75% Melee Now That Bleedthrough Is Removed

Melee Damage Analysis:
determining the effects of melee on the sandbox and overall balance of the game.

PART 1: Default melee is overpowered

PREFACE

Halo Reach, being a new title in the Halo series, brought with it quite a few gameplay changes, many of which were quite controversial. What is unfortunate, however, is that most of these changes were poorly implemented/executed and thus polarized the community. On one hand you have the players that embraced the changes due to the new breath it gave to the series, despite its shortcomings, while on the other hand you have the players who wanted to embrace the changes but disliked the way they were implemented. Many fans left the scene entirely since Reach was a far cry from the Halo that they have grown to love over the past 10 years.

A Title Update was released a year later in the hopes of addressing the biggest concerns with the game and while it fixed things that were inherently flawed, it also brought with it a certain controversial change: the reintroduction of bleed through. This change has managed to polarize the community even further and I plan to address how to make this element work well within the confines of default gameplay in the hopes of unifying the community.

The solution brought forward is focused solely on the modification of the melee damage while keeping all other settings the same. It can be argued that better results can be achieved by changing certain damage and resistance settings in order to balance the weapon sandbox more effectively, but that kind of approach would be futile since it would deviate from the standard gameplay too much fragmenting the community even further when instead one universal melee setting can be agreed upon bringing the community together.

The purpose of this article is not to try and prove whether or not the reintroduction of bleed through was a good a thing but to show the most balanced settings for the melee damage with or without bleed through. Realizing this will reveal, that regardless of preference, the same goal can be achieved which is to reintroduce depth to CQC thus rewarding the better player. However, it is unwise not to expect the finer points of both sides of the argument regarding bleed through from showing up which would provide insight and a greater scope of understanding of the entirety of the game under their respective settings.

INTRODUCTION

A common combat strategy in Halo Reach is the double-melee: a type of attack in which a player charges directly at their target without shooting, in an attempt to quickly enter melee range and kill their target using only melees. This kind of attack is fairly effective in Reach, and it allows an attacker to kill their target with very little effort. Meanwhile, the victim is relatively helpless to this technique, especially when it is accomplished by using Sprint. What can be drawn from this is that the double-melee is an unskilled attack due to the overwhelming amount of success given the lack of effort necessary to execute.

One can argue that the best way to counter a double melee is to pop the enemy’s shields and finish them with a melee or headshot however there are 2 flaws to this argument. First is the assumption that there is enough distance between the two players to ensure that the enemy’s shields can get popped before getting hit with a melee. Secondly, even if the player manages to pop the enemy’s shields, he will be hit with a melee which will drop his own shields forcing him to find cover. Despite any potential skill that the victim had, he is helpless to the attack and, if he manages to survive, will be left shieldless and vulnerable for the next 5-6 seconds.

The term “herp a derp” is derived from this technique which is a proper term given that it mocks the intellect of what is happening. The fact of the matter is that it looks rather silly from either side of the encounter. Simply observe it from a neutral perspective and you will see how mind numbingly dull the double melee is, especially when both players go flying when they trade kills.

Reach introduced an intuitive shield system with a consistent visual indication of when the player is vulnerable to death however it is entirely thrown out the window when shooting becomes secondary to melees. People are generally very upset that a person who shoots a few times then melees is on equal footing with someone who simply melees without any shots. This is the root of the entire problem and the solution was thought to be to add bleed through. Bleed through would punish the player who attempted a senseless double melee however the Reach sandbox and UI were not designed for bleed through; it was a nice idea but it just didn’t work without larger, out of scope changes which will be discussed later in the article.

In short: bleed through was to be a quick fix but it is the actual melee that is overpowered.

THE GOLDEN TRIANGLE

The default melee damage is detrimental to gameplay, namely to the delicate balance of the Golden Triangle. For those of you who don’t know, the Golden Triangle is the foundation of Halo. The three points of the triangle are Guns, Grenades and Melee. Other elements were introduced to the formula like Equipment, which later evolved into Armor Abilities, but they were never fully realized(read:implemented correctly) to be part of the Halo formula. The overpowered melee reduces the effectiveness of shooting and grenades thus disrupting the core mechanics of the game.

In terms of a triangle, shooting would be at the top point with grenades and melee sitting on the two bottom points. This placement of the elements on the triangle are important since whatever is at the height is relative to its importance to the game. In an FPS, shooting should be the most dominant form of combat, that much is universally understood. What makes Halo unique is its implementation of grenades and melee as complementary to shooting in the sense that they are merely elements of the game to aid you in killing a player. However, aid is an important word since the dominant form of combat should be the most effective way to kill a player. This is also why grenades and melee have always been effective tools to drop players shields or finish off a weak player in their respective uses.

Having said that, the melee will always be easier to execute, as it should be, given the low frequency of CQC encounters as well as the necessary nature of the lunge to compensate for latency. The lunge coupled with the large hit boxes on the players guarantees that if you are within melee range you will hit your target every time; a success rate of 100%(omitting freak accidents). It is fairly reasonable to have the melee function in such a way as it does however it is unreasonable to have it be more effective that the average effectiveness of a grenade.

The effectiveness of a grenade is measured by how close the center of the blast radius is to the target ensuring the highest damage output; an ineffective grenade does little to no damage while an effective grenade does maximum damage. This terminology is used to better understand things in terms of success rate, skill and damage output.

GRENADES & MELEE

Ideally, melees should have the same effectiveness as grenades, however, since we established the inherent lack of effort and very little to no room for error in executing a melee it is imperative that the damage be less than that of a grenade, preferably that of the average effectiveness of a grenade. For grenades to be as effective as melees, they would have to be guaranteed to hit their target 100% of the time, and they would have to do exactly as much damage as a melee upon detonation. In reality, however, grenades are not that effective: they must be aimed, bounced, and timed in order to end up as close to a target as possible in the instant they detonate (which takes some degree of effort), and even then they are only a little bit more damaging than melees.

