Halo 4 Gametypes – Regicide
The deliberate killing of a monarch or emperor.
What Have they Said About it?
Almost hidden amoungst the Game Informer-exclusive story on Halo 4 in their most recent print magazine (cover) was mention of a new Free For All gametype known as ‘Regicide’. Details were light but from the description in the magazine it sounded like a variant on Slayer that included bonus points for ending the killing sprees of the current leading scorer. Not sure I can safely quote the section without GI getting mad at me!
Fortunately, Brad Welch (lead multiplayer designer on Halo 4) briefly mentioned it during an extra, and more importantly free, video on competitive multiplayer that Game Informer’s post on their website. At 2:25 to 3:05 in video he described it thusly:
“We’ve got a new Free-For-All mode called Regicide. It’s a bit different to normal Free-For-All: there’s always a King in Regicide and you’ve got to kill the King. So you can get points just like in normal Free-For-All by killing other players but, the King gets a bounty on his head and the more kills that the King actually gets the higher his bounty gets. So, a good King is also a good target. He’s marked for everyone on the map, you get a lot of cat-n-mouse chase scenarios. It’s tough to stay as the King but also everyone is coming towards the King so you’ve got a lot of targets to shoot at – so it’s a very fast-paced mode. You get lots of swings late in the game and we find it makes Free-For-All a bit more accessible to new players and it’s a bit more of a fun, frenzied mode that people can get into and have a lot of fun with.” – Brad Welch, 343 Industries.
Check out the rest of what he said in the video on Game Informer’s site.
What Exactly is it Going to Play Like?
So the description we’ve got isn’t exactly a technical specification: does the King’s bounty grow with each kill without dying he gets? Or does his bounty keep growing for every kill as King even if he is killed between kills? What happens when a King has a large bounty, but someone overtakes the King’s score, and becomes the new King? Does the bounty get transfered? (Very dangerous for the new King) Or is the bounty permanantly lost? (seemingly ‘wasteful’).
We’re going to have to make a couple of educated guesses to discuss this gametype: lets say that for every kill the leader makes, in a row without dying, their bounty increases until they are killed. So if a player becomes the king, and then makes 2 kills in a row without dying, their bounty would be ’2.’
Of course, once they die and respawn, this would imply that their bounty would be reset to ‘zero’ and killing the King would be no more lucrative than killing any other player, and marking them for everyone would be pointless. From this I would assume that killing the King at any time carries with it an extra bounty.
More formally, killing the King rewards points equal to: normalKillPoints + standardKingBounty + spreeAsKing*kingSpreeBounty
Would it be fun to play?
From the magazine description I had already surmised that this gametype is probably intended as a way to allow people to catch up more easily and add another focus (the score leader) into the chaotic game of FFA Slayer. Brad Welch’s descriptions bears this theory out as well.
Even with so many potential targets in FFA Slayer, when losing it is difficult to make the necessary volume of kills quickly enough to catch up to leaders who are often walking around with power weapons and in superior map positions. Unlike in a team game where it is often obvious roughly where to go to find the ‘front-line’ of action and engage the opposite team, in FFA intense fights can break out on nearly any part of the map. Especially for new players it is often unclear where the most beneficial places to be are, and sometimes players can lose because they are wandering around the empty parts of the map and not getting kills rather than because they are unskilled at fighting.
From that perspective, you can see how marking one player as a universal target for all players will make it clearer on where to go. The King of the Hill gametype directs players in this way already, interestingly enough. However it’s likely 343i wanted to keep score flowing for all players and avoid suffering rather than suffer the non-capture griefing problem of existing Koth – at the same time, they keep the gametype firmly based upon Slayer.
Unfortunately, I have the sneaking suspicion that the King bounties will actually make the game of Slayer more chaotic – from the scoring if not map-movement perspective. Brad Welch’s comment about swings late in the game is quite telling of this.
While the King getting a bounty on his head is incentive for everyone else in the game to kill him, it becomes a punishment for the leader themselves: they lose all stealth, and while they get a constant stream of targets, the greater their success, the more likely it is that whoever kills them will suddenly overtake or rapidly catch up with them.
Players will end up not wanting to be in the leading position because of the liability and risk. Instead, they’ll want to stay close in the second or third place and, as Brad Welch indicated, make their move towards the end of the game. A common move would probably be to kill the current King and collect the large bounty to propell them over the point limit.
This of course would make it unsuitable for serious, for-the-win competitive games and would relegate it to more of a ‘party’ game in the same level as Fiesta or Reach’s Headhunter. Brad Welch’s comments on it being a “fun, frenzied” gametype are perhaps indicative of this, and that’s a bit of a shame.
Could You Make it Better?
If a kill was worth one point, killing the current King was worth another point, and for each kill in a spree the current King had was another point, it’s easy to see how massive swings could happen:
- Kill: 1 Point
- King Kill: 2 Points
- King Kill on spree of 2 kills: 4 Points
- King Kill who is had a Killing Spree as King: 7 points
If the current King has 49 points in a game to 50, and has just got his 5th kill in a spree as King, then someone with as little 43 points (losing by 6 points) could kill the King, collect the bounty, and instantly take the lead and win!
