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Halo Reach Search & Social Preferences. Beauty or beast?

Halo Reach has an automatic multiplayer matchmaking system. You don’t look for other players, or host a game and wait for people to find it and jump in. You tell Reach that you would like to play in a certain Playlist, and then the Xbots scurry off in search of other people with the same request.

There are some Search Restrictions, and some Social Preferences (also called Psych Profile), that supposedly go into refining the people you end up playing with.

Wanna hang with me? You gotta be polite, make me pancakes.

I always turn on Good Connection and Skill in my Search Restrictions. Good Connection, because I’d like to find people who don’t lag out, or otherwise make the game less balanced and playable. I choose Skill, because I’d like to be teamed up with, and pit against, people of a similar skill level to me. I want to be up against people with a huge skill advantage just as much as I want to be up against people who don’t stand a chance against me. That is to say….not at all.

On the subject of Good Connection, you might figure that everybody wants to be in a game with a good connection. You might also figure that the matchmaking system should already put you in the best game without you having to be specific about it.

“Oh, you didn’t want to play a game hosted on Mars? Should have said so!”

I’m sorry Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.

Halo Reach Social Preferences

Under Social Preferences I always choose a "Chatty" "Polite" "Team Player" who's in it for a "Good Time", as those settings best reflect how I play.

There has been much discussion on the Internet as to the effectiveness of your search and social preferences in matchmaking. I for example, often end up playing with people who have no interest in talking, are extremely impolite, can’t work in a team and consider themselves to be “pro noob slay0rz” who are in it to win, and then rub their genitals up against their enemies corpses.

Is my face a grenade? It is...isn't it?

Oh gawd oh gawd why me, pRo-n0Ob-snypez-mast0r?

Is this the Xbots seemingly ignoring my preferences, or is it that they try to team me up with the right people, but they simply aren’t out there, and so I get put with the next best thing? I suppose it could be a little too much to ask to find an identical clone of me out there that wants to find a game at the same time as I do.

Hey, Skill! You got skill boy!

So…..Skill. As far as I can make out, there’s a shady hidden skill ranking system in Halo Reach, probably built upon the masses of statistical data saved about every single game you’ve ever played. That’s cool, if it works. For me, it often seems to. Now, I’m not especially amazing at Halo. I’m better than a newbie, but I will never be as good as PrO-NoOB-SNyPEZ-SLAYOR-KILP0CALYpse2003. Competent, I’d call myself. I win about 57% of my games. I’m happy with that, you win some you lose some, it’s all good.

Sure, sometimes I’m pit against people of vastly superior skill. But sometimes I’m pit against people who don’t know which end of a DMR to point at the enemy. The system’s not perfect, but for the most part Reach’s skill matchmaking seems to work well.

I’d like to find a game today, please?

One last thing. The internet (and game itself) suggests that using Search Restrictions (Good connection, skill, language) slow down your search, because it throws away potential matches. There may be some truth in that, but for me the time it takes to find a match has always been down to my location, and the time of day. For example, I found it hard to find a match whilst in a location that has strict network settings and bandwidth usage restrictions. At home though I find plenty of matches comfortably quickly, even with those Search Restrictions on. If you’d like to know how much bandwidth Reach uses during a multiplayer match, check out my article on the topic!

Halo Reach Search Restrictions

I have nothing witty to say in this caption at all.

Maybe it’s different for you. Maybe you speak Nahuatl and ask Reach to find people of the same language. Good luck.

What about you, Dawg?

So what are your experiences with these search/social preferences?
Do you even use them?
Do you even care that they’re there?
Would you like to see them expanded?
Would you like to see your hidden Reach skill portrayed in a numerical “halo-penis-size-rank”, or do you simply not care?

Peace out.

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