Release the Ragnarok
Release the Ragnarok
Do you remember how in my Halo 4 UK Preview article I said that I had played two maps? Well, I kind of lied. But it was a good lie, it was one of those, “I have to lie or face the Microsoft legal ninjas” kind of lies that we have to tell every now again.
The truth is, I actually got my hands on a third map, a very very important map: Ragnarok. For those amongst you who managed to guess at the connotations of this name the time has come to stop wondering and enjoy the fact that you guessed correctly, because yes, Ragnarok is none other then the Halo 4 remake of Valhalla.
Now, when I say remake I don’t mean re-imagining, oh no, this is a true, near-100% accurate rebuild of the original Valhalla from Halo 3. Everything from the mancannon to the Banshee to the water is there. In fact. the only differences are pretty damn subtle and most of them are aesthetic changes due to the new game engine.
For example, Valhalla is a little bit grittier this time around, things like the bases and walls have some extra detailing in line with the rest of the game and the ground textures are now a little more scrub-like in places. All these things lend themselves well to being true to the maps original aesthetics while building nicely on what was already there.
The only real difference that I spotted in terms of physical characteristics was that the front of the bases can no longer be run up, instead you’re going to need to go around the back of the base to score that flag. Now this might sound like a big problem but, there’s something extra special that has been thrown into the mix that I haven’t mentioned yet.
You may have noticed that I only made the most fleeting of references to vehicles in my previous article and that was with good reason. Until the restrictions lifted I didn’t want to so much as risk
spilling the beans on possibly one of the biggest pilotable vehicles in the game that we know about so far.
The Mantis is a walking mech which is something akin to the Cyclops from Halo Wars. It’s BIG, it’s a little slow but it’s also one of the worst threats on the battlefield. This thing can and will take a pounding and watching two of these behemoths go at it in the centre of the field while Spartans fight between their legs is something to witness.
It has the potential to be your best friend, or your worst enemy! It can most certainly both dish out and take a good amount of damage before being overrun and I would be curious to see if it could actually go toe to toe with a tank (though it would likely need a little distance).
The Mantis has 3 attacks. A machine gun, a missile launcher and a “Stomp”, the latter of which you certainly do not want to find yourself a victim of as it’s sure to be follow up by, to quote Frankie, a “pretty interesting” yet traditional victory celebration. (Mechanised teabagging is something to see.)
Other vehicles found on the map include the Banshee and the Warthog. Both of which handle pretty much the way they always have with a couple of exceptions each.
Banshee “trick” manoeuvres feel slow yet more controlled compared to their previous incarnations however this does seem to balance the Banshee out some from being the map dominator it can be. However that isn’t to say that a Banshee can’t accurately control Valhalla still as it’s bomb is still a one-hit kill. Couple that with the slightly slower flips, and it means a skilled pilot can turn the Banshee in a graceful yet deadly swan.
As for the Warthog, well it now feels a whole lot more grounded than it’s Halo Reach iteration sticking to the ground somewhat more than it used to but sill easily being able to make some of the escape jumps over the river that runs through the whole of the map. The biggest difference with the Warthog however was the E-Brake which doesn’t quite allow you to throw the ‘Hog’ around as much as it used to. That said it’s not quite clear if this is a result of the hog being more grounded or perhaps the E-brake being toned down a little more.
It’s also worth noting at this point that the way that boost is handled in the Covenant vehicles is significantly different to the way it is done in Reach. Instead of replacing the icon for your armour ability, vehicle boosts are now given their own readout on the HUD giving a more accurate percentage readout of the amount remaining. While this is a good idea in theory I did find myself missing the information on the readout, however, I can’t say for certain how much this is down to GUI design or how much was simple user error as I expected it to be where it wasn’t.
But how does it play?
I mentioned before how Halo 4 still felt like the Halo that we have come to know and love and even with the inclusion of the Mantis, Ragnarok sealed this feeling. It’s still Valhalla and if anything it played better thanks to the use of armour abilities instead of the equipment found in Halo 3.
It doesn’t matter if you’re on the hill top, down by the stream’s edge or clearing out a camper from the bottom of the base, the combat is so familiar you feel like you’re back at home. Add into this the changes to CTF, the new weapons and everything else and Ragnarok will certainly shine just as brightly as Valhalla and even Blood Gulch did before it.
As for weapons on the map it appears to be a very similar layout to the Halo 3 version with very few weapons being swapped for their newer counterparts. One thing that certainly will be fun to see is if the Sticky Detonator becomes the new “Magnetic Trip Mine” from the Halo 3 beta.
For the unfamiliar, the Halo 3 trip-mine used to be able to be used to “booby trap” a Warthog by being stuck to the undercarriage of the vehicle where it would only explode once the vehicle moved off, often delivering a double or even triple kill. I suspect this could be re-created by the patient among us using the Sticky Detonator and it’s delayed detonation feature.
A lot of people have criticized 343 for not holding a public beta but believe me when I tell you 343 have done their testing behind the scenes and you really, really shouldn’t worry.
[Edit: This article was originally posted with Halo 3 concept art and without a gallery however within minutes of this Article being published 343/Halo Waypoint released images from "Ragnarok" which have now been added to this post for your viewing, thanks to uberfoop at HBO for making me aware of these]