How to Create Unique Weapons for Halo
Method 1: Passive Traits
There are some things about weapons that just happen, with no user input. Rockets detonate on impact. Sniper shots ricochet off walls. Let’s call these things “Passive Traits”. What are some new passive traits? How about “Radiation” on the Sentinel Beam? Shooting a vehicle with the Sentinel Beam will deal high damage to all vehicle occupants but low damage to the vehicle itself. The passive trait, Radiation, requires no additional input from the player but gives the weapon more depth and purpose. It also acts as a “Soft Vehicle Counter”, like EMPing and hijacking, that allows the vehicle to be cleared of enemies without destroying the vehicle itself.
So, Radiation affects vehicles. How about a weapon that can affect the environment? “Ignition”, the ability to ignite flammable substances or items on the map, is a passive trait belonging to the Shotgun which fires Molten Pellets. Maps could incorporate Gas Leaks or Oil Spills that can be ignited by shooting them with the Shotgun. The fire and/or explosion can result in temporary Area Denial or permanent Path Modification. No additional input is required from a Shotgun user but a layer of depth and uniqueness has been added, to both the weapon sandbox and the maps’ designs. Aside from this new passive ability, the behavior of the classic Shotgun remains unchanged.
Method 2: Modify Melee
Aside from specific melee weapons, like the Energy Sword or Gravity Hammer, most melee attacks are identical. A typical melee deals high damage but also has a long cooldown before another melee can be performed. Instead of a traditional semi-automatic melee (punch, wait, punch, wait…), what if one weapon:
-had a much shorter cooldown between consecutive melees
-dealt much lower damage per melee
-would continue to melee as long as the button was held down?
Think of it like you were hitting someone with a weedwacker. Each individual strike does a relatively low amount of damage but the strikes are occurring so rapidly that it quickly adds up to a lot of damage. This unique melee mechanic would essentially function as a very close range automatic weapon. To prevent constant usage, the weapon would eventually overheat from constant melee, much like a Plasma Rifle overheats from constant firing.
Method 3: Modify Reload
Aside from the duration of the reload animation, the reload mechanic is fairly universal. The reload animation occurs and the weapon is now loaded. But what about weapons that can’t reload, like a Plasma Rifle? Console controllers have a limited number of buttons to which functions can be mapped. How could a Plasma Rifle use a reload function?
Traditionally, the way heat level works in Halo’s battery based weaponry is that:
-each shot generates a specific amount of heat
-the heat level gradually cools down when the weapon is not being fired
-once a weapon reaches a specific heat level it will overheat and penalize the player with a reduction to the weapon’s rate of fire
What if the heat generated from a battery based weapon could be used offensively? How about, if a Plasma Rifle is above 50% heat level, the user can manually vent that thermal energy forward a short distance. The closer the weapon is to overheating, the longer the duration of the thermal blast. Venting at 50% heat level would emit the shortest duration thermal blast. Venting at 99% heat level would emit the longest duration thermal blast.
Method 4: Alternate Firemode
One button on the controller is solely dedicated to activating a weapon’s scope. If a weapon does not have a scope, this button goes unused. Instead of a universal scope button, the scope button would become a, more general, Weapon Modifier button. Scoped weapons remain unchanged because they already have their modifier. Weapons without scopes, however, gain the ability to alter their behavior in new ways.
Way 1 is to give the weapon two unique firemodes. The Assault Rifle would have the ability to operate in Suppression Mode or Precision Mode. In Suppression Mode, the weapon would have a large reticle, short range, and fire full auto. In Precision Mode, the weapon would have a small reticle, long range, and fire in bursts. Alternate Firemodes allow for a reduction in the total number of weapons without losing functionality.
Way 2 is to give the weapon a second type of projectile that can be fired. The Weapon Modifier Button on the Spiker could send out a grappling-hook-gun style projectile that, while limited in range, will quickly pull the player to any impacted surface. The use of the movement enhancing “Clawline” would be unlimited but have a significant cooldown period between uses to prevent players from Spidermanning around the map constantly.
Way 3 is to allow the weapon to activate a special ability. The Plasma Pistol’s weapon modifier button would activate a Jackal Shield, that would cover the upper frontal quadrant of a Spartan’s body, for a limited duration before running out of energy and needing to recharge before it can be used again. While the Jackal Shield is active, the user’s ability to melee and throw grenades is disabled because their Spartan grips the weapon with both hands.
While the Jackal Shield emanates from the weapon itself, special abilities can also affect player movement in certain situations. If a player’s feet are on the ground, and he has the Energy Sword equipped, the weapon modifier button would activate a forward Sprint. By diverting energy from the weapon into the Spartan’s suit, the player can increase his forward movement speed but this will gradually drain the weapon’s battery, 1% at a time, as long as he is sprinting.
Sprinting is purely movement. An Energy Sword user still has to manually attack his enemies while sprinting. If a Gravity Hammer user is airborne, the weapon modifier button will activate a high speed downward strike, combining movement and attack. “Ground Pound” deals high direct impact damage and emits a gravity splash that knocks proximate players back. Similar to the requirement on an Energy Sword, that a user’s feet must be on the ground before Sprint can be activated, a Gravity Hammer user’s feet must be off the ground before Ground Pound can be activated. These weapons must have their prerequisite met before the modifier can be activated.
Thanks for reading. What are your thoughts on how to make unique weapons in Halo?