Of all the reasons Bungie made Reach how it is(and there are many), there is often one that’s overlooked. No, it’s not that they wanted to cater to casuals or that they figured since they aren’t making Halo they needn’t make it good. Most of the flawed mechanics in Reach are because of equally flawed response to community complaints about Halo 3. Now, given the bipolar nature of this forum group, as well as its tendency to never agree with itself, is it a good idea to take every idea posted here? Of course not, but that’s what Bungie did with Reach. And there’s an important tie-in to what 343 is doing to be made as well.
Before Reach came out, it was often said that, “Halo belongs to its fans”. A tagline that would, at first glace, be a reference to community content and communication. But Bungie said something else there, even if they didn’t mean to and even if they didn’t realize what was said. They made the crucial mistake of letting that bipolar and seldom-agreeing group decide on features for their game. Bungie took every major complaint, justified or not, and turned it into a Reach feature. At present, most of the results of these implementations are scorned by people calling themselves “the true Halo fans”.
Some examples of this include reticule bloom, forced Spartans, hitscan, the lack of melee bleedthrough, the Nerf gun AR, and Sprint. Forced Spartans and hitscan were features much asked for by the community, and now they are some people’s only reasons to respect Bungie as a developer anymore. Point is, they’re features people like and they do not cause a major gameplay shift. That’s the thing, the rest of the things on that list (plus others I may be forgetting) are major gameplay changes that ended with a tub of contreversy. Reticule bloom was added because people claimed that utility rifles are overpowered. Bleedthrough melee (the lack thereof) and the further nerfing of the AR both have roots in the same complaint. And that complaint was AR-rushers, those much feared bad kids whose only means of defeating took you down with them.
Does this mean that it’s bad to listen to the community? No, of course not. What the implementations of Reach mechanics show is that a developer cannot rely on a community diverse as that of Halo to choose what features should be in the game. And that is what makes listening to the Halo community tricky. 343’s title update coupled with the new Anniversary gamemodes was probably the best option for “fixing” Reach. It was also the most neutral choice as far as listening to the community goes. Give the people who don’t like Reach their own section of the game, leaving the other for those who do, allowing people to switch to their desire.
What 343 should do with Halo 4 is what Bungie did with all of the other Halos. They should make the game they want to make, not the game the community wants. But, they should do it keeping in mind the feelings of their fans. If a newly announced feature is not liked, they should ask the community why and collect intelligent responses. Then, fine tune the feature until it works best for gameplay. What should not be done is either shut out the community or, more importantly, let them design the game.
Thanks for reading,