Halo 6...the plea for balance

Talking with a friend last night/this morning about the current state of Halo, and the ups and downs and pros and cons through the years, we kept hitting a general theme: it seems like almost every game since CE, in one way or another, has over-reacted to an issue of the previous game, and tilted the scales in the opposite direction. Let me illustrate several examples:

  • HCE had an OP AR; H2 replaces AR entirely with inferior SMG - HCE didn’t really have a perspective from the enemy; H2 has more missions for the enemy (Arbiter) than for Chief - H2 had buggy and imbalanced matchmaking/gameplay; H3 removes aspects of buggy/imbalanced matchmaking (clans, etc.) entirely - H3 focused heavily on competitive games (ranks,etc.); HR removes skill ranks (most) entirely - HR created plot holes/retcons from existing lore; H4 shows its focus for lore by (arguably) over-saturating book-lore into campaign somewhat arbitrarily - H4 was allowed free-reign (possibly time too) to tell a story and build a game of vision but to poor reception; H5G seemed to restrict creative/fan lead in favor of “smart investments”, also to poor reception - H4 prioritized BTB in MP with less emphasis on smaller Slayer (competitive) types; H5G focuses heavily on smaller Slayer (competitive) types with less emphasis on BTBetc. etc. etc.

Not that every miss or con is because of this, but it just seems like so many of the decisions are attempts to fix a perceived problem, but taken too far in the opposite direction.

I’m just hopeful that Halo 6 will look at the collective Halo games, perceive their strengths and weaknesses, and find a balance between them all.

3rd time is a charm.

3 chances
4
343i

Your second point about enemy perspective is false. Halo 2 had 6 playable levels for Arbiter (The Arbiter, The Oracle, Sacred Icon, Quarantine Zone, Uprising, Great Journey).
For Chief, there are 7 playable levels, not including the tutorial (Cairo Station, Outskirts, Metropolis, Delta Halo, Regret, Gravemind, High Charity).
So there are actually more Chief levels than Arbiter levels.

I also disagree with your assertions that Halo 4 was overly saturated with extra-game lore, or that its story was poorly received. I think Halo 5 suffered much more from these two points.

> 2533274817408735;2:
> Your second point about enemy perspective is false. Halo 2 had 6 playable levels for Arbiter (The Arbiter, The Oracle, Sacred Icon, Quarantine Zone, Uprising, Great Journey).
> For Chief, there are 7 playable levels, not including the tutorial (Cairo Station, Outskirts, Metropolis, Delta Halo, Regret, Gravemind, High Charity).
> So there are actually more Chief levels than Arbiter levels.
>
> I also disagree with your assertions that Halo 4 was overly saturated with extra-game lore, or that its story was poorly received. I think Halo 5 suffered much more from these two points.

My error on the level count. In either event, one of people’s main complaints with H2 was playing so much of Arbiter.

I don’t think the story, as a whole, was poorly received, but rather that a complaint of the story was the induction of the Didact (and Librarian) who had so little introduction yet purported to be such a major piece in the narrative. People who hadn’t read the books, from what I’ve seen and read of their complaints, seem to have felt like he (and she, for that matter) had a weak explanation.

Being a fan of the books as well, I am more than welcoming to extended lore tidbits being brought in to the games, but I also realize the extra care that needs to be taken to not alienate game-only fans or new converts. The games shouldn’t rely upon extended lore facts without properly explaining and building those up properly in-game. H4 attempted to do this via the Terminals, but they miscalculated how many players would give attention to those.

(Also, I don’t disagree that H5G also suffered from relying too heavily on extended lore. I was mostly just noting the first instance of the seeming overreacting.)

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> > 2533274817408735;2:
> >
>
> I don’t think the story, as a whole, was poorly received, but rather that a complaint of the story was the induction of the Didact (and Librarian) who had so little introduction yet purported to be such a major piece in the narrative. People who hadn’t read the books, from what I’ve seen and read of their complaints, seem to have felt like he (and she, for that matter) had a weak explanation.

As someone who did not read Greg Bear’s trilogy before playing Halo 4, I have to say that for all the problems with the Didact in Halo 4, reliance on extra-game lore to explain him was not one. Lore junkies probably remember that the characters known as Didact and Librarian were first mentioned in the terminals of Halo 3. From that, we were able to learn that they cared about each other, that Didact was against use of the Halo array, and that Librarian wanted to index life in the galaxy in preparation for the Halo firing. We also learn that Didact was involved in the creation of Mendicant Bias, and that he was willing to risk using less efficient means to kill the Flood if it meant preventing firing the array and losing the Librarian. We learn the Librarian seemingly got trapped on Earth, where she deactivated the portal to the Ark to keep the Flood from it. We learn that Didact used Offensive Bias to stop Mendicant Bias and eventually succumbed to firing the rings, lamenting the loss of Librarian and seemingly joining a Forerunner exodus from the galaxy.

All of that came from Halo 3 terminals. Now sure, we don’t get that there ended up being two Didacts, or that Didact 1 was driven insane by the Gravemind, or certain things like that. But you know what Halo 4 did that made those points not so bad? Halo 4 gave us cinematic terminals that detailed just enough of the Didact’s and Librarian’s history that, by the end, we have a clear enough understanding of who they were and–to a lesser extent–what their motivations were. Granted, the terminals are collected gradually over the course of the game, but it’s all still in the game. You don’t need to go to comics or novels or B-rated sci-fi movies for their character introductions. Between the teases in Halo 3 and what you get in Halo 4, you get enough introduction to them to get that they were/are important. And to your point about the terminals, well, how do you know that 343i miscalculated how many people would try to find them? Or an even better question: do people who didn’t take the time to look for the terminals even really care about how the Didact was introduced? Would you say the same about Halo 3’s terminals not doing a good job when it comes to lore about the Flood-Forerunner War?

