What is Mythic?
Mythic is a new Halo 5 playlist which features Battle Rifle starts, with no radar and limited abilities. The Mythic playlist has been a long time in the making. It’s journey to matchmaking was ultimately a collaborative effort between members of the Halo 5 Forge community and members of the 343 Industries sustain team, as they sought to create a fresh, classic style Halo experience. In addition to the new settings, the Mythic playlist features all new maps, built and refined by the community, with support from 343. These brand new arenas have been tailored for the settings, with layouts and aesthetics inspired by Bungie's legacy. Mythic is, in essence, a love letter to the older Halo games.
Many, many people have contributed to the making and refining of Mythic Maps and Settings, and ultimately to its implementation into Matchmaking, beginning today. The primary driving forces behind the scenes have been Hex Reapers (the brains behind the settings), Sgt x Slaphead (map design and development lead), and Whos Blaze (343 sustain team advocate). We’re eager to share their thoughts and stories about the Mythic Journey to Matchmaking, so let’s dive right in.
Slayer on Frontier
Mythic settings differ greatly from default Halo 5 to the extent that it can almost be considered a different game. Aside from the already mentioned Battle Rifle starts and no radar, there are numerous changes that have been made from what you may expect when loading up a Halo 5 playlist. To learn more about the Mythic settings, we touched base with the man behind them - Hex Reapers.
Hex, we know that there have been multiple variants of ‘classic’ settings during Halo 5’s lifetime. Were the Mythic Settings based off of some pre-existing settings?
Mythic is the amalgamation of everything that we have learned over the three years of making classic settings inside of Halo 5. After about four separate attempts seen throughout the game’s lifespan (Gold Pro, Old School, Evolved, and Halo 3 Throwback), I think it’s safe to say the biggest challenge is finding the best way to deal with the sandbox. Gold Pro and Evolved buffed the Magnum and reduced the sandbox to a limited number of pick-ups. Old School tuned player movement to reflect the speed of Sprint and the reach of Clamber. Halo 3 Throwback disregarded everything and simply focused on recreating the feel of Halo 3. Unfortunately, each of these methods came with significant drawbacks. Gold Pro and Evolved plant themselves in a niche area where combat is almost always utility versus utility. Forgers have very little to work with when placing pick-ups on their maps. Along with this, the Magnum is the biggest victim to Halo 5’s shot registration and aiming mechanics. Prolonged use of the Magnum in a classic environment made these issues extremely noticeable and caused a lot of frustration among players.
Old School seemingly nailed the balance between player empowerment and sandbox variety. However, the weapon tuning Title Update nerfed its starting weapons, the standard Battle Rifle and the Gunfighter Magnum, to a degree that rendered them unusable. Another major downside was how its movement was modified to only work on maps that were designed with Sprint and Clamber in mind. Halo 3 Throwback ignored addressing the sandbox and opted to label itself as a more casual offering. Because of this, obvious issues played out accordingly. The movement was too slow to deal with weapons that were designed around Sprint and Thruster Pack. Taking all of this into account, Slap (Sgt x Slaphead) and I were unsatisfied with what we had available to us. We really wanted to craft a new classic-style experience that addressed a lot of these issues while taking full advantage of Forge.
Was your intent to duplicate a type of play from a previous game?
Yes and no. Slap and I definitely sought to replicate the feeling of the older titles, but also wanted to include new features that would make Mythic stand out on its own. We initially did not utilize any Spartan Abilities, so I would say it used to play like something along the lines of Halo 2 Anniversary. When taking our settings and sandbox usage into consideration, Mythic is an entirely original experience that will still resonate with many classic fans. Not having to rely on Sprint and Clamber to move around maps is an integral part of the mode’s identity. Our modified Thruster Pack and Stabilizer are not nearly as potent as their vanilla counterparts, but instead become little multipurpose tools in the player’s back pocket.
Slayer on Vengeance
As has already been mentioned, Mythic settings weren’t made overnight. What kinds of changes were made to the settings over time, and why were those changes implemented?
