One thing I noticed about the Concept Art that I liked, was the variety of biomes, some of which showcase MUCH larger, more open areas on the Ring. But with these open world sections comes the Problem of having the large spaces properly filled with Enemy Encounters.
I have a proposed solution for making Open world sections like Plains, rolling hills, fields, large forests etc feel interesting to play and not “empty”
Design the game so that when masterchief is travelling through Large Sections of the open world, there are a variety of ways he can encounter enemies and combat sequences that don’t JUST involve the player stumbling upon a cluster of Enemies
As Chief travels open world sections, there should be “Outposts” that can observe UNSC forces and alert the Banished of the presence of the UNSC in that section. The Banished would then subsequently send out a task force of Phantoms, or a Convoy of Ground Units to “meet” chief in these open world sections, allowing the player to engage in combat several times along the way to a destination. Areas that serve as “paths” or “dusty roads” could also be frequented by more heavily armed Convoys of Banished Forces that Chief and players can Ambush, creating player encounters both in sections like Open fields and hills and along more well travelled paths in the game. Other Ideas for these open world sections could include:
(A) Large Crashed Banished ships
(B) Pools of Spilled fuel from the crashed ships which cause a small lake to form
(C) Natural Hazards such as WIND, THUNDERSTORMS, ELECTICAL HAZARDS near Forerunner power stations, Thick Fog and perhaps SNOWSTORMS at higher altitudes
(D) Encounters with Hostile lifeforms, such as the large creatures we see in Concept art
(E) FLOODED Sections of the Ring, where players have to use new UNSC Hover-hogs to get accross and have player encounters with Ghosts, and other floating Brute vehicles over the water, using Rocks and perhaps trees that are sticking up out of the water in the flood sections as “Cover” during the encounter with Brute forces
(F) Nano-CLOUDS of new Sentinel forces. These would be a form of Sentinel units that form “clouds” of nanobots like Giant swams of bees, except they are forerunner swarms used to contain an area. Perhaps these could come in several forms including “active” combat forms, and “passive” forms which try and block a players movement or affect the lighting in an area like Clouds would, to change the mood/lighting of a region to seem more scary/dark and forboding.
(G) Draw from inspiration of the MATRIX machines cities to create more interesting forerunner locations managed by sentinels. these could be entire “cities” or “fortresses” managed by machines that once used to be inhabited by the foreeunners, now managed and protected by their AI Sentinels. This would give players fortresses/dungeons to explore and create longer “missions” where players work to gain access to Forerunner fortresses, which feature more Linear, complex and labyrinthian level design similar to those encountered in games like QUAKE or METROID PRIME.
(H) Perhaps there could be an old. worn down forerunner fortress with vines and foliage overgrowth that has been overtaken by a dangerous and hostile lifeform that has reproduced and inhabits the structure in large numbers. the UNSC has determined that this forerunner fortress would be a suitable base, but masterchief must clear it out due to the fast, strong carniverous lifeforms being too dangerous for marines to deal with by themselves.
(I) MIssions where you can go deep into the ring, locate sentinal factories or repair bays and either using forerunner access codes or data cubes or the weapon hacking them, you can capture these facilities and then use captured sentinels to help you in combat, being now able to select them as a support Unit from FOBS with different sentinels having different appearances, abilities and weapons to assist Masterchief in combat against the Banished
(J) Scarab Bases and repair bays where players can either destroy or capture Banished Scarab walkers and then use capture scarabs to mount attacks against more powerful locations that otherwise would be impenetrable for the UNSC. Players could bring marines along with them and have them on the scarab providing fire support and then dismounting to capture banished locations once a banished fortress is breached.
