"Spin-Off" Halo Titles

Mainly because I cannot find where to private message, I want to direct this primarily to @Celestis and @ShinoKeiyakusha , as both have mentioned similar thoughts on Halo’s “Spin-Off” titles, such as Halo: Spartan Assault and the Halo Wars titles.

That doesn’t make them any less Halo games, and the notion that it does needs to be put to bed hard. All that “spin-off” means is that it is telling a story set in the given universe (here, Halo), parallel and separate from the perspective of the forced Main Character, John-117. It does not mean that the only Halo games that are Halo games are those with the Master Chief, or that the only valid form of Halo media are FPS titles that a portion of the fanbase approves of.

Halo is a franchise. Not a single genre even looking only at the games.

Celestis, you said that “A game that calls itself ‘Halo’ needs to adhere to the standards set in stone by prior numbered Halo titles”; I don’t know what standard you think this means here, as all Halo games have done this. We don’t have Halo games where we’re suddenly fighting dragons with conjured fireballs or anything of the like. Nothing, not even in Halo: CE through Halo 3, has been “set-in-stone” beyond the storyline and the general aesthetics of the universe. Not even Halo 4 deviated from that, as the things that were changed have been pre-defined as mutable, and the designs still followed a given blueprint.

To briefly touch on something else that you said (again, I can’t find where to PM), watching a “let’s play” is very different from experiencing the game yourself. There is thus absolutely a need - or strong present desire - to purchase the game oneself to experience oneself. This does not make it “blatantly false” that the storyline and aesthetics of a game are what is most important. It does nothing to satisfy if I just want to “play an FPS game”, as that’s not a strong indication as to what game I’m going to be playing. It could be DOOM or it could be Battlefield 4; those are two very different experiences matched by the “FPS” gameplay.

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The problem in this case is that there is a double meaning between the franchise “Halo” and the series “Halo” within that franchise.
“Mario” is also a franchise, but there are no games called “Mario 3”, “Mario 4”, etc. It’s therefore easy to distinguish individual series within that franchise by their names: “Super Mario Bros. #”, “Mario Galaxy #”, “Mario Kart #”, “Mario Party #”, etc.
Halo doesn’t have an easy way to distinguish the Halo series (Halo CE, Halo 2, Halo 3, etc.) from the overall Halo franchise (all the games, including the Wars series, the Spartan series, etc.) since they share the same name.

No, I didn’t.
Read the post again, closely.
I said: “A game that call itself “Halo #”, however, needs to adhere to the standards set in stone by prior numbered Halo titles.”
I am very specifically talking about numbered games within the Halo series, not just random games within the overall Halo franchise.

While the first three games have some changes between them, there are very clear basic staples of the gameplay that 343’s games have just thrown overboard: Run’n’gun, weapon behaviour, etc.
If both your movement and your gunplay are different - literally the basics of any FPS - then no, you don’t follow the same blueprint.

Correct. That was my point. Experiencing the game is different than experiencing the story and the artstyle, both of which you claimed to allegedly be the most importan thing of a game.

Yes, it does. If you need gameplay to experience the story in its optimal way, then gameplay is more important than story, because without it the story falls flat. That’s literally what you are saying here, and we are both in agreement.

Correct.
Good thing that I’ve never claimed anything of the sort.

“FPS” doesn’t define the gameplay. “FPS” is a genre and within that genre, different titles have different gameplay.
It’s like saying “I’m watching a horror movie”. That’s the overall genre, but it doesn’t explain how the horror works or how it is implemented. It could be psychological horror, jumpscares, etc.
Or “I’m watching a comedy movie”, which can be anything from slapstick à la “The three Stooges” to absurd/surreal humor like “Monty Python”.

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Imagine if another studio got a crack and making a game in the halo universe, kinda like how Star Wars has been. There are so many stories to tell. It might put some pressure on 343 to make an engaging story other than 3 games of “I’m so sad. Cortana boo hoo” Microsoft biggest franchise is halo, we deserve more than 3 games a decade. Heck, give me ODST 2 with a Battle Royal mode. Halo Wars 3. Something set during the covenant war and you play as an elite that is fighting against the covenant. A Halo game where you only have space dog fights. Something set during the covenant war and you are a regular dude and it’s stealth based.

