The Halo Bulletin: April 10th, 2013


April 8th not only marked the launch of the Castle Map Pack but also the beginning of a full week of Halo 4 festivities. While we’ve been busy keeping the contests, challenges and giveaways going, I thought we’d stop for a second to both catch our breath and get you up to speed on what exactly this week has to offer. Spoiler: It’s a lot!

Castle Map Pack

Daybreak, Outcast and Perdition are officially here. Whether you fancy yourself a driver or just have a thing for large battles over open spaces, this is the add-on for you. Featuring three brand new medium-to-large maps, the Castle Map Pack can be yours for 800 Microsoft Points or the low, low price of nothing, should you be a Limited Edition or War Games Map Pass owner.

Competitive Skill Rank

For the past several weeks, one of the most common questions across the Halosphere has been, “When are we getting ranks?” On Monday, I was able to stop using everybody’s favorite word (soon!) and start saying, “You can haz.” Your Competitive Skill Rank, or CSR, is now available on all screens of Halo Waypoint – mobile, web, console and SmartGlass. If you’d like a detailed write-up about how this brand new, 1-50 skill-based system works, check out last week’s Bulletin. To see your set of numbers in action, make sure you’re signed in and then click the Halo 4 logo on the navigation bar at the top of the page.

CSR Challenge

For the five-oh fans amongst you, anybody who reaches CSR level 35 or higher at any point on or between April 8th to April 22nd will receive a free Avatar t-shirt. It kind of looks like the image you see to the left. And by “kind of”, I mean “totally”. Because it is.

Halo 4 Original Soundtrack Volume 2

Some people like the steady hum of Halo in their earholes. If that describes you, you’ll be excited to hear Halo 4 Original Soundtrack Volume 2 is now available for your purchasing pleasure. Frankie uses it in conjunction with a fire, glass of wine and bearskin rug. You should feel free to do the same.

Spartan Ops Challenge

Maybe you’ve played through all 10 episodes or perhaps you have yet to venture into this particular game mode. Regardless of which group you fall into, playing and completing any 5 missions of Spartan Ops will result in a t-shirt being added to your Avatar’s virtual wardrobe. Speaking of which…

New Halo-themed Avatar Items

You may not be able to don the ancient armor of the Didact in real life but that doesn’t mean your virtual mini-me should be stuck with the same fate. Get stomped on by a Mantis or enjoy the sight of balls flying around your face by dipping into the newest additions to the Halo Avatar Collection, which includes Didact Avatar Armor, a Cryptum Ball prop and more.

Halo 4 DLC Sale

On Friday, April 12, there will be a Halo 4 DLC sale for anyone who has not yet purchased the War Games Map Pass or the first two individual Map Packs. A listing of the sale prices is as follows:

  • Halo 4 War Games Map Pass: 1600 Microsoft Points (Originally 2000 Microsoft Points)
  • Crimson Map Pack: 600 Microsoft Points (Originally 800 Microsoft Points)
  • Majestic Map Pack: 600 Microsoft Points (Originally 800 Microsoft Points)

We hope all of the aforementioned features, items and challenges keep you busy. Should you need one more thing to add to your to-do list, however, I invite you to continue reading this Bulletin. Word-wise it will be a bit lighter than usual this week, but we will still cover a few relevant points of interest. Here to tackle the first one with you is Bravo, who some people say is based but I say on what.

Current State of Weapon Balancing

Bravo here with a weapon balancing update! As we have mentioned in various Halo Bulletins, panels and live streams over the past few weeks, we are currently evaluating the state of Halo 4’s weapon balance. The sustain, sandbox, multiplayer and test teams have been working together and evaluating which weapons and categories of weapons need some attention, and we are happy to say that our internal testing has allowed us to make great progress.

We have also mentioned that we are approaching weapon re-balancing very carefully, as each change that is checked requires vigorous testing to ensure that it benefits the entire sandbox, and that gameplay is improved on a global level across all of Halo 4’s maps, game modes and scenarios. Because of this, the process takes several weeks while we are in a constant cycle of making tweaks, testing and retesting. This being said, we are well underway and will be bringing this update to Halo 4 Matchmaking as soon as it’s ready.

