Halo 3’s re-release on October 16th for free over Xbox Live marketplace is a big deal. There is tons of excitement, I have old friends who’ve missed playing Halo for years just because they couldn’t stand Reach, and 4. And they are excited to finally have a reason to get back into it. And I’d like to see 343i do everything right to give us the Halo experience we’ve wanted for years.
I’d like to start by saying that Halo: CE Anniversary and Anniversary in Reach’s multiplayer really did a good job at delivering a classic-styled Halo experience to players who missed the days when it was just your guns, your grenades, and your powerups. Those friends I mentioned who played Anniversary mode actually enjoyed it. It really proved that all most of us OG Xbox Halo fans want is that unique Halo experience that simply doesn’t exist on the market today. Halo was the last successful Arena game on the market. And that formula would still be successful today. I’m not saying we shouldn’t advance the franchise. Halo 2 and 3 both saw key advancements that were widely accepted (some of which were only frowned upon because of limited online capability due to unavoidable lag at the time, like Halo 3’s experimentation with losing hitscan, or Halo 2’s aim assist/hitscan being very high to compensate for online play) but still stuck to that key Arena formula of symmetrical spawns, map control, and the proposition of skill and strategy > hand-holding features and chaotic/random gameplay elements.
And that is why I want to see Halo 3 going free as a way for us, the community and the old-school Halo fans to prove that we want our game back. Which we can prove with online population counts. Not that I’m saying the new formula should be abandoned completely. I will explain what I mean like this in a separate post if anyone asks, as I’m not suggesting we merge the two or use playlist separation, that doesn’t work. But the point of this paragraph is that I am calling on you, the community, to prove with constant consistent population of Halo 3 that classic gameplay deserves attention. Actually play Halo 3, and not just here and there, but take it back as your primary game, stick to it until at least the release of Halo Xbox One, overpopulate Halo 4 and Reach, when Major Nelson releases live activity charts put Halo 3 ON THE MAP. Attract 343i’s attention to the fact that this IS what we want. And possibly even more importantly: SPREAD THE WORD that Halo 3 is back, and that it means business. And that WE have the power to give Halo a brighter, more Arena/Classic future.
In terms of the release itself, I want 343i to give us a clean slate to work with. They have announced that they will be pruning Halo 3’s playlists to deliver a streamlined experience. So on October 16th I think there are several steps 343i can deliver which I will list here:
Step 1: Make all of Halo 3’s DLC free to download, and required for ALL playlists.
Halo 3 is no a 6 year old game. The chances that even players who have never played it before will jump in and buy all the DLC is pretty slim at best, and with nearly all of Halo 3’s playlists requiring DLC as it is, it could prove to be a real turn-off for them to load up the game and be stuck with the limited selection of unranked Slayer, and Rumble Pit. Halo 3’s DLC was some of the best in the franchise, releasing several maps that are NECESSARY for optimizing the experience of the game. Blackout, Avalanche, Heretic, Sandbox, and Citadel are all examples of amazing maps that are NOT included in either the vanilla game, or the free Heroic/Cold Storage DLC packs. These are necessary for players to experience Halo 3 at it’s best. And are old enough now that making them a part of the free Halo 3 experience delivered on October 16th is a must.
Step 2: Playlist optimization.
We need to walk in expecting low numbers off the bat. Players aren’t going to just flock to Halo 3 in a single day, as much as I wish they would I’m willing to admit that those not still grounded into the Halo franchise may take a while to catch on to the hear-say of the community and actually give it a try, and may even neglect to jump on the bandwagon until they have seen the population results. For that reason, Halo 3 needs it’s playlist count reduced enough that searching for games will not be a chore. Here’s the list of playlists I want to see in the game on the 16th:
Lone Wolves (Always BR starts, default Slayer, veto for Objective)
Team Slayer (Always BR starts)
Team Doubles (Always BR starts, default Slayer, veto for Objective)
Team Hardcore (Default SWAT, veto for Snipers)
MLG (Default MLG Slayer, veto for MLG Objective)
Rumble Pit (Default Slayer ARs/BRs, veto for Objective BRs/Infection)
Team Skirmish (Default Slayer/VIP ARs/BRs, veto for Objective BRs)
Big Team Battle (Always BR starts, default Slayer/VIP, veto for Objective)
Multi-Team (Default Slayer ARs/BRs, veto for Objective BRs/Rocket Race)
Action Sack (Default Grifball, veto for everything else)
10 playlists to cover all the available basics. Providing us with as wide a variety of Halo gametypes with short search times and a good healthy variety of gameplay no matter what playlist you play. I’d also GREATLY appreciate if 343i considered buffing movement speed to either 110% or 120%. Halo 3 is a pretty slow paced game and movement speed has a lot to do with it. Having this setting in place across all playlists would instantly benefit the game, as seen in Halo 4 Turbo.
Step 3: Reset Ranked Playlists
Now to clarify, your highest rank WILL STAY on your profile if this is done. However, I think that resetting the ranked playlist’s ranks will give everyone that “fresh start” they want with this game. It will create a new, healthy competitive spirit that anyone, new or old to the franchise can get into. And it will give the vets with a 50 in everything something to strive for once again, and the unfortunate rank-locked souls from Halo 3’s past will finally get their second chance at glory, now maybe as more experienced and competitively capable players. Ranks in Halo 3 were a major factor in it’s continuity. Give us back that rush of emotion we got when we first played the game and made that hard, strong push to be the best player we could be.
Step 4: Continued support of the game’s matchmaking
Now, by this I don’t mean they should be releasing new maps, messing with maps already in the game, tweaking weapons or anything to that effect. But I strongly believe they can update the game’s netcode to provide a more lag-free experience if they took some time to try. And if the game is popular enough perhaps a weapon tuning update could be beneficial. We all know we want to see spread tightened on Halo 3’s BR and Carbine for consistency’s sake. Maybe 343i should consider doing that? And as populations rise, the playlists listed above could be disected and separated. With a higher population, SWAT and Snipers could receive unique playlists. Social Slayer could return as it’s own thing, and some great community custom gametypes and maps from the Halo 3 era might see a MM debut.
So in essence, there is a lot that could be done by both 343i and the Halo community to deliver a fantastic Halo 3 re-release, and even shape the future of the franchise so we’re not all complaining and quitting 2 months after a new Halo comes out! Lets do this guys!