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An idea for cool spin off would be the arbiter on sanghelios during the civil war where he has to fight over resources and where the player can choose what he does with alliances maybe even choose how fights could begin. E.g To attack these enemys guarding these resources maybe you choose to have snipers take them out or have a stealth team move in.

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Why would you put “spin-off” in scare quotes?
They are spin-offs.

While they share the same universe, they’re not the main games, and their gameplay is vastly different.

A game is defined by its gameplay.
It wouldn’t be a game without it.
Having different gameplay means it’s a different game.

I like that idea.

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You just did point out the easy way to distinguish the series; what follows the Halo title. Prior to Halo Infinite that was the numbers (now I see what you meant with the #), but that’s been put to bed. Then there are the Halo Wars series, the Spartan series, as you note, and stand-alone expansions and stories like Halo 3: ODST and Halo Reach.

Regarding this “Standards Set-in-Stone” by the numbered titles, this has never existed. The only constant between the numbered titles is that they follow the story - the story, mind you - of MCPO John-117. That is it, and even Halo 2 pushed that boundary sharing the stage with the Arbiter.

By “standards set-in-stone” I am strongly assuming that you mean the “standard” set by the Bungie titles, as you’re limiting it to "If a game is going to call itself “Halo (Number)”. Moving forward that will only ever apply to Halo 4 and Halo 5, which are very much Mainline Halo games as they continue the story of John-117. The “Standard” you refer to is Fan Expectation, and that is an unreliable measure at best.

They have more than “some” changes. Vehicle behavior and control was completely overhauled and expanded. Weapon behavior was changed (additions of noticeable recoil, EMP effects, ammo degradation while holding an overcharged Plasma Pistol, Melee weapons, etc) Equipment was added into the mix. Grenades were expanded. Movement was expanded allowing for no fall damage. Forge was added, diversifying methods of play. Off-the-wall gametypes were added, deepening this diverse experience. This has absolutely set the table and the expectations for every single change that was incrementally added to the Halo FPS games - all of them taken into consideration, not just this overly-narrow and thus problematic limitation of CE - 3.

As well you’re going to have to define “run-and-gun”, as in gaming that refers to any shooter game that has freedom of movement around the playspace, rather than being an “on-the-rails” game. To which every single Halo FPS - with the exception of Fireteam Raven - has been a “run-and-gun” game.

Yes, and I maintain that claim. To which watching a “Let’s Play” does not let one experience the story and artstyle as well as owning the title. Especially when elements of the story are told outside of cutscenes. Imagine watching a “Let’s Play” of Halo 2, and the guy playing it doesn’t look up to show the Sentinel Factory falling. He blows past Sgt Banks and runs at the door until it opens as the Scarab passes over. He’s got his audio going during High Charity, and you miss the dialogue from Truth and Tartarus. Or in Halo 3, he blows past every radio telling UNSC perspectives. He ignores every Terminal.

Find another “let’s play”? Better to just own the game oneself. To be able to find those stories, experience the game to the fullest, and maybe just stand around and appreciate the art design on your own time.

No, we are not. Because as I am taking it - and as has been expressed frequently - “Gameplay” does not indicate “the act of playing the game on one’s own gaming system”. It refers to this nebulous and hard-to-pin-down “Standard” of how the game functions as somehow defined by Halo: Combat Evolved through Halo 3. The way in which a game functions is completely irrelevant to how the story is told, and gives only the identity of genre to the game. Genre does not go far at all. Mechanical Gameplay does not expand the story, nor does it give identity to the universe therein. The Covenant doesn’t change what it is going from an FPS title to an RTS title. Without the story, the game is nothing.

Halo spin off games need to go beyond established lore and make new stuff, not banished, not forerunner, not flood not blah blah blah and take risks… When Stargate Atlantis launched parralell to SG1 the goat, it created new lore and new stories away from SG1 while staying true to the Stargate core. Halo needs to do the same and fanboys shouldn’t force 117 and Cortana in every game and story.