Here are some of the big ticket items we’re currently looking at:

Precision Weapon Balance

Our goal of the upcoming balance update is to create an even balance across all precision rifles (DMR, Battle Rifle, Carbine and LightRifle). Our latest tests have included (but are not limited to) rate of fire and damage tweaks to several weapons within this category. Additionally, it is important to create balance amongst all primary weapons, which leads into the next category.

Automatic Weapon Balance

An important part of overall balance is ensuring that each weapon excels within its intended role. As we move the dials to tweak some of the precision weapons, it demands that certain tweaks also be made to automatic weapons, which include the Assault Rifle, Suppressor and more. We are investigating modifying the rate of fire, accuracy and damage on these weapons.

Vehicle Weapon Balance

We have seen many community concerns that certain vehicles may be examples of sandbox elements that could be improved. We are currently looking at tuning some of the weapons that these vehicles have at their disposal in order to increase their usefulness and viability. We greatly value the teamwork (and fun) required in riding around in a Warthog with a buddy, and want to ensure that this and other vehicles have great draw and value.

Also, we are taking a look at many weapons that do not fit within these categories to ensure that the sandbox is providing the most ideal experience possible for all users in all playlists and game modes. As we finish up our internal testing, we look forward to providing further updates on the weapons that will be receiving attention and the specific changes that will be made, once finalized.

Competitive Skill Rank Challenge – The First 24 Hours

Many of you have already been introduced to CSR. For the uninitiated, your Competitive Skill Rank (CSR) measures your performance against other players in Halo 4 Matchmaking War Games. You have a CSR specific to each active playlist, which can be seen on all screens of Halo Waypoint. It is a number from 1 to 50 (higher is better) which goes up and down based on match outcomes. Your best CSR is shown on your Player Card and Service Record, as well as Player Compare.

Competitive Skill Rank is a brand new feature for Halo 4 and to celebrate, we issued you a challenge: Play in the Castle DLC playlist from April 8th at 2am PST to April 22nd at 2 am PST, reach CSR level 35 or higher at any point on or between these dates, and you’ll receive an avatar tee. If you’ve been striving to hit that magic number and are curious about how you stack up when compared to everybody else, here are some stats from the first 24 hours CSR was live.

If you’re hoping to get your hands on the CSR Challenge’s avatar item, check out the below tips, courtesy of Bravo.

Capture the Flag – Daybreak

Daybreak CTF is probably my favorite game type in the Castle DLC playlist. There is always a lot of action on Daybreak, but here’s what’s most important:

  • Use your Sniper Rifle wisely – Daybreak’s two-base feel is complimented by an opening Sniper Battle. Talk to your Sniper and decide if they want to challenge the enemy Sniper, assist with Rockets or help in securing the Banshee.
  • The Banshee is king – I’d recommend sending at least two players towards the Banshee, and maybe even your Sniper. If the enemy team gets the Banshee, have your Plasma Pistols ready.
  • Treat the map as if it were an arena-style map – When running a flag, run it along the outer edge (Banshee side or Rocket side) towards your team. If your team is supporting you, the enemy will spawn at their base or on the opposite side. Escort your flag carrier, rinse and repeat.

King of the Hill – Perdition

Perdition KotH is an exciting and refreshing game type in that all of the hills offer totally different sightlines and playspaces. Several things to remember on this game type:

  • Go for map control, not just hill control – Several of the hills are in closed spaces, e.g., the control room or “Ghost Garage.” Because of this, you’ll want to establish a presence outside of the hills while one or two teammates lock down the hill itself. If you turtle inside the room, you’re a sitting duck.
  • The Ghost is your friend – Because of its mobility and usefulness, the Ghost is your best bet when trying to clear out one of the open hills, such as the Reactor. If your teammates are using precision weapons, they should have no trouble cleaning up all of your weak, helpless enemies as you run laps around the map’s outer track.

Infinity Slayer – Outcast

Outcast Slayer is a fun game type for several reasons, including the Mantis vs. Wraith battle, and the fact that all action seems to funnel straight into the middle. Stick to the outside – and these tips – to find victory on this map.

