Developer: 343 Industries
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Platform: Xbox 360
Review Copy Provided By: Microsoft Studios
Release Date: April 8, 2013
With it only being a month since the last Halo 4 map pack arrived, the final map pack, Castle, is available now bringing with it 3 new maps; Daybreak, Outcast, and Perdition. Castle map pack comes at the usual price of 800 magic points (Microsoft Points) or for the great price of free if you have already bought the War Games Season Pass. The pack was named after a Spartan-IV fireteam that was KIA in the second battle of Requiem.
Castle was outsourced to a development studio made up of former Bungie devs called Certain Affinity. Do not let that scare you though as Certain Affinity has a track record with Halo and other titles including the Halo 2 Blastacular map pack, Halo Waypoint, Halo Reach Defiant map pack, Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary, and Halo 4’s Forge mode. They infact have more of a Halo pedigree than 343 Industries.
Daybreak is located at the research facilities in the mountains of planet Oban. The map is almost symmetrical with 2 facilities opposing each other while separated by a creek. If the map sounds familiar that may be due to it being a remake of Battle Creek from Halo 1 and Beaver Creek from Halo 2. It is almost disappointing that they didn’t keep creek in the name. Daybreak uses the staple Halo grass and rock environment that we have experienced since the first game but that doesn’t mean it is an unattractive map. The incredible graphic fidelity of Halo 4 mixed in with a great looking sky and beautiful mountainous landscape in the background keeps it from feeling stale.
The map has a real old school shooter feel due to the layout and bases which even include the ever traditional turret on top. The Mongoose, Warthog, Banshee, and Ghost can all be found on the map along with great sightlines and just enough cover to keep the map balanced for all playstyles. The layout of Daybreak sets it up to be a great Capture the Flag map but to be honest, all modes are work equally well. This will be the map that everyone votes for.
Outcast features a secluded set of rebel facilities located in the desert like cliffs of Talitsa. The look falls into the traditional Grand Canyon and Mars looks with reddish sand and rock sculpted by erosion. The rock features have tunnels that are illuminated just enough to create an eerie yet attractive aesthetic despite the simplicity of the environment palette. Bases are on opposite sides of the map and meet with a circular path that creates a balance between vehicle and on foot with it’s narrow pathways, tunnels, and open vehicle paths.
While all three maps are full of vehicles, Outcast is clearly for vehicle lovers. The official line is to expect frequent Mantis and Wraith battles. The Warthog, Ghost, and Mongoose also make an appearance. The vehicle and map layout lends itself more towards Slayer based game modes. This is a map to avoid if you don’t like vehicle play.
Perdition finds itself in the seedy industrial underbelly of the city of Pilvrosis on New Carthage. The city is suffering from an unstable thermal reactor creating a great visual of a reactor in meltdown with coolant water falling down the insides like waterfalls in the center of the map. The rest of the map outside of the reactor is the standard Halo urban look filled with grey. The only real interesting visual to the non reactor sections is moving pieces in the background like a monorail performing evacuations otherwise Perdition just ends up feeling like more of the same that we have seen from maps since Halo 2. Perdition is actually reminiscent of the live E3 demo for Halo 2, so much so that the word going around is that the map is based on that demo.
Perdition lacks the long sight lines that snipers love but with the tight corners and small rooms inside close quarters combat becomes the name of the game. Keeping with the vehicle theme of the map pack, the Warthog and Ghost can be found on this map with a couple more open areas filled with lots of small pieces of cover that allow on foot players to get the drop on vehicles. The layout of the map works best for objective based game modes like King of the Hill and Extraction where the random placement of objectives cause the most chaos.
Daybreak is the saving grace of the Castle map pack but then again it is a map with previous variations that have been battle tested since the first Halo game over a decade ago. Perdition is definitely the weakest link of the three maps. It is disappointing that the map pack is so heavily focused on vehicles as there are plenty of maps already in Halo 4 covering that ground.