Halo 5 Feedback and the Population Loss of H4

I’ve seen many posters repeat a generic version of the following:

“Halo 4’s population dropped immediately because it did not appeal to the halo fanbase but rather went after casuals, who don’t stick around, etc. etc.”

I’m not sold that this was the reason Halo 4’s population dropped immediately. Halo fans didn’t leave H4 on day 2 because it didn’t feel “Halo” enough, because actual halo fans waited it out to see if it would improve. I’m curious if the casual population left immediately because they were getting dominated in every gametype, and there was no clear ‘social’ playlist where they could go to play against other casuals. After all, no one will keep playing a game that they get dominated in every single match. Matchmaking must be able to provide balanced gameplay to all skill levels. Halo fans left because they felt the frustration of being sniped by the boltshot or dominated while using the subpar, unbalanced BR.

As for H5, obviously the beta has only featured ‘Arena’ type playlists, with rankings and focus on competitive gameplay. So far, I have been thoroughly unimpressed with the matchmaking logic, as I’ve spent most of my time either being blown out, or blowing out another team. I worry that changes in game mechanics, specifically reduced TTK, are partially to blame. When my team is superior at gun handling, we can hold down an entire map with the BR in a slaughter. However, other teams who are slightly better simply hold us down and slaughter us, where we used to be able to at least move and attempt to overcome our deficiencies by coordinated map movement.

In order for the game to succeed, there must be a way to provide a blended experience for the longtime fans, the hardcore, and the casuals who are picking up Halo for the first time. They don’t have to play against each other every game. Eventually, there will need to be a new generation of Halo fans to keep the series alive. You can complain about the casuals, but that doesn’t push this franchise forward.

My my suggestion for 343i is to ensure your back-end matchmaking system is flawless. This means that matchmaking has to strive to provide competitive games for all players, and adjust accordingly. Microsoft Trueskill has always been a solid starting point, but without balanced matchmaking, your product will undoubtedly fail, no matter how “halo” it feels.