  • Use your vehicle wisely – Each team is given a powerful vehicle. When you have the Wraith or the Mantis, make sure you’re not blindly charging into the middle of the map, as the corresponding enemy vehicle could be around any turn.
  • Use the Mongoose to flank the enemy – If you can find a pathway that is clear of vehicular opposition, you may be able to flank the enemy by hopping into a Mongoose and getting behind enemy lines. Once there, let your teammates know, and time your attack accordingly.
  • Rush the Rockets – The Rocket Launcher spawns in the middle of the map, so be sure to sprint in and bring it back to give you the upper hand against the inevitable infantry vs. vehicle battles that are soon to be underway. The enemy team is undoubtedly looking to do the same thing, though, as this area is the first choke point in most matches.

Halo 4 Screenshot Spotlight – Space

Last week we shined the spotlight on vehicles. This week we decided to go with outer space. Take a gander at the images below, which were taken in the void that exists between celestial bodies, and then capture your own for your shot at being featured in next week’s Bulletin.

For your chance at being in the next spotlight, take a Grifball-themed screenshot. Then tag it with “Grifball” and “Halo Waypoint”, and maybe, just maybe, yours will be featured in the next Halo Bulletin!

Revelation by Reclaimed Halo Planetoids by BIG ERN 108


Exploration by Apollo Creed 01 Show No Mercy by Cat Wolfest


Dimentions by Sparky A1 Spacetrip Recboon by RTD SPURL0S


Scenery by SepiaAnt8071 Spaaace by speed sonic


Galactic Cluster by Vesicated ºFlametrailº by Gothic Lucy


Lone Spartans by SPARTAN sIVp Disembodiment by The Little Moa
And that wraps up this week’s Bulletin. We’ll see you next week for more of the same. Until then…

bs angel

How to view your Halo 4 CSR Rank on the Xbox


Hi there, H3AsiiM made a video to show you all how to check your CSR (Competitive Skill Rank) in Halo 4 via the Xbox’s HaloWaypoint App. This is for all players who don’t have a smart phone or a computer next to their gaming console. Unfortunately in order to check your CSR via the Xbox you must exit the game, where as other devices that support HaloWaypoint App (smartphones and computers) don’t require this. The CSR system just went live as of April 8th and you can find more details here.

– Chief Landless


Rumble Pit, CSR, Castle DLC, & Multi-Team! The Halo Bulletin 4.3.13


Hi everyone, Chief here, I took a hiatus last week as the bulletin didn’t have any new information. It was just a Q&A from PAX East and all of the questions were answered by my PAX East video anyways. So here we have a doozie of a bulletin fill to brim with Castle Map Pack and CSR details so lets dig in! Click here for the full bulletin.

Thursday April 4th

  • Welcome to Daybreak: Map walkthrough and strategies by 343 Industries on Daybreak

Friday April 5th

  • Welcome to Perdition: Map walkthrough and strategies by 343 Industries on Perdition

Saturday April 6th

  • Welcome to Outcast: Map walkthrough and strategies by 343 Industries on Outcast

Sunday April 7th

  • Castle Map Pack Livestream: A livestream hosted by 343 Industries (most likely on their livestream channel showcasing all three maps for the Castle map pack.

Monday April 8th

  • Castle Map Pack Release:
    • 800 MS Points or Free to owners of the War Games Map Pass
    • 3 medium to large sized maps: Daybreak, Perdition, and Outcast
  • CSR (Competitive Skill Rank) Release
  • Multiplayer Update
    • Multi Team – 6 teams of 2 players
    • Castle Team DLC – 6v6
    • Rumble Pit (FFA) will replace Community Forge FFA Playlist
      • Infinity Rumble and Rumble Pro
    • Team Objective will transition to a 6v6 playlist
      • on-disc maps, Crimson DLC, and Castle DLC
    • Extraction Playlist will transition into Team Objective Playlist
  • Encore Episode 1 of Spartan Ops


CSR (Competitive Skill Rank)

“There are two different ways we calculate your CSR. CSR is closely based on your TrueSkill rank, which ensures that you’ll be ranked – and matched – against opponents of comparable skill. Your CSR is dependent upon your personal performance as well as the rank of those you play with. While several playlists will use a win/loss system to determine whether or not you rank up, others will use individual scoring, which will rank you based on your performance against everyone in the match, teammates included. In some playlists, you’ll rank up faster than others – these vary in order to create the most optimal experience for each playlist.”

