Halo 4's portrayal of the alien isn't just about gobby energy guns, incomprehensible squawks of battle chatter and ships that resemble huge purple meringues - it's a question of geometry. The Majestic DLC pack encompasses this rather nicely.
One of the pack's three maps, Monolith, is a Forerunner labyrinth dug into the surface of an asteroid with little respect for utility value. Here, planes of luminous metal slash through the rock to create an undulating field of ramps and peaks, building to two putative sniper spots at either end, with a few branching rat-runs around the perimeter. The architecture makes it easy to move up and down levels, and there are man-cannons dotted all over to propel you out of, or into, harm's way.
The other two maps are Skyline and Landfall, and they're comparatively rigid human-built affairs composed of sturdy right angles. Skyline sits at the base of a planetary tether, extending right up to an orbital facility, and boils down to a two-level ring of walkways, an elevator and a couple of fringe stairwells and corridors. Landfall takes place in a coastal facility and centres on a medium-sized garage, bounded down one side by second floor walkways, and down the other by a broad, external route to the seafront.
All three are united by one thing: they're extremely good fun, providing you're keen on close-quarters infantry combat. Monolith is the most playful, thanks again to its grounding in fantasy - there are alcoves beneath some walls where a desperate flag carrier or canny ambusher might crouch, and anybody playing King of the Hill would do well to remember the man-sized hole in the roof of the central chamber. It's the largest and most open of the maps, but far from the largest Halo has ever given us, and lends itself nicely to every on-foot game type - including the new Infinity Rumble, which rewards stylish play with faster Ordnance Drops.
Landfall holds up particularly well when you're contesting objectives, as the layout is relatively easy to read and form strategies around, without feeling unbalanced. Firefights tend to hinge on doorways into and out of the garage, with the odd burst of chaos arriving care of a player armed with heavy weaponry on the floor above. There's potential for some great mid to close-range head-to-heads when you're running around in the open, as players try to fake each other out while engaging from either end of large shipping crates.
Conversely, Skyline is all about free-for-all and blindsides. The circular layout makes it easy to get caught from behind, and the closeness of the confines means you'll usually walk into a shoot-out within seconds of spawn. The masters of this particular map are those who know when and how to exploit the centre, which gives you line of sight on players exiting peripheral tunnels. Played on SWAT without the benefit of radar, it's utter savagery in terrain form.
The only real disappointment with Majestic is the expense - 800 MP for three new maps (accompanied, in fairness, by a sort-of-new mode) remains a touch pricey, given what you get in the average Battlefield 3 DLC pack. But they're damn good maps, even by the standards of the series as a whole. If you relish corner-to-corner play, don't miss out.
Buy Halo 4's Majestic Map Pack here, and be sure to let us know what you think of it.
A right royal rumble