Halo 4 Issues and Concerns. What Went Wrong

This was posted on the NeoGAF forums from the user the henery. He makes a lot of valid a substantial points with evidence of what exactly went wrong with Halo 4’s multiplayer and why there are always consistently low population numbers.

[Originally Posted by op_ivy: View Post]
ok, serious question. do you all really think halo 4’s population numbers have anything to do with infinity, gameplay unlocks, spawning pp’s, or no visible ranks?

Oh yes, absolutely, 100 percent, without question. The other day I was going to make a quick post: “Every time I hop on Halo 4, I’m repeatedly astonished at the continuing success of Infinity Big Team Slayer”. Once I thought about it however, I realised that iBTB’s success makes complete sense. Its continued success, population-wise, is the residual effect of Halo 4’s launch physique.

There are vast, vast, numerous amounts of videogamers who enjoyed the original Halo trilogy. The PS2 dominated that console generation but had it not been for Halo CE’s foundational pillar in the Xbox’s lauch, and Xbox Live’s perfect launch partner in Halo 2 then the Xbox would have gone the way of the Sega Saturn or Jaguar, forgotton and completely stomped into anonymity by the PS2. Halo 3’s years at the top of the Live charts and respectable (for a years old game) subsequent tussle with COD releases bore out that there were still many, many gamers who enjoyed normal Halo gameplay.

Then Halo Reach happened and a lot of gamers who had nine years worth of gameplay muscle memory invested in Halo are thrown by having to stop shooting in the middle of a battle in order for their shots to be accurate. They have moments of dizzying frustration when a player they would have killed in a given situation in the previous three titles suddenly activates an invincibility button. They are killed by players who can suddenly fly over their heads from spawn and the game doesn’t offer them a Y axis sensitivity to accomodate these new features. They enter Team Slayer, a safe bet of a playlist in the previous two titles and half of the maps are a turgid, mono-grey eyesore that are all visually alike and don’t play particularly well. They go to BTB, a favourite for so many in H2 and H3 and there is not a single, non-forge map custom built for the mode, instead playing on built-for-an-entirely-different-mode horror shows like Spire and Boneyard. They actually get put into BTB SWAT on Boneyard, spawn Red stairs, and are repeatedly spawn killed in the open by a 3x zoom, single shot precision rifle.

These players think Halo Reach is not a very fun Halo game. They don’t like the changes, they don’t like the poor selection of maps, amongst other things. They look around for other places to put their gaming time; Black Op’s releases on the back of three successful predecessors and, crucially, doesn’t mess around with what made those games popular in the first place. It identify’s a rivals strength of meta-features (Halo’s theatre and social file sharing capabilities) and implements its own theatre which in many ways improves upon Halo’s version and then offers players the social sharing side of it, not on a dev website or by jumping through hoops in game but through free rendered uploads to probably the most visited website on Earth in Youtube. Many of the gamers put off by Halo’s strange new direction (no 1-50 wtf? Timing shots and no BR wtf? You can spawn with camo now wtf?) decide to go where a lot of their friends went, a safe, you know what you’re getting deal in COD. Lots of them also get into Battlefield 3, a game that knows what it does best, very large scale military battles, is somewhat unique in the FPS landscape and sticks to it.

Fast forward to October 2012 and these players who loved the original trilogy but checked out with Reach, they see the Halo 4 PR train in full swing. “Oh hey, look, the Master Chief’s back” they say. They remember paying the same price for ODST as they did for Halo 3 but ODST didn’t have proper multiplayer nor the Chief. They remember paying full price the following year for Reach, which again didn’t have the Chief, and being put off by the weird, unexpected things in the multiplayer. So they see the Chief and they associate him with the last game he was in, Halo 3, that game that they and their friends had lots of awesome times with. So they look forward to Halo 4’s release because hey, Chief’s back, so Halo will be normal again right?

