I avoided making this post for a long time because I wasn’t sure if it would really add anything and because I felt like it would only give weight to the idea that “Halo is dead; 343 killed it”. But now with everyone else claiming it, or just making up crap, or constantly piling up on 343 for one reason or another I felt like it was time.
Because since the first month of Infinite, I knew it wasn’t going to “survive”. I knew it was going to see significant player drops if not outright actual death. How did I know that?
TL;DR - Because the game is too hard.
And what I mean by “hard” is that the mechanics and gameplay don’t cater to or make bad and casual players feel good about themselves; the mechanics do not regularly deliver (if at all) those dopamine hits and highs that keep people playing other popular games to bad and/or casual players.
It wasn’t going to be content, or bugs or anything else that made people stop playing Infinite; it wasn’t just going to be the pure, base gameplay and mechanics.
Now how did I know that?
I have two co-workers whom I’m not exactly friends with, but have played more than a few games with. We’ll call them Chad and Brad (not their real names, duh). They’re not unique except in one way; they’re pretty much the perfect, exact representation of the “modern gamer”. If EA, Microsoft and Ubisoft were to get together and design in a lab and grow the perfect Focus Testing Gamer Dude to base their products on, these two would be it. Hell, I secretly suspect that Ubisoft consults Brad directly when making Assassin’s Creed games and Activision holds Chad’s opinion on Warzone on the same level as Dr. Disrespect’s opinion.
They are the kind of people who try the newest CoD Beta, whine how much it sucks, then buy the game anyway to get guns and level them for Warzone and then spend an additional $40 buying cosmetics for that one CoD.
They wouldn’t know a “Hades” or “Metro Exodus” if it came up and punched them in the crotch.
If they were any more basic they’d have a Twitch Handle in their names and stream Fortnite.
They’re useful though, because I can pretty much gauge with high precision what the general public is going to think of a game based on how these two react and what they think of something (some exceptions apply) when they play it. Their experience with Halo was limited to “Played H2 a couple of times in high school” and “Played some Reach on my roommate’s Xbox in college”. So basically neophytes without any real pre-conceived opinions of Halo (that mattered anyway).
But I did get them to play some Infinite with me back in December, because I had been talking about it and they had seen all the ads and talk about it.
And they did exactly what I’m willing to bet hard $$$$ on that 90% of that “lost player base” that gets quoted around here did; they slammed into the wall that is Arena-Shooter gameplay mechanics and bounced off like the world’s fleshiest crash-test dummy.
I’d be willing to bet that if we surveyed that “lost” player base the vast majority of them quit well before any concerns about the store, or battle pass or cosmetics or content or bugs came into play. They quit for the same reasons Chad and Brad did.
Why don’t they die when I melee them? (It takes two melees to kill in Halo) That’s stupid.
Why do I have to shoot them multiple times to kill them? Who cares if they have shields a headshot should kill them!
Why can’t I pick what I spawn with?
Why is there only one Sniper on the map?
This Grappling Hook is pretty cool; why can’t I have this all the time?
Vehicles are so stupid. How am I supposed to fight back when I can’t spawn with Rockets or a Grenade Launcher or something?
Is there a Battle Royale mode or something instead of just these 4v4 modes?
Pick or choose which one most appropriate (these were all things Chad and Brad said in some form when I tried playing with them).
Above all else, when you look at all the games people will inevitably come in here and claim are better than Infinite because 343 ruined it, you’ll see a common trend; they “address” the issues present in these complaints - they provide a near constant supply of dopamine or adrenaline hits even for super bad players either through RNG or super forgiving mechanics or outright handholding or super-flashy things that even bad players get to do at least once during a match.
Infinite (and Arena Shooters in general) provides none of that. Infinite hands you a gun, kicks out the back of the Pelican and yells “Good Luck!”. You’ll find no RNG crates handing out Tier 3 gear that will let you just slap people outright. You won’t be able to win gunfights just by starting them first (most of the time). Weapons aren’t interchangeable and have different and specific functions that you need to understand. You won’t get handed anything flashy by default - you’re gonna have to fight for and MAKE the flashy happen yourself.
So ask yourself; why would any of those legions of modern gamers, who are almost exclusively after those highs, choose to keep playing Infinite when there are at least half a dozen other F2P games out there that DO provide all of that to them?
When you realize the answer to that question is “They wouldn’t” then you’ll understand the reason for a “dead” Halo game. If you still want to play 343, you can perhaps lay some blame for missteps at their feet, but you must also accept that it was time and demographics that drove the stake into Halo’s heart - anything else was just BM’ing a dying man at that point.
(And all this is before we even get into how BORING it is to watch something like Halo on social media vs. something like Warzone, APEX or even Valorant etc.)