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.