[I posted this as a comment in another thread, but felt it deserved a shout out]
Reach will always be the best. You’ve read this a lot by now, I understand, but since Reach, we’ve lost more and more customizable options and basic modes previously included on disk, and great storytelling without overwhelming lore details.
Where Halo has become diluted
Let’s face it…Halo has become both, Star Wars and Lord of The Rings. I mean, the lore can really go on…if you want to pry further. You have the Covenant, a group of multi-raced aliens that worship their “Great Journey,” that consider the ancient Forerunners to be their gods. Then you have the pre-cursors, a far more ancient species(?) that is said to have created both, man and Forerunner. Sister races, that were never meant to war amongst one another. Then, you have the “Great World Eaters,” a spore that travels through comet/ asteroid/ space debris, where it only takes one sport to infect and destroy a civilization. The Flood. Mix that in with Chief and Blue Team’s history, the insurrectionist wars, Halsey and the S1 and S2 programs, Forerunner installations/ Halo rings and artifacts, the division and up-rise between Brute and Elites, the Elite separatists, such as the Arbiter and his men, and the extremist sects of the Covenant, such as Jul…and you’ve got a recipe for confusion. Too much! Nobody could possibly guess the next theme of the next Halo game. It leaves nothing to the imagination…and this is why I only like the Erick Nylund books.
So, going back to Reach…sure, whatever, people will speak of this “bloom” and “armor lock” multiplayer breaking elements, whatever that means. I never had any issues with armor lock and I most certainly don’t even know what Bloom is, other than a process that a flower undergoes. I guess Reach had too many flowers? Huh. As far as armor lock, it was sweet and taken from the books. The Spartan’s suit will lock down when undergoing a tremendous impact…because of this fact, it was always kind of stupid that a Spartan could die by being ran over by a 10mph ghost/ wraith and yet, Master Chief could use his suit to crash land onto a ship or planet’s surface. Armor lock helped to combat vehicles. If armor lock was an issue in MP, they could have just removed its EMP capabilities that discharged shields and allegedly turned it into a great way to cheese a gunfight…and remember, it’s only really the sore losers that complain about any given gameplay mechanic for which they can base their blames on. Take Armor lock and bloom away and that player doesn’t necessarily win any more rounds. Just as those in MMO’s complain about all the high end PVP gear, and are responsible for needless nerfing of said gear, on account they are more jealous, than anything else.
That said, let’s get to the point
The campaign in Reach was memorable. You start by landing on Reach and you’re questioning the locales, doing a bit of detective work and trying to uncover as to whether or not these attacks were orchestrated by insurrectionists(the war that was going on between humanity at the time) or Covenant. Your crew was badass and you grew to care for them…also, you were your own spartan, as opposed to being forced to play a predetermined protagonist… e.g. why couldn’t have fire team Osiris leader have been you? Don’t get me wrong, I like Locke…just an idea and a point – part of what made Reach special, was you were you. Back to the campaign, I will never forget that scene with Kat, when I was totally listening to everything she was saying, as we rushed out and then all of a sudden it was over…my heart completely sank and it shocked my wife as well, when she co-opt with me. There was also those series of missions, where we took over Oni Sword Base, stormed the beaches, took over the Longsword facility and launched into Space. That was amazing. Everything was so realistic and right out of a Neil Blomkamp movie. Reach also had that Halo CE style evening sniping mission, which felt totally covert. At the end of Reach, that final gunfight is chilling, I mean creepy chilling.
Overall, the campaign had a ton of grit, it was rustic, the color palette was more realistic, the art direction was the best ever and not cartoony…if only Reach implemented the HudLink system of Halo 5, it would be perfect. Hudlink is something thing taken from the books that I have been waiting to observe in a game. You never experienced it before, just read about how the Spartan and Marine aiming system worked.
…but what about multiplayer? This is where Reach shined
It’s just those little things that added up. It was all still Halo 3’s multiplayer engine, but with new abilities and features, such as assassinations and sprinting…and let’s not forget the first-ever ODST style jet packs! However, where Reach really shined was customization – adding tactical vests, tactical helmet and arm accessories, changing individual shoulder armor and even being able to mix them up. having the ability to change individual gear pieces and mixing them up e.g. using MKIV chest piece with orbital helmet, one MKIV shoulder pad and one commander shoulder pad, in addition to using assault leggings with grenadier(or other) knee pads, changing forearm/ gauntlet pieces etc. There were also more realistic armor colors(muted) and the ability to remove and add blast visors from your favorite helmets. In Halo 5 what can you do? Change your helmet and visor and use one type of complete suit of armor. Reach was also the last time we saw an updated Firefight game mode. Halo 5 has absolutely no co-op…at least not outside of campaign, where you cannot use your custom Spartan, can no longer turn on campaign scoring and no longer get campaign commendations and nor can you any longer unlock gear in campaign. So what is the incentive to replay/ co-op campaign, again? Nothing.
…but Halo 5 is not all lost
All this being said. This is not to say Halo 5 is a complete wash by any means. Halo 5 has some of the most evolved gameplay I’ve been waiting for, such as run/ slide(which has it’s sneaky uses), hudlink, and ADS. The series has become a tiny bit more grounded, but not enough that you can’t call it Halo. Sophisticated, is the word…I just miss some of those powerups, such as dome shield and jet packs and I feel the story/ lore could use some grounding as well, as it is just too far into the depths and realms of Lord of The Rings, for me…but the lack of additional co-op is the real stinger. Last, I would conclude with one, small critique…I miss that Halo 4-style Stomp sound that your Spartan would make when landing from great heights and off of launch ramps. It really helped to convey the heaviness of these war suits.