This is where one goes back to the point about Halo 4’s launch ‘physique’. The launch state of a game is arguably its most important. It is where the vast majority of players who don’t read forums and gaming press etc get their idea of a games identity and the game developers intent for the series. Many of those players that Reach lost are back for Halo 4 in launch week, eager to give the franchise another shot.

They load up the game and tentatively enter War Games (“I think this is the multi, guys”). The party lead and their buddies look for a playlist they remember loving, Team Slayer, but there is no sign of it. “Just pick the top one, come on party leader!”. So they enter Infinity Slayer. They play five hypothetical games. The voting for these five games goes ‘Adrift, Complex, Complex, Adrift, Abandon’. The maps quality don’t seem very high and now it appears everyone has a power weapon at some point, and that guy they just killed pressed X to spawn without punishment and cleaned them up while they waited for their shields to recharge, completely unfairly. Weapons are confusingly spawning at random, with no explanation as to why that is happening (it didn’t happen in the ten years they played Halo before). They play another bunch of Infinity Slayer and soon come to realise that there’s only four 4v4 maps and two of them are objectively poor for Slayer. So they venture over to Infinity BTB and, while the gameplay problems remain from their 4v4 experience, at least there are more maps on offer.

So what happens to this hypothetical party of four a week after Halo 4’s release? Three of them go to Black Op’s 2 or back to Battlefield 3 (COD does weapon unlocks and instant respawn far better than Halo ever will and BF3 is built around large scale combat and, crucially, let’s you drive a vehicle more than five meters without getting stunned by a spawn weapon). One stays (the opening populations were around 400, 000 and then dropped to a quarter of that). The one who stays motivation for doing so is as multitudinous as Halo’s confused identities. It might be a love of heavy BTB gameplay, it might be because that player is one of those who is an absolute sucker for levelling systems no matter what the gameplay and wishes to reach SR 130. It might be that they -Yoinking!- love the party gametype Regicide. But the question isn’t why so few stayed it’s why so many chose to leave…

continued…

Halo 4 sold so many copies because it it had an 11 year established base of users and previous customers right? For 9 of those years Halo was about equal starts, checks, balances and largely reasonable design. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to think that many of that established user base came to Halo 4 expecting a direct, regular Master Chief sequel to Halo 3, Reach being the equivalent of an experimental off-shoot branch, not the foundation for Halo 4. Those players came to Halo, experienced instant respawn, random weapon drops, camo sniping, camo boltshotting, their favourite Warthog being stunned every three seconds by an unlocked spawn weapon, no ranked/social choice and realised they had to play for hours in order to unlock a perk so they didn’t frequently run out of ammo (weapons vanishing every 12 seconds as they do). They probably realised at that point that all these things that were making Halo not feel like the game they’d enjoyed for a decade were being done better in other games in which they made sense. And so, they went to those other games.

So, COD does unlock systems and fast, one shot kill, 60fps gameplay best. Battlefield 3 cornered the big battle market. What was always Halo’s core strength? FOUR VERSUS FOUR, arena based slayer and objective gametypes. 343 launches with four smallish maps, and a -Yoink- load of BTB content. 6 of its subsequent 9 DLC maps are BTB. Halo no longer has a grip on thaepopular area of the 4v4 market. People who bought or rented Halo 4 to see if it was normal again have disappeared. They won’t be back five months from launch when it’s announced in a corner of an internet forum that Team Throwdown, a normal-ish Halo playlist is coming to Halo 4! After that opening week they’ve made their mind up and you’ve lost them forever. Well, at least until Halo 5 rolls around but even then they might not bother. See, next time, Halo won’t have the ‘Master Chief wasn’t in those games so it doesn’t count’ excuse. Master Chief, along with the Halo name, is now tainted.

