Halo: The Master Chief Collection is adding cross-play support between Xbox One and PC in a future update, and now developer 343 Industries has shared some details on how it will work and what’s being done to ensure a fair experience.
Technical designer Dana Jerpback said in a blog post that there will be input-based matchmaking for certain playlists. “We are looking at input-based matchmaking being implemented at the playlist level. This allows us to have more control on where we do and don’t separate players into sub-groups,” Jerpback said.
“Basically, what that means in terms of implementation, in certain playlists, players will be locked to a given input, and we will have a couple of different knobs we can tune to alter this experience over time,” the developer added.
The Infection and Firefight playlists, for example, will not have input-based matchmaking because those modes are more cooperative than competitive. “We don’t believe that there is a need to lock players by input in these areas, so in those cases players will get the full benefit of crossplay so anyone can play together, which is really great,” Jerpback said. “This should help those player groups find matches more quickly and break down barriers between players on different platforms for those offerings.”
Competitive playlists, meanwhile, will have more rigid rules about inputs, and in some cases it might be locked to only a single input. Other possibilities include people playing together with some using a controller and others using mouse and keyboard. Whatever the case, players will become locked into a single control setup when they enter matchmaking, though they can change this at any time outside of the matchmaking scenario. Additionally, players will be able to see what control setup other people in the lobby are using, which is similar to the UI for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Warzone.
Mouse and keyboard controls are generally understood to be superior when it comes to control and precision, but players on controller who want to go up against those with mouse and keyboard controls can do so.
One issue that could arise with input-based matchmaking is that it could split the player base into multiple groups, which could in turn slow down matchmaking times. 343 is aware of this concern and is planning to build out Halo: The Master Chief Collection’s cross-play with this issue in mind.
“We want to avoid a situation where there are three different separate populations searching,” Jerpback said. “Having a mouse and keyboard only population, a controller only population, and an ‘all inputs possible’ population would split the population extensively and having them all searching the same playlist would drive up the time to match significantly. We’ll be able to tune which playlists require input locking based on search times and player feedback as well. Our goal is to break down the barriers of platform and focus on input method instead so we can tune the experience more easily. We want players to be able to play with their friends and make the pool of players you can match with be larger within matchmaking instead of limit it.”
There is no word yet on when cross-play may be added to Halo: The Master Chief Collection. And as always, 343 is not strictly committing to anything at this point in terms of design or implementation, so what they discussed in the blog post could change. In addition to cross-play, 343 is introducing a custom games browser and the ability to choose multiplayer servers that may be closer to where you live.
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