Like many others I have high hopes for the next Halo game, but I also have high expectations. Personally, Reach failed to excite like any other Halo game, mainly due to what I believe were poor choices in both gameplay and storytelling, especially the former. I understand many have already shed their own light on this topic, but I really want to share my own opinions, and bring up several areas in greater detail. To clarify, by “next Halo game”, I am referring to the next Halo FPS to be made by 343I. Before I get into my critiquing I would like to point out that I do like many of the things in Reach, despite its numerous flaws. The customization is great, the netcoding is second to none, and it’s by far the best looking Halo game yet, even though it is missing some of that classic Halo look. I understand much of this post is negative, but it is only because I want what I believe is better for the series future. Much of it focuses on Reach and the mistakes it made, but I will also explain what can be done for the next game. 343i asked us to be vocal and share our opinions so here is mine. One more point: it’s long!
First, I’ll touch briefly on campaign, a part of a game that is always important to me and to many others as well. Personally, I will never truly love Reach’s campaign due to the massive canon changes (read “errors”) that were made by Bungie. We had an excellent and already fleshed out back-story that covered in great detail the Fall of Reach, but instead we were given a very flawed telling of it. This is not the focus of this post, but here is a much more in-depth look at these errors http://www.bungie.net/Forums/posts.aspx?postID=49053700. Many promises were made and not kept, and looking back at the ViDocs will show you exactly what I’m talking about. The characters development was really non-existent, and frankly the campaign was really just lackluster with the exception of a few cool moments. I won’t talk too much about the gameplay and level design, as other people really can hit the nail on the head better than I.
I honesty hope that 343I returns to Master Chief and his story, as it allows for a familiar place to draw upon, and allows for plenty of creativity in story telling. This does seem to be a likely outcome, given Frankie’s comments on this possibility, and I really agree with him. Some would argue we should just keep MC at rest because he’s already starred in 3 games. However the next game has the potential for a whole new storyline, and for plenty of character development and story telling. It’s just too good of an opportunity to miss.
But before I get into anything really gameplay related, I want to talk about a few poor design choices made by Bungie, and how many could be fixed. Many things were expanded in Reach, but others were changed, making them worse than previous installments. Custom game options were limited, and have prevented many great gametypes from being created. Theater was limited to one person, something that in particular is bothersome. The file saving system is also very buggy and is known to overwrite files of that awesome map you just made, wasting your time. These are just truly unnecessary mistakes in my opinion, and honestly quite easy editions. Now I understand that memory in these days is becoming an obstacle for developers. The best solution is simply to just release the game on two discs. One disc will allow for campaign and theater mode (for convenience), while the other will contain all things multiplayer such as firefight, matchmaking, customs, etc. The only problem I could see in this is that someone may not be able to view campaign films on the multiplayer disc, and vice versa. I am not expert, and if anyone really knows the answer to this problem please share it.