This article seems to hit very true to home. What made Halo 2 insanely popular was compounded by timing, luck, and most importantly equality in playing field. Now we are inundated with Aim Acceleration, armor abilities, instant respawn, ordnance drops which give everyone an indication that the power weapon is up, which ruins the experience of hunting it down, RANDOM ordnance drops, no visual ranking system which stymies any motivation to keep playing. Regicide doesn’t work, Infinity Slayer does not work. Stop with this uneven playing field -Yoink-, head glitching environments, drops in frame rate which make for a clumsy clunky system in where I cannot aim properly or my twitch reflex doesn’t work, and give us a system that is resembling of Halo 2 and Halo 3. For the love of God 343i the fate of Halo hangs in the balance, are you going to keep isolating fans of Halo or are you going to give Halo the revamping it needs.

I only say this because I love Halo. I don’t want it to go down a path it does not want to take

that was so beautiful i could cry and its all true and its how the millions of us feel.

To me, its suffering from ideas not entirely thought out. I like the idea of having a loadout and choose what I want to start with in terms of primary weapons and AA. However, the inclusions of grenade and secondary weapon selections takes the loadout a little too far by harming vehicle combat with players avoiding vehicles that take too long to kill a player, and smaller maps becoming too campy with pocket shotguns(especially before the title update that changed its range).

In terms of loadouts, those two selections are the primary reasons why loadouts are being caught in a negative light, especially when players are having to rely on another player to make the vehicle work or trying to navigate small maps.

Just like Reach before it, some of the new additions would have been more well received had they received more attention as to why some options work in some types of fps’s and not in Halo.

So true, Halo used to be about an even playing field where the best came out on top and if you lost you would work harder and practice. If you wanted an advantage like a power weapon or camo/overshield then you had to fight for it, everyone had a chance of getting that advantage so you had to fight the enemy team for it, you want that rocket launcher? Well beat the enemies to get it, prove you’re worth it. Now in Halo 4 power weapons spawn at random times on the map and you can get it through this “ordinance system” which is also randomized. It creates unpredictability, how are you supposed to know that guy over there has a Spartan Laser if he can just get it whenever? It used to be that you knew or not if the enemy team had such a weapon because once again they had to have fought for it, taken the hill on Valhalla or the tunnel in The Pit but now all thats out the window.

Even during the rare moments when you do have to fight and prove yourself to get an advantage its ruined by the horrible despawn timer. You die and shout “rockets on my X” well first off there wan’t even an X to begin with and now that there is its almost impossible to see since its white now against mostly light backgrounds, and it disappears before you can even say anything about it, even if by some miracle your teammate is close enough to have seen your X and got to it before it disappeared in a blink on an eye chances are your weapon is already gone as it despawns in a mere 12 seconds. What the hell?

Vehicle combat is also ruined in Halo 4, a warthog is SUPPOSED to chew through infantry because its a warthog! Now its useless when anyone can just emp it with a Plasma Pistol and destroy it with 2 stickies ALL OF WITH YOU CAN SPAWN WITH. Remember when you were forced to use teamwork to take out such a vehicle? Its ridiculous now!

Very True. While I am not entirely opposed to the idea of load outs, it needs a major revamping. There should be no secondary weapons, the fact that everyone either carries a bolt shot which is your own personal shotgun, or the plasma pistol which effectively creates disdain for many people who use vehicles.

First step by fixing Halo? Get rid of secondary loadouts, and for the love of God, do not let us be able to pick grenades. It needs to be a drop on the map, I consistently grow frustrated that I will put someone one shot, then him run right up and throw a plasma that doesnt even come close to hitting me, yet magically sticks to me…Jesus mayne.

> To me, its suffering from ideas not entirely thought out. I like the idea of having a loadout and choose what I want to start with in terms of primary weapons and AA. However, the inclusions of grenade and secondary weapon selections takes the loadout a little too far by harming vehicle combat with players avoiding vehicles that take too long to kill a player, and smaller maps becoming too campy with pocket shotguns(especially before the title update that changed its range).
>
> In terms of loadouts, those two selections are the primary reasons why loadouts are being caught in a negative light, especially when players are having to rely on another player to make the vehicle work or trying to navigate small maps.
>
>
> Just like Reach before it, some of the new additions would have been more well received had they received more attention as to why some options work in some types of fps’s and not in Halo.

