Why bloom doesn't work and never will, why zero bloom is the solution, and why zero bloom won't upse

Let’s face it: The way bloom is implemented in Reach is utterly broken. While I like the concept of bloom, in other words the idea that you are rewarded for steady aim, keeping your nerves and timing your shots just right, it simply doesn’t work in Reach. Far too often spamming is more effective than pacing your shots. And believe it or not, this is true even on longer ranges; from sniper spawn on The Cage/Uncaged to tower entrance (i.e. red team spawn), from one plasma grenade spawn to the other on Countdown, from one sniper spawn to the other on Asylum, and so on.

And just to clarify this, spamming is the practice of firing your DMR, needle rifle, or magnum as quickly as possible WHILE IGNORING BLOOM in the hope that if you fire just enough bullets, you kill your opponent before he kills you. And this in turn also means that spamming isn’t possible in zero bloom games; if there’s no bloom to begin with, there’s no bloom you can ignore, thus you can’t spam.

And to clarify something else, bloom is merely the visual representation of decreased accuracy caused by firing (too) quickly, and is shown in Reach by an expanding reticle. Yet the term ‘bloom’ is generally used to sum up the whole mechanic, so I’m going to do that as well.

So, why is spamming so effective? The reasons for that are twofold.

First of all, the piece of code in Reach responsible for coming up with a random location inside your expanded reticle where a bullet hits if bloom is in effect obviously isn’t that good. Instead of a truly random pattern (which is an oxymoron; I know) where the bullets are spread out at least more or less evenly across the whole area covered by the reticle, the bullets have a rather predictable pattern. Predictable because far too many of them hit relatively close to the reticle’s center.

You can easily test and verify this yourself in a custom game on a non-Forge map (there are no decals on Forge objects) like Countdown. Start shooting as quickly as possible and once the reticle has reached its maximum size, turn or make a quick side-step to face a wall (but keep shooting to avoid bloom resetting) and empty the rest of your magazine into it. Note: This turning or side-stepping is done to prevent bullets from hitting in/near the center while bloom is still low, and thus to avoid distorting the result.

The second reason is that Reach’s rather massive bullet magnetism negates much of the effect bloom has. For those who don’t know yet what bullet magnetism is, it’s a part of the game’s aim-assist that to some degree redirects any and all projectiles fired towards your target.

This video perfectly shows what bullet magnetism does and how strong it is. And please ignore the video’s AR-bashing title; it isn’t mine, but it’s the best video I’ve found that demonstrates bullet magnetism in action. Also, that the AR is used in the video and not the DMR is irrelevant; bullet magnetism is virtually the same for all weapons.

Anyway, once the player burst-fires his AR (starting at around 11 - 12 seconds), almost all bullets hit his opponent even though the reticle barely touches him. That’s because aim-assist is active - indicated by the reticle being red - and redirects the bullets. And since it takes 19 rounds to kill with the AR and the player fires 22 rounds before his opponent dies, this shows how powerful bullet magnetism really is.

Now that we’ve covered the technical stuff, let’s see how all this affects gameplay.

The reason why spamming is effective is because, as said above, bullet magnetism redirects your shots towards your target which means that you don’t necessarily have to pace your shots and wait for bloom to reset. And the larger your reticle is, the larger is the area in which bullet magnetism is effective. So the logical solution to combat spamming would be to reduce bloom so that this area becomes smaller, like the 85% bloom in the TU Beta playlist. Right? Well, wrong.

This solution doesn’t work because the larger said area is, the higher are the chances that a bullet is fired at a spot that is too far away from the target for bullet magnetism to redirect it enough to make it hit. So the achieved effect of reducing bloom is really the complete opposite of the desired one: Spamming becomes more effective.

Even though you have to adjust your aim slightly more than with default bloom because the area in which bullet magnetism works, i.e. the reticle, is now a bit smaller, you get a higher chance to hit when spamming. That’s because a smaller area in which bullet magnetism works means that there are less bullets that are too far away for bullet magnetism to redirect them and make them hit. And the more you reduce bloom, the smaller this area gets and the higher the chances to hit while spamming.

