When I first heard that Virgin Gaming was teaming up with 343…
I was stoked. I admire Sir Branson, and I love Halo. It seemed like a match made in heaven. But after a couple weeks of endless War Games matches and Spartan Ops missions, I took a moment to think about how this tournament was set up, how I was standing on the leaderboards and the likelihood of my success.
Dashing all hopes of winning, I gave up on the tournament. And you should to.
The Tourney in a Nutshell
The Halo 4 Infinity Challenge tournament started on December 17, 2012, and it includes two parts: War Games and Spartan Ops. Since it is monitored through your Xbox Live account, you don’t have to go to any special place to participate; gamers can participate from the comfort of their own homes.
The grand prize for the War Games winner is the UNSC-themed 2013 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor. The grand prize for Spartan Ops is a cameo in a future Halo game. And of course for each side there are hundreds of consolation prizes also.
The Challenge consists of two rounds: qualifying and finals. The qualifying round ran from December 17 through January 10. Your performance in this round determined what “Tier” you would be placed in for the finals. For War Games competitors, your ranking on the leaderboard was determined by your cumulative score in Infinity Challenge War Games matches. Spartan Ops was based solely on the number of missions you completed, with no regard to how you actually performed in said missions.
As the qualifying round progressed, you could track your progress on the leaderboards to see how you were ranking against the other competitors. At the end of the qualifying round, players were grouped into Tiers 1, 2, and 3. Only those in Tier 1 are eligible to win the grand prize, but there are smaller prizes available for competitors in the other Tiers.
The finals round started on January 12 and runs through January 19. Everyone’s scores were reset so that they could compete in their respective tiers from the same starting point.
The finals round is set up exactly like the qualifying round!
Your ranking on the leaderboards has almost nothing to with your actual skill in the game. The major deciding factor is how much time you have to devote to it.
This is especially true in the Spartan Ops boards. It doesn’t matter how many enemies you kill, how many times you die, whether you achieve any of the objectives for your team, or just run around in circles.
The Spartan Ops rankings are based solely on how many missions you’ve played. Whoever plays the most wins. The only way (and it’s very, very small) that skill has anything to do with the outcome is in the amount of time it takes you to complete each mission. If you aren’t very good or you’re matched up with a bunch of other players who aren’t very good, it will take you longer to complete a mission.
But this is completely negated by the fact that terrible players can just log more hours of game time to make up for their incompetence.
And let’s take a look at the War Games competition. Your ranking here is determined by your cumulative score in the finals round. This isn’t how much XP you earn, it’s only the “Score” that shows up on the breakdown screen at the end of each match. The most I’ve seen awarded here to the top player is 750 points. But even extremely terrible performance will still earn you a few hundred points.
Because your score is actually based on your performance in the match, the War Games boards take skill into account more than the Spartan Ops boards. But again, this is all a wash when you consider that extremely terrible players can beat you merely by playing more frequently.
You Should Quit
Unless you have 12+ hours per day to play Halo 4, you should give up now. Even if you are the best Halo player the world has ever seen, if you have other responsibilities (e.g. a job, a family, school… a life) you will not win.
It was a bitter pill for me to swallow. But since I’ve given up on this colossal waste of time, I’ve started and finished Assassin’s Creed III and logged about 25 hours in Fallout: New Vegas.
Speaking of which, I have some bottle caps to win…