The Halo 4 population has been in steady decline since launch and at a much faster pace than any of the previous Halo games in the series. This is a bit worrisome for new franchise developer 343 Industries as they try to take over the storied franchise from Bungie Studios. To try and combat some of the player loss 343 has paired with Certain Affinity to put out some solid DLC over the past year since Halo 4′s launch. August 20th saw the launch of the newest DLC pack, the Champions Bundle. For the first time in Halo’s history the DLC included not only two maps, but new armor and weapon skins as well. Also included was a new gametype, Ricochet, that will eventually go live to all players down the road.
The two maps included with the bundle are very solid overall compared to previous shaky DLC maps. This is due in part to one of the two maps being a remake of one of Halo 3′s best maps, The Pit. Called “Pitfall” in Halo 4 the map is largely spot-on to its Halo 3 counterpart despite being slightly bigger to accommodate sprint, which was not par of a Halo 3 Spartan’s toolset. The only functional changes to the map are the addition of a grav-lift and new drop where the sword has always spawned. After playing a few rounds on the map I can say it still largely feels right, and fits in nicely as one of the best Halo 4 maps next to Haven. Halo 4 needs more small maps, so it’s nice to see The Pit still plays well even with the addition of sprint and the Infinity gametypes.
The second map is brand new and has an aesthetic similar to the big team map Exile albeit far smaller. Called Vertigo, the map is an outdoor asymmetrical map feature two differently-styled bases that feature interactive electrical panels that electrify each base when shot and drop the shields of anyone that refuses to heed the loud beeping warnings. The map is absolutely beautiful from an art standpoint and actually plays pretty well. I mostly played slayer gametypes like Slayer Pro and Infinity Slayer on the map and they seemed to work well overall. I think the flow of the map is a bit choppy with multiple side paths and a bunch of random objects scattered all over, but it does provide for some interesting gameplay when each team has taken up residence in each base and is taking pot-shots at one another in between rounds of blowing up the electrical panel. I’d like to see it added to big team battle just to see how it would function with 16 players on the map. Overall it’s a solid offering for Halo 4, though.
The final part of the DLC is the new customization options. 343 has added four new armor sets that include the original Halo 1 Mark V, a Promethean-themed armor, an armor themed around the gametype Ricochet that has an American football look to it, and the return of the ODST armor. I really wish the Mark V and ODST had been in the game from the start, but it’s nice to see them return and they look good. The ODST is a bit odd as the helmet is wider and more rounded, but I got used to it. I always thought ODST armor on a Spartan was a bit counter-intuitive anyways. Aside from armor are the weapon skins. Nearly every weapon has received new skins that range in aesthetics from gold-plated to blood-splattered. Not every weapon gets each skin, however. Most weapons have one new skin aside from the Assault Rifle and Pistol. Overall they are fine. I don’t mind weapons skins, so seeing new ones added doesn’t bother me one bit. Once again, I wish the full game had come with more though.
The Ricochet gametype added with the bundle (and soon to be available for all) is a solid gametype that is a bit more interesting to me than something like Grifball is. The basics of it are similar to neutral assault, if you remember that gametype from previous Halos, but it is much faster paced. The goal is to grab the randomly-spawning ball and either run it or throw it into the other team’s goal (that looks like a king of the hill zone). Running it in is 50 points, and throwing is 20. I had some very fun matches of Ricochet in Pitfall, and I’m glad this will be available to everyone soon. It’s odd to me that 343 cannot add assault back in when this gametype plays like a faster version of it with no arming timer, however.
Aside from the above, two new “perks” have been added in a recent title update. One lowers the time it takes for your shields to begin recharging and one hurls you out of a vehicle when it blows up (as opposed to instant death). I dislike the perks system in Halo 4 so I really hope 343 is throwing all they have in there as a last hurrah before they exit the series in Halo 5. One can hope, right?
Overall the DLC is actually pretty solid. The maps are two of the best in the game now, being that they add to the “smaller” map selection and the armor and skins are decent. If you don’t want everything 343 is selling the maps separately as well, so no need to pay the full $10 if you only want the new maps. If you’re still one of th 25,000 people playing Halo 4 daily I would recommend picking up the maps at the very least, but if you grab the whole pack you shouldn’t be disappointed. Check out YouTube.com/coinoptv for my map walkthroughs and video of the new armor and skins!
Halo 4 Champions Bundle Vertigo Gameplay
Halo 4 Champions Bundle Pitfall Gameplay
Halo 4 Champions Bundle Skins & Armor Gameplay