This in turn sounds like that in order to make bloom work more like it was intended, you would have to drastically increase bloom. Sadly, this also won’t work.

While bloom would be more severe for everyone, someone pacing his shots has to wait longer than with default bloom after each shot until his bloom resets to an acceptable level again. This means that a spammer can fire even more shots than his pacing opponent. And while one might think that he would also miss comparatively more shots, this isn’t really true. He would indeed miss more shoots, but not that many because of the flawed randomness that places too many shots quite close to the reticle’s center. Combined with bullet magnetism, this turns them into hits.

– End of part 1. –

Alright, just to recap:

[/li]- If bloom is huge, the spammer can fire way more shots than his pacing opponent because the latter has to wait longer now for his bloom to reset. Combined with bullet magnetism and the flawed randomness this means that the spammer is very likely to land enough hits to kill unless he’s unlucky, i.e. too many “stray” bullets that even bullet magnetism can’t turn into hits anymore.

  • If bloom is small, the spammer can still fire more shots than his pacing opponent although not that many. But because his reticle is larger than that of his pacing opponent, combined with bullet magnetism he is also more likely to hit even though he now has to adjust his aim slightly more than with default bloom; and “adjust aim” and actually aiming for the head are NOT the same.

When looking at this, one thing becomes clear: 85% bloom is making things worse than they used to be with default bloom by making spamming even more effective. Unlike many people here who played almost only zero bloom DMR slayer (or at least say so), I was kind of lucky to play mostly normal slayer (i.e. with AR starts), DMR slayer, and objective games in the TU Beta playlist. And I regret having to say that spamming the DMR, magnum, or needle rifle is now even more common than it used to be because it is now even more effective. Getting 5SK’d by a spammer from sniper spawn on Uncaged to the “elbow” (where the Uncaged-exclusive gravity lift takes you) is bad enough. But when that happens with a magnum, you really don’t need any more proof that 85% bloom doesn’t work.

I also want to be clear about one thing: I am NOT bashing 343i here! On the contrary, I find it very praiseworthy that they are at least trying to fix bloom and putting effort into it. Seriously, I love you guys for that! <3

But no matter what 343i come up with, bloom simply cannot be fixed. It’s inherently broken and will stay broken unless you change things like bullet magnetism and the flawed randomness. But fixing that not only requires another TU, it also requires more in-depth changes to Reach’s code. And while I’m not a professional programmer, I did enough coding to know one thing with absolutely certainty: Starting to work on these changes a year after the game has been released and a year before Halo 4 comes out, is just not going to happen. Period.

This leaves us, or rather 343i, with what was provided by the TU: the ability to alter the amount of bloom. And the only viable option is to reduce bloom to the point where it’s practically non-existent, i.e. zero bloom. Everything else is invariably bound to fail because it WILL be of more benefit to spammers than those pacing their shots.

Yet this causes another problem, or at least people think it will: The balance of precision weapons and the remaining weapons.

To be honest, I have no problem at all with precision weapons “ruling the battlefield”. They’re precision weapons, so you have to be precise with your aim - even more so with zero bloom. And zero bloom also takes spammers out of the equation, so if you get 5SK’d by a DMR it’s because that person actually aimed for the head and not just because he got lucky.

Yet people are afraid that close to medium range weapons will become obsolete, such as the AR, plasma rifle/repeater/pistol, or the needler. But trust me, that won’t happen. While precision weapons will be more useful than they are now, they will not dominate the game.

The reason for this is that precision weapons only dominate if you let them. If you play smart, you can easily kill someone who is wielding a DMR, magnum, or needle rifle with (almost) any other weapon. You just have to know how and get used to it. And that’s where the real problem lies: People aren’t used to having to do that.

As it is now with default bloom, people are used to running at a DMR-wielding opponent in a straight line while continuously firing the AR because it works as long as you’re not too far away when you start doing that. If you are too far away, the DMR-wielder has enough time to 5SK you.

