Ever since Halo 1, the Halo series multiplayer has steadily declined. Halo 1 was nearly perfect: it had pristine weapon balance, innovative and classic maps, a large skill gap, and fantastic gameplay. Was it perfect? No, but it was close. The issue is that each consecutive Halo has done worse in each of these 4 categories (except for Halo 2 in regards to maps, as it probably had the best Multiplayer Map collection of all time). These are all things that should be touched upon and improved upon in the next Halo, and the best template to use would be Halo 1. So, I’m going to discuss several focal points I think the next Halo needs to model itself after.
Understand what make’s Halo Halo.
This is said often enough, but is often misunderstood. A great Halo game has the 4 mechanics I mentioned above. When you pick it up and play, you know you’re playing a Halo game. Reach lost this. If you play it and then play Halo 1, 2, or 3, you really don’t see the connection. It just doesn’t feel like Halo, because its weapon balance is off, its maps are lacking (especially in Big Team because of large maps being tailored to Invasion), its skill gap is small, and the gameplay just feels off.
But that doesn’t mean it can’t do things differently.
AA’s are not a bad idea. If they were implemented like power-ups, but could be dropped like power weapons when you die, they could become very interesting and add to the gameplay. But as it is, since they’re available off spawn, have little to no skill gap, and many of them make game flow feel choppy and reward bad play instead of skilled play, they’re a crappy addition. Same goes for bloom. Rewarding players with steady aim makes sense, but the way it was implemented Bloom often rewards spamming. It’s not that Reach had a boatload of bad ideas: it’s just some of them were implemented very poorly. Don’t be afraid of trying new things. There’s a lot of potential to shift the game mechanics and come up with exciting new ideas. Just make sure they are carefully thought through.
Please make the gameplay fast.
This is a no-brainer. The competitive community highlights this as one of their biggest issues with Reach. Every game since Halo 1 has been slower. In Reach it has hit an all time low with Armor Lock, slow kills times, and slow speed. The casual community clearly likes fast gameplay, as CoD is all the rage. There is no sensical reason to keep the game slow. Speed it up.
Do cater to casual players, but not by breaking core mechanics.
There is nothing wrong with catering to casual players. They are a majority of the consumers. That doesn’t mean you should screw the game up for them. A good example of this is Reach, but an even better one is MW2. I’d actually go as far to say that taking notes from Treyarch wouldn’t be a bad idea, as Black Ops is a hell of a lot better than MW2. They made the game much better. This is one of the harder points, because the easiest way out is seemingly to lower the skill gap. However, this leads to lower population as the game ages. It is much better to have a install base of dedicated fans who will stick by you as long as you continue to operate at a high level than people who hop from fad to fad. This is truly something that is hard to do, adding things into the game to hook in the casual gamers while satisfying the hardcore gamers, but I know 343 is capable of it.
Cater to the hard-core gamers.
Reach gave the hard core fan base a giant middle finger. The game mechanics were completely changed, and many of them (Bloom, fall damage, health recharge without health packs, grenade damage) were not changeable in custom options. You cannot make the Pistol and DMR a 4 shot kill without completely screwing up the rest of the sandbox. Arena was a complete failure, and up until very recently there wasn’t a playlist addressing any of the complaints about the game. This needs to be fixed. The next Halo should have options in Playlists and Playlists dedicated to Veterans and Competitive players, and custom options should be INCREDIBLY EXTENSIVE so that players should be able to virtually recreate older Halo’s in terms of mechanics. Individual weapon customization is a big one.