A.I.

I’m a huge fan of 343 and their willingness to adapt and learn from mistakes and the community’s advice and criticism.

I know I have zero real influence so this is more about what I hope happens and what I hope others have come to recognize. Because It’s just now starting to become obvious to me. I think I’ve noticed a key difference in PvE from the Bungie days to the 343 days. So that means campaign/firefight/warzone.

Back in the Bungie days, every game they made the A.I. was killable with skill and skill alone. However it seems 343’s idea to making enemies harder is to give them entirely way too much health paired with brutal firepower, and that, and that alone makes them hard… What that actually does is kill the feeling of Halo as we’ve come to know it over the years. It’s the feeling of jumping into the fray and using movement and skill to run and gun like a Spartan-II in the lore we have all come to know and love. Being able to out pace enemy fire and live just long enough to make moves and come out on top IS Halo.

Back in Halo CE, 2 and 3, you could storm into the most ridiculous situations and with enough movement skill you could take on ANYTHING, Hunters, a hoard of Brutes, a field of rank n file, jacket snipers… ok… maybe not them. But my point is, if you had skill, you could win, though not easily because the A.I. was somewhat clever so it wasn’t without challenge because even tho you could kill any ONE enemy with ease, it could get tricky with how the A.I. worked together and the way the A.I. used their numbers an overall map design.

In Halo 5, enemies feel like damage sponges and nothing more. You need to sit back from a safe spot and shoot, usually with power weapons is you want to actually do ANYthing. Its as if its been turned into another Boarderlands or Destiny (ironically), all its missing is little numbers of damage value from each hit… its NOT the Halo I know and love. Should you try running in, you might have a spurt of old glory but 99% of the time you will be gunned down by an absurd amount of firepower from an enemy you have no chance of killing without sitting back in cover unloading power weapons.

Reach introduced Firefight, which was really cool, and it was fun, it felt like waves of legendary enemies of old, any one of which you again could kill on your own with movement and skill. But I think what I’m trying to describe happened somewhere between Reach and 5. For example, have you tried to kill a Hunter with just an uzi in Halo 5 Mythic firefight!!! good luck with that… I have meet with VERY little success. I have however killed a Hunter with an Uzi in Halo 3, and every time it felt like I was watching how a Spartan would have done it in a novel. Moving and dodging, when taking on The Hunter Pair, keeping in melee range of one and dodging while using that one as cover from the other one trying to shoot, it felt epic and with skill it would work. Halo 5, you show up with an uzi against a hunter, no amount of situational awareness and movement will help you live AND do meaningful damage.

This is just my two cents on something it took me a while to even realize.
At this point they have me no matter what. I love Halo, I love the Universe the lore. I just wonder if anybody else feels like something is missing like I do.
One of my best arguments is, I have a ton of fun playing Halo 3 campaign, Halo 4 & 5 campaign, is just annoying to me.
(I only play all Halo on Legendary for reference)
So keep in mind I’m not talking about the story or multiplayer, this was all just about PvE gameplay.

So am I alone in this? I’d love to hear what other think.

So, we’re not going to talk about Halo 2 where Legendary Elites killed you with a couple of shots of impeccable aim while themselves often possessing shields that took a couple of sniper rounds to get through? Or the Jackal snipers that always scored a kill if you were too slow? Or really, the Hunters in any game since Halo 2 where the strategy ultimately devolves to an endless cycle of dodge-shoot-dodge-shoot and god forbid if you miss the timing on a single dodge.

Frankly, I think Halo CE is the only game in the series that got the enemy–player power balance right and where you could actually buy yourself a bit of time with clever movement. Since then the games have consistently missed the mark by making the projectiles too fast, giving the enemies too good of an aim, giving them hitscan weapons, and giving them too much health. I’m not sure if Hunters that die from one hit in the back with the game’s main weapon are the answer, but it sure is a lot more fun than doing essentially the same thing for ten times in a row for the exact same outcome. And I’m sure it’s not the intended design, but I’ve always enjoyed the cadence of killing a pair of Hunters in one smooth move.

I agree with the main idea here, but I don’t agree that this is a new problem. I think if 343i wants to get it right, they really need to look at Halo CE specifically, because that’s the only game close to doing it correctly.

I also want to say that people often overvalue “cleverness” in game AI. Cleverness, as in doing the most sensible thing if the AI were a real person, is not the same as fun AI. AI that makes good decisions is not the same as fun AI. Fun AI is AI that makes decisions which are interesting, but also feel fair. For example, most scenarios with many enemies, the best choice for the AI would just be to pile up on the player and chase them wherever they go, but that turns any encounter with even a modest number of enemies impossible. You need to allow the player to hide and recharge shields, you need to have the AI backtrack and not engage so that the player can fight a manageable number of enemies.

Not to undervalue the efforts of that go into AI design, but often when a game like CE gets commended for it’s AI, I think it mostly comes down to getting the basic power balance right both in stats and in decision making, and the level and encounter design. The actual decision making process of the AI isn’t necessarily anything super fancy or incredibly sophisticated. As long as you can make it fair and interesting, it’s usually fun.

