What 343 needs to do to reclaim Halo's throne.

This post is completely related to the competitive nature of Halo. I personally believe that the competition of it was what made Halo fun and popular. Roughly my credentials: I’ve played a lot of Halo, competed nationally, max ranks, and lots of playtime.

First and foremost, visible ranks based on a team win is crucial to this system (looking at you Reach/H4). Removing the system due to new accounts/boosting is simply taking the easy solution to a more obvious problem. People played for ranks, it inspired people to come back to get a higher rank, and it encouraged teamwork (if it’s player based like Arena, it encourages people to play for stats, not for a win). Both great things for a video game. Visibility of ranks might provoke flaming, but again, removing visibility appeases the small group that hate the flaming enough to be vocal, and hurts the vast majority (from what I’ve heard) of people that liked to play for something visible.

On to why Halo was a success (competitively and otherwise).

All popular eSports currently have some sort of implemented progression related to building an advantage. LoL/Dota, SC2, even Hearthstone, you build a lasting advantage unrelated to score by leveling up and/or board control. Now successfully having leveling up in a competitive FPS would take a lot more work than has been previously attained in the FPS community. For a game so heavily based on individual skill, player-based advantages don’t make sense to add. This comes back to board, or map control. This is the penultimate objective, behind score, of any Halo game (competitively speaking).

Map control is then achieved by two things:

  • Individual skill–ability to hit shots, place good grenades, etc.- Strategy–map movement, team shooting, callouts, timing of weaponsNow this is where randomness, sprinting, ordinance drops, loadouts, etc., all have hurt Halo games.

Bloom - hinders individual skill. If a player is able to hit 100% of bullets for a kill (4 in the body, 1 in the head with DMR), then, assuming they had first shot, they should always win 1v1. Bloom (which is obviously removed now) allowed for specifically that last 1 to miss if not timed, and timing allowed for the other player to take the chance and win. 1v1 battles shouldn’t rely on taking the chance, it’s based on individual skill.

Ordinance drops - obliterated map control. Having the ability to get power weapons wherever actually discouraged moving around the map, and also got rid of “power positions”. Fighting for a “high ground” was very popular in Halo 2 and Halo 3, but not as much with Reach and 4.

Loadouts/map design - again hurt map control. High ground was good because it created chokepoints and predictability for the other team. For example, locking a team down on Narrows or Lockout meant we knew the other team would have to come through 2 or 3 doorways in order to challenge. This rewarded map control (which was achieved through teamwork) by giving an obvious advantage. Accommodating sprint and other AA’s obviously seemed too much of a challenge for the map developers. It’s understandable. Creating maps with positional advantages while keeping in mind there will be things implemented specifically created to remove positional advantages is early impossible.

This is just my two cents I’ve wanted to say for the last 4 years. As someone with hundreds of days of playtime in Halo, it hurt to see it fade from popularity because it just lacked incentive for people to come back. I’m going to write more minor problems in the next section in because I’m just in the mood to write. Overall, what I’m trying to say is that Halo kept such a big population (Halo 3 had 100k+ for a long time) because people wanted to compete in such a well developed game. Playing to win was something attractive for people, and removing the competitive nature of the game inhibited people from wanting to win and progress through the (nonexistent) ranks, and as a result, hurt the longevity of the game.

Yeah I agree, specifically about bloom. Bloom was such an uncalled for shift in Halo’s mechanics that it took me by surprise. Still have no clue what the devs were trying to achieve with that mechanic.