With zero bloom, however, the range at which you can start shooting your opponent with the AR while charging him in a straight line has decreased somewhat. No bloom means that he can 5SK you quicker now than he used to. So, how to you counter that?

The first step is NOT TO RUN IN A STRAIGHT LINE! Seriously, what did you think? Running at an opponent in a straight line presents him an easy-to-hit target that gets even easier to hit because it gets bigger as you get closer.

Running at your opponent in a zic-zac helps you a lot. In fact, it helps you waaaay more with zero bloom than with 85% or default bloom. Because with bloom, your opponent is more likely to hit you with the DMR, needle rifle, or magnum when you’re strafing than he is with zero bloom. Remember bullet magnetism and the size of the area it works in? Now that area is small, stays small, and thus will cause a DMR-wielder to miss at least one or two of his shots if you’re halfway decent at stafing or running in a zic-zac.

And while you benefit from strafting or running in a zic-zac, your opponent doesn’t. Because if you’re being shot at with an AR, strafing does next to nothing to avoid being hit. Maybe a bullet or two miss, but that’s it. And unlike with the DMR, one or two bullets missing is utterly neglectable with the AR’s high rate of fire and magazine size.

There is even an exception to the “don’t run in straight line” rule thanks to bleed-through being enabled. If you’re close enough to an opponent to get in six (yes, only SIX!) AR rounds before you’re within melee range, your opponent is dead.

This also works for all other weapons. The amount of bullets/projectiles that have to hit an opponent before you can pummel him are very low:

  • AR: 6
  • plasma repeater: 6
  • plasma rifle: 4
  • needler: 2 (yes, TWO)
  • plasma pistol: 2 (normal shots, not overcharged)

Note: While this is not a complete list of all weapons, it features all the guns used most frequently in matchmaking.

An on another note, this also largely takes care of sprinting double-meleers. If you see an opponent sprinting to you in a bee-line, fire at him until he’s within melee range and let him taste the butt of your weapon.

– End of part 2. –

Anyway, back to weapoin balance.

Many weapons will now have their optimal range changed from what it used to be. Optimal range is the range, i.e. from this minimum distance to that maximum distance, at which that weapon allows you to kill with a pretty good chance of not getting killed yourself if it’s a 1-on-1 gunfight. And it’s not like people can’t adapt to changes in optimal range.

The best-known instance where the optimal range of a weapon shifted from long to close/medium is the focus rifle (and this has nothing to do with the TU or bloom). Originally intended to be the Covenant counterpart of the sniper rifle (at least the game treats it as such), its actual optimal range is not long as you might suspect but close to medium, i.e. close enough so that you can kill your opponent with a continuous beam even without having to zoom in, and without your opponent having the chance to find cover or kill you first without using a power weapon.

With zero bloom in effect, this optimal range shifted closer to your opponent for most weapons. Best example is the AR; you now have to be closer before you start shooting, and it is very advisable to start off firing short bursts (3 - 4 rounds) until you’re close enough to hit reliably with continuous fire.

On most maps this isn’t even necessary because combat starts at rather short ranges anyway. There are actually only very few maps outside of BTB, Invasion, and the DLC/Premium playlist where combat usually starts at longer ranges. And except for Invasion, you also don’t start with medium range weapons, although with zero bloom it would be wise to remove the magnum as secondary starting weapon for Spartans, at least in phase 1.

The only thing that really upsets weapon balance with zero bloom is the magnum. Not only because it takes just four hits to kill, but also because it fires extremely quickly. The magnum is easily capable of killing everyone else at close to medium range except for power weapons. And even against some of them, mostly shotgun and sword wielding opponents, the magnum can kill them if you just spot them soon enough.

If an opponent with the shotgun doesn’t kill you with the first shot or at least an immediate follow-up melee attack, chances are good that you’ll kill him with your magnum. The same applies if you see a sword-wielder sprinting at you soon enough; you are very likely to 4SK him before he can lunge at you, thanks in part to it being very unlikely for you to miss since he’ll be coming at you in a straight line.

