Much like real life, gaming isn’t devoid of contentious subjects. Granted, while piracy and boosting rest atop that conversational heap, they’re not the only prominent topics. In fact, this generation’s surge in downloadable content availability is yet another thing that has players debating merits, with DLC costumes and map packs being at the centre of it all. Of course, it goes without saying that companies will continue to take advantage of these options, so long as they continue to be profitable revenue streams. As such, even though many adamantly dislike the idea of paying for digital clothing or new locations in which to shoot their friends’ digitized allies, both types of extra content seem to be here to stay.
As the series’ faithful are well aware, Halo 4‘s Majestic Map Pack is the latest location-based content drop to hit Xbox LIVE’s highly contested waters. Offering three brand new space arenas for players to battle within, and selling at a list price of 800 Microsoft Points, 343 Industries’ prominent release has expectedly sparked another debate pertaining to the following question: “Is it worth it?” Unfortunately, the answer isn’t as black and white as the question happens to be, because it’s purely subjective, based solely on opinion and circumstance.
Before we go any further, it’s important to introduce the three new maps that those who purchase the Halo 4 Majestic Map Pack DLC will receive:
Monolith: Built in celebration by the Forerunners, this visceral location is set within an asteroid field. Gray and blue with coloured accents, this map feels like an interior location while it seemingly is not, though its zones are clearly evident. Featuring a prominent middle base with two levels (including a bottom alley), as well as perimeter spawn point bases, this map is very easy to like. After all, it’s hard to dislike a map that is large enough to offer long-range options, but still encourages close-combat encounters.
Skyline: Formulaic in design and basic in structure, this work-in-progress space tether will appeal most to those who appreciate simplicity. A mixture of raised walkways and lower alleyways, in addition to a couple of popular open halls, this particular map is best for smaller game types and team efforts. In fact, its heavy amount of cover space will quickly endear it to structured players.
Landfall: Arguably the most popular of the bunch, this large and partially open map pits players into action aboard a harbor platform, which is located outside of a city under attack. Large in scale and offering some hotly contested building space and at least one storage container sniping spot, it has quite a bit to offer. That’s especially true when it comes to Team Slayer, Extraction and Free-For-All game modes.
Combined, all three of the Majestic maps offer Halo fans structure and simplicity. They do so through impressive design facets and a great attention to detail, both of which prove that 343 Industries has no intention of phoning in its priced post-release efforts. Sure, it could be said that there’s nothing outright unforgettable about any of them, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not of quality. In actuality, the greatest strength of this multiplayer-focused effort is its subtlety. There’s little in the way of flash or great expanse, but neither one is necessary in what I found to be a set of stripped down maps, which utilizes quality structural design to impress instead of going overboard with excess.
Unfortunately, there is one notable downside to be found here, although it has nothing to do with the look and feel of the arenas. Frankly, they all look beautiful, thanks to a great understanding of colour and the use of jaw-dropping backgrounds. In fact, where the issue lies is in the presented matchmaking system, as the maps are only available in their own playlists at this point in time. Sure, it’s nice that they’re separated, but repetition can set in after an hour or two. It would’ve been nice if 343 had inserted Landfall, Monolith and Skyline into the game’s core playlists, while still retaining the separate options for those who would prefer to stick with the DLC, while avoiding other environments. As it stands right now, however, only the two – one which pertains to team game types and another that is limited to free-for-all scenarios – happen to exist.
The problem with reviewing map packs is how subjective they are. Although I feel that what this oddly-named Majestic Map Pack offers Halo 4 users is impressive, it’s not something that I can recommend to everyone. In the end, it depends on how much you feel you’ll get out of the purchase. If you’re a hardcore Halo fanatic, then this is almost a no-brainer. However, casual players won’t have much of a need for the new maps when the core game already offers as many as it does.
This review is based on an XBOX 360 copy of the add-on that we were provided with.