First a little background on myself: I’m a 3d animator and game designer, having worked on ESPN NFL 2K5 (and 6 before cancelation) and NBA 2K5-10, helping steer it away from the 2k4 low point to what it is today. I ran a successful educational app LLC for a few years before selling my ownership shares. I’m currently not in the video game industry but love Halo and want to give my thoughts on how to improve, as I would love for it to return to my pastime.
Stop Chasing Other Franchises
343, your brand is Halo. It isn’t one of a few major a FPS franchises, it is is own sub-genre. If you embrace it, you’ll restore the franchise to the top. If you ignore it, you’ll cease to be a trend-setter, and instead become the space FPS. Nintendo didn’t launch its latest iteration of Smash Brothers by trying to incorporate Street Fighter mechanics - they realized that 1997ish game play didn’t somehow become stale, it just needed polish. They’re their own sub-genre, and so too should you be.
I don’t know who is doing your map design now, but they’re missing the key components of Halo maps. Take a look at the classic map Zanzibar: no matter where I am I can find my bearings by looking at the central wheel. It’s the “weenie” concept Disney uses at their parks to help orient guests (think a central castle, a giant golf ball, a huge tree). Beaver Creek has the earthen incline, Lockout the distinct sides, Waterworks a central pump, Blood Gulch had orienting dark and sunny sides. Now look at Empire… it’s too busy cramming in clamber spots to make it beautiful, distinct, and orienting. It feels sterile, cold. It needs personality, landmarks, and originality.
Right trigger shoots, left trigger throws grenades, right click zooms. That is Halo. Changing it is changing the “feel” of Halo. Once the feel is gone, no matter what some may think, part of your brand is gone. If you want all weapons to scope, that’s fine, but moving it to a left trigger that emulates other shooters removes something special about Halo. Halo is about firing from the hip, not consuming the screen with a gun that obscures your beautiful environment. Now the sniper rifle can’t do multiple levels of zoom and that’s a bad thing. If you want to make the AR more effective at range, make it accurate in bust shots and right click to zoom.
I’m fine with adding sprint. Like assassinations, I think it’s an important part of better strategy. The way it becomes a problem is when you add clamber, boosts, takedowns, etc. Yes, a player should feel like a Spartan, but with all of this stuff, perhaps Spartans are more like Spiderman? Spartans should feel heavy, strong.
Kill cam isn’t necessary. How about something specific to your brand like cinematic views of the map.
Honestly your Spartans sound ridiculous and their before and after poses remind me of dodge ball teams, not hardened super solders.
Please make the game sound like Halo again. The lack of monks chanting in some way is like Star Wars opening to techno. Play to your brand!
Seek interesting ways to balance weapons. Plasma pistol feel cheap? Have it blow up in your hands when charged too long so that it hurts you. Plasma rifle too weak? Return its effect from Halo CE in which it slows whoever it hits.
I played Halo 2 on foundry yesterday. I had more fun than on any FPS in the past few years. I don’t like Foundry. Maybe the magic of Halo lied in its simplicity?
Best of luck!