March 11, 2019
If you have three minutes to spare (you probably do since you’re reading this), then load up the original Halo CE theme song and try not to get pumped up while listening to it. Tough, huh? See, this is one of the many reasons why the Halo franchise ruled the gaming world at one point. Even the music was incredible.
Now the big question for Halo fans is if Halo Infinite can revive the franchise.
Halo Infinite was announced at last year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), and this week, it was confirmed the game will be fully revealed at E3 2019. So, the Master Chief — also known as John-117 ? — is finally back to take on his toughest foe yet…
Yeah, it was tough typing that, considering all the endless nights I would spend online playing Halo 2, but it’s true. Right now, the video game market is dominated by battle royale games, and Halo has mostly been forgotten.
But there are still dedicated Halo fans out there enjoying the most recent Halo games such as Halo 5, Halo Wars 2, and Halo: The Master Chief Collection (it’s a shame this game literally didn’t work for a couple of months after launch).
And it’s great that it still has an enthusiastic fanbase, but what will it take for Halo to move past playing these small bar gigs? I would like to see Halo selling out arenas again.
Halo Infinite represents a big opportunity for the franchise, and I have high expectations for both the multiplayer and campaign.
Here’s what Halo Infinite needs to be successful.
This is admittedly the most important part of Halo to me. I understand the Halo lore is loved by many, and some fans will play the campaign simply for the Halo Infinite gameplay. I’ll get to my thoughts on Halo Infinite’s campaign later because I enjoy the single-player aspect of Halo as well.
But, as I mentioned earlier, I’ve always been a big Halo multiplayer fan going all the way back to Halo: Combat Evolved (CE).
I’m dating myself here, but I still remember watching the top teams and players in the Major League Gaming (MLG) Halo 2 tournaments. Unfortunately, esports wasn’t as big as it is now, and a lot of those talented players from the Halo competitive scene will never get the credit (or money) they deserve.
One of those talented players goes by Ogre2. If you ever get a chance, check out Ogre2’s official Twitch channel and show him some support. He’s a Halo legend!
Anyway, I feel like Halo multiplayer simply lost its identity after Halo 3.
Halo multiplayer eventually turned into Call of Duty…in outer space. Having a sprint feature in Halo 4 and 5 was nice to keep it fast-paced, but everything else taken from the Call of Duty franchise — like loadouts and care packages (known as ordnance drops in Halo 4) — felt out of place in Halo’s multiplayer.
Halo Infinite gameplay needs to get back to basics and bring back what made the multiplayer fun in the first place.
Okay, one of Halo’s most famous weapons (outside of the goofy Needler), the Battle Rifle (BR), was technically in Halo 4 and 5.
But those iterations of the BR were awful compared to the version fans fell in love with in Halo 2 and 3.
The DMR rivals the BR in Halo 4, and the pistol (not as good as Halo: CE’s three-shot-kill version) is the center of Halo 5. Some will disagree, but neither of these weapons feels as rewarding as the original BR.
The BR was great for Halo 2 and 3 because it was a good mid-range and long-range weapon. From a balance standpoint, it made players feel like they always had a fighting chance against the enemy — no matter what weapon their enemy had.
Yet the BR wasn’t exactly easy to use, and it required great accuracy. The best players in Halo 2/3 would constantly get four-shot kills with this burst fire rifle (three shots to break the shield and one to the head to finish their opponent), but lesser-skilled players had a harder time doing this.
The BR was a great way to gauge player kill and the go-to weapon in Halo 2/3 competitive play.
It was a perfectly balanced weapon with a nice feel to it, plus it brought an interesting weapon learning curve to the Halo franchise.
I would like to see Halo Infinite gameplay centered around the old-school BR or a weapon just like it.
I admittedly do love Blood Gulch, and it’s definitely an iconic Halo map. But that’s about the only large map I enjoyed in the Halo series. When I look back at the glory days of Halo’s multiplayer, it’s the smaller maps that really stood out.
I’m talking about maps like Warlock (Halo: CE), Battle Creek (Halo: CE), Midship (Halo 2), and Lockout (Halo 2). Fans loved Lockout so much that it was remade three different times — there’s a variation of Lockout in Halo 3 and 4, then there’s the remastered version that’s in Halo: The Master Chief Collection.
So, why do Halo fans love these smaller maps so much? Well, for one, they’re not overly complicated, and they’re easy for players to understand. Midship is a good example of this. This overly purple space arena is mostly a symmetrical map that features two main decks (each has two levels) and an elevated area.
