League, but not for Evil Geniuses (EG) and Allegiance. Day two competition does no favours for struggling teams as LOL surges through the standings in hopes of a top four spot.


Allegiance vs. Luminosity Gaming | Luminosity wins 3-0

Poor play from Allegiance continues on day two as Luminosity Gaming sweeps without much resistance. In game two Regret – Slayer, Luminosity and Allegiance trade kills up until the 25-kill mark. What looks like a close game slips away from Allegiance when the team wipes seconds before the Overshield respawns. Once Luminosity grabs the Overshield, the lead expands and they win the game 50-39.


Team EnVyUs vs. LOL | EnVyUs wins 3-2

The match of the week goes five games between two hot teams, but Team EnVyUs (nV) escapes with the series. LOL heads into Empire – Strongholds down 1-2 in the series, nV leading 89-26 in the game. While the game looks over, LOL snatches the pit stronghold to stop nV’s run. An extended capture of all three strongholds shrinks nV’s lead. With Overshield respawning late and their lead gone, nV leaves the power-up to push for the pit. Three stack bottom middle stronghold, but nV fails to kill the defenders in time. LOL steals a victory late, taking the game 100-93.

Much like Luminosity vs. OpTic Gaming on day one, game five Rig – Slayer sinks LOL. Kills stall at 26, but Snip3down grabs the Camouflage and shotgun to start a run for nV. Following the Camouflage run, NV finds both the sniper rifle and Plasma Caster to close out the game at 50-40.

Halo Championship Series Pro League - Week 4 Day 1 Recap

After a two week break from the Halo Championship Series (HCS) Pro League, teams return with new players and LAN practice. While teams did not compete online, four pro teams and various players participated in a mid-season LAN in Orange County, California. The open bracket tournament saw OpTic Gaming protect their position as the best Halo team in the world.

With the Fall Season returning to its weekly schedule, teams hope for a top-four spot for the Fall Season Finals.


Luminosity Gaming vs. OpTic Gaming | OpTic wins 3-2

OpTic Gaming kept their dominant roster intact, but Luminosity Gaming made an unexpected change by dropping Eco for Evil Geniuses’ (EG) Victory X. The change reunites two long-time Halo veterans - Naded and Victory X – in their first match against the world’s best.

Luminosity’s changes make an immediate impact as Victory X helps start the series with a win on Fathom - Capture the Flag (CTF). Although OpTic captures the first two flags, Victory X turns the game around with the Camouflage. His sneaky play starts a run of three unanswered flags for Luminosity.

The series goes to game five where OpTic steals a win from Luminosity on Rig – Slayer. Both teams trade kills up until the 25-kill mark, but OpTic Lethul uses the sniper rifle to build a small lead. The game ends with time and not kills, the final score recorded at 48-45 for OpTic.

Applying Purpose and Improving Interaction in an Open World Game

When DICE revealed Mirror's Edge Catalyst, the shift from linear parkour to an open world didn't matter. I waited eight years to play another Mirror's Edge and nothing would stop me. As I slow my sprint through the City of Glass, I also stop to understand the purpose of an open world. While Catalyst recreates the awe of free-running parkour, I don't credit its huge city for discovering that feeling. The main character, Faith, still runs regardless of the world around her. Without tying her movement and mechanics to the landscape of rooftops, the space leaves a void between the focal points of a game.

Grand Theft Auto V (GTAV) haunts me with the dozens of lost hours spent driving. Whether you play a mission, go to a mission or explore away from a mission, you spend way too much time driving. With such a large open-world, cars speed up travel. Rockstar doesn't give you a better option for fast travel besides a paid taxi ride. And since many missions require some sort of vehicle to even trigger the event, why bother fast travelling with a taxi. Despite an elaborate heist story, GTAV's best use of city exploration and travel is to plop you in a car.

The Effects of Cosmetic Sales, Free Updates and Paid DLC

As players grind levels for loot boxes in Overwatch, I assume Blizzard works hard on their promise of free DLC. They fund free updates with revenue from selling randomized loot boxes of items already in the base game. Even after the retail sale, Blizzard wants players to spend even more by locking dozens of skins and emblems.

Some people may not qualify skins as content, but it does affect the value of a game. Item rarity takes from Overwatch's already thin launch package, and questions the effects of free DLC plans. Cosmetic marketplaces keep the community at the same version of game, yet it adds an item grind not found with paid DLC plans.

In Battlefield 4, players must pay for more content, but in Overwatch players can also invest time. The maps, weapons and vehicles in each Battlefield DLC also bundle camouflage variants, weapons skins and new emblems. The skins and emblems DICE considers as "extras" in each DLC, Blizzard positions as the main source for paid content. If players don't buy loot boxes, then they must invest time to level up, all the while performing at a high level. There are no experience boosts or quests rewards, it comes down to performance, time and luck.

Multiplayer User Retention and Skill Ceilings

For the first time in almost a decade, a new Halo sustains a healthy, active player base. Josh Holmes, 343 Industries studio head, says Halo 5: Guardians' player retention is the best since Halo 3. While each Halo iteration sells millions, both Halo: Reach and Halo 4saw its player population nose dive a few months after launch. Halo 5 lives post launch because of the one characteristic many multiplayer games lack: skill gaps.

Developers roll out regular, sometimes free, content updates for their games, but content alone won't satisfy your player base. Halo 4 released regular map packs with free Spartan Ops missions every week. Raptr, a once console gameplay tracker, conducted a case study on Halo 4 and the hours logged during Spartan Ops releases. Despite the free missions each week, they failed to stop the plummeting playtime. In December, a month after launch, Halo 4's weekly playtime dropped from 400,000 hours to just below 168,000 by the end of January. While a drop-off makes sense post holidays, a month later it plummeted again to just above 110,000 hours. Regardless of the combination of free content and paid DLC, the total hours played dropped faster than in Halo: Reach.

Competitive games like DOTA 2, League of Legends and Counter Strike: Global Offensive, sees stability and even growth in their population because of competitive skill gaps. High skill ceiling games separate average players from the best players, but it also encourages practice. No one wants to get worse at a game, and so they return to - at the very least - perform to their ability. There's an addictive quality in competing, and an even greater feeling when competing at a high level.

Competition breeds player investment, yet it won't matter if the game lacks in quality. I don't attribute much to review scores or aggregate score websites like Metacritic, but they do mean something. Positive reviews for Halo 4 and Halo: Reach at least indicates a positive reception at launch. I can't quantify the quality of either game or even Halo 4's post launch content. All I can say is: I played most of Halo 4's DLC and I enjoyed it, but I didn't play between content releases. To keep players invested, games require both a combination of exciting content and challenging mechanics.

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