Was Didact’s plan lame and his hatred of humanity out of proportion? Sure. Could Librarian have done a better job explaining what the hell she did to Chief? Absolutely? Was the final confrontation with Didact anti-climactic? Yep. Was extra material aside from the games necessary to understand the Didact and Librarian? Not to me.

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> > 2533274808000461;3:
> > > 2533274817408735;2:
> > >
> >
> > I don’t think the story, as a whole, was poorly received, but rather that a complaint of the story was the induction of the Didact (and Librarian) who had so little introduction yet purported to be such a major piece in the narrative. People who hadn’t read the books, from what I’ve seen and read of their complaints, seem to have felt like he (and she, for that matter) had a weak explanation.
>
> As someone who did not read Greg Bear’s trilogy before playing Halo 4, I have to say that for all the problems with the Didact in Halo 4, reliance on extra-game lore to explain him was not one. Lore junkies probably remember that the characters known as Didact and Librarian were first mentioned in the terminals of Halo 3. From that, we were able to learn that they cared about each other, that Didact was against use of the Halo array, and that Librarian wanted to index life in the galaxy in preparation for the Halo firing. We also learn that Didact was involved in the creation of Mendicant Bias, and that he was willing to risk using less efficient means to kill the Flood if it meant preventing firing the array and losing the Librarian. We learn the Librarian seemingly got trapped on Earth, where she deactivated the portal to the Ark to keep the Flood from it. We learn that Didact used Offensive Bias to stop Mendicant Bias and eventually succumbed to firing the rings, lamenting the loss of Librarian and seemingly joining a Forerunner exodus from the galaxy.

I get what you’re saying, but you’re a self-described “lore junkie”. Even if you didn’t read the Forerunner trilogy, you deep-dived into terminals when present and let that soak into your Halo-lovin’ brain. I get that, b/c I was the same way by the time Halo 3 came out. The first two games were fun gameplay, but by 3 I was starting to really try and follow the narrative a bit closer. The terminals provided that for me, but admittedly I was slightly confused and intimidated by the depth of bits of lore being thrown around that I otherwise had no clue about. Librarian? Didact? Mendicant Bias? I read the terminals, but didn’t retain the knowledge of really anything other than the names that were used. I don’t think anyone can argue that there were, are, and will be players who want the story told to them in its entirety through gameplay (campaign, and possibly Spartan Ops, if you’re lucky). Whether that’s the way it should be is a different argument, but I’d venture to guess that many people who complain about Halo games not doing so are the same ones who don’t take the time to find all the hidden terminals or ingest all their added and expansive narrative. Instead, I personally know of many players who are exactly like this, and yet are avid Halo fans from the standpoint of multiplayer. They play through the campaign because they bought the game, or for achievements or commendations or challenges or what-have-you’s, but aren’t buying the game for the richness of the story. In all honesty, it greatly irritates me that there are people who knowingly buy a game for MP instead of campaign and aren’t interested in being invested in a story enough to do any extra work beyond playing gameplay, yet will be the first to complain about the story, length of it, or the characters involved. Still, it happens, and like it or not, those same players are the ones that have and hopefully will grow Halo sales and active players higher in the future.

Tl;dr: some players, even if they don’t read the books, are interested enough in the story to seek out hidden information (terminals, etc). Others, I’d guesstimate a large number, care just enough about the story to play through the campaign once (twice, if you’re lucky) and to be opinionated about its perceived shortcomings. A Halo games’ perceived success or failure hinges fairly heavily on that same large player base. Further, 343i should be desiring to draw in new players into the lore through the common ground of the campaign gameplay.

But with all of this, it’s just my opinion about how it has been handled and its effects on the Halo culture. I understand exactly what you’re saying, but just don’t fully agree that it’s as simple as “add a hidden thing to explain a prominent thing so they can’t complain”. They can, and have, and I believe will continue to, unless 343i learns how to better tell a compelling story and be creative in how they can further give players story details in intriguing ways.

> 2533274808000461;1:
> Talking with a friend last night/this morning about the current state of Halo, and the ups and downs and pros and cons through the years, we kept hitting a general theme: it seems like almost every game since CE, in one way or another, has over-reacted to an issue of the previous game, and tilted the scales in the opposite direction. Let me illustrate several examples:
>
>
> - HCE had an OP AR; H2 replaces AR entirely with inferior SMG - HCE didn’t really have a perspective from the enemy; H2 has more missions for the enemy (Arbiter) than for Chief - H2 had buggy and imbalanced matchmaking/gameplay; H3 removes aspects of buggy/imbalanced matchmaking (clans, etc.) entirely - H3 focused heavily on competitive games (ranks,etc.); HR removes skill ranks (most) entirely - HR created plot holes/retcons from existing lore; H4 shows its focus for lore by (arguably) over-saturating book-lore into campaign somewhat arbitrarily - H4 was allowed free-reign (possibly time too) to tell a story and build a game of vision but to poor reception; H5G seemed to restrict creative/fan lead in favor of “smart investments”, also to poor reception - H4 prioritized BTB in MP with less emphasis on smaller Slayer (competitive) types; H5G focuses heavily on smaller Slayer (competitive) types with less emphasis on BTBetc. etc. etc.
>
> Not that every miss or con is because of this, but it just seems like so many of the decisions are attempts to fix a perceived problem, but taken too far in the opposite direction.
>
> I’m just hopeful that Halo 6 will look at the collective Halo games, perceive their strengths and weaknesses, and find a balance between them all.
>
> 3rd time is a charm.
>
> 3 chances
> 4
> 343i

Halo 2 didn’t really have buggy matchmaking,only problem I had was the cheating