If you like loadouts then go play CoD. Halo is a game where you spawn with complete fairness so its not ure kit tht wins u the game its ureself. AAs are generally hindering to the gameplay, its more about how you abuse these abilities, not how good u and ure team is. Theres no small maps on halo 4. You havent played halo for very long. Its not the implementation thats the issue, its the features themselves, bloom hurt the gameplay, sprint hurt the gamplay, i could go on

I wholeheartedly agree with everything said in that article.

Apparently, the original link has been repeated through the twitterverse, with overwhelming support. Heed your customers or lose them at your peril, MICROSOFT.

With Love,
Your Mom,
~AnonomissX~

The lag killed this game mostly and fact that its impossible to have an intelligent conversation in these forums. This is by far the WORST run game forum I have ever visited. The mods allow their friends to say whatever they want and if you say something they not like, you get banned. Does not matter if part of conduct here. Simply have to have a mod not like your view. You can be right on money and a safe post. But . . . nope. If mod not like you, you are gone.

343i allowing their customers to be treated like here and allow a game with this much lag is what killed halo population.

The game can be fixed but they seem to not want to. Posts about lag and working on lag from 343i is nonexistent. And I have offered many times to have a professional discussion with any mod to PM me and help contribute to fixing the forums or even for BS Angel herself to PM.

All I want is a professional discussion to help fix and contribute to the forums.

But since I am not part of a clique here ALL my good intentions go unnoticed.

Ok, so, that was excruciating. Not because it was long. Not because it didn’t have fair points. It hurt, because it is the complaint of another gamer so distraught that, God forbid, something changed. I’ve played ALL of the other Halo titles. Sure, not at the time of their success (I played Halo 1 about a year and a half after its release, and Halo 2 only when at a friends house, about 8 months after its release, and Halo 3 probably 2 years after it’s release) but I played them, none-the-less.

That being said, I’ve never really been a hardcore Halo gamer. Why? Because when Halo’s 1-3 were released, I was pretty much exclusively a computer gamer. Now, as a game design student, I’m going to give you the only reason why I think you wasted your time with a 2-part post.

It’s property of Microsoft and 343i, and the franchise director, Frank O’Connor, whom, by the way, might I add, worked for Bungie, as did a great majority of developers that worked on the other Halo games.

So, in as few words as possible, what I’m saying is: “Get Over It.”

If you don’t like it, don’t play it. Or do. They don’t care. They already got your money for buying the game. In the end, it is their property, not yours. Stop telling them how THEIR vision should be, you self-centered, ungrateful prude of a gamer.

Personally, I didn’t like a few of the armor abilities from Reach. I did like that they offered different play styles to the game, though. I don’t really like the loadout system in Halo 4. I use it anyway, when I’m not playing SWAT. I really hate how Mass Effect-y the armor’s are in Halo 4. I really dislike shields and motion-trackers, so I don’t often play Slayer or BTB. I hate plasma overcharge. What I hate most of all about all of Halo and any game, are respawn timers. I don’t play video games to stare at a count-down timer, because truth is, there are so many players that are better than me, and I do die a lot. And, just as with any online game, there are hackers, so when they come out in the wee hours of the night, it really does get ridiculous waiting to play just because people are either genuinely better, or are cheating. So, I’m glad I can respawn instantly.

Either way, I played Halo: Reach because it still felt like Halo, and it was fun, without playing exactly like the previous title. Same with Halo 4. I can accept change, even if I don’t particularly like every change.

Never ever compare Halo to Call of Duty, or Battlefield for that matter. Call of Duty is a rare success in it’s copy-paste code and barely discernible improvements, garnering most of its success on its completely unrealistic gameplay physics, and fast-paced action. Battlefield on the other hand is geared more towards realism, what, with bullet drop and this thing called recoil. Sorry that Halo got with the times and realized that guns have recoil. So sorry that you have to pace your shots, I just don’t know what to tell you. I do agree about the maps in Reach, they were just atrocious, but to be fair, Bungie was tired of doing Halo and wanted to move on to something else, but Microsoft wanted to milk the cow for all it’s worth. So, in essence, Bungie really didn’t give Reach their all. It’s sort of the unwanted child.