- As chief travels through a large Open section, there should be Periodic Large Brute ships ( Frigates ) that drop into the location to drop off troops Via a Gravity lift, creating a large contingent of enemy players for the player to deal with. Perhaps the enemy players could even set up dynamic “bases” around the bottom of a Ship, that Master–chief can infiltrate, board the Brute ship, Destroy it, and then have the Wreck of the destroyed ship populate the landscape to add dynamic variety to the play spaces
EXAMPLE: Chief Destroys a Major Brute Base, and as a reaction, the Banished send in a Large Frigate along the Route Chief takes as he exits the base in a large open section with lots of fields/hills. The Banished deploy a Gravity lift from their Hovering ship, with ground troops and Arial forces assisting, and have a “war Party” trying to intercept Chief. Chief had aquired new, upgraded weapons at the previously destroyed base, such as longer lasting INVISIBILITY, allowing him to conduct hit and run attacks on 3-5 Banished fighting groups, commandeering a Wraith at one group, to dispatch the next one, then using the “Keycard” from another fighting group to unlock the garrison at the base of the Frigate. Chief then boards the Frigate, Fights his way through, destroys the ship ( similar to the Grbrakon mission, and the evacuates via a Phantom in the Landing Bay before the ship explodes, allowing the player to experience missions similar to the Third level of HALO CE and the Opening level of Infinite in a dynamic way throughout various times in the campaign
3B: If Masterchief destroys a “section”, “garrison” or dispatches Brute forces in a certain area, this should put Brute forces on higher alert and they form search parties to try and find Chief, similar to how GTA uses its Star system to create combat scenarios. For Example, Let’s say Chief Raids a Brute Base at night, the brute forces send out an alert, and that alert triggers another nearby base ( lets say a larger base hub ) to send out several phantoms with search lights to try and destroy the UNSC forces that raided their base. This would create an interesting dynamic where Chief Destroys a base, but then has to content with Brute forces reacting to player actions accordingly.
4 : The same could apply for encountering Sentinel forces. On the surface, there would be more frequent encounters with the banished and occasional encounters with roving sentinel force searching for targets. In the larger, labyrinthian interiors of Halo, if there are any more “open” sections such as play spaces inspired by the Mines of Moria in Lord of the Rings ( despite being underground, the Mines of Moria are MASSIVE and it would be interesting to see regions like this in the inside of the Halo rings ), player would have more random encounters with Sentinel forces, where enemy players SEEK them out, having a balance between encounters where players Find enemies, and encounters where the enemy seeks out and finds the player, to create a rythym and allow for large open world sections that don’t feel “empty” or “boring”
5: Another Aspect of Infinite that could make future, extra large play spaces feel interesting is allowing for mission types that have a focus on exploration, discovery, environmental hazards, finding caches of Foreunner weapons, technology or information etc.
Example: XYZ Open Area has the entrance to a Foreunner tunnel system hidden in what appear to be a Bunker-like structure. It isn’t easily visible to the player as it is set into the side of a large hill with a rocky side where the Bunker is located. Deep within the bunker are Tunnels inspired by Halo CE, and within the Tunnels, they lead to a Sentinel factory where players have to retrieve a Cartographer that gives them the location of Other Sentinel production areas in the region. The mission is inniatated at crashed UNSC vessel, with another Spartan letting chief know about the Bunker and that they need help in searching the area due to the presence of Banished search parties in Phantoms patrolling the sky. This mission could take place in a Biome similar to the Green rolling hills ( Iceland/Scotland inspired ) as seen in the work of Halo Infinite Concept Artist “Ruan Jia”
These are just a few of the ways I believe Halo Infinite could have Larger Open world environments ( Rolling Hills, Fields, tall grass, Plains, Large Forests, long stretches of landscape ) and make these play spaces feel interesring to the player with combat encounters while still providing the adventure of exploring wide open swaths of the Ring.
Other uses of wideopen sections could also feature:
- Missions by the UNSC to aquire a Forerunner weapons stash
- Searching for Technology that can be used to augment UNSC tech ( for example a forerunner fortress in the middle of a wide open area with rolling hills could contain plasma technology, you defeat forces at this fortress, aquire the plasma technology via a Forerunner information cube, bring it back to the UNSC forces who then use the TECH to craft you a modified UNSC weapon that utilizes Plasma
- Dungeon-like missions scattered throughout the landscape
- Player encounters with Ancient Humans who live on the ring who need to be protected from The Banished or perhaps assisted in some way ( for example they need raw materials to repair their habitat, or perhaps they need forerunner tech guarded by sentinels to repair their vehicles, etc ) The Ancient Humans on the RIng could be integrated in a similar way that the main characters in the movie STARGATE encountered the locals and worked with them against the antagonist forces which sought to destroy them.
- Mission to search for a crashed warthog. A group of three warthogs were sent out from a FOB to try and reach the main UNSC forces to deliver intel on the banished via a Core than they captured, however the group of marines never reached their destination and so the UNSC forces ask chief to search for them to see if they are still alive and to try and bring back the Banished Core which contains intelligence need to know where Banished forces are located. This Mission type could also have another one like it with a crashed Pelican than has a Unique, upgraded Tank that the UNSC needs, and player have to find it, and after doing so that vehicle is now unlocked for the player from an FOB.
These are just a few Ideas I believe can help populate larger, expansive open world sections with meaningful missions, encounters and locations that make the world feel exciting and interesting to explore with various fortresses, mission types and enemy encounter flows that makes the world feel alive.