I’ve recently played Reach Firefight, and tweaked the settings to where I have no shields, can only take a couple hits, my health doesn’t regenerate, and my run speed and jump height are lowered. While the enemies’ damage resistance has also been lowered to a realistic amount. My goal was to make a combat experience most accurate to what it would actually be like to fight the Covenant as a Marine.
The result was an extremely fun, and immersive experience where I had no choice but to be very careful, and shoot from behind cover, and conserve health like never before. Even if the enemies now died more quickly, so did I. I had to figure out very cautious ways to approach the enemy that would allow me to survive for as long as possible. It really felt like as realistic depiction of fighting the Covenant.
A new Marine-focused game could be a spiritual successor to ODST, except make the combat capabilities actually realistic. In my opinion, ODST didn’t do a good job making me feel like I wasn’t a super soldier. We still had shields only with the screen turning red, and we could still easily kill Brutes in a few melee attacks. I feel like we need a game which lets us truly experience the struggles and hardships of combat against the Covenant as a regular Marine.
This means both the player and the Covenant take less hits to be killed. NO player shields. And the Covenant would actually rush your position, and be far greater in numbers, focusing on a theme of making the player feel overhwhelmed. It makes combat more frantic and strategic. You don’t have the firepower or the numbers to match the Covenant, so you have to rely on your wits and strategy to get the upper hand. When you finally do push back the waves of enemies, it’ll be extremely rewarding.
The levels would also be much longer, perhaps focusing on multiple objectives, focus on discovering various things, exploring the environment. Not necessarily an open-world game like Skyrim. Imagine the second level of Halo CE, only the objects are different from each other, more unique things to find, you have to conserve and search for ammo and health, and the Covenant are much more proactive in exterminating you. And the you should feel a constant sense of threat looming over you head, like the Covenant are actively hunting you, and you need to avoid engagements you can’t handle.
I feel like this kind of gameplay would be calling back to the old days of FPS games which focused on scavenging the environment for health, ammo, and weapons. The game should focus on resource managements, and long-term survival and adventure. The feeling of discovering something that helps your chances of survival in an exploration game is one of the most rewarding feelings in games. This would also be calling back to ODST which had a feeling of adventure and resource management.
I don’t feel the game should shoehorn in cover mechanics, because it would interrupt Halo’s movement-based gameplay. But I do feel the environment should be designed for the player to manually put themselves behind a comfortable firing position where their front is mostly covered. There are quite a few places in Halo games where you can effectively shoot from behind cover, so it should be expanded upon.
The enemy AI also needs to adapt to your playstyle, and positioning. If you hang behind cover for a while, the enemy will attempt to flank you, or have multiple grenades lodged at you to spring you from your cover. Or if you’re using a Shotgun, the enemy will attempt to put distance between you and them to preserve themselves. If you’re using a ranged weapon, the enemy will use cover more often, or take advantage of your reduced awareness, and flank.
If you pop an Elite’s shields, it will do one of two things: Be smart and dive for cover (something they rarely do in the games), or immediately charge your position while strafing, firing wildly, and lobbing grenades, or for higher-ranked enemies, ditch firing wildly for pulling out an Energy Sword. They should also be aware of when your magazine runs out and should pop out and seize you when you’re vulnerable.
Jackals should create tight formations of shield walls while pressing on your position. They should also jump in front of wounded comrades and protect them. And that wounded comrade would adapt to the situation, and crouch behind them. The Jackal would then escort their comrade to cover while keeping them protected.
Grunts should be larger in numbers than ever before, and haphazardly charge you and shoot Plasma Bolts everywhere in your direction. They should be the ones to go in first and soften you up for the rest of the squad to take you down. Grunts should climb all over objects, and try to surround you. They should be vigilant in placing themselves in positions of advantage, like on top of a high object where they can shoot around your cover. A Grunt can also be grabbed by an Elite and used as a meat-shield and firing from behind it.
Hunters shouldn’t just hang back and fire. They should actively push your further and further back WHILE firing. They shouldn’t let up, they need to be constantly advancing towards you. Only when one Hunter is defeated will the other Hunter start RUNNING, and meleeing. The main point of fighting these enemies is staying as far away from them as possible, while trying to find a position where you’re protected from their fire.
As a general point, the game NEEDS to have a sense of DIFFICULTY to emphasize that these aliens will stop at nothing and want you dead more than anything. You need to have the player actively FEAR facing Elites in combat, let alone Hunters. On the other hand though, once you DO overcome these terrifying foes, it is all the more rewarding to the player. Of course, there should be a difficulty setting, but I think it should only affect ONLY the enemy’s intelligence and aggression, not their health or shields, contrary to past Halo game.
Melee combat against Grunts and Jackals should certainly be feasible, but RARELY against Elites, and NEVER against Hunters. The Melee system in this game should be more than just butting them with your weapon. The melee combat in this game would need to be like a complicated dance to come out on top. QTE is certainly a big no-no in this case. The melee combat needs to be integrated naturally into the normal movement. It should probably involve a combat knife. Perhaps depending on the angle you approach the enemy and where your reticle is aiming, you do different attacks, and you need to pay attention to where they’re blocking. A strategy could be to hit a leg to stagger the foe, then close in for the kill. Melee combat against Elites should be much more complicated and more difficult. The Elite should be able to grab you, and restrain your movement, in which you have to quickly hit a weak spot to weaken their grapple, then nail them while they’re vulnerable to escape their grasp. You need to be able to evade their grapple either by movement, or by intercepting their grab with a swift strike.
In short, melee combat should be a complicated dance of evading or blocking enemy strikes or grapples. Striking an exposed spot, weakening them, and striking while they’re vulnerable. You should also be able to shift around an enemy during one of their power strikes to go for an assassination kill, but you should only have a split second to do so before the enemy responds to your tactic.