The Halo sandbox is plagued by clones

From Halo 2 onwards, Halo has been stuck with numerous weapons all filling the same roles with only the most superficial differences separating them, and its only gotten worse with the introduction of Forerunner weaponry that mostly follows the same archetypes.

There are 5 precision weapons in Halo 5 not including variants, there are 4 bullets hoses, and lets not forget the twin weapons like the Sniper and purple sniper aka Beam rifle. Now in Halo 5’s defense this has been an ongoing problem starting with Halo 2 and a lot of those redundant weapons do get used in Halo 5. The problem is that the diversity of weapon use is based on availability on make and personal preference rather than concrete game play advantages. Its based on a whim.

There are so many choices available, but so few of them are actually interesting choices.

But it doesn’t actually have to be this way. The Halo sandbox is rich enough that you easily could fill out all of the factions arsenals without resorting to what are effectively reskins. Why have a Sniper Rifle and a Beam Rifle when you can have a Sniper Rifle and a Focus rifle? You could argue that the Focus Rifle “isn’t as good as the sniper rifle”, but that is kind of the point, different factions weapons shouldn’t necessarily be 1:1 comparisons.

You wouldn’t expect the Plasma Pistol to be capable of the same things as the Magnum and vise-versa, yet they are both “Pistols.” Its just a matter of applying that idea across the entire sandbox. Halo CE has no redundancy in its sandbox and Reach came pretty close as well, but we still the potential is still there. It is possible to add both diversity and depth to the sandbox.

Say no to unoriginal weapon designs.

TL;DR The Halo sandbox is plagued by redundancy and functional clones. Developers can and have done better in terms of designing weapons that both look and play differently from their closest counterpart in another faction. We need to get away from the mentality of “We need the (UNSC/Covenant/Forerunner) equivalent of this particular (UNSC/Covenant/Forerunner) weapon.”

The weapons are varied enough to where I don’t see how it’s a problem. The carbine and DMR are both one bullet per trigger pull weapons, but they’re used very differently.

Weapon redundancy has indeed been an issue for multiple games. Would love too see it limited but people like blind variety 🤷

I could probably list the genuinely interesting weapons that have been added since CE with one hand. With that said, it’s a difficult issue, because coming up with unique weapons that seem believable is difficult, yet you need lots of weapons for the different factions to make them believable, which puts you in a position where creating all the archetypes seems like the best option. Another thing that’s probably pushing developers towards these archetypes is that you still need to supply the player with ammo throughout any mission, which either means constant conveniently placed ammo drops for the main precision weapon (à la Halo CE), or an enemy faction version of that precision weapon.

Not that I wouldn’t want more unique weapons, but the redundancy doesn’t bother me so much as long as it’s not shoved in my face in multiplayer. As far as I’m concerned, there could be an entire set of weapons that appear in the campaign, but if they don’t serve an interesting gameplay purpose, then they don’t really ever need to appear in multiplayer (though, of course they can appear as Forge options).

However, I somehow feel like we’ve gone backwards over the years. In CE I could actually consider picking up a Plasma Rifle. Haven’t had the desire to do that ever since (let alone UNSC’s gift to Covenant, a.k.a. the Plasma Repeater).

I think a good start would be to brainstorm unique properties for the less appealing weapons, like the CE plasma rifle’s stun effect. It’s definitely not an easy task considering how many weapons 343 wants to cram into the multiplayer sandbox.

> 2533274794648158;5:
> I think a good start would be to brainstorm unique properties for the less appealing weapons, like the CE plasma rifle’s stun effect. It’s definitely not an easy task considering how many weapons 343 wants to cram into the multiplayer sandbox.

I think most of the potential is already there, its just a matter of making smart decisions about which weapons to use where giver. For example, why does the UNSC 3 precision weapons: the default Pistol, BR and DMR as well as 3 different bullet hoses: AR, SMG, and SAW. It makes certain categories of weapons crowded before we even get to the other factions and it makes trying to find truly unique ways to differentiate all of them that much harder.

For the UNSC precision weapons for example, one needs to act as a starting weapon, another needs to be retooled, and another honestly just need to be removed entirely. I’m sure everyone has their favorites but if we let everyone have their favorite versions of a particular type of weapon the sandbox bloat is just going to get out of control.
Just for the sake of example(this is not necessarily my personal preference)
*BR would be left as a spawn weapon
*Magnum would be replaced with a “gunfighter” variant, essentially a good version of the Halo 2 or Halo 3 Pistols. A no scope, close range headshot oriented weapon.
*DMR removed to give weapons like the Light rifle more room to breath.

The Covenant and Forerunner precision rifles would need some work as well the point is that just shuffling the sandbox around a bit can sometimes be all you need to do to help the sandbox improve.

I’m going to use an example from another game I’ve been playing; Sea of Thieves. In that game you’ve got three weapons: a pistol, a shotgun, and a sniper. It’s very basic, and the weapons all function clearly within their respective roles, but it just feels limiting. To have a few more weapons, even if they are only slightly different, offers some variety which is good in my opinion. It certainly doesn’t put anyone at a disadvantage to have duplicate weapons.

As for the sniper rifle and beam rifle, if the covenant didn’t have the beam rifle then they wouldn’t have a distinct weapon filling the role. Would it make sense for the covenant to use human snipers? BLASPHEMY I SAY! And the Focus rifle although effective in its own right, it dosn’t work well as a sniper weapon at all. Thus the Covenant empire would be completely at a disadvantage in ranged assassination, or combat.