Assuming that it’s very unlikely that changes can be made exclusively to the magnum without altering anything else, e.g. decrease its accuracy without having to rely on bloom, decrease its rate of fire, lower damage per bullet, or decrease magazine size, there is really only one solution: to remove the magnum as secondary starting weapon. Leaving it as pick-ups on the few maps it spawns on shouldn’t be a problem, though. In such cases the magnum can be considered a semi-power weapon.

With zero bloom, along with the re-introduction of bleed-through and the changes to active camo and armor lock, Reach finally turns into Halo: Reach. I know that this is something rather provocative to say, but that doesn’t change anything about this statement being true.

Individual weapon performance, overall weapon balance, kill times and thus the whole weapon-releated gameplay is now much closer to and almost identical to H2 and H3. The only main differences that remain are the inability to dual-wield weapons in Reach (which isn’t such a bad thing if you consider dual-wielding magnums), and Reach’s sometimes cheap and overpowered armor abilities. But as I said, at least active camo and armor lock have been fixed, or at least made more balanced, with the TU.

So I’m just going to say it again before I conclude this mammoth post (actually three posts in the meantime): Reach does need zero bloom. Any kind of bloom, no matter how much or how little, simply does not work and never will.

– End of transmission. –

I agree. Halo Reach DMR fights are broken due to lucky spamming. General DMR battles should result in the better player winning due to out-playing, good positioning and a good strafe. There are also other reasons/factors which contribute. In Halo 3 if two scrubs were team shotting you if you were a good player you could beat both of them. Now in Reach if just 1 scrub gets in a DMR battle with you he can win with lucky spamming its discusting. 343 listen to the community! From what I can tell 75% of the community wants bloom gone! Removing bloom will not fix all of the problems that reach has (Im not implying that Halo 3 was perfect either) but let’s just say that it will be a small bandage on the gash.

The only problem with this post is that, anyone who doesn’t agree with you, most likely won’t read it either. That seems to be a trend i’ve seen with posts like these, whether by others or myself. The open-minded and “objective” people already see the big picture and don’t need convincing. While the Closed-minded tend to fit the category that disagree with posts like this, yet due to their closed mindedness they cannot learn anything different.

PS I agree for the most part. BUT ZB absolutely does upset weapon balance, at least as people see that balance right now. Although like you said, this balance can be compensated for by changing tactics. And many, including myself, would argue that these weapons that get “nerfed”, really serve little good to the flow of the game. IMO The AR, Plasma repeater, plasma rifle, PP, Needler, and spiker have only 2 primary methods of use regardless of bloom v ZB; Point and hold trigger, or point and hold trigger then melee. Many try to argue that utility weapons like the DMR or BR reduce the variety provided by the other weapons. But in truth, utility weapons actually provide the most variety in how your battles can play out. Yes you may not hear any different noises or visuals (ie AR vs PR), but the “utility” of the utility weapon implies that I can be used in many kinds of situations and can be used very differently by different people in different situations, which many of the other guns cannot.

> The only problem with this post is that, anyone who doesn’t agree with you, most likely won’t read it either. That seems to be a trend i’ve seen with posts like these, whether by others or myself. The open-minded and “objective” people already see the big picture and don’t need convincing. While the Closed-minded tend to fit the category that disagree with posts like this, yet due to their closed mindedness they cannot learn anything different.

Sad but true. Even more so since my post(s) serve as explanation WHY bloom doesn’t work and thus could and should convince some pro-bloomers to change their mind or at least think about it.

I mean, I was a pretty big pro-bloomer myself until I realized that something wasn’t working as it should and I started to find out what that was.

Great post, really well structured and well presented argument! Really enjoyed it and couldn’t agree more! :slight_smile:

This was a great read. Before I read this I was sure 85 was the way to go, but you’ve convinced me. The bit about bullet magnetism was particularly illuminating.

One thing you might address is how easy it is to get headshots with the DMR.

