With the recent implementation of the Mythic Arena Playlist into Halo 5 matchmaking (see announcement here), 6 maps made specifically for the Mythic Arena Gametype were also officially released in the Next Level Design Projects section. They're each designed for 4v4 play, with aesthetics inspired by Bungie's legacy.
The Mythic Map Pack
- Abyss - Map Thread
- Cryptic - Map Thread
- Frontier - Map Thread
- Goliath - Map Thread
- Oracle - Map Thread
- Vengeance - Map Thread
We recently met up with @Sgt Slaphead to discuss the just released Mythic Arena playlist, which pays tribute to the Classic gameplay style of the original Trilogy. He shared background information on each of the six maps, talking about some of the goals and challenges faced in their making. What follows is shared in his own words.
*Note: Additional images, gameplay video, and Download Links can be found in the individual map threads.
During the initial blockout, this map went by the placeholder name ‘Hallway of Death’. The reason for such a blunt approach being that its original design was intended for the Extermination forge contest back in 2017. Extermination is a 4v4 elimination mode where the goal is to wipe out the enemy team in a short space of time, so maps designed for it must be compact and straightforward enough to keep fights fast and minimize hiding.
Because of Abyss’ linear nature and deadly middle hallway intended for fast paced action, it later 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.
Forerunner architecture lends itself well to creating a striking hallway with its angular arches, so I stole the shape of the large doorways from Halo CE’s Assault the Control Room and used them as the basis for the map’s geometry. Such a simple layout needed an interesting setting so placing the map underwater with a Halo 2 Delta Halo theme brought a lot more to the space.
Abyss is a symmetrical Map forged by Sgt x Slaphead. It plays Assault, Capture the Flag, and Slayer.
Abyss Map Thread: https://www.nextleveldesign.org/index.php?/forums/topic/251-abyss/
Cryptic was built out of an appreciation for the interior forerunner architecture seen in The Silent Cartographer from Halo CE and The Ark from Halo 3. Because I’d just joined the community at the time and was learning so much from others, Cryptic evolved a lot throughout its building process with seven drastically different iterations.
It was largely a process of trial and error, testing different room designs and experimenting with how they would fit together. The map finally came together once I decided on the maps defining long sightline framed by its procession of arches. This focal point is what unites the rooms around it, and keeps fights easy to find.
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.
Cryptic is an asymmetrical Map forged by Sgt x Slaphead, which plays King of the Hill, Oddball, and Slayer.
Cryptic Map Thread: https://www.nextleveldesign.org/index.php?/forums/topic/250-cryptic/
Halo CE Hang ‘Em High meets Halo 2 Lockout is the easiest way to describe Frontier. Frontier is based heavily on my previous map Final Frontier, which used architecture inspired by Hang ‘Em High set in a space environment, influenced by the Halo CE 1.5 map Imminent.
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.
Risk and reward is very clearly applied as a method of encouraging this flow but nowhere is this more apparent than with the maps central ladder. Climbing the ladder is extremely dangerous however if used successfully players can quickly make it to the top of the map and surprise the enemy team. Players can also fall off the map at any time if not careful, especially on the higher levels where there are less railings. Frontier is a map where nowhere feels safe for too long and players want to stay on their toes, making it best played for intense Oddball matches.
Frontier is an asymmetrical Map forged by Sgt x Slaphead, which plays King of the Hill, Oddball, and Slayer.
Frontier Map Thread: https://www.nextleveldesign.org/index.php?/forums/topic/249-frontier/
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.
Goliath has been the most challenging map for players to learn during testing due to the complex layout with various levels, plenty of verticality, and not too many ways to the top of the map at first glance. Taking on such a complex busy 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.
Players who appreciate some of the more abstract and asymmetrical designs of Halo CE (like Prisoner and Damnation) which can come with quite a learning curve, will hopefully have a lot of fun learning the intricacies of Goliath. Players can expect to expect to discover plenty of new jumps too over time. This map will play well for a range of modes including KotH, Oddball and Slayer.
Goliath is an asymmetrical Map forged by Whos Blaze and Sgt x Slaphead, which plays King of the Hill, Oddball, and Slayer.
Goliath Map Thread: https://www.nextleveldesign.org/index.php?/forums/topic/248-goliath/
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.
Something I miss most about the early Halo games was the use of alternatives to conventional movement options on maps such as gravity lifts, teleporters, and ladders. Like Warlock, Oracle was a good opportunity to take full advantage of teleporters and gravity lifts as a way of keeping players moving.
Rotationally symmetrical maps often present the problem of player orientation. Colour coding is one method of assisting here though done carefully to avoid making the map look like a rainbow. The asymmetrical skybox also goes a long way to helping navigation while making for a very classic ancient forerunner environment.
Oracle Map Thread: https://www.nextleveldesign.org/index.php?/forums/topic/247-oracle/
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.
The layout began with Cheapbox v2 creating a blockout based on the Halo Reach MLG map Nexus. King of the Hill maps were a top priority with it being the returning mode and Nexus was an excellent competitive KotH map for reference. Going off this blockout, Cheap and I adapted the layout into a covenant arena which would pay respects to both Midship and Zealot. Ultimately the map would act as a precedent for all other Mythic maps, setting the standard for quality, gameplay and art style.
Vengeance is a highly versatile map supporting essentially all modes. Both CTF and KotH have proved very fun here. It offers something different while hopefully honouring its legacy of competitive style covenant arenas before it.
Vengeance is an asymmetrical Map forged by Cheapbox v2, and Sgt x Slaphead, which plays Capture the Flag, King of the Hill, and Slayer.
Vengeance Map Thread: https://www.nextleveldesign.org/index.php?/forums/topic/246-vengeance/
The Mythic Map Pack is the result of years of iteration, and the end result is a testament to the growth in learning and understanding of level design that took place during that time. Give the maps a look and a download, then queue up the Mythic Arena playlist in Halo 5 to play them, or meet up with some friends and load them up in a custom game.
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