Because I view it as an unnecessary distinction between titles too-often used to minimize and discredit other Halo titles. Yes, they are stories that have spun-off from the “Mainline” story of John-117. But as expressed, that does not make them less of a Halo title.

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There’s no reason the series can’t have spin-offs and main games, and it’s already had that with Halo Wars, Halo 3: ODST, Halo: Spartan Assault and Halo: Spartan Strike.

It’s not just the story but the gameplay, and that’s one of the most important parts of a video game spin-off.
Also, “spin-off” isn’t being used to make those other titles look bad, or to say that they can’t use the Halo universe or be part of the franchise.
The point is that they don’t have the gameplay that makes Halo “Halo”.

For that, you play the main games, which is where the problem of changing the gameplay of the main games into that of some other game comes in.
Spin-offs are for large changes to the story focus and to the gameplay.

If the large changes are well-received, sometimes it’s okay to focus on that more than the main series, but that’s rarely the case, since there are often still quite a few fans of the main series.

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These two sentiments seem to contradict one another. As well, the “gameplay that makes Halo ‘Halo’ " is a notion that has yet to be definitively pinned down to the point where Halo 4 and Halo 5 are entirely isolated from the Mainline titles as “not feeling like Halo”. Having engaged in this for years, it boils down to “advanced movement is bad and not Halo”, and yet there is no strong foundation for this argument outside a shared “I don’t like advanced movement”. The closest this argument can get is "It plays different from Halo: CE through Halo 3”.

In what way?

You don’t have to know exactly what’s out of place to know that something’s out of place.
It’s like when someone’s cooking a dish, and they can’t think of what’s missing, or what was added that doesn’t mesh.

Also, no, I like advanced movement, but having it would change what Halo is.
It’s like if you made it so that the movement in Call of Duty was more like DOOM (super fast).

" ‘spin off’ isn’t being used … to say that they can’t use the Halo universe or be part of the franchise" conflicts directly with “they don’t have the gameplay that makes Halo ‘Halo’.” There is no definitive gameplay that makes Halo “Halo”, even isolated to the “Mainline games” they have always been varied in equal measure.

If one is going to claim a title as “not Halo” (not saying you have directly, but it has been said), then yes we’re going to need more than “I don’t like how it feels”. When Halo 3 first released I didn’t like that “reload” and “action” were on the Right Bumper in almost every control scheme (with the exception of Walkie Talkie), but that certainly didn’t make the game itself feel “not like Halo”.

It hasn’t really changed what Halo is. Having advanced movement is a change, but it does not change what the game is on a level that it can be reasonably said it “isn’t a [Franchise] game”.

The story and universe are part of what makes Halo “Halo”, but the gameplay is even more important as something that makes Halo “Halo”.
Spin-offs have the story (sometimes) and the universe, so they’re part of the franchise, but often the gameplay is different.

That’s not true at all.
To resolve the problem, you need to know exactly what it is, but even if you don’t know, there’s still a problem.

If someone says the computer they just bought isn’t working, the company that sold it to them isn’t going to expect them to know exactly why it isn’t working, are they?
The company will likely troubleshoot to find out what’s wrong.

It doesn’t affect the gameplay, so of course it still felt like Halo.

It’s still a part of the franchise, but it changes the gameplay too much to be part of the main series.

You know, maybe “gameplay” is the wrong word.
What I’m trying to say is that there’s something like a rhythm in the main series.
Matches play out in a certain way, and that’s what people might be expecting.
When you add certain elements, it doesn’t affect the rhythm and might even improve it, but when you add other elements, the rhythm goes out of tune.

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Specifically for Halo, “spin-off” titles are story-adjacent. For Halo, this is done with games expanding the same conflicts (the final year of the Human-Covenant War, so far) from different perspectives and agents. That is what makes a Halo game Halo. The gameplay is what makes it that specific title, and perhaps argument for that particular Series. (e.g. the Spartan series and the Wars series.)

I hate metaphors. Absolutely hate them. However all of the Halo games are Pie. They don’t have to all be pumpkin pie to be identified as pie.

To be clear, I strongly think the problem is an overdose of Nostalgia. Working in telecommunications, and dealing with people who’s phones don’t work, 8/10 it’s user error or restriction of services through lack of payment. The best - and most applicable here - are when it’s a new phone and it just doesn’t work like their old phone. Nothing is wrong with the phone itself.