Also, I think it’s fine to have a game with every weapon ever available, not competitively of course… but for the sake of campaign, forge, and custom games.

There is an immensely interesting blog post by Hardy LeBel, who worked on the design and balance of Halo:CE’s weapon sandbox, that I would suggest everyone who is interested in this topic read.

Here it is: http://www.hardylebel.com/2014/10/universal-truth-game-design-3-part-3/

As for the discussion, yes over the years the sandbox has sort of gotten stuffed with equivalent weapons. But going back a simpler (and I agree, better) time would require a lot of work. You would have redesign how weapon pickups work on campaign maps (as already mentioned above, this would mean the return of the “convenient weapons in the middle of nowhere” system used in CE). Weapon design and balance for weapons that will stay will have to tweaked. Lastly, of course, you would have to deal with those members of the community who will inevitably be upset because their favorite got removed. I would love to see the number of precision weapons be cut down, but even so part of me would be super sad to see the Carbine go away (unless it gets replaced by a modified Needle rifle and which case all is forgiven).

Pretty true. I did like the Spectre vehicle though even though it was just a Covenant Warthog

“Plagued” is a pretty strong word. Yeah, some weapons have redundant Covenant/Forerunner versions, but I don’t think that’s a plague. Plenty of new weapons have been added since 2 that are unique and not redundant, in addition to the redundant ones. And even the redundancies aren’t completely the same. Yes, of course it would be better for new weapons to fit entirely new roles not already filled by other weapons. But that’s not an easy thing to design, especially when you’re trying to maintain a sense of balance in the sandbox. I don’t mind the redundant weapons all that much. I think we still have more uniquely designed weapons now than we did in Halo CE. If all the new additions were redundancies, maybe it’d be more an issue, but that’s not the case.

> 2533274870884222;9:
> There is an immensely interesting blog post by Hardy LeBel, who worked on the design and balance of Halo:CE’s weapon sandbox, that I would suggest everyone who is interested in this topic read.
>
> Here it is: http://www.hardylebel.com/2014/10/universal-truth-game-design-3-part-3/
>
> As for the discussion, yes over the years the sandbox has sort of gotten stuffed with equivalent weapons. But going back a simpler (and I agree, better) time would require a lot of work. You would have redesign how weapon pickups work on campaign maps (as already mentioned above, this would mean the return of the “convenient weapons in the middle of nowhere” system used in CE). Weapon design and balance for weapons that will stay will have to tweaked. Lastly, of course, you would have to deal with those members of the community who will inevitably be upset because their favorite got removed. I would love to see the number of precision weapons be cut down, but even so part of me would be super sad to see the Carbine go away (unless it gets replaced by a modified Needle rifle and which case all is forgiven).

That’s the second time I’ve seen someone saw that a more diverse sandbox would require “convenient” weapon drops, but I don’t see why that would need to be the case. For one you can contrive any number of narrative reasons for certain resupplies, and its not like ammo has stopped being an issue in later games due to the lowered capacities since CE and especially Halo 4/5. Moreover I don’t think it is necessarily a good thing to always give people access to their go to weapons(or an almost exact equivalent). Forcing them out of their comfort zone from time to time is a good thing in my book. While Halo had its own problems with redundancy, Levels like the Oracle and Gravemind are good for getting players out of their comfort zone and would only have gotten better if they had to change up more of their tactics as well.

As far as “favorites” go, it seems like par for the course that at the end of the day some people are going to lose their favorites as things change or get replaced by new ideas. I miss the CE plasma rifle, I miss the pro pipe, it happens. However my goal here isn’t necessarily to just reduce the size of the sandbox or even radically alter a lot of the weapons, its to reduce redundancy in general. Of the 5 precision weapons in Halo 4/5, I would probably only totally remove one them(either the BR or DMR). Otherwise I would like to see something like you just mentioned: A retooled Needle Rifle in place of a carbine, maybe give it something similar to the SPV3 DMR where it has a very long range scope, really lean into the “long range” niche. Covenant still gets a headshot capable scoped weapon, but it wouldn’t step on the toes of whatever became the UNSC utility precision weapon.

> 2533274847563380;8:
> As for the sniper rifle and beam rifle, if the covenant didn’t have the beam rifle then they wouldn’t have a distinct weapon filling the role. Would it make sense for the covenant to use human snipers? BLASPHEMY I SAY! And the Focus rifle although effective in its own right, it dosn’t work well as a sniper weapon at all. Thus the Covenant empire would be completely at a disadvantage in ranged assassination, or combat.
>
> Also, I think it’s fine to have a game with every weapon ever available, not competitively of course… but for the sake of campaign, forge, and custom games.

Again, 1:1 equivalency is not the point. The Covenant still have a very long range capable precision weapon, its just not a purple sniper rifle. Do you expect the Human Magnum to be able to EMP vehicles because the Covenant “Pistol” can? The shotgun wins most fights with an energy sword, does the energy sword need to be replaced with Covenant shotgun because they will be at a complete disadvantage? See how silly this gets if we go down that path?

Covenant tactics have always been fundamentally different from UNSC and judging them by the same standards is silly as is treating game mechanics as representative of the “lore” where even single bolts of plasma can be lethal and a split second of Focus rifle fire on a Marine’s head would probably melt his face off.