However we do know from the trailer (at 3:13 in this video) that 343i seem to be revamping scoring wholesale in Slayer so that 1 kill no longer equals 1 point. Each kill seems to be worth perhaps 5 or 10 points. If this were the case, the degree to which large swings can happen by killing a good King could be lessened. For example:
- Kill: 5 Points,
- King Kill: 8 points,
- King Kill on spree of 2 kills: 10 points,
- King Kill on Killing Spree: 13 points.
This could go hand-in-hand with other bonus points in the theme of Halo: Reach’s BTB heavies or my own ‘Stylish Slayer.’
If the scoring was more like this, then the scoring wouldn’t be as chaotic, with massive swings, it would be a bit more predictable and it would be slightly more competitve. Killing the King would still be a good idea if you got the chance, but it wouldn’t become so lucractive that you’d sacrifice all other concerns in order to do it.
But Who Wants to be King?
There is still the problem of the disincentive of being in the leading position: you becoming directly more lucrative to kill and everyone knows where you are. Either one of these would serve to compress the difference between the leading players, and the field as a whole. When you do something like that generally the winner depends more on luck than skill.
A King has the benefit of extra players coming towards them, but few want that pressure of being priority target number one, especially when their death could catapult someone else into the lead.
I certainly feel that players in this gametype could use some extra incentive to want to become the King and, perhaps more importantly, try to stay as the King for as much as the game as possible - all the way to the end if they can. Being the lead scorer is naturally a position of power since you have a buffer of points over other players – players should want to be the King, not be afraid to be so.
To try and redress that incentive imbalance, the King himself could get extra points for every kill he makes as the King. So if most players get 5 points for killing another non-King, then the King might get 6 points. If this is set at the right level, the King actually gets a bit of Reward for all his Risk in the form of being able to accumlate further points slightly more quickly.
If Regicide was made like I describe above, it would retain the benefits of having a more centralised, focused Slayer as is its intention but, there would be less chaos in the scoring and more of an incentive to be the King.
Could you Summarise that for me?
Regicide is a new Free-For-All gametype that 343 Industries are adding to Halo 4. It is Slayer-based, with bonus points for ending the spree of the ‘King’ – the current score leader – who’s location is marked on the map at all times. Its intention is to give a more centralised focus to the FFA Slayer environment and give players someone on the map to go to and reason to go there. It can be described thusly:
- Kill other players for points.
- End the Sprees of the leading player (King) for bonus points.
I worry that if ending the Spree of a King is rewarded to highly, it will simply make the scoring chaotic and down to luck rather than skill. 343i’s statements about the gametype seem to indicate this may be the case. There would seem little reason to want to be the King yourself for much of the game since you get a huge target painted on you and you can earn more points by killing someone else who is the King instead.
However, if the bonus points for killing the King were only a fraction of the worth of a normal kill, the chaos would be reduced while still providing incentive to kill the King and a place on the map to go.
Furthermore, people should want a reason to be King for more of the game since right now it seems like a pretty raw deal. To help with this, I propose that any kills a player makes as the King should be worth slightly more. My construction would be summarised with an additional point:
- Kill other players for points,
- End the Sprees of the leading player (King) for more points,
- Become the King to earn Bonus points for every kill you make.
Would this gametype be perfect for the highest levels of competitive play? Maybe not. There is little way to be sure without playtesting it and fine-tuning the trade-offs between being a King or a normal player. Nevertheless, I believe this would have a slightly wider appeal across the fanbase.
Couldn’t you make this in Reach?
You can make some of the features of this gametype already in Reach’s custom gametype editor – in fact you have been able to do for several Halo games now. In the ‘Slayer’ options, you can assign bonus points for the killing of the leading scorer (invidiual or team, known as ‘Leader Kill Bonus’). The Slayer gametype also features a ‘Leader Traits’ option, where you can make it so the leading scorer (aka ‘King’) has a waypoint over their head(s) at all times.
But what about the King Spree bonuses, and my idea of extra points for killing as King? Not with the in-game gametype editor, but I would wager you could with a custom-scripted Megalo gametype. That’s perhaps the biggest gripe I have about this gametype: why not bring it to Reach, test it, and release it fully polished on launch day in Halo 4?
At the same time as testing a gametype for Halo 4, you give Reach players something new and interesting to try out, that would freshen up the game’s rarely updated FFA playlists. If successful, it could whet their appetite for more Halo 4 gametypes. If unsuccessful, then it would be a strong indicator to redesign or scrap the gametype before Halo 4′s release in November – it would strengthen Halo 4′s line-up in either case. It would also provide the same benefits as giving a focus to a Slayer-based FFA gametype in Reach as it would in Halo 4.
Megalo has the power to tag specific players with extra properties and trigger extra events upon their deaths (see: Headhunter). So the only downside is finding someone with the relevant expertise in Megalo with the time to build and test it. Hell, give me access to Megalo and I’ll do it myself! No, I’m not going to stop asking.