Our base trait adjustments were tuned as testing progressed for a variety of reasons. Most of the stuff we tweaked was small, but added up towards making a noticeable difference. These changes range from vitality recharge speeds to grenade effectiveness. How quickly should a player enter or disengage from fights? How fast should a player be able to use their grenades? Does the explosion radius pair well with our increased movement speeds? While we are on that topic, is the strafe speed fast enough to deal with certain weapons? Is it slow enough to keep close quarters engagements from getting too messy?
These are just a few of the questions we constantly had to keep in mind when creating the settings. Two big goals we aimed to accomplish with the settings involved settling on a starting weapon and prioritizing sandbox variety. We opted to design the settings (and maps) around the Halo 2 Battle Rifle. When the standard Battle Rifle received its nerfs, Slap and I were devastated. It held the perfect balance of skill and effectiveness best seen during the days of Old School. The Magnum was our next option, but after using it for so long we had grown to hate it with a passion. The weapon’s inconsistencies drove us to look for something more straightforward. The Halo 2 Battle Rifle became the most logical solution. Despite its infamous ease of use, It proved to be both consistent and strong enough to fight against the rest of the sandbox. Our increased strafe acceleration coupled with the modified Thruster Pack ended up making fights with the Halo 2 Battle Rifle way more interesting than we first thought.
With the introduction of Mythic into matchmaking, a lot of new players are going to be introduced to it. What are some of the differences these players should be aware of?
Thruster Pack and Stabilizer in Mythic are very different from vanilla Halo 5. The speed and distance of Thruster Pack closely matches that of normal strafing. Rather than acting as the be-all-end-all in the majority of gunfights, players will see themselves using their Thruster Pack more often as a means of mid-air redirection. Stabilizer only lasts about as long as it takes to perfectly four-shot someone with their Battle Rifle. This means players must time their activation more consciously to engage at unconventional angles. Chaining these abilities can help players gain advantages when moving and fighting, though they’re not detrimental to previously established mechanics. It was extremely important for us to return major emphasis to things like strafing and crouch jumping. Thruster Pack and Stabilizer were included as a means of counteracting aspects of the sandbox and adding a little extra depth to traditional gameplay. One of the other differences is the 3-hit melee, which was implemented to address the absurdly high melee lunge and magnetism seen in Halo 5. We felt it was way too easy to double-melee and two-shot-melee players in Mythic. As such, we decided to create a melee system that combines aspects of Halo 2 and 3. It will take three melees or three full bursts followed by a melee to kill a player.
King of the Hill on Cryptic
Recapping some of the Key differences Mythic, compared to Vanilla Halo 5:
- Faster Base Movement - Movement speed, strafe acceleration, and jump height are all increased. This increase in base movement speed, combined with traditional map scaling, makes player movement feel fast and responsive.
- Limited Spartan Abilities - Limited spartan abilities include only thruster pack and stabilize, both re-balanced for the maps and settings. Thruster pack speed and distance is balanced more closely to standard strafing with it's recharge time increased. Stabilize duration is slightly decreased. Sprint and clamber are disabled.
- 3-Hit Melee System - During the course of testing Mythic settings, it became apparent that Halo 5's melee lunge range is too powerful on classic-scaled maps. A 3-Hit Melee system has been found to work best, preventing cheap panic melees, and bringing more depth to close range engagements. Melee is still an effective too, as combos such as 3 shot beatdown or 1 melee followed by 1 headshot will still end a close quarters fight very quickly.
The Mythic Playlist consists of a variety of traditional 4v4 modes, including the returning ‘King of the Hill’.
The following modes are compatible with all official Mythic maps:
- Mythic Ball (Oddball)
- Mythic Bomb (Assault)
- Mythic Flag (Capture the Flag)
- Mythic King (King of the Hill)
Mythic Slayer (Slayer)
The Mythic Maps
A good gameplay experience always requires that the gameplay mechanics, gametypes, and levels all work together in harmony. The map development for Mythic was very much a community effort, with multiple designers contributing to the design and art of the maps, and even more supporting through playtesting and feedback. The Mythic Map pool is the result of repeated iteration and fine tuning.