There will be two different scoring systems: Individual Scoring (compares you against everyone in the game) and Team Scoring (based off wins and losses and objective play). Playlists will only feature one system:

Playlists that use individual scoring:

  • Infinity Slayer
  • Big Team Infinity Slayer
  • Rumble Pit
  • Multi-Team
  • Team Action Sack
  • Flood
  • Team Snipers
  • Regicide
  • SWAT

Playlists that will use team scoring:

  • Castle Team DLC
  • Team Objective
  • Capture the Flag
  • Dominion
  • Team Throwdown
  • Team Doubles
  • Grifball

“CSR challenge where playing the Castle DLC playlist and reaching level 35 or higher between April 8 and April 22 will award you with an exclusive Avatar t-shirt, so stay tuned to Halo Waypoint and our Twitter account for more giveaways and surprises.”

In mainstream playlists it will be very difficult to carry your teammates CSR if they continually end up on the bottom of the scoreboard, it will be easy however for the weakest link in your party of friends to bring down their CSR and risk losing lots of matches.

If you leave early once a match has started, it treats it as if you were the lowest rank in the match for the individual-scored playlists and as a loss on the team-scored playlists. Players that join in progress are currently treated as if they had played the entire match. That said, in our selected, more competitive playlists, there will be rules in place to mitigate the effect. Namely:

  1. You can only join in progress during a small window of time in the beginning of the match, so those players will still have time to contribute meaningfully to the match.
  2. Friends are not allowed to join a game in progress. Only random players searching through Matchmaking can join during that 60-second window.

The rules for these playlists restrict the amount of noise from Join-in-Progress since that feature is only possible during the first few moments of the match. They also help improve the purity of CSR in these playlists. We plan on putting in these Join-in-Progress parameters as close to CSR launch as possible.

We are actively investigating occasional CSR resets, both globally and for certain playlists. Reasons for resetting ranks include overhauls to CSR calculation, Halo 4 game updates, and events and promotions centered on CSR. Resetting CSR is not something we’re taking lightly so when we do reset it, we’ll be sure to provide ample messaging describing the reasons for doing so.

Castle Team DLC – 6v6

  Map   Game Type
  Infinity Slayer
  Capture the Flag
  King of the Hill
  Extraction – 1 Plot
  Infinity Slayer
  Capture the Flag
  King of the Hill
  Team Regicide
  Infinity Slayer
  Capture the Flag
  King of the Hill
  Extraction – 1 Plot

Also, these maps will be integrated into many of our existing playlists. DLC maps will appear in a playlist if all players in the match have downloaded the content.

  Playlist   Map
  Capture the Flag
  Infinity Slayer
  Action Sack

Rumble Pit

Replacing Community Forge FFA, Rumble Pit will feature both Infinity Rumble and Rumble Pro in the voting options. Here are the maps that the playlist will launch with:

  • Skyline
  • Landfall
  • Monolith
  • Haven
  • Solace
  • Adrift
  • Abandon
  • Shutout
  • Simplex
  • Dispatch

Phewf! That was a big one.

– Chief Landless


CSR Launch Date Announced!

bsangel confirmed via twitter and gave us a cut and dry list of dates for items to come after the Halo 4 panel at PAX East.

April 8th, 2013

  • Castle Map Pack
  • CSR (Competitive Skill Rank)
  • Multi-Team Playlist

Within 1-2 Weeks

  • Title Update 1.04

April 11th, 2013

  • Forge Island for FREE

– Chief Landless


Halo 4 Competitive Playlist (Team Throwdown) Details (So Far)

343 Industries Matchmaking Systems Team made a post in the Halo Waypoint forums in regards to a competitive playlist set to debut around the middle of February (before the launch of CSR in April).

The post indicates this playlist will feature heavily modified and altered versions of the following gametypes.

