New Halo 4 Map: Vortex

Excerpt from The Halo Bulletin: 10.25.12 posted by Bs Angel at Waypoint on October 25, 2012:
Halo 4 Concept Art

New Vortex concept art


Description: The Forerunner structures which occupy Requiem’s equatorial caverns appear to generate power by harnessing its violent squalls. Onsite personnel believe that a full understanding of such a technology would offer the UEG substantial amounts of affordable, clean energy. Nevertheless, its internal mechanisms remain enigmatic.

A multi-tiered Big Team Battle map designed to support Dominion and vehicular play, Vortex was originally based on concept imagery of a wide, windswept valley leading to a large wind turbine generator. The valley was lined with rectilinear fins or blades that directed the air towards the turbine like a wind tunnel. Built around the wind turbine was a settlement of high-tech huts that might have been erected around the power source of the turbine’s generator. We set out to convey the notion of a deserted, dry ghost town to influence the natural setting, supporting the grand mystique of the Forerunner structures lying dormant, idling with dust and wind blowing through it.

That initial inspiration evolved into the idea of an ancient Forerunner complex unearthed by human inhabitants who worshipped them and aped the forms of their architecture in their primitive buildings. This was further refined into the idea of a Forerunner weather processing complex, which maintained the visual identity of the wind tunnel idea, directing the air through tall fin-like structures into the mouth of a central structure, which then directed the wind currents up into the tall tower above the west base.

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.
Halo 4 Screenshot Halo 4 Screenshot
Halo 4 Screenshot Halo 4 Screenshot

New Vortex screenshots

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.

Now that you know the basics about Vortex, you probably want to see it in action. Assuming that’s the case, check out the brand new video below featuring a recent game in which I dominated anybody and everybody. Okay, so maybe I didn’t play in this game, but if I had, the previous sentence would totally ring true. Anyway, press play, and enjoy!

Read the full Halo Bulletin: 10.25.12 at Waypoint here.

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