Halo 4 Specializations
An in depth look at one of Halo's new features
By: Absolute Dog 343 Industries.org
Specializations may be the unique way Halo again sets itself apart from the rest of the FPS on the market. Halo 4 will continue the use of some of the abilities first introduced in Halo: Reach along with the always available sprint. The game will include new abilities in Promethean Vision, Hardlight Shield, Auto-Sentry, Thruster Pack and Regeneration Field. The base player speed is said to be similar to that of Halo 3 which, when coupled with sprint and specializations, should make for some incredibly fast paced and hectic gaming.
The first look will my into the recently released information on Specializations. Included will be a combination of developer quotes, narrative from various sources, video and images that will help the reader to gain a better grasp of this subject.
This is the basic overview offered by 343 Industries about Specializations and how they affect or integrate with the ranking system, abilities, armors and various other player aspects. It also mentions unlockable items made available by progressing through the various levels.
The UNSC Infinity, the largest starship in the UNSC fleet, is your gateway to the Infinity Multiplayer experience in Halo 4 and serves as the center of your Spartan career. Here you will build your custom Spartan-IV super-soldier, and progress your multiplayer career across both Spartan Ops and the multitude of competitive War Games modes.
Halo 4 has fifty levels. Once you have advanced through the standard fifty levels, you will get the option to enlist in a Specialization. You can choose the order in which you tackle unlocked Specializations. However once you select one, you must advance through it completely before enlisting in a separate Specialization.
Specializations allow you to enlist in specific rank paths. These paths are composed of ten levels each. As you level up through these dedicated paths, you will unlock armor sets, emblems, visor colors, weapon and armor skins, and armor mods – which provide even more options to customize your Spartan-IV to fit your preferred role on the battlefield.
These armor mods will work exactly like all other tactical and support mods in the game. They are not tied to specific armor for each Specialization, so you don’t have to wear the armor to use that particular mod. They enhance a small part of the sandbox (meaning good players will still be good, and not good players will still be not good), allowing people to play the style they want to play and experience the parts of the sandbox they like on a more frequent basis.
We consider Specializations end-game content because even if you have “access” to all of them on day one, you will still need to reach level 50 before you can enlist in any Specializations. Think of them as giving you control over extending your level cap.
Two Specializations – Wetwork and Pioneer – will be available to all players when the game launches, and the rest will gradually be made available in the months following launch. We will be keeping a close watch on player participation post-launch and will roll out the additional six Specializations when the player base reaches certain milestones. There will also be playlists available that do not utilize loadouts or armor mods.
That overview included the fact of the 1 through 50 levels of the base ranking system and that once a player reaches the highest level they can then choose which Specialization they first want to unlock. Having to complete it before selecting another is required, but a statement by David Ellis while speaking to IGN indicates that skill earned during this progression may unlock other Specializations.
David Ellis...... "By enlisting in a Specialisation you basically raise your own level cap," explained Spartan Ops designer. "With each one, you can extend the level cap a little further. You do not have to rank all the way through again [to unlock another Specialisation]." David spoke to the fact that the Specializations would be more of a reward for players who were dedicated enough to progress up to the fiftieth level in multiplayer and considered to be "end game content". He went on to add, "We'll be watching the level curve of the community closely close launch and will do our best to role Specializations out as we see segments of the playerbase reach max rank."
Each class offers nine levels of customization options including armor sets, weapon skins, emblems and visor covers, while a tenth level grants the player with a "game play modifying perk"
According to recent information offered by 343 Industries we find out that, "Wetwork Specialization is a Spartan optimization for stealth operations which focus on the elimination of an enemy target with the goal of leaving no tactical footprint behind. The Stealth mod armor allows users to move quickly and silently in combat, executing enemy assassinations with lightning fast dexterity. "
I think Ryan McCaffrey of IGN put it best by saying,"Halo fans who wore the Hyabusa armor proudly in Halo 3 can now walk the walk in addition to talking the talk. As you may have heard in previous Halo 4 multiplayer footage, these Spartan IVs make some serious noise when they move. How could they not? They’re seven-foot-tall super humans running around frantically while wearing one-ton metal armor. Enter the Wetwork armor mod, which boasts a couple of key stealth-related benefits."
His discussion with David Ellis on Specializations led David to point out that, “When someone’s using Promethean Vision, they show up on screen as a big red figure. With this [mod], you still show up, but the only thing that shows up is your outline. And also when you sprint, it adds some sound dampening so you don’t make as much noise. You definitely still show up on radar, let me make that clear.”
"Furthermore, the assassination animation will happen faster for you, leaving you vulnerable for a shorter duration of time. " , added McCaffrey.
343 offered additional information about this 'Stealth' armor mod that, "has very sharp shapes and angles, reminiscent of a knife or blade – does a number of things to help a player that likes to get up close and personal. Many times when someone is using Promethean Vision, they scan quickly so if there’s a lot going on, they may miss you. Or you can hope, anyway." This modification with it's faster assassination ability leaves a player less vulnerable to attack from an opponents team mate.
Wetworks Weapon Skin as it appears on the DMR
Wetworks is one of the two immediately accessible Specializations available to all players out of the box. The other one is Pioneer, so let's take a look at it.
In regards to the other Specialization available on November 6th, 343 Industries states that the, "Pioneer Specialization is a Spartan optimization for deployment into uncharted, hostile territory (such as uncolonized worlds or Forerunner constructs like Requiem) for the purpose of gathering/relaying information."
The 'Fast Track' armor modification will allow players to gain more experience points, or 'data', from each gaming encounter which will quicken the pace at which they rank up. McCaffrey says of this variant, "We can’t imagine anyone not starting out by spending a lot of time as a Pioneer, and not just because it's the only other Specialization that everyone will have access to on November 6. Simply, the Pioneer’s Fast Track mod nets you experience points towards the next level at a higher rate, bringing you closer to your high-level goals." Ryan goes on to say, "Ellis and 343 have already planned for the potential exploits of this particular class.
“You can change loadouts mid-match, but we put fail-safes in,” Ellis begins. “For Fast Track, you only get extra XP for the amount of time you were using it. You can’t just turn it on right at the end of a match and think you’re going to get extra XP for everything you did in a match."
According to additional information from 343 Industries this, "armor mod features armor that has wiring which runs throughout the armor to control temperatures in extreme conditions. Gameplay-wise, it gives the player more post-game experience. In-game, if you get 10 points per kill, you don’t get more at that exact moment, but after the game it modifies the amount of experience your Spartan earns to increase the speed at which you rank up. It’s not for everybody because it takes up a primary spot (that could be used for something like carrying an extra grenade or sprinting longer). And, in case you were wondering, you can’t change to it at the end of a game and get more experience for the entire match."
Pioneer Weapon Skin as it appears on the Plasma Pistol
That is a preview of the two Specializations shipped with the game, but it important to note the rest of the specializations will be released at a later period unless you purchase the Halo 4 Limited Edition which will access to all eight Specializations at the November 6th game launch. Another incentive to purchase the LE if I do say so myself!
I will add the rest of the Specializations right here as time permits this evening.