So ever since I got Halo 4, it just didn’t feel right. It felt hollow, like someone had taken another game and stuck it in a Master Chief helmet. Sure it looks like Halo, it sounds like Halo and yes it has Elites, Grunts, Warthogs etc, but for some reason this just isn’t Halo to me. I had a long hard think about it, trying to figure out what has happened to my favourite game and this is what I believe to be the core reason for this feeling:
343 killed intelligent skilled gameplay.
Well what does this mean? There are so many subtle changes that on their own would be relatively minor but when you add them all up it become a problem of epic proportions. I will try and explain this to you without sounding like a rant but it’s quite hard to put your finger on.
I fell in love with Halo because it was one of the first shooters that required you to use your brain, to really think about how to take down your enemy and the crucial thing was that because of the slower pacing, you actually had time to make intelligent decisions.
For those of you here from the beginning, surely you remember those decisions. Waiting behind a corner with a plasma rifle, then jumping out hitting the enemy with a constant burst, slowing him down, circling around him for the finishing touch; the melee. Or, waiting for someone to jump off a ledge, so that when they hit the ground and get slowed down you would have a nice static target with the sniper rifle.
Many of us remember clearing out a key area of the map to gain control of a power weapon and the feeling of achievement you got knowing that the enemy is spawning back into the game with an assault rifle while you and your squad has taken a game changing weapon and tactical map area.
There are literally thousands of these moments, but the key thing to them all is that you had to play in an intelligent way and the rewards were great. You would have a hard time running around the map like you do in the typical reflex shooter just minesweeping for targets. Halo was about brains over brawn.
I am a strong believer that if you learn how to play a game and get better at it, then you should have a clear advantage over someone who doesn’t. If you sucked at halo then you had to learn the game, learn the weapon spawns and kill methods. If you didn’t and you got your Spartan bottom handed back to you by a skilled player, then boo hoo. Improve your game or maybe halo just isn’t for you.
343’s Halo 4 has taken away so many small things that enabled this type of gameplay, that it is just not rewarding to play in an intelligent manner. They have even added a bucket load of things to prevent clever gameplay. Sure you can still play intelligently, you can still get together with a great squad of friends and tactically approach the game, but you’d be wasting your time because sprinting round the map on your own with a DMR until you get an ordnance drop is much easier and more effective than actually thinking about how you play.
Here are some examples of what I mean:
Grenade placement: You’ve all done it in halo, the sneaky grenade, the one you just drop around a corner waiting for the enemy to come around. Boom, shield gone, headshot, intelligence prevails.
Great tactic, required a thought process and rewarded you with a relatively easy kill. Now 343 add grenade indicators so everyone knows where the grenades land meaning there is no more intelligent placing, there are only extremely dumb people who run over grenades. So we can rule that tactic out, thanks 343, from now on I will simply throw my grenades at the face of my enemy and hope he is too stupid to step to the side.
Ordnance drops: Previously, skilled players would know the map inside out. They would go for the weapons when they spawned and were given a clear reward for knowing the map. Squads would tactically approach the “hot area” and they had a bloody fight through the enemy team to get to that golden rocket launcher or sniper rifle. But once they were there, it was all worth it. Now, its a lot easier to sit back behind a rock with a DMR taking pot shots at people, completely disconnected from the rest of the team and after a few “assists”, bam I can make a short prayer to the Call of Duty god and he will send down a thunderous noob parcel spawning a power weapon right on to my position. The skilled player earned his prize, the halo 4 player gets given it like some sort of 343 funded social benefits system.
There are no sub objectives: By this I mean objectives you and your team mates set to help you win the game. I.e. “Sniper, keep the rocket spawn covered at all times” or “hold this section of the map to keep the enemy on the lower ground”. There is absolutely no point in playing intelligently as a team as there are no benefits in holding ground, there are no reasons for your squad to even move from spawn points. It is much more effective to simply run around the map at random, killing the enemy as they pop up. The games lack character because of this, it gets boring because of the lack of user created objectives within the game. That was a tough one to explain but I hope you understand what I mean.
Squad Ambushes: There is nothing better than setting up an ambush for the enemy team in an area that you hold and then pouncing out with all your friends and demolishing them in a coordinated fashion in a matter of seconds. That really give me a buzz in previous halos: we were clever, we laid a trap and they didn’t stand a chance. We were equal but our side was more intelligent.
Well now you can wave goodbye to that rewarding experience as well because 343 thought it was a good idea to add an armour ability that allowed you to see through walls. Seriously? This completely removes the element of surprise and means its now simpler and easier to stand eye to eye battle-rifling each other in the head until one of you drops. You call that good gameplay? Yes it may be fairer for noobs, but yawn…boring.
Time, time time: It appears nowadays that kids cant play a game if they don’t rack up 10 kills and 15 deaths every minute of the game, twitch shooting left right and centre and sprinting around like Usain Bolt on a diet of red bull. Halo 4 is going down this path. I love halo because you had time to think; you saw the enemy and even while you were getting shot at you still had time to think about what to do before your shield was drained. If you saw an enemy he would be running quite slow so you could make an intelligent decision, do you throw a grenade ahead of him and hope for the head shot or do you bide your time and get into a better position for a close quarters AR to the face.
Nowadays in Halo 4, everyone has sprint, everyone respawns instantly, shields drain rapidly and charge up slowly. There is no time to think, if you do think you will be killed, so just hit the trigger button, put your brain on standby and hope the constant DMR’ing does the job.