Halo 5: Guardians is finally adding the fan-favorite Grifball mode, developer 343 Industries has announced. In a blog post, multiplayer designer Max Grossman confirmed the frenetic yet strategic mode (as well as other ball-themed modes) will launch in the Xbox One shooter sometime later this month.
343 said went to great lengths to ensure it "got it right" with Halo 5's version of Grifball. Grossman said the studio called in an expert on the mode, community player Jeffrey "Nokyard" Fischer," to help design the mode. 343 flew him to the developer's studio "a few months" before work even began on it to make sure the developer "understood exactly what is important to Grifballers."
"We had many design discussions with Nokyard and he even built the first Halo 5 Grifball Court which will be launching alongside the mode this update (it's unlike any Grifball court you have ever seen before)," Grossman said. "Nok worked with our Weapons Designer, Daniel Wiksten, on trying to get the damage and impulse blast of the hammer to feel right. This collaboration helped us hammer out (pun intended) the delicate balance of Gravity Hammer vs. Sword vs. Ball that Grifball so heavily relies upon. We leveraged Nokyard's wealth of Grifball knowledge to try to make the most exciting Grifball yet, complete with thrusting Grif, Ground Pound kills, and ball throwing. Playing Grifball during playtests over the last few months has been some of the most fun we have had in the new building."
Grifball will be added to Halo 5 later this month. We'll have more details as they're made available.
One of the other ball-based modes coming to Halo 5 is an "upgraded" version of Neutral Bomb Assault that, for Halo 5, will be called Assault.
"The core rules are more or less unchanged: a ball spawns on the center line of the map and players must deliver the ball to the enemy team's goal and it explodes (Woot!). That's about where the similarities end," Grossman said. "We went back to the drawing board on when and where the ball spawns, the abilities of the ball carrier, and the arming process itself. When the game starts, the ball will spawn at a unique location each time it spawns throughout the match. The order of locations is always fixed so players can learn to predict the next spawn. Once a team establishes control of the spawn location, they can pick up the ball."
Grossman went on to say that carrying the ball in past Halo 5 games "felt like work" for some players instead of being fun. In Halo 5, things will hopefully be different.
"We tried a lot of different tweaks from changing movement speed, changing the way navpoints work, modifying damage resistance, disabling ball throwing, and more. Eventually, we decided that there were three key components to the ball carrier: they needed to win melee fights, be able to survive while arming the ball, and be able to make it to the enemy base undetected," he said. "To meet these goals, we made the melee attack with the ball an instant kill, gave the carrier an extra thrust, and implemented the same 'Spotting' mechanic present in Capture the Flag. While arming the ball, the carrier can use their two thrusts stay alive or to close the gap on the enemy and beat them down. We think that the new carrier mechanics will give players a new skill to learn and enable a skilled ball carrier to win the game for their team."
343 also confirmed that it's bringing back the Fiesta mode, though the developer didn't share any further details about how it's changed since we last saw it in Halo 4.
For lots more on how 343 went about designing the new modes and the customization options players will have for them in Custom Games, be sure to read the full post on Halo Waypoint.
These modes are coming to Halo 5 through an update scheduled later for this month, though 343 has not yet announced when it will arrive. Halo 5's latest update, Infinity's Armory, was released in January. 343 has pledged to continually support Halo 5 with new free content through at least June 2016.
Beyond that, 343 is also working on Halo 6.