All Mythic Arena maps are shown here, in the order of the bulleted list above
Slap, designing an entire pack of maps for custom settings sounds like quite an undertaking. What was your general thought process on how to approach this?
The initial conversations about Mythic took place over a year ago at this point so It’s certainly been a lengthy process! Each map was built as part of a cohesive vision and I want to talk briefly about the vision guiding Mythic.
Our focus had always been about capturing the ‘Halo feels’. What that means exactly will vary from person to person but knowing we also wanted a 4v4 arena experience specifically helped narrow down what Mythic would be. It’s not possible to capture the entirety of Halo multiplayer in just 6 maps but using competitive 4v4 as the focus, we prioritised some of the most beloved arenas from the past as inspiration. Maps like Lockout, Midship, and Warlock immediately stood out and the idea came about that each Mythic map could serve as a call back to several classic maps at once, combining their best elements while having its own unique spin on them.
Every map had to serve a specific role as part of a larger map pack which would overall satisfy a range of game modes including the returning King of the Hill. Making the maps distinct yet work as a set meant a cohesive art style. Though Halo 5 Forge is a powerful tool, it’s not always possible to create highly detailed maps without running into performance issues. The Mythic maps therefore take Halo CE and 2 as inspiration with a clean old school art style.
I’m curious about how you took this general vision and used it to create specific experiences. Can you give us a short breakdown of each level, and how share how you saw it fitting into Mythic as a whole?
Because of Abyss’ linear nature and deadly middle hallway intended for fast paced action, it provided the perfect conditions for Neutral Bomb Assault, as both the map and mode work well with tug of war style gameplay. Almost every match on this map in testing has been incredibly intense because Abyss leaves little room for flanking and avoiding fights, placing emphasis on team pushes.
The original version was first released in late 2013 for Halo 4, making the design around 6 years old now. I wanted to remake it since it always proved to be a strong King of the Hill map as each room offers a unique hill location and setup. With KotH returning as our ‘new’ standout gamemode for Mythic, I felt this map would highlight the mode well.
Anyone who has played Lockout will know that matches on it often result in a standoff between the two main towers. I wanted a map of a similar style except with far less camping by adding more danger to the higher levels to keep players moving. The big difference from Lockout is that Frontier uses a third main tower as a neutral power position which encourages movement away from the other two towers. Two teleporters also allow players to quickly cross from one side of the map to the other. All these factors combined make for a free-flowing map where recreating the sometimes stagnant situations found on Lockout become near impossible.
An appropriate name for a map revolving around its large interior atrium. Players familiar with Prisoner from Halo CE will see the inspiration here with Goliath as well as thematic influence from Halo 2’s Colossus. Originally designed by Whos Blaze, my challenge with this latest iteration was to have it ‘slapified’ to fit within the Mythic style. Taking on such a complex map and making the space feel intuitive and readable was the main challenge. Cutting away areas which felt unnecessary and using coloured lighting to highlight key areas helped massively in the end.
4-way symmetrical arenas filled a special role in Halo CE/2 and have not reappeared much since. With 4v4 arena being the focus for Mythic, it was important to include staple symmetrical arena archetypes from the past to compliment some of the more complex asymmetrical layouts. Halo CE’s Wizard and later Halo 2’s Warlock were fundamental to the competitive experience in each respective game. Derelict/Desolation while not technically a ‘4-way sym’, had a similar arena layout. The goal of Oracle was ultimately to combine elements of both Warlock and Desolation into a new design.
As mentioned with Oracle, fulfilling staple arena archetypes was important to Mythic and there is perhaps no map more fundamental to the competitive Halo experience than Halo 2’s Midship. It’s seen countless adaptations as well as inspiring Zealot from Halo Reach. Vengeance was the first map made for Mythic as we needed a solid reliable design with which we could test game mode settings and resolve scaling standards. The maps and settings were co-developed and most of that development took place on Vengeance.