Halo: Combat Evolved was honestly the only Halo to have any semblance of skill needed to beat harder foes, but even then, I don’t know. Halo 2 really cemented the need to Plasma Pistol combo to get anything done. Others may call it a legitimate tactic, but I don’t think I can call the noob combo very ‘skillful’.

Halo 2 was horribly unbalanced due to being an unfinished product, the enemies were outrageous with their ability to one shot you from just about any means (Elites with their really weird and massive hitbox with the back swing on their sword, Brutes being able to pretty much one shot you while being bullet sponges if you don’t have a precision weapon, Jackal Snipers being able to 180 noscope you before you can even blink, Hunters clobbering you, the Flood smacking you into next Friday, etc, etc, etc.). Halo 3 sorta fixed some of the issues, but barely. (At least the Jackal Snipers were more tolerable…) Basically Halo 2 and 3 (as well as ODST) saw a weakened arsenal for the player to use while taking way too much damage from everything in the AI’s hands. (But AI were also kind of, well, dumb in those games, so I guess it’s a trade off?) But even Reach had a bit of power issues when it came to weapons vs tougher AI (seriously, I’ve seen Brutes take 3 rockets to the face and live, what’s with that?)

Halo 4 I only see this on LASO, where everything has like 6 times overshield or something. It takes like 2 overstun charges to knock out certain Elites shields and Knights recharge their shields way too quickly. Grunts and Jackals, as well as Hunters sort of remain the same in terms of difficulty. Halo 5 though makes some things just a bit too hard. The Knights are fine (though, I miss being able to run them over), the Hunters are fine, the Elites can be kind of spongy, the Warden Eternal is…well, an Eternal pain in my rump.

It’s possible 343i needs to take a refresher course on how to build strong yet enjoyable to battle enemies on tougher difficulties, but it hardly was something they started. Bungie had a bit of a hard time fixing the difficulty curve on the AI since Halo 2.

Legendary has had its share of of bullet sponges through the whole series, but 343i has cranked it up in Halo 4 and 5 for sure. Knights in Halo 4 were a little too spongey on Legendary, but the Warden Eternal in Halo 5 was an absolute joke. I did my first and only playthrough of H5 on Normal (planned to beat it on Legendary on a second go through but to just enjoy the story the first go-round, but we all know how that went…) and I thought the WE was a completely unreasonable ammo soak even on that difficulty. In addition to the fact that he just looks and sounds… Goofy.

Anyways, yes: I think some rebalancing of the PvE sandbox may very well be in order. It’s fine if an enemy provides a healthy challenge, but there is a fine line between fun frustrating and just plain frustrating. I’m not trying to insinuate that Bungie never crossed this line, they absolutely did in Halo 2 especially. But just because they did it doesn’t absolve 343i from making similar frustrating moves with their design. After all, Bungie really nailed legendary difficulty for the perfect fun/hard ratio in Halo 3 to make up for how frustrating H2 was IMO.

I think 343i should focus on minimizing the amount of times a player feels so trapped or stuck at a checkpoint in Infinite. It should absolutely provide a healthy challenge, but it’s never fun to empty four clips into something just to realize you’re only halfway there.

I just want 343 to take power away from the player and put it back into the sandbox. I don’t necessarily mean take away enhanced mobility, but I want them to focus on bringing up the rest of the sandbox and enemy A.I. to counter the player. I miss overcoming disadvantage by utilizing cover and the surrounding sandbox at my disposal. Gameplay scenarios felt so much more varied when the player had fewer abilities and more meaningful items laying around to use.

CE is absolutely the king when it comes to fair , fun and challenging AI on legendary ,
reach and H3 also get honourable mentions as well .
H2 if there was a weapon rebalance seems like the AI would meet the fun,fair and challenging criteria .
H4 even with a rebalance (wouldn’t fit the fun,fair and challenging criteria) , the teleport feature on knights reallly is cheap but a weapon rebalance while not addressing the AI would fix some fundamental flaws and make it a better package .
. H5 I’m not really sure as I played it through on normal then .legendary and never touched the campaign again

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> Frankly, I think Halo CE is the only game in the series that got the enemy–player power balance right and where you could actually buy yourself a bit of time with clever movement. Since then the games have consistently missed the mark by making the projectiles too fast, giving the enemies too good of an aim, giving them hitscan weapons, and giving them too much health. I’m not sure if Hunters that die from one hit in the back with the game’s main weapon are the answer, but it sure is a lot more fun than doing essentially the same thing for ten times in a row for the exact same outcome. And I’m sure it’s not the intended design, but I’ve always enjoyed the cadence of killing a pair of Hunters in one smooth move.

Just one of the countless reasons I still see Halo CE as the best Halo game of all time (so far). I’m glad 343i are looking at CE for inspiration while making Infinite. There’s so much that game got right that was never really achieved again in any game since.