Halo 4: Majestic Map Pack Impressions

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February comes to a close and with that Microsoft  and 343 Industries has released the second Halo 4 Map Pack.  While the first Map Pack sought to provide medium-to-large maps for players to engage in mostly team oriented gameplay, the maps in the Majestic Map Pack are designed more for the small-to-medium for both individual and team oriented play. With regards to this along with the maps, two playlists for the map pack have been added to the War Games hopper, one for teams and one for free for all.  Again priced at 800 MS Points ($10), or included with the purchase of either the War Games Map Pass or Limited Edition, lets see what experiences these new maps provide.

Skyline:
The view from the screenshot below does nothing to compare to what it actually looks like in game.  Playing on Skyline for the first time players should be amazed with the busy skybox just outside the bounds of the map, until they get killed by the enemy team.  The smallest of the new maps, Skyline is a fairly circluar symmetrical map that takes place on a in-construction space tether making it the closest players can be to one since the Orbital Elevator collapsed in Halo 3: ODST.  Set with overly nighttime hues and tones, the map makes for a more peaceful-looking fighting location and with its smaller size players should always be able to find enemies on the mostly two level structure.  This is a great map for close quarter fighting with plenty of explosive fusion coils as added hazards.  Bonus points as well for the Patrol Hornet that peeks up from time to time to check on the action.

Monolith:
Although it is a little difficult to tell from just playing on the maps, whether or not Monolith is the biggest of the maps in this pack it does provide the biggest play area.  With multiple structures with a upper and lower section, one in each corner and one in the center, this map has plenty of open air and wide views for players to take shots at each other on this Forerunner artifact ironically standing as a monument to Forerunners lost in battle.  With a red and blue base at each side and a man cannon at the top and bottom for speedy transit the map has a solid flow both around and over the fighting.  Players can move through or over structures, as well as behind different walls throughout the field.  With the maps size players wont necessarily find themselves near too many enemies at the start, but for the most part should be able to see them and get them in their sights no problem.  Even darker than Skyline, Monolith provides the most somber locations in the map pack for battle, with lighting limited to that from the structures, which makes all the fighting and explosions stand all the more out.

Landfall:
As stated before it is difficult to tell exactly which is in fact the biggest just from playing on the maps, but while Monolith has a more spartan decor with limited objects on the play area, Landfall has everything from trucks to cargo containers strewn about the place.  Showing off a Covenant invasion from the war Master Chief had personally ended, the port/loading dock that players fight upon features both indoor and outdoor combat as the garage in the area is wide open for players to take advantage of the tight corridors.  Playing with a team or in free for all, players will tend to have to move towards the action with the size of the map and the scattered obstacles, especially in objective based gametypes.  The layout however provides plenty of variety to allow for players suited for close quarters, sniping, or mid-range fighting to find what they enjoy.

Achievements:
As with previous Map Packs, Majestic adds more achievements with 250 Gamerscore.  While the achievements for Crimson focused more on the gameplay elements that were found on the three maps, Majestic’s achievements focus more on the weapons and abilities players can utilize.  Several focus on using Armor Abilities that players may or may not have tried out, such as the Thruster Pack, while others focus on the weapons players can spawn with, receive, or find on the maps.  With a total of 10 achievements for this Map Pack, the “difficulty” is more inline with player skill and ability than the achievements for Crimson that needed luck.

All that being said, the achievements are actually fun and for those interested in earning all of them are able to be aided with the right loadout thanks to the Tactical Packages and Support Upgrades.  The two playlists likewise make it more enjoyable this time around as players may get better chances when playing with a team than facing 7 opponents.  For example, killing 4 enemies with a SAW in one life can be much easier in a team game than solo, as there is a greater probability to live longer, as well as serve to teach players to conserve ammo instead of spraying and praying.  Surprisingly, the achievements this time also go to show that the Pulse Grenade, often overlooked by players is actually a formidable tool.  With the achievement to get a double kill with a single Pulse Grenade, 343 Industries has pointed out just how useful they actually are, whether quickly draining a players shields or finishing them off after they already have.  It wouldn’t be surprising to see Pulse Grenades being used more from now on.

Overall:
The Majestic Map Pack is in many ways a superior Map Pack to it predecessor Crimson.  The maps have a bit more style and more versatility, i.e. the difference between working well as both team and free for all than working well with a 4 person team or an 8 person team.  Halo 4 has been lacking somewhat in free for all since its release, so it is good to see that these 3 maps cater directly to that; players that were missing free for all action when Halo 4 released can get what they’ve been missing.  Plus, with the achievements being based around skill or how loadouts are built , than say who is standing closest to the Mantis when it spawns, players interested in those are sure to have a good time and learn a thing or two about the less used equipment.  Those with the War Games Map Pass or Limited Edition can download them right now from the main menu or players looking to buy the Majestic Map Pack for 800 MS Points can find it HERE.

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