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Next Halo: Reach ban wave will target XP farming

Yes, it’s annoying to grind XP. No, you still can’t farm AFK.

Image: Bungie/Microsoft
Nicole Carpenter is a senior reporter specializing in investigative features about labor issues in the game industry, as well as the business and culture of games.

Halo: Reach launched on Windows PC last year as part of the Halo: The Master Chief Collection. With it, developer 343 Industries introduced a progression-based experience system to unlock customization cosmetics. When Halo: Reach was first launched on Xbox 360, players were able to buy any piece of armor they had enough credits for. On PC, you have to earn experience points to unlock pieces of armor, as if it were a season pass in Fortnite. You’ve just got to play loads of multiplayer to unlock armor, even the pieces you’re not interested in, to move through the ladder.

Players used to the original system were unhappy with the new one — in particular, how long it would take them to get the gear they knew and loved from the original version of the game. That’s where the experience farming problem came from; it’s people trying to earn experience points without having to really put in the effort. It happens in all modes, but it’s especially frequent in less competitive modes like Griffball.

343 Industries announced its first ban wave in December, but it’s taking another shot at it “soon,” the developer said in a recent blog post. This includes AFK (or away-from-keyboard) farming, where you leave your game running without actually playing. (Some people use methods to keep their character running around, so they don’t technically look inactive.) Another method is “sword lining,” which is a boosting method wherein two teams in Griffball use swords and line up to kill each other one-by-one to earn lots of experience points.

“We’re aware of some players employing various techniques to exploit Halo: Reach’s XP system and 343 is currently issuing bans of varying severities to offenders,” a 343 Industries spokesperson told Polygon last month. “We’re committed to ensuring that Halo: Reach online play is fun, fair, and safe and we have zero tolerance for ‘AFK farming’ and other exploitative behaviors that are ruining the experience for other players.”

343 Industries didn’t say exactly what sort of punishments are coming, just that it’s bans. Generally, ban lengths increase incrementally. “Not participating in a match does not incur an immediate ban in-game,” the developer wrote. “If you have a prolonged behavior of this, you risk a ban after the fact at our discretion.”

More information about Halo: Reach’s rules is available here.

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