I managed to get a few hours of hands-on multiplayer in Halo 4 last night. I'm going to detail my impressions of the game so far.
First thing I want to mention is how impressive the look and feel of the game is. The graphics are incredibly realistic compared to the previous titles and the weapon audio has been vastly improved upon. Movement has been sped up to match the approximate speed of Halo 3's MP. The map flow is very consistent and there are virtually no areas where camping is a good idea.
Another thing to be aware of, while the LE will get you all 8 armor specializations, they are not available to use until you reach level 50. Leveling to 50 seems fairly easy at this point, so it won't be long before everyone has a unique ability. Until then, you can use points you acquire when you level up to buy new loadout options and armor abilities. Things like Promethean vision, thruster packs, jetpack.... these are all included as options to purchase. They are not all powerful, rather, granting a chance at avoiding shots around corners, seeing crouched enemies waiting in ambush, or reaching a higher point of the map a little quicker. Holograms are fun though, as they act out your movements to seem more realistic. Other things involve rifles, pistols and grenade choices. Armor customizations are unlocked by level rather than by a combination of level and credits that was used in Halo Reach.
Sprint is now a default ability. At first it concerned me, but after using it last night it's grown on me. It does not let you run forever. You get about a five second sprint and then it takes a couple seconds to recharge. It's great for getting in a sword kill since you need to get close for that lunge, and it really helps in getting a nasty assassination on someone unaware of their surroundings.
Ordinance drops are actually done very well. They give you a slight advantage if you choose speed or overshield, but weapon choices are limited. I got 19 drops last night and only once received a sniper. Never got rockets or an energy sword. Common weapons seem to be shotguns.
Weapon wise, this game is incredibly balanced. Each rifle has its pros and cons, but they all have a specific kill point which they all follow. It really comes down to who shoots first, and who has the greater skill to dodge and hit their shots accurately.
Most Halo 2/3 players will adjust easily to the new BR, which feels so much nicer without the random burst spread. The accuracy is just the same as before and the fastest kill time is five shots, whether you hit all five on the head or four to the body and finish with a headshot. The look and sound change also adds to the improved feel of the weapon, and it will be hard for past players to put down. It does require you to unlock it, unless you pre-ordered from Gamestop, in which case the Arctic BR is already unlocked for use.
The DMR, another unlockable weapon, will favor the Halo Reach players. It hasn't changed much other than the aesthetics and audio, and it also features a five shot kill to match the BR. The shot speed is identical so both guns come down to timing and skill.
The Assault rifle in Halo 4 has been greatly enhanced to match the speed and power of the precision weapons. It is capable of downing shields much faster but requires accurate headshots to finish the kill in a shorter amount of time. The larger magazine helps when facing multiple enemies, as you can spray their shields for a teammate to mop up the free kills. Audio and design are both enhanced as well.
The Light Rifle seems to be a weapon that gives drastically different opinions to players. It is accurate like the BR and DMR, but it requires you to lead your shots a bit. It still features the same kill time, but it feels more like the aesthetics are what draw people to the gun. The glowing ashes you turn your enemies into helps as well.
The Carbine is a pain. Not that it is bad. It just hurts a lot. In the hands of a skilled player, this weapon feels like a kick in the teeth. It hasn't received any change from the previous games.
When you pick up the Sniper rifle, one thing you will notice is the recoil. You will have to time your shots instead of spamming the trigger like you could in the previous installments. Also, getting shot while scoped makes your character flinch rather than kick you out of zoom. In my opinion, the sniper has gotten the best change to it. It already has my vote as one of the best guns in the game.
Rockets, Energy Sword, and Plasma Pistols are relatively unchanged other than the sound and alterations to their appearances. They are as useful as the previous versions so don't count them out.
Now let's talk about the shotguns. The UNSC shotgun hasn't changed much. It still is devastating at close range and loses power drastically over distance. After 20 feet, you might as well throw the shells at em. It will do more damage. The Scattershot however, has killing power beyond the close range. It may take a couple more shots, but it will still reduce your opponent into ash.
I did not get a chance to use other weapons like the Boltshot or Railgun, so I am withholding my opinion on those for now.
All in all, the Halo 4 multiplayer brings me back to the amazing times I had playing Halo 3, while tossing in some new things to keep it fresh. I don't see myself playing another title for quite some time. This game is balanced, fast paced, and fun.
Multiplayer verdict: 9.8/10