For more insight into the Mythic Maps from Sgt x Slaphead, check out our Map Feature here:
The story of Mythic could have ended there...but it didn’t. Of the hundreds or thousands of community made game types, Mythic is one of the very few that has found itself in the rarefied air we call ‘Matchmaking’. How and why did this happen? Whos Blaze from the 343 Sustain Team is here to tell us all about it.
Blaze, as you know there are many, many community built custom gametypes. What is it about Mythic that made it stand out from other similar endeavors?
The community had been testing iterations of similar gametypes for some time, even before I had joined the 343 Sustain Team and I have enjoyed just about every version. Though, it wasn’t until maybe October of last year that I really started seeing magic spark in the community which showed me that this isn’t just my ideal Halo experience but truly something special.
Going back a little bit; for a couple months, I dedicated my Monday mornings to hosting lobbies where we could test community maps and modes in an attempt to bring people together and discover some new awesome content. I would test just about whatever we could find players to support. This included some of the gametypes that eventually became Mythic. As Mythic came together, it was becoming less and less of a struggle to fill lobbies, people were pre-emptively building their own maps to hopefully play with the Mythic settings, and overall, people were excited to jump on and play for hours. Soon after Mondays were renamed to be “Mythic Mondays”.
I can’t say for sure when exactly we began pursuing it as an official sustain beat but I’ve been involved on a personal level for a bit over a year now. It’s a pretty blurred line, if I think about it because I’ve pretty much wanted to do a playlist, if I had the opportunity, since the moment it started to come together.
Oddball on Goliath
Was there an interest internally within 343 to have a more 'classic' playlist? Or was this driven more from the community?
There is always a demand for classic style Halo content within the community but that isn’t exactly what drove us to these settings. Luckily, we get a lot of trust as designers; while the appeal of classic may not be as large as the appeal for something like super fiesta within H5’s audience, that trust allows us to explore a lot of different playlist opportunities. And in my opinion, I think it’s good to have a balance of experiences to explore, especially with the game being 4 years in now.
With the endless possibilities of H5’s forge, it would be a shame not to try to get a wide range of playlists for returning players to try out. The variety in just the last of 2019 is a great example of that. Since July we’ve added new content to Actionsack and Big Team Super Fiesta, brought 2v2 competitive in to align with our tournaments, a new off-core slayer experience called ODST Slayer, the long awaited return of Ranked Snipers, Husky raid! And now Mythic Arena. I may even be missing some but my point is that it’s neither directly influencing it, but both at the same time. We only want to provide new and exciting content for everyone.
I'm curious, were any major changes required to get the playlist into matchmaking?
No major changes were made that didn’t involve many in-depth discussions amongst the community developers and us on the sustain team. We ultimately came to an agreement on what we think is best for the scenario for every major change considered. Even when either side felt passionate about their stance, we all recognise that there are pros and cons, and further implications on the goals each person wanted to achieve.
One example that I can give which may seem like a very simple task was the name for the settings. We were initially concerned that Mythic may be confusing to some players because of the association with pre-existing playlists like, Mythic Shotty Snipers and Mythic Warzone Firefight, both of which have Mythic in a different context. Early on, before it was being officially considered for an upcoming playlist, we talked about this and what other names might be appropriate for them, if the situation would arise.
As you can see, we eventually ended up sticking with Mythic despite these concerns due to the increasing awareness and popularity of the settings within the custom and forging community, among other things.
The Mythic Journey Continues
The Mythic Playlist is LIVE and waiting for you, so load it up and give it a shot.
Interested in creating your own maps for Mythic Settings, or downloading the Maps and Settings to play in Custom Games? Add or look up the gamertag "H5 Mythic" and you’ll find what you’re looking for in the Bookmarks.
Or you can use these links to download them directly:
Follow Next Level Design
Join the Forum: http://www.nextleveldesign.org/index.php?/register/
Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/NextLevelDesig2
Discuss on Discord: https://discord.gg/RqEy7rg