'Halo 4's' Dominion mode delivers a sense of urgency to multiplayer

At last week's Halo 4 preview event, developer 343i unveiled a new multiplayer mode for the series, Dominion.

At last week's Halo 4 preview event, developer 343i unveiled a new multiplayer mode for the series, Dominion.

Dominion takes elements of the Conquest game type found in titles like Battlefield 3, while adding additional, Halo-inspired wrinkles to the mode. Matches start with three unoccupied bases that must be captured in order to earn points over the course of a round. If a control point is occupied long enough, it can be resupplied, which offers additional points after a predetermined amount of time.

The aforementioned wrinkles come in the form of the structures that house each capture point. Once a point is secured and resupplied, defensive emplacements start to deploy around its structure. These emplacements include holographic vehicle deployment stations as well as powerful anti-personnel turrets and shield doors that limit access to the control point inside.

Those fortifications remain even if another team takes over the base, but taking over one of those bases takes slightly longer, and is much more difficult as the defenses are up.

Those defenses become more important over the course of a match as each team tries to secure points captured by the opposition. Even abortive attempts to take a point can result in a delay in a resupply or fortification, and, more urgently, a delay in point rewards. During the few matches we were given the chance to play, this dynamic tended to define Dominion. Teams were forced to act quickly, especially toward the end of the match, as just holding two out of the three capture points wouldn't prevent a win by the other team after a late stage resupply.

More interestingly, a sort of slaughter-rule is in effect in Dominion. If one team dominates the other and secures all three capture points, a sudden death timer begins, forcing the losing team to capture a point before all of their members are killed, ending the match. This sense of urgency and fast back and forth is a different sort of multiplayer sensibility compared to Halo's traditional team modes, which tend toward the deliberate and a slower pace.

Halo 4 arrives on Xbox 360 on November 6th, 2012. Read more about Halo 4 in our extensive preview.

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