Last week marked the first bit of Halo 4 DLC not related to the weekly, episodic Spartan Ops mode, featuring three new multiplayer maps dubbed the Crimson map pack. Having spent the weekend sampling each map and running through the accompanying playlist featuring these three additions, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to do a little write-up of my impressions on this new bit of content for Halo fans.
As stated above, the pack contains three maps: Shatter, Wreckage and Harvest. All three are 6 vs. 6 maps, and when you jump into multiplayer you’ll be able to select an exclusive mode that cycles between these three maps specifically within a playlist that contains Team Slayer, Oddball, King of the Hill, Capture the Flag, and Extraction for modes.
Shatter stands out as the best of the three for me, and seems to be the map that a lot of folks gravitate towards when voting for selections. Of course, this is only after a weekend worth of playtime, but this map popped up more often than not in the rotation when given to a vote. Shatter is primarily an outdoors map with an alien setting, with some limited indoor environments by way of UNSC facilities resembling research or science labs. One of the big standouts of this map is the inclusion of the Mantis as a vehicle, with one positioned on both of the initial spawning sides of the map.
The Mantis isn’t as overpowered as you might think for 6 vs. 6 gameplay, as Shatter is a fairly small map overall, and constant terrain elevation changes limit its usefulness, keeping its overall power pretty much in check. A handful of Ghosts available for both sides also help to even the playing field quite a bit. It’s a great map for King of the Hill in particular, leading to some explosive, grenade filled confrontations in relatively tight spaces that tend to be really hectic and a lot of fun.
The second map, Wreckage, stands out as a visually interesting map, but doesn’t offer up anything particular unique or exciting from a gameplay perspective. This map is primarily outdoors as well, featuring the charred remains of a large UNSC ship scattered about its field. These remains offer some limited cover and interior spaces to duck into, but by and large this is strictly an outdoors map. This map offers up Warthogs and Ghosts as vehicle options, and provides a whole lot of lanes to drive around through. One thing that does standout about Wreckage is that there are a lot of different approaches you can take to just about any firefight, and inclusion of “man cannons” to propel you around the sky can add some unexpected variety to most battles.
The final map in this pack, Harvest, is primarily an indoors map set inside of a large factory facility with high ceilings, eliminating some of the claustrophobic feelings evoked by the indoor elements of Shatter. This isn’t a map that I’d say is ideal for snipers, but it offers up the most open space combined with various elevations that it’s about as close to a sniper-centric map as you’re going to get from this pack.
This is also the only map without Ghosts as playable vehicles, instead opting to stick to Warthogs and ATV’s for primary vehicles. The small outdoor section that surrounds that facility is almost racetrack like in appearance, and offers some fun for Warthog drivers with a handful of ramps peppered in.
Overall, it's a decent assortment of maps for an initial offering, but Shatter is pretty much the only real standout here. Obviously if you're knee deep in multiplayer still you'll be itching to pick these up regardless, but this first pack doesn't really offer up anything too exciting that can't already be found in the maps included with the base game.