Aesthetics in Modern Halo

This is a topic that I’ve been mulling over for a while, and with LateNightGaming’s most recent video (I’m not gonna bother posting a link because I’m a recruit, and a few people have already posted his video here anyways) I figured it was a proper time to bring it up.

When people on Halo Waypoint complain about Halo 5 not “feeling like Halo”, they’re usually talking about the new gameplay additions/changes, but rarely do I see people mention the game’s aesthetics. In my opinion, the two biggest problems with Halo 5 are

  • The lack of content (obviously) - And it’s quite frankly, poor aesthetic direction.The reason I don’t mention the gameplay is because honestly, this game does try it’s best to build off of the roots of Halo gameplay while still keeping it modern. You can tell due to the focus on weapon and map balance, low time to kill, and even the usefulness of the pistol, a blatant callback to Halo: Combat Evolved.

But back to aesthetics.

I feel like I’ve seen Halo 5’s environments and weapons before. The human environments and weapons are metallic and chunky with some bright and shiny parts here-and-there, while the Forerunner environments/weapons are sharp, angular and with some shiny, bright parts here and-there. The only unique aspect of Halo 5’s environments and weapons is the Covenant, which is borrowed heavily from the original trilogy and is under-represented in Halo 5 anyways.

It baffles me how many armor variants there are in the REQ system because most of these look the same. All sleek and angular ninja-like designs, with color pallets that are just a bit too into the whole neon thing.

Lastly, the sound design. The original trilogy was praised for it’s sound design, it was very well done, unique and original, high quality, blah blah blah and so on. It’s fine that 343 wants to make their sound different from the original trilogy, and credit-where-credit-is-due, it all sounds chunky and satisfying.

But it’s not memorable. None of it sounds unique, and it doesn’t stick in my mind. Not like the original trilogy, anyways.

That’s goes for all of the aesthetics. It’s just flashy, boring, generic Sci-fi. It feels so familiar, and I don’t care for it. Halo has no aesthetic identity anymore. It blends it with the rest of sci-fi movies, television, and video games.

I now realize that the tone of this post has quickly gone very bitter, and could be easily interpreted as another mindless, pessimistic, 343-bashing thread. But my intention is not to hate on 343. I want 343 to make good Halo games that stick in fans’ minds, and that resonate with the general public. And I really think that a good, memorable Halo game requires a strong and unique aesthetic direction.

But I also don’t want 343 to outright copy the aesthetics of the original trilogy either. Besides, that really doesn’t exist. Like how each game has gameplay differences, each game has aesthetic differences as well. For example:

  • Halo Combat Evolved: colorful but subdued even watercolor-esque style. Case in point: play through the mission “Halo”. - Halo 2: a bit more gritty. More emphasis and the browns and purples as opposed to the greens and blues. - Halo 3: pretty all around. Throughout the entire campaign and multiplayer maps, you can see a consistently clean and simple color scheme.Please, consider my argument, and by all means, prove me insane. :wink:

Oh boy, Aesthetics. It’s such a nebulous topic I’m not sure where to even begin tackling it. I agree entirely though that they’ve changed significantly, and for the worse.

My biggest complaint is probably the major fundamental changes the Forerunners underwent. You know, these structures used to feel ancient, elegant, sophisticated. Giant, carved monoliths accented by dim lighting here and there. Almost a mystical feel to them, a place where you could actually see an insane alien cult gathering. 343I throws that out the window and decides “we need more uninspired Tron up in this -Yoink-”. That alone I could maybe forgive, but the Prometheans…god the Prometheans. Bungie largely left the appearance of the Forerunners to your imagination, and personally I never once imagined them as looming, bi-pedal, skeleton-like robots. Especially when the few Sentinels and Monitors we actually do see have no resemblance to this at all.

To be fair, I don’t think Prometheans are straight-up Forerunners, as a species. They are Forerunner in originn obviously, but they aren’t THE enigmatic Forerunners from the original trilogy I don’t think.

I like the new Forerunner structures, but not as Forerunner structures. The ones in Halo 1-3 were mostly flat-ish, I felt, and lended to the mystery that surrounded their creators.

The new structures are seemingly made to fit with the Prometheans, which makes sense, but isn’t exactly in line with the rest of the series. As for UNSC places, I miss the matte greens and worn concrete.

The design of the Prometheans are actually not terrible. Their design isn’t something I’ve really seen before. I mean come on, they’re skeletons, with some sort of orange glow in the center, and they’re made of… what, exactly!!? They’re totally original, but they feel uninspired because they lack personality. They aren’t silly, or noble, or ruthless, or sadistic, or anything like that. They might as well be pretty robots. (Which they might actually be. I don’t know, I’m not much of a lore person).

On the topic of armor, many of them seem to blend in. Even Reach, with it’s large amount of armor, had distinct differences between each piece. In this one, it is a random assemblage of sharp metal, it seems. Although some of it looks cool.

