343 Industries has revealed exactly how Halo 4‘s rank progression and unlock system works ahead of the games imminent release. No longer does your rank go up and down depending on how well you are doing in multiplayer at any given time as it has done in previous Halo games with the TrueSkill system [see update below for CSR details]. Now it’s the simple earn-XP-and-rank-up system that you are used to with most other first-person shooters. If you play for long enough you will reach the top rank in Halo 4, which is SR-50 – or SR-130 if you complete all of the Specializations.
It is not quite a simple as that, though. Read on for the details on Halo 4′s ranking system.
[Update] 343 Industries has revealed the Halo 4 Competitive Skill Ranking System that complements your Spartan career rank.
Halo 4 Progression System
The UNSC Infinity is your gateway to the Infinity Multiplayer experience in Halo 4 and serves as the center of your Spartan career. Here you will build your own custom Spartan-IV soldier, and progress your multiplayer career across both Spartan Ops and War Games modes. You’ll start your career as a rookie, the Spartan-IV, with a limited amount of choices. As you level up, things will slowly unlock into a large amount of choices. The pace with unlocks will be regular, but not too fast so that it causes confusion.
When designing the progression system for Halo 4, the primary goal was to give progress more meaning, and in order to do that, the player’s progress has to impact gameplay. In Halo 4, it’s primarily done like this by allowing the progression system to modify the weapons and abilities the player can take into battle, empowering player choice, and exposing more elements of the sandbox to more players.
As you progress through your multiplayer career, you unlock items that allow you to build-out the character and experience you want. The things you really want, such as the trusty Battle Rifle and DMR, you’ll gain access to fairly quickly and easily. Some of the more difficult choices you’ll face, such as which Specialization to tackle first, come later. All of these things give you the ability to tailor your experience and focus on your favorite parts of the multiplayer experience more than ever before.
How quickly you progress through your career will partly depend on your skill. Skilled players will rank up faster simply because you get more XP for winning matches and completing commendations and challenges. In an effort to stop people quitting games part way through, quitters do not get game completion XP. They can progress commendations and challenges, but they will not get partial XP at the end of the game.
Below you’ll find a breakdown of the Halo 4 progression system.
When you first enter Infinity Multiplayer, you automatically be enlisted into the SPARTAN-IV program and begin your Spartan career. This career spans gameplay in all multiplayer parts of Halo 4; War Games, Spartan Ops, Forge and Theater.
New SPARTAN-IV recruits are issued the following gear:
• Assault Rifle
• Frag Grenade
• Recruit Armor, Emblem, Visor and Stance
Stances are a new customization option that let you select a pose for your Spartan on your Player Card. This card is seen in every multiplayer lobby in the game and is how your Spartan is identified outside of gameplay.
You will have to rise up through the Spartan ranks to unlock more gear and make your way through the SPARTAN-IV program, though.
There are 50 ranks to work your way through in Halo 4, from SR-1 to SR-50, unlocking gameplay and visual customization items as you go.
To rank up, you need to earn XP. You earn XP by:
• Playing War Games (earn more for winning and high personal score)
• Playing Spartan Ops (earn more for higher difficulties)
• Completing each level of a Commendation
• Completing Challenges
• Using Forge
At each rank, you will earn one or more Spartan Points (SP). SP are used to purchase gameplay items for your personal loadouts. Once you purchase an item, it can be used in any of your loadouts.
The Spartan Point system is based around offering choices at each rank. The full suite of gameplay items is available for purchase by rank SR-26 but you won’t have enough SP to buy everything until SR-50. It’s up to you to decide the order in which you want to build up the arsenal for your Spartan-IV.
Each loadout contains a Primary Weapon, Secondary Weapon, Grenade, Armor Ability, Tactical Package and Support Upgrade. As you rank your character up, you will gain access to the Armor Ability slot (SR-3), the Tactical Package slot (SR-7), and the Support Upgrade slot (SR-12).
There are default loadouts in the War Games playlists to give you a preview of these items before you reach those ranks, and to offer an alternative to your custom loadouts.
Over the course of Halo 4′s multiplayer ranks, you also unlock four extra loadouts (at SR-6, SR-14, SR-26 and SR-41) for a total of five loadouts. You can rename these loadouts as you see fit, so picking names that match the role or gear for that particular loadout is advisable.
All Spartan-IVs start out with the same default look. As you rank up, this is reflected in the look of your Spartan, which is visible to other players in gameplay and every Multiplayer lobby.
Visual customization items such as Armor, Armor Skins, Weapon Skins, Visors, Emblems and Stances are unlocked through several means:
• Earning a specific SR rank
• Earning a specific rank in a Specialization
• Mastering a Commendation
• Completing a Waypoint goal
When you meet the prerequisite, you will gain access to the items automatically; you do not need to spend Spartan Points.
Once you hit SR-50, you have the option to enlist in a new Specialization. You can choose which of the available Specializations to enlist in.
Specializations are made up of ten levels each. As you rank up in Specializations, you’ll unlock new armor sets, emblems, visor colors, armor and weapon skins and armor mods – which provides even more opportunity to customize your Spartan-IV to fit your preferred role in battle.
Once you commit to a Specialization, you have to complete it before switching to a new one. It will take roughly as long to complete a Specialization as it does to go from SR-40 to SR-50.
All players have access to two Specializations from the start:
• Wetwork: WK-1 to WK-10
• Pioneer: PR-1 to PR-10
The rest, which are listed below, will gradually be made available in the months following launch. 343 Industries will be keeping a close watch on player participation post-launch and will roll out the additional six Specializations when the player base reaches certain milestones. However, purchasers of the Limited Edition and pre-orders in certain territories have launch day access to the remaining six Specializations – although you still need to complete the initial 50 Ranks before you can enlist in one.
• Engineer: EN-1 to EN-10
• Tracker: TK-1 to TK-10
• Rogue: RG-1 to RG-10
• Stalker: SK-1 to SK-10
• Pathfinder: PT-1 to PT-10
• Operator: OP-1 to OP-10
Other players will be able to see your overall progress through the Specializations by your SR rank. This keeps going up by one each time you earn a Specialization rank, all the way up to SR-130. Hint: There’s a reward or two waiting for those who hit SR-130!
Halo 4 features over 120 commendations covering a huge variety of activities (per weapon, per enemy type and per game type, for example). There are commendations based around earning specific medals, and there are also aggregators that require you to master multiple commendations to complete them. Commendations also have a variable number of levels.
Certain Commendations can award visual customization items when you master them. To master a Commendation, you need to have earned its highest level.
The Commendation system brings long-term progression with the most exclusive items. Most players will still be mastering Commendations well after finishing the Specializations.
Like Commendations, Challenges have been expanded in Halo 4. Not only is there daily content, but also a weekly and monthly variation, giving players ample time to complete different challenges with different levels of difficulty.
Challenges are divided into four separate categories:
- 2 Weekly Challenges
• War Games
- 2 Daily Challenges
- 2 Weekly Challenges
- 1 Monthly Challenge
• Spartan Ops
- 6 Challenges
- Exclusive daily challenges for War Games
So the we have it, that is exactly how you rank up and unlock gear in Halo 4. What do you think of the system 343 Industries have implemented?