I kind of lost track of what it was I was going to say, so I suppose it’s a safe bet to just say that, I am sorry that you don’t enjoy Halo 4, and didn’t enjoy Reach, and likely didn’t enjoy ODST (which, in my opinion, was the best campaign). However, if you don’t like it, don’t play it, or get over it. Accept the fact that games have to evolve more than just graphically. Mechanics and features will be added and removed as the developers see fit-- not as the players see fit.

> Apparently, the original link has been repeated through the twitterverse, with overwhelming support. Heed your customers or lose them at your peril, MICROSOFT.
>
> With Love,
> Your Mom,
> ~AnonomissX~

I doubt they’ll listen.

No public beta is the main wrong turn halo 4 made.

Apart from that, 343 is doing a good job fixing everything as fast as possible.
We should be grateful that we are getting a much faster response than we got with Halo: Reach’s TU (it only took 1 year to fix the game).

I think the sound players make is a big unfair advantage for those that have decent ear phones or maybe even surround and for those that don’t. In games with out radar sound acts as a secondary radar. I’ve had games where I’m walking up behind some one from a reasonable distance and they instantly hear me and turn around. Even more of an unfair advantage in SWAT I fire one round and every one knows instantly what direction I’m in and I can’t tell where the sound is coming from. Why is it even in the selection of games to vote for no one wants it and if they do they go to the SWAT game type.

I even had a few counter assassinations due to the sound alone some ones coming up behind you and in a split second you reverse frog jump leaving them bewildered and confused.

> Mechanics and features will be added and removed as the developers see fit-- not as the players see fit.

I’m not going to just “get over it”, the changes are mostly bad plain and simple, and if the developers don’t have to listen to us then we don’t have to buy their game.

And no, it’s not about “hating change”. I would’ve never bought Halo 2 or Halo 3 if that was the case. It’s about hating the fact they’ve changed almost everything about the game.

> and if the developers don’t have to listen to us then we don’t have to buy their game.

What makes you think that you have to, now? They make a game. You buy and play. You should be so grateful that they make any changes to their game that they made, that they coded, that they built maps and characters and spent their money, and investors money, and not to mention the game designers and the voice actors and the texture mappers and the other countless jobs.

Game development is not easy, especially in a big studio setting. You want to sit there and complain about something not being right that someone else had to spend months if not years to make (between design, art, coding, sound, etc), then enroll into a school, take game design or game art or go and master C++ and make your own -blam!- game.

I understand that you guy’s loved Halo: CE, Halo 2, and Halo 3, and were impartial to Halo 3: ODST and Halo: Reach. So, they changed a few things and it suddenly makes the game completely different? No. Don’t give me that, crap. Have you ever played Star Wars Galaxies between 2003 and 2006? They literally changed the game in 2007 to a completely different game. All of the controls were different, the UI was different, and all of the core mechanics were different.

All of the core mechanics are essentially unchanged in the Halo series. The game handles the exact same in Halo 1 as it does in Halo 4, with some play in the sensitivity in the controls and the god-awful aim assist. I could understand complaints about making Halo feel more like Call of Duty or Battlefield or Gears of War. But it doesn’t. It still feels like Halo. If you played Halo: CE but never played 2, 3, ODST or Reach and just jumped into 4, you still have a solid feel and familiarity in the game. Be Glad.

You see, I mostly see/hear complaints about things that were added for “balance” which, let’s be honest, in what game is every weapon completely balanced in comparison to every other weapon in the game? In a shooter, there must be guns that are 1) Do Little Damage per Attack, but strike quickly, and if it’s a gun, has a high capacity magazine and you can carry a lot of ammo. 2) A fair damage weapon, with a steady “rate of fire”, and has a good ammo capacity size if it’s a gun. 3) a very powerful weapon that does a lot of damage, up to 1-hit kill, but is SLOW to attack, and, if a gun, has a very small magazine.