It absolutely affected the gameplay. Imagine going up to try and get into a Warthog in the middle of combat, only you press “X” instead of “RB”. Now you’ve thrown an Energy Drain at your Warthog, disabled it and stripped your shields, and you’re dead because you were a sitting duck.

In what way. You’re talking about rhythm and expectations, but that has always changed. Even isolating perspective to the first three Halo’s.

With the addition of Halo 2, you could no longer hide that surprise Rocket to blow people away; weapons were displayed directly on your Spartan. The Rockets locked on now, putting vehicles at a disadvantage. Vehicles now no longer auto-killed with the slightest touch. Fall damage was removed. Players could dual wield weapons, leading to very overpowered combinations. The Sword offered a very deadly close-quarters option with a significant lunge. All of these things fundamentally changed the way the game played.

Then with Halo 3, we got a myriad of grenades that affected gameflow. Players could be blocked from a certain area for a time with Incendiary Grenades, letting the user escape. A poorly thrown Spike Grenade could still kill multiple people in enclosed areas. Equipment was added and hidden from opponent view, letting there be literal game-changing and frustrating moments. Removable turrets offered an overpowered weapon onto the playing field. The Gravity Hammer offered players the ability to affect vehicles in new ways, throwing them around the battlefield. Turrets on the Scorpion and Wraith gave those vehicles a stronger defense when disabled.

The rhythm of the game has always changed. The gradual addition of advanced movement has not affected this in any greater way that somehow invalidates Halo 4, Halo 5, and now Halo Infinite as being “not part of the main series.”

If they were all FPS, I’d say they’re all the same type of food, but they’re not.
Halo Wars is a pie, and Halo Spartan is a muffin.
Halo is a cake, but Halo 5 was a really bad-looking cake with a different taste.

It’s more like what happened when Windows went from 7 to 8.
Windows is known for its desktop layout, file management and other things, and that’s why a lot of people choose it over Linux and MacOS.
With Windows 8, it changed a lot to the point that it didn’t feel like a Windows OS anymore.
While nostalgia might be an issue, it isn’t always the problem.

It’s not like they changed a movement key, like setting “Jump” to “Y”.

Not really.
Multiplayer’s rhythm has always felt about the same.
Even when they added regenerating health.

The additions spiced things up, but it always felt like “Halo”.
With Halo: Reach however, the series started losing its feel.

This is why I hate metaphors. Per mine, “Pie” is the Franchise.

That’s just as ridiculous. Windows '98 looked drastically different from Windows 1.0, and Windows 2000 looked more refined and smoother than '98. Windows XP refined on both, and looked uniquely improved over 2000, and Vista more than XP. Windows 7 restructured the Start Menu to work better for touchscreen monitors and tablets, but still retained the form of Windows (as compared to Mac), and 8, 10, and now 11 have continued with that design.

All of them are absolutely a Microsoft OS, and are distinguishable from Mac.

Dodging the point. With controller settings now this is less of an issue, yet back in 2007 that didn’t exist. Having your reload/action button (Action is used a lot) moved to an unfamiliar button and your one-time-use equipment moved to what was once the reload button was a massive change to how the game played. As well as introducing the danger/risk of accidentally using your equipment (sometimes fatal), it also allowed players to pick up weapons, hijack vehicles, and board vehicles while moving and turning - something mechanically impossible when it’s on the X button, as your thumb has to leave the RS to press the X button. With those actions on your trigger finger via the RB, your thumb doesn’t need to leave either LS or RS.

No, it really hasn’t. Especially adding regenerating health, that completely changed the game. Players no longer had to really worry about managing health, and simply evading combat for a while would restore their status.

As well, the numerous changes that I’ve mentioned one post before this. Even isolated to the first three games, Halo has always changed it’s “rhythm”.

I BADLY want a return to an ODST title.

I was extremely unsure about Halo3:ODST on launch thinking if I’m not the Master Chief, is it really going to be any good?

I was dead wrong… OSDT became my favourite Halo title of the entire series.
I would absolutely love to revisit a game like that in ANY form,