Honestly, I’m starting to agree and one of my biggest design peeves with Halo 5 is the Guardian. The giant menacing face just does not do it for me nor does it scream Forerunner. I know War Sphinxes in the books were said to have faces, but never were they said to resemble the faces of the Guardians. It’s kinda a skull with a birds body if that makes sense. The floating bits don’t concern me all that much, but I felt the machine we saw in the teaser trailer for Halo on Xbox One was the right way to go.

even the unsc aesthetic is ultimately bland, but this recent concept art I have had my hopes renewed that they are returning to the gritty grungy style for UNSC based maps.

As a random side note, I’d like to point out that the Knights have always looked like Space Pirates to me. The Halo 4 trailer with the knight and promethean vision in that jungle? Was totally throwing me back to Tallon IV, with the X-ray visor.

Some of the weapons just don’t sound powerful. The sniper rifle? Sounds about the same as the DMR. The BR? It’s better than the last game, but I still don’t like it. Halo 2: Anniversary has great sound effects. The BR sounds powerful, even if it isn’t on Legendary. The Plasma Pistol sounds kind of awful in Halo 5. In my opinion, some of the weapons sound better. Other guns? Not so much.

The Forerunner designs are kind of cool, but I’d prefer it if the designs were more like the kind we see in H2A with the Halo rings. Covenant is about the same as it’s always been, but the designs somehow seem more organic. The Wraith just looks flat-out stupid now. The UNSC stuff looks similar, if not a little shinier(?). I’m not really sure, it just looks a bit different.

Armor design is atrocious. I cannot say enough how much I hate the Seeker helmet. There always seems to be too much random white striping on the armor sets. Then some skins randomly add teal/aqua/turquoise/seafoam-green or orange stripes.

> 2533274812652989;6:
> Honestly, I’m starting to agree and one of my biggest design peeves with Halo 5 is the Guardian. The giant menacing face just does not do it for me nor does it scream Forerunner. I know War Sphinxes in the books were said to have faces, but never were they said to resemble the faces of the Guardians. It’s kinda a skull with a birds body if that makes sense. The floating bits don’t concern me all that much, but I felt the machine we saw in the teaser trailer for Halo on Xbox One was the right way to go.

I also found the weird teeth and face of the Guardian to be stupid looking. On a construct that size, what purpose do those serve? The original concept for the Guardian looks so much better.

I agree with this topic a lot. I mean 343 did do some improvements though

> 2533274812652989;6:
> Honestly, I’m starting to agree and one of my biggest design peeves with Halo 5 is the Guardian. The giant menacing face just does not do it for me nor does it scream Forerunner. I know War Sphinxes in the books were said to have faces, but never were they said to resemble the faces of the Guardians. It’s kinda a skull with a birds body if that makes sense. The floating bits don’t concern me all that much, but I felt the machine we saw in the teaser trailer for Halo on Xbox One was the right way to go.

These new faces look really weird. When I first saw it in the campaign demo I was surprised they chose that funny looking face over the original owl type look.

Don’t even get me started on the aesthetics that need to be fixed! Sounds and music should be tweaked to sound more like Halo (this was improved on in H5, but needs to be even better for H6). The armor looks too plastic. Even then, the helmets are all unique, but it’s hard to tell what the different armors look like. Most of the Campaign levels don’t have much of a unique color palette. The original guns look good, but most of them don’t look like Halo guns, which is why I’m glad the SPNKr and Classic BR (or H2A BR) were added.

I’m pretty sure prometheans are ancient humans that the Diadect turned into his own personal army/honor guard.

> 2533274810228789;13:
> I’m pretty sure prometheans are ancient humans that the Diadect turned into his own personal army/honor guard.

The Soldiers aren’t.

> 2533274812652989;14:
> > 2533274810228789;13:
> > I’m pretty sure prometheans are ancient humans that the Diadect turned into his own personal army/honor guard.
>
>
> The Soldiers aren’t.

They’re Knights correct? I’m trying to remember Halo 4 and its terminal cut scene.

> 2533274810228789;15:
> > 2533274812652989;14:
> > > 2533274810228789;13:
> > > I’m pretty sure prometheans are ancient humans that the Diadect turned into his own personal army/honor guard.
> >
> >
> > The Soldiers aren’t.
>
>
> They’re Knights correct? I’m trying to remember Halo 4 and its terminal cut scene.

Some, though a good million people were turned into Knights from the composed citizens of New Pheonix.

My biggest complain in aesthetics is that this somehow became this. Like, if I didn’t know that those were both kig-yar, I would have never guessed.

Every time somebody brings up the music of this game, I remember there is a soundtrack… Because I forget that there is a soundtrack.

I can only speak for matchmaking and I still agree. Halo 3 and especially 2 were amazing for original looking map aesthetics.