Taking into consideration all the grenades that don’t hit their mark, the ones that effectively hit and subsequently kill their target and grenades that were used in indirect ways like disrupting a vehicle’s path or flushing people out of certain areas, we can establish half the damage of a grenade explosion as the average effectiveness of a grenade. Taking into consideration the unorthodox use of grenades and the room for error, you can say that approximately half of all grenades are effective therefore bringing in a 50% rate of success. (While this is a relatively arbitrary number it is a reasonable estimate of an average player’s competency with grenades giving their multiple uses.) Compare that to a melee, which inflicts almost the maximum amount of damage that a grenade can inflict, but with a 100% success rate: this essentially makes melees about twice as effective as grenades, and hence more powerful than they should be.

CRIPPLED CQC

Without bleed through, in the event of a shared melee both players are reduced to no shields, regardless of their shield level before engagement. The best case scenario would leave one player with no shields regardless of how well they performed and thanks to the slow shield recharge in Reach, that player is now vulnerable for the next 5-6 seconds. With bleed through this entire process is basically decided and resolved much quicker; it ensured that the player with weaker shields died and if both players had weak shields they traded kills however it still leaves the winning player just as vulnerable in the event of a failed double melee. While this speeds up the gameplay and punishes double melee to an extent, it does not solve the entire problem; it simply greatly remedies it but at the cost of introducing many inconsistencies in other aspects of the game.

A melee that is too effective cripples the balance of the game in many ways. Since the melee has a maximum effectiveness of a grenade with very little to no chance of missing, there is no way to determine who the better player is in CQC. Players will most often trade kills and since it is so easy to execute, the better player hardly ever gets rewarded. What in turn happens is that good players actively keep their distance since the CQC is so flawed and it turns the gameplay into a cross map shootout which is enabled by the excessive range of the DMR, effectively ruining any incentive of map movement.

There is no longer an ebb and flow in the match b/c one of the core elements of the gameplay is undesirable which removes a crucial engagement distance. The excessive range of the DMR enables such behavior just as much as the overpowered melee however only one of these factors can be changed. Reach offers an extensive array of gametype options, and appropriate tweaks could be made to reintroduce depth into the CQC thus solving the issue with double-melee and restoring balance to the Golden Triangle.

After all, if an overpowered melee leads to undesirable, shallow gameplay, not only by crippling CQC but by encouraging cross map shootouts which reduce map movement, what separates the shallow gameplay from simply not having melee at all? Removing melee would destroy the Golden Triangle which is the foundation of Halo so having an overpowered melee which brings shallow, crippled CQC, long range cross mapping gameplay is inherently and fundamentally not Halo.

The overpowered melee contributes in large part to the problems with the game. Aside from asymmetric loadouts and bloom(which for all intents and purposes has been solved), the gameplay achieved by the default melee is inherently and fundamentally not Halo.

In part 2 of the paper I analyze data collected on the most viable melee damage traits and their effects on shields and health both under bleed through and no bleed.

I don’t know why they didn’t do that in the first place. 75% melee and make TU UNIVERSAL. The only playlists I see not getting it is Invasion or maybe swat.

You posted this once before, right? Anyways, I agree; however, we both know it will never get universally applied.

> You posted this once before, right? Anyways, I agree; however, we both know it will never get universally applied.

Yes, Overkill, I think you’ve already posted this in the Matchmaking section. There were actually some good counterarguments made; while I agree wholeheartedly with the analysis, I gotta admit – some of your points were chewed up pretty badly. :\

Did you rewrite at all? I don’t want to read it again if its the same… but I will.

Edit: seems the same.

> Did you rewrite at all? I don’t want to read it again if its the same… but I will.
>
> Edit: seems the same.

It’s the same but given that there are different regulars in this section I want to see what other feedback I can get before I start making revisions b/c the criticisms in the matchmaking forum were quite vicious from the same certain individuals who enjoy ripping on anything I post and none of them really were about the actual argument at hand as much as it were the “bias” behind it.

I see that there may be some bias and will work on removing it but the amount of explanation and reasoning behind it pretty much makes up for it anyway b/c anything that is brought up is not without reason.

I will go so far as even saying my bias is of a game that is competitive and rewards the better player but not drastically change anything else since the game overall is pretty much fine.

> > Did you rewrite at all? I don’t want to read it again if its the same… but I will.
> >
> > Edit: seems the same.
>
> It’s the same but given that there are different regulars in this section I want to see what other feedback I can get before I start making revisions b/c the criticisms in the matchmaking forum were quite vicious from the same certain individuals who enjoy ripping on anything I post and none of them really were about the actual argument at hand as much as it were the “bias” behind it.
>
> I see that there may be some bias and will work on removing it but the amount of explanation and reasoning behind it pretty much makes up for it anyway b/c anything that is brought up is not without reason.
>
> I will go so far as even saying my bias is of a game that is competitive and rewards the better player but not drastically change anything else since the game overall is pretty much fine.

The bias was the biggest issue. I though your argument seemed pretty well laid out other than that, given you hadn’t gotten to the hard data on how everything behaved.

You can write a paper without bias and still offer up your opinion and preference. Bias interferes with the analytical process, preferences flavors conclusions. It will make your argument stronger if you show how you considered everything in your attempts to find the best implementation of melee.

I agree with most of this since BT will never be re-introduced, but guess what? They already released April’s MM Update Info, so it looks like it’s going to be another month of crap, -Yoink-, and garbage games in Objective.