But even though Midship was a small-scale map without much scenery, players could utilize many different playstyles on it. For instance, a player could make their way up to the elevated Bridge and hold down the high ground with their BR.
Or they could simply hide in the lower level of one of those decks. Then when they heard an enemy come by, they could make their way up the gravity lift and take out that foe with their energy sword.
That’s why maps like Midship and Lockout were great — they were simple and complex at the same time.
Also, since these were small maps, there was almost never a lull in the action, just constant, fast-paced battles featuring a whole bunch of bullets and grenades.
Halo Infinite needs to stick to that blueprint.
I’m continuing to show I’m an old-school Halo player with this section, but this goes back to what I was saying about Halo trying to copy Call of Duty. Halo continued to lose its identity after silly, unneeded gadgets were added to it. These gadgets were put in to “spice up” the gameplay, but instead, they just made everything worse.
When Halo 3 launched, it featured equipment; this wasn’t in any of the previous Halo titles. In Halo 3, players could pick up equipment to give them certain advantages in battle. For example, there was the deployable Bubble Shield. This gadget provided players a dome-like protective shield for 20 seconds, and it was not fun to deal with.
Halo already had Power-Up items, such as the Overshield and Active Camouflage. There was no need for a Bubble Shield.
Anyway, then came Halo Reach, where the developers took the “add this ‘cause why not?” concept a step further by implementing armor abilities into the game. Every player had access to a jetpack or thruster pack, and Halo Reach’s multiplayer just felt like a futuristic circus. Nobody was interested in gun battles; they just wanted to see what cool tricks they could do with the jetpack.
So, obviously I despise equipment and armor abilities, and that’s because they drain the skill out of the game. Players in the later Halo games started to rely more on their gadgets to win, instead of their actual weapon — and that was just so strange to see in a Halo game.
I feel like the bigger plan with Halo was to appeal to more casual players by adding those “cool toys,” yet it obviously backfired, considering the Halo video game franchise isn’t popular anymore.
It’s a simple request, but I truly hope Halo Infinite doesn’t have equipment or armor abilities. Guns, vehicles, and grenades…that’s all you need to make Halo Infinite gameplay good.
I imagine some of you just read what I typed above and said, “Wow, this guy is crazy.” And that’s fair! But let’s be honest here. Copying other gaming trends didn’t help Halo in the past, so why would that strategy work now?
Also, come on — the battle royale market is overcrowded already, and we simply don’t need more games like that. Yes, there is obviously still a demand for battle royale games, considering the recent success of Apex Legends.
But Halo is already an established name in the gaming world and pop culture (it’s getting a TV series) — up there with Super Mario and Pac-Man — so it doesn’t need a battle royale mode; players will still check it out because… it’s Halo.
The challenge here is just making sure the final Halo Infinite product is good. So, when players do try it out (and they will), Halo Infinite still maintains that fanbase long after its release.
Focus on refining Halo’s core fan-favorite multiplayer modes such as Team Deathmatch, Oddball, and Capture the Flag. Then pair that with an action-packed, fun campaign with an engaging story, and Halo Infinite should be just fine.
Halo needs to do what it does best, not what other games do well.
The Covenant are supposed to be the main bad guys in the Halo universe (though they’re not technically evil), but in Halo: CE, the Master Chief eventually discovers Halo’s M. Night Shyamalan twist — the “Flood” is his biggest problem, since they were created to wipe out all life in the universe.
As I said earlier, I’m mostly a multiplayer guy, but I still remember playing The Library level in Halo: CE. The Library was infested with the Flood — these deformed alien organisms that looked like they were straight out of The Thing movie. They were terrifying to deal with, and I believe the Flood is the best evil force in the Halo Lore.
Unfortunately, the Flood was eventually defeated, and these horrifying parasitic creatures weren’t present in Halo 4 or 5. So, to take their place, Prometheans were introduced as the new main villains of the series. And they were utterly bland and boring.
Behind a good hero, there’s always an interesting villain. Hopefully, the Flood returns in Halo Infinite.
Thank you for reading my blog on Halo Infinite. Feel free to comment and let me know if you agree or disagree with any of these.
There’s no release date for Halo Infinite yet, but I suspect it will launch with the new Xbox that’s supposed to be announced at E3 2019 as well. That’s just a rumor, though, so we’ll see.
Oh, and by the way, it’s March 7th, and I just finished writing this. March 7th, 2511, is the Master Chief’s birthday according to Halo’s lore. Talk about a coincidence.