This is my first post back on here in a while since the Discord isn’'t a great place to offer feedback.
So it’s about an issue I have with Halo: Infinite’s design philosophy, or one of several at least, and how it affects gametypes. Acknowledging many other issues need addressing like technical stability and sandbox balance, this is an area of the experience I don’t see discussed often, and wanted to offer my two cents on.
So when you go into Customs for Infinite, you’ll notice in the menus how gametypes are categorized in this game, ‘Arena’, ‘BTB’, ‘Ranked’, etc. These are umbrella terms that let us know how 343 have decided to arrange them and they also clue us into how they are implemented in matchmaking.
Now, these categorizations are fine for matchmaking, but the issue I have is how the gametypes themselves have been designed. Take Slayer for example, the way I like to think of it is a ‘Foundational’ mode, the first building block from which many gametypes can be created.
So you start with Slayer, then layer on lobby restrictions; Teams / No Teams, Team Sizes, how many teams, etc. And this is how we facilitate new gametype brackets. FFA, Doubles, Squads, BTB, Multi-Team, etc.
Then you layer on gameplay options, such as ‘starting weapons’. Say, the Shotgun and Sniper Rifle. Now you have Shotty-Snipers, a classic community mode.
We can actually do this in Infinite currently, just start players with the Bulldog and Sniper, and off you go, right? Except you’re actually limited in which bracket you can create, since team size is now dictated by the gametype, instead of by the lobby.
FFA modes are distinct from 4v4, are distinct from 12v12.
You can work around this to a degree, if you want Doubles just customize 4v4 and play with 2 on each team. Same for 12v12 if you wanted 8v8, fair enough. The issue however comes in if you want to play with more than two teams, since Infinite, likely in part due to the outline system, only supports a maximum of two teams. Making Multi-Team, currently, an impossibility.
Another example is Fiesta. Much like Shotty-Snipers, Fiesta was a classic community mode created through altering the ‘Starting Weapons’ option, in this case having ‘Random’ selected for both. This allowed you to have any number of Fiesta variants without requiring developer intervention. Fiesta: CTF, Fiesta: Oddball, Fiesta: King, etc.
In Infinite, any chance of these modes appearing is up to 343, because the ‘Random’ option for starting weapons is no-longer available, and is restricted to the ‘Fiesta’ category. It is this non-modular design I take issue with.
Take the revamped Stockpile mode, now categorized as ‘BTB: Stockpile’. You can actually play this on Arena maps, but it doesn’t function. Those who’ve played the mode know that you’re required to collect ‘Power Seeds’ from a drop point on the map, and carry them to a power terminal at your base.
On smaller maps like Bazaar, the Terminal has three power slots instead of five, indicating this might have been tested at some point but was ditched later on. The thing is, why did Stockpile need new objectives and capture points when the mode already existed in Reach with flags and zones? And if these alterations were necessary, why weren’t they implemented in a way that allowed flexibility, or wouldn’t have resulted in the 4v4 version being cut?
You can see this approach echo throughout Infinite’s multiplayer. BTB maps now have large set-pieces tied to in-game milestones, Pelican based vehicle drops and a bespoke announcer in Spartan Agryna. It is no longer just ‘x mode but bigger’, it has its own categorization like Warzone before it. And this concerns me for the future of content in this game.
It feels like 343 is making it very difficult for themselves, rather than granting tools for us to create gametypes, they are looking at the end-result of past endeavours, like Fiesta, and giving them back to us wholesale, while the game lacks the building blocks that birthed these gametypes in the first place.
Whether this is an attempt to garner player retention through a drip-feed of content or a simple lack of planning, I don’t know. But it’s something that I hope changes, and soon, as we go forward with this game.
Halo has always been about empowering its community to play the game how they want to play, and without Forge, without a Customs Browser, trying to funnel us down these specific avenues is only going to result in further bleeding of the playerbase.