  • Slayer
  • CTF
  • Extraction
  • King of the Hill

The post stated that they envision it as both the go-to place for competitive play and the premier playlist to get your 50 [CSR] in”

They plan to share the first outline of the settings next week to collect community feedback so they can continually tune the settings. Here are the early details so far:

  • 4 vs 4
  • Pre-set game loadouts
  • Forced respawn timers
  • No instant respawn
  • Ordnance on re-supply timers
  • Join-in-progress off
  • No split-screen play 
  • Friendly fire on
  • Max party size 4 with big party matching enforced
  • No guests allowed

– Chief Landless


Halo 4 CSR Visibility Details – 343 Statement

After much scrutiny and community outrage by a majority of Halo fans after the news in this weeks Halo Waypoint Bulletin (you can read here), bs angel, answered the hot topic question in the Halo Waypoint forums whether or not the CSR, Competitive Skill Rank, in Halo 4 would be visible in-game; similar to Halo 3.

She replied on behalf of 343 and stated that the “True Skill Rank” or CSR would not be visible in game, but instead visible on Halo Waypoint via the website and mobile apps. She had the design team make a mock-up player profile predicting the possible final product when the CSR rank will be released in April 2013.

You can read her statement here.

**Please note this is NOT the final product.

59stCbGIf you’re interested in my thoughts on this statement and analyzing the true purpose of a “true skill rank” in Halo I have made a video.

Grifball, CSR and More! The Halo Bulletin: 1.23.13

This weeks Halo Bulletin is jam packed full of goods. So if you want to read it in it’s entirety click here. But here are the highlights,

On Monday, Spartan Ops continues with episode 7, which will once again contain five new Spartan Ops missions. Also premiering for the first time in Halo 4 is the Grifball playlist! We’ve worked closely with GrifballHub to create several different Grifball experiences in this new Matchmaking playlist


Also this week is the unlocking of two new Specializations: Engineer and Stalker:

Engineer: The Drop Recon Armor Mod allows users to predict the location and time of an Ordnance Drop through an external suborbital monitoring system.
Stalker: The Nemesis armor mod allows users to target and track down previous attacking enemies, highlighting them on the armor’s passive sensors.

The Community Forge Test playlist will also be around next week. The playlist will be available until the release of Team Doubles on February 4th.

CSR – Competitive Skill Rank

We have been working closely with several internal teams on optimizing the ranking system, and working to integrate it into your Waypoint player profile, accessible on web, phone and tablet.

More Details:

• You will have a unique CSR visible per playlist.
• Your highest CSR across all playlists will be promoted in the player profile on Halo Waypoint.
• CSR uses familiar 1-50 scale.
• When CSR launches, everyone will start with a fresh rating.
Our targeted launch date for CSR is April 2013, and we will be re-configuring some of our most competitive playlists to accommodate the launch of the feature.


Playlist Rotations Going Forward

We have been reading your feedback on rotational playlists, and we would like to clarify our approach going forward.

• Several of the modes currently on ‘hiatus’ are getting updates and fixes based on community feedback.
• We are planning to build several multi-mode playlists that include rotated modes, and new modes we have not launched yet. It is important that we build strong playlist compositions in time for the CSR launch.
• We hope to keep Grifball and Doubles in as regular playlists.

Future Playlists and Modes

Alongside bug fixes, feature improvements, and new maps, here are some modes and playlists we are working on:

• Grifball Playlist: Slated to include multiple versions of Grifball and new courts.
• Extraction Playlist: Adding overtime, fixing a score bug, improving the capture experience, and tuning maps.
• Infinity CTF: More details next week.

– Chief Landless


Halo 4 Playlist Rotation Discussion – My One Dislike About Halo 4


So as we have all noticed, that Halo 4 has featured rotating playlists every week. With the announcement of a playlist in the Halo Waypoint bulletin on a Thursday or Friday and then implementing the playlist on the following Monday along with other tweaks and minor changes to the multiplayer.

I like the idea of rotating playlists, but I find the time period of 1 week to be to short to prove the playlists popularity (at least fairly). Some would prefer to have all playlists available now and have them stay, but that would require more resources on 343’s part.

What are your thoughts?

PS. Yes there are other issues with the game that the community is very vocal about, but I for one am not going to fault 343 Industries for features they have promises to work on. I am happily awaiting the arrival of the file share system and CSR ranks, both are items that should hopefully show major improvements after studying the game post-release.

– Chief Landless