On this day, we wave the checkered flag on our Grand Prix Aesthetic Race Contest for good. Over thirty maps entered, but as we all know, there's only three trophies to be won. This contest has been a wild and bumpy ride, taking us around back routes and scenic vistas we never expected to see as judges or forgers. The intuition and gusto displayed in every entrant was visible from the moment we left the starting gate to the very second we crossed over that finish line. For hours out of our days we were enthralled by the community's never-ending showcase of skill and mastery of Forge in a way that many of us never expected we'd see. Forging a racetrack and a competitive arena are vastly different undertakings, which is why it has been so exciting to watch people build outside of their comfort zone, along with seeing us merge our good friends over at HaloTracks into our contest scene.
For those of you who tuned in to watch our streams, we thank you for setting a record breaking achievement for ForgeHub! Our first judging stream broke the record for most viewed ForgeHub stream of all time, and was featured on Mixer's front page. This would be an incredible task in of itself, but factoring in the additional triumph that it was taking place at the same time as HCS London's stream made it all the more magnificent. Without further ado, let me present to our Halo community the winners of the 2018 ForgeHub Grand Prix!
Zipping through the stars in the endless vacuum of space, surrounded by complete darkness for as far as your cyberneticaly enhanced eyes can visualize, detecting only a few meters of track in front of you, that is Anomaly. As our second runner-up, we decided we couldn't leave Anomaly out of the winner's bracket. An incredibly simple track that runs smoothly across the cosmos, Anomaly's strongest point comes from it's ability to engage the player's focus. Usually lighting disappearing with distance is an issue with Halo 5's forge, but veteran forger CommanderColson is able to turn that lighting issue into a fully functioning gimmick, forcing players to always keep their eyes on the lit path ahead.
Beautiful reflective lagoon water is kicked up by revving engines and spinning tires, splashing you in the face gently before turning to mist when you hit a speed boost. AGZ Cannon offers a classic racing arcade vibe to a visually stunning and believable landscape. There was no mistake that this map was an instant hit from the first turn after starting out. The speed boosts meticulously placed in strategic areas make for a fun and exciting way to pass up your enemies, as well as gain an extra lead to anyone unfortunate enough to miss the opportunity. What stood out the most to me about AGZ Cannon GP is that it was a near perfect marriage of aesthetic and track diversity that kept every lap exciting. Our placements switched up constantly throughout the map, giving opportunity to easily pass or reward players who slip up, or manage to hit that jump just right.
Serene, breathtaking scenery merges with an exciting race that blew us away in Oasis. Oasis was the first map we played that everyone felt deserved a concrete spot in the top 5. While all maps before it were fantastic, Oasis stood out as a beyond excellent display of Halo 5's ability to capture scenes from all over the galaxy. Taking place at the foot of a great pyramid in what appears to be an Egyptian town, Oasis has players jumping sand dunes, doubling back through marketplaces, and getting their tires wet in a, well, oasis. The pyramid that looms over the map is a simple yet effective way to craft a skybox, and the detail placed in the scenery was just stunning and provided a truly effective feeling of immersion. From a gameplay standpoint, Oasis doesn't pull any punches. With a new feel after every turn, you're left with one of the most diverse and intense tracks in the contest.
Creeping past rotting trees and colliding with the dim-lit mossy earth, Blackness is a race track that immediately stands out among the crowd. Going for a swampy, murder-mystery look, Unsorted Guy nails the stake right into the heart on this one. The soundscaping, the piece choice, and that stellar half-pipe, every part of Blackness will keep your heart racing as fast as your mongoose. Perhaps unbeatably everyone's favorite feature from this circuit was the vehicles. Unsorted Guy used a mongoose with particularly bright headlights to light your path just enough to see where you'll need to duck, dodge and weave. This was remarkable way to work theme into every aspect of the track. And speaking of theme, take a look outside of this map and what will you see? Trees rising up above the fog in the musky forest fog makes for one of the most believable skyboxes in this competition, leading me to easily believe that there was a world beyond the dirt our tires kicked.
The sights, the sounds, the details, Puerto Paraiso is easily the pinnacle of race forging. Author Jack Attaak has crafted a map so smooth and visually grand, that it became the only submission to receive a perfect score from one of our judges. A well deserved score, indeed, as this map was unanimously agreed upon as our winner. The smooth city streets contribute seamlessly to the experience of racing in a real-life competition. The track has a beautiful variation in turns, ramps and elevation that all come together so nicely, you'd think it was professionally created in a separate development program. Beyond the excellent gameplay, Puerto Paraiso GP has some of the most visually appealing aesthetics I've seen in forge to date. A Unique theme that melts perfectly into the gametype, as the two feel made for one another. Check out this map for yourself to see why it deserves all of this praise and more.
Once again thank you to all of my fellow judges, BaconMedia, Ducain23, Sir Iron Wolf and Le Hefe. For more Halo race content, I implore everyone to check out our friends over at HaloTracks.