Reach, like many modern games, lacked a sense of team cohesion. Everyone is out for themselves on Reach, you can have 4 different players on a team with 4 different motivations; one guy is trying to get a commendation, another needs sticky kills to complete a daily challenge, player number 3 is trying to get his K/D ratio up so his BPR doesn’t drop; this leaves the one guy playing to win at somewhat of a loss. He has 3 team mates who are all preoccupied with other elements of gameplay, because winning doesn’t matter. The problem here isn’t that winning isn’t that goal, it’s that the team as a whole doesn’t have a singular and unifying goal, which means that players are less likely to play as a team, help each other out and generally play in a more generous way because there is no reason to.
This isn’t to say that ranks don’t have there flaws, Halo 3 proved that. With the selling of accounts, derankers and players with new accounts able to zoom through the ranks, or even worse, deliberately hinder their rank so they could play low level players over and over in order to raise their stats. It had its problems, yes, but these were all a necessary evil in order to keep the peace between casual players and competitive ones.
Segregating players may not seem like a solution, but it is. The fact is, people will always have different motivations to do things and especially for why they play video games. Some people want to play for fun, some people want to play to improve their skill and there’s that one guy that always wants to team kill…but let’s not talk about him. The bottom line is that players want different things from a game and you CAN’T put them all in the same playlists and expect people not to get upset and for it not to cause problems such as the example I gave earlier. Social playlists allow people who want to relax, to have fun, to mess around a place to do so and competitive playlists offer a place for the other members of the community who want an adrenaline rush, who want team players and who want a goal in front of them that is difficult to achieve.
The fact is, that Halo has a scoreboard, your goal is to have the highest score on that scoreboard, is it not? Bottom line is that Halo has always been competitive, it wouldn’t have a scoreboard if the intention wasn’t for people to strive to be on top of it. My concern is how people get to the top of that scoreboard within a team context. It’s the means I am interested in, I want a solid, team experience, I don’t want Lone Wolf play being promoted in team gametypes and I feel I’m not alone.
I don’t think it would be a slap in the face to give players who want to play for fun a social playlist to do that in. I don’t believe any unlockables or achievements should be given for reaching certain ranks, because some people simply will not want to or be able to achieve high ranks. All achievements and unlockables should be for campaign and social playlists and play time, respectively. Spartan Points should be allocated accross the board, but no bonus given for ranked playlists and no specific armour unlocks for rank.
We should have two separate ranking systems, the Reach system, whereby you earn your rank via playtime, and a numbered ranking system, which you earn by winning games. Spartan Points should be an underlying gameplay feature that is awarded for playtime in both systems. This way, everyone will have two ranks, you can be an Inheritor in one ranking system and only a rank 20 in the other, or a rank 50 and only a sergeant in playtime. This will also allow for longevity for Halo 4, as players who max out one rank can then pursue the other if they so wish. Likelihood is, if you’ve maxed out your playtime to Inheritor levels, you should be ready to tackle the 1-50 section of matchmaking; but only if you want to and if you have your 50 in numbered ranks, you can sit back and just enjoy some Halo, working your way to Inheritor at your leisure.
I feel this is a system where everyone would be made happy and the Halo community can hopefully resolve its differences and realise we are one. We all just want a fun game. Fun for some people is driving a warthog, playing Infection, and for others, it is playing a close match with a team you can rely on.
Let’s realise that although we have different definitions of fun, the same principles apply and we all really want the same thing, just in different ways.
Discuss, flame, jump for joy or scream in anguish; just do it intelligently please.
EDIT: Also note that my Halo career has been spent Forging, playing hundreds of custom games on Halo 2 and 3, Firefighting, working towards my Halo 3 50, superbouncing, enjoying many games of Invasion, writing the occasional Fanfiction and playing through each Campaign multiple times; Halo 2 on Legendary upwards of 10 times. I am NOT just a competitive player, I sit in the middle of this issue and want all sides of this argument satisfied as completely as possible.