I still think that 85% bloom is ok. Still, Zero bloom is better. Zero bloom= good halo

1st part - Your discussion of the technical aspect is flawed in a few respects. Yes, the Assault Rifle has a decently high bullet magnetism, but it’s no worse than Halo 2 so. Kind of a moot point. If you look at the bullet magnetism on other guns, like the precision weapons (DMR, Needle Rifle, Pistol) they are much lower. The lowest since Halo 1’s coding. Most likely they lowered it because they were able to get the netcode to a point where they were able to have it work well while considering Xbox Live and the lag it brings. (Halo 1 didn’t have to consider Xbox Live because it was designed around LAN play).

Aim Assist is when the game magnetizes your reticle towards your appointment, not the bullets themselves. This is also at its lowest point from Halo 1 as well.

I do agree spamming is still too effective. 343i’s hasn’t shown they know what they’re doing yet. They need to INCREASE the Bloom and DECREASE the reset time. Less bloom doesn’t work. No bloom doesn’t work. They’re going in the wrong direction (Unless they adjust the Rates of Fire on the weapons and adjust the damage done by them, then 0 bloom could work).

2nd part - Agreed that Bloom needs more work than they’ll probably put into it. They need to alter damage, rate of fire, etc. to get it to work correctly. That’s just not going to happen.

No, precision weapons shouldn’t “rule” the battlefield. With the Pistol’s old bloom (Which worked fantastic by the way) you could beat anyone using the AR because you can kill them quicker and be accurate by pacing your shots. The AR could still win if you got them to miss a time or two. With no bloom, the Pistol would win EVERY TIME. The Pistol is already overpowered as all hell right now.

I’m not sure if you want there to be absolutely no bloom on the automatic weapons, but that would just look stupid and make the game play very weird. Bloom balances the game. Without Bloom, all of the guns need damage and rate of fire adjusted heavily. The AR and other automatic weapons need higher rates of fire (Maybe clip size) to counter no bloom and many other changes. Most, if not all, of these things will not happen.

3rd part - The Title Update has balanced the game a bit more, I do agree. But 0 bloom will never work unless they really alter the sandbox, or like you said making there a single pistol or something on the maps as a “power” weapon. Even the other guns will be too powerful for most, if not all, of the automatic weapons.

It throws balance out the window, so what they SHOULD do with this flawed gameplay is make it so there are literally 4 different types of guns on the maps with 0 Bloom. Put a Sniper, Pistol or DMR, Rocket Launcher and Sword/Shotgun on the map and call it good.

85% bloom doesn’t really effect the gameplay too much… basically the same as the default bloom so. I haven’t noticed any real differences in my gameplay thus far. Pretty much the same. I do really enjoy bleedthrough on the melee though. Speeds up the close quarters fights!

Edit: Also, just to throw this in there, the game has already proven that bloom can work. The Pistol, Needle Rifle and other automatic weapons (Pulsing with the automatic weapons) have bloom that reward the pacer much, much more than the spammer. It was just the close range DMR bloom that needed tweaking.

Thanks for posting this. Your info clearly shows how the TU is a fail with the current Reach mechanics.

Zero bloom comes down to who has better aim. The gametypes for it just need to have faster walking speeds and better maps. Reach maps are balls.

> Thanks for posting this. Your info clearly shows how the TU is a fail with the current Reach mechanics.

I am inclined to agree. The changes they are proposing right now DO NOT help bloom whatsoever.

To make Zero Bloom work they’ll have to alter MUCH more than just the bloom itself… And I just don’t see that happening.

To make less bloom work, well it does, it just doesn’t address any of the issues with bloom. All it does is increase the rates of fire players will use and still be precise with their shots.

To make bloom overall work, they’ll need to put some serious alterations on the game. And I just don’t see them having that kind of dedication to the game since Halo 4 will be hitting shelves in a single year. I would rather they focused on that game instead of trying to fix this one, but still it sucks for Halo players for the next year until Halo 4. (Not to say Halo: Reach is unplayable, I still love the game to death, I’m just not used to looking forward to the next iteration in a series to have it fixed and not looking forward to a Title Update)