Minor Problems

  • Removal of power ups - i.e. Camo, Rockets, etc. Hurt map rotation and also didn’t allow for as much of power positioning.- Temporary removal of red X - A lot of people need these on teams with poor communication. I see 3 teammates die in the alley next to me, I should be able to know that without them telling me, especially with so many people playing without mics. Also “No shield on my X” will always be the most popular callout.- No descoping from sniper when shot - This just needs to be a thing. I don’t even know what to say, please add this back in for H5. Made sniper too strong in 1v1 fights.- DLC requirements - I know money is great, but it must hurt DLC sales somehow if people know that if they buy them, for the first month they can play them, but after that they have to hope to get 7 other people with them in MM. Re-implementing H2’s system of buying the first 6 months, then making them free may hurt revenue, but would help build the fanbase. Seems like a good long term trade off.- Needler - It’s just a problem.- Too many medals - I just want to see the big things (multikill, sprees), I don’t need to know that I saved a teammate, or avenged myself. Maybe after the match, but in game, it’s unnecessary. Also, sniper kill medals are for head shots only 343.- Never again JIP/More serious leaving penalty - Quitting penalty encourages better games, never JIP. JIP almost always puts you in a losing situation since people are more likely to leave if they are leaving- Optional allowance of proximity chat - It was a lot of fun in H2- Infinite sword locking - H2 had awesome sword mechanics. It lost some of its deadliness.- Voting for maps - Underratedly awful addition. People ended up just getting tired of the same exact gametype every time. Force us to play something different, with the option to veto for something else.Things I would love to see added
  • Rewards for playing well or dedicated to playing. Exclusive helmet for TS 50 or 500 TS wins, etc. Careful to not have people boosting wins (depends on banhammer algorithm)- Post game graphs. It would be nice to see how the game swayed, like coming back from down 15 in a TS game, see the graph go real negative then back to positive 1 or 2. Could scale along each kill to see who got the kill, what weapon, etc.- Textures with barriers over them. Throwing nades off a pretty wall should bounce predictably, and not dependent on all the small textures that might result in the nade coming back.- Spectator mode.

I couldn’t agree with you more. From the look of the Halo 5 multiplayer beta trailer as well as interviews, it appears that 343 Industries is taking Halo back to its original Arena competitive style. This means no more randomness like ordinance, loadouts, bloom, etc. All players will start the match with the same tools and it is up to them to utilize their resources to achieve victory. This is how it should have always been, or at the very least, include two separate competitive styles to satisfy everyone.

LeonidasHimself - I assume they were trying to add some sort of skill based upon the timing of shots. Since DMR was the main weapon, such an accurate long-range weapon, they wanted some how to limit it’s power. Incidentally, they properly balanced the DMR’s long-range/short-range capabilities, but at the sacrifice of some of the player’s skills.

lucky lach - Yeah, but even the “Spartan Abilities” have me nervous as it seems like they haven’t kept really any additions to the game since Halo 3. None of the core mechanic changes (maybe sprint? idk) from Reach or H4 seem to be carrying over to H5, hence why any change seems scary.

I couldn’t agree more. I hope their promise to go back to the Halo 2 ranking system for the MCC is an indicator that a similar system will be used in Halo 5.

The biggest problem with sprint is that it makes maps very difficult to design. Often the arena just feels too small for sprinting or too large to try to run normally. Imagine how poorly Lockout would play with sprint enabled. Halo 4’s map design suffered tremendously since they had to create bigger worlds that couldn’t be crossed immediately. Large maps lead to more long range battles which has never been Halo’s strong point.

If by throne you mean top spot on the XBL Activity Charts?

God, I wish MS would take that stuff down already. People get so bent out of shape trying to make Halo number one again when the simple fact is that it won’t.

A generational shift happened. And there’s nothing that 343 can do to “fix” it. Much less a player whose sole focus is on making the MP “competitive” while simply parroting what has been parroted countless times before and while ignoring that there is much more to the game than just the MP.

Regardless of getting back on top or not, Halo needs this to reclaim a major portion of their fanbase. Luckily The MCC will help since it is doing most of this.

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> Imagine how poorly Lockout would play with sprint enabled. Halo 4’s map design suffered tremendously since they had to create bigger worlds that couldn’t be crossed immediately. Large maps lead to more long range battles which has never been Halo’s strong point.

Lockout was remade in Forge for Halo 4, and I think it plays fine, personally. Also I felt the long range stuff was really lacking in Reach, but wasn’t bad in 4. Especially since even the big maps in 4 were still relatively small, or at least had a lot of closed off areas.

No sprints… All Im saying

In complete agreement. Loadouts, sprint, ordinance, all has to be done away with for Halo 5 to be successful.

Halo 2/3 type gameplay. (drops mic)