Plain and simple. That is true balance. Halo, in all of it’s games, has that, for the most part. What they added that everybody complains about, is Bloom. Bloom is balance to the powerful weapon that has the ability to fire fast, but is more accurate if fired slowly. That’s physics. You go out to the gun range, and fire an SVD or AK-47 (7.62 round, by the way, which is allegedly what the DMR fires) and you tell me how tight of a spread you can get. It’s called “pace your shots”. Even Spartans have to do that, if you read the books.

Another thing is armor abilities. OK. Hardlight shield? I don’t see how that is an issue. I have used Hardlight shield and every time I use it, I die. It’s saved me, maybe once. In Reach, it was Armor Lock, but that genuinely was inconvenient. I hate most of the armor abilities, but I understand the value of having such an ability available to me. I hated them as a pickup because it usually got picked up (let’s visualize the active camo pickup in Halo 3) by some dillhole who camped out with a sniper rifle – or worse, a sword. Or it got horded by a noob who didn’t really know how to use it. Now, I can deploy it if I put it on a kit. Great! However, I play mostly SWAT, so this is never really an issue for me. I do play Regicide sometimes, though. Regardless, having armor abilities adds variety to the game, rather than the old-school who can blitz the power-weapons and power-ups first. That’s a bit too Unreal Tournament, which UT is a fantastic game, but I mean, c’mon, nobody is playing UT3 anymore ( at least, on XBL, or PC ).

Anyway, it is almost impossible to get the perfect balance in a game that is geared for multiplayer. Someone will always find the power-config and soon, everybody is using it, and in classic shooters where there is only 1 or 2 pickups of a power weapon or power-up, then it becomes more of a game to take down the player that has these and use it-- and that is detrimental to the gameplay. I could tell stories of my UT2003/4 days but, I haven’t the time to type it, and you probably haven’t read this far anyway.

I don’t mean to be a dill about it, but, I’m really getting tired of all the mega-complaining about little crap that doesn’t really alter the core gameplay to begin with.

Wow thats a long paragraph.
I agree that the reason people thought it was going to be a halo 3 clone, is because of chief and over hype.

The vast majority of your post isn’t even half-way relevant to mine, it doesn’t seem to have any direction to it either.

But, just some really half -Yoinked!- counter points:

>Anyone who has played Halo knows the core gameplay. Thus, knows how to design a game based off that gameplay. You don’t need to have a fancy education for that, you just need to be dedicated to the game.

Scripting, modeling and sound work are all done by experienced and paid professionals who are probably going to do a good job regardless of what game it is. Doesn’t necessarily mean they can create good gameplay.

>There’s more to the core than just low gravity and shields. Many of the things 343I has changed DO impact the core.

>…I never claimed to hate all AA’s?

>…I never claimed to hate Reach?

>You said a shooter needs a DPS, a Middleground, and a Burst Damage gun. Not necessarily true.

>Bloom isn’t necessary, and realism is not needed in a video game. Tired of everyone’s strict adherence to realism over gameplay.

> If you played Halo: CE but never played 2, 3, ODST or Reach and just jumped into 4, you still have a solid feel and familiarity in the game. Be Glad.

You mean that game with invincible vehicles yet balanced and fun vehicle warfare, where my character moves fast without having gimmicks break his flow of motion, and that has a balanced sandbox where most weapons are unique and where everyone starts out the same?

Or where its admittedly pretty campy yet still manages to have pretty unique music and visuals that don’t just conform to modern cliches?

Yeah, when I jump into Halo 4, Halo CE is the first thing that comes to my mind.

You know why I love Avalanche in Halo 3? It took an old classic, updated it, and added some improvements and twists on it that fit the map well and still managed to bring new ideas to the table.

Unlike Halo 4, which was basically just cutting away content for the sake of their ‘vision’.

It’s so true that it hurts.

Once again, it seems like my friends and I bought a completely different version of Halo 4…