I know it’s been a while since my last post, and I want to express my sincere apologies to both of my readers for that.
I have a confession. I like Halo 5. A lot.
Now, I know that is pretty such blasphemy in the eyes of a decent chunk of Halo fans, but I can’t help how I feel. It’s not you. It’s me. I like Halo 5 and there’s nothing you can do about it. The gunplay is top-notch, and as a result, the mutliplayer is arguably the best in the series. Forge might be the best in the series as well, and if not, it has at least allowed the community to produce some awesome content. The sheer number of cool vehicles and weapons that currently exist in the game (mainy in the Warzone mode) is staggering and provides an endless amount of possible tactics.
That’s not to say Halo 5 didn’t have flaws. It certainly did. While there were plenty of great set pieces in the campaign, the story itself was a little lacking. The upside of that gripe is that it has potentially set itself up for a hell of a follow-up. But still, that’s hypothetical at this point in time. In addition to the story, the multiplayer does have some shortcomings. The gunplay itself is good, but the arena maps are largely underwhelming. This is probably due to the new movement and clambering. The geography of the maps needed to be very structured and angular to accommodate it, which resulted in sacrifices needing to be made that made the maps seem cookie-cutter compared to the more natural feel of past games.
What I’m trying to say is Halo 5 had both positives and negatives, just like every other game ever (with the exception of Superman 64, which was utterly flawless). We’ve now reached a point where the next game in the series has been revealed to us and it’s been received pretty damn well thanks to a return to a more classic feel. While I did like Halo 5, I do have a certain nostalgia for the Halo of old, so I’m on board with this new old direction the series is taking. And I can’t talk about the next game in the Halo series without speculating and hoping what features may be in it. So I’m just gonna vomit out some stuff I want in the game as well as some stuff I hope 343 leaves behind.
Please: More Freedom in the Campaign
Two of the best FPS missions I have ever played are “Halo” and “The Silent Cartographer” in Halo: Combat Evolved. The thing these missions have in common is that they offer freedom and open spaces. In the mission titled Halo, there’s plenty of room for you to drive around in the Warthog as well as three objectives that you can tackle in any order you’d like. In The Silent Cartographer, you’re plopped on an island that can be explored without being forced down a linear path. Sure, there is a set sequence of objectives— your first objective is postponed by being unexpectedly locked out of an area, so you have to go to a different part of the island to unlock it so you can continue your mission. But say you stumble on the override for the door before you even get locked out. The game lets you play in that order too, and it keeps the entire island available for you in case you need to backtrack to restock on ammo or grab another vehicle.
This mission structure has been replicated a few times since the original game. Halo 3 had The Ark and The Covenant, and Halo Reach had New Alexandria. For me, those were all standout missions within their campaigns, and I would love more of that in the next game.
Please No: Map Voting
I’m pretty sure this wish will be fulfilled, but I still wanted to express my absolute hatred for map voting. Nothing ruins a multiplayer session for me quite as effectively as having to play Haven or Lockout four games in a row. I’m not saying they’re bad maps. I had a blast in both when they were new and fresh, but just as I wouldn’t eat the same kind of delicious steak for sixty meals straight, I want some variety in spaces to play in.
This issue will probably be addressed in Infinite, as Halo 5 never had voting and it was just patched out in the Master Chief Collection. I just needed a place to vent.
Please: Reach-Era Firefight
As I’m typing this, I’m mentally preparing for at least one person to message me and go on some rant about how ODST Firefight is the best and Reach Firefight is trash. I’ve never really understood this reasoning, considering there is so much customization in Reach Firefight that you can make a gametype identical to the mode found in ODST. It’s like arguing that one steak is better than ten of the same kind of steak.
I love the fact that there was some kind of Firefight mode in Halo 5, but it just wasn’t the same. It was online only and didn’t offer any customization. Every match consisted of five rounds of semi-random objectives and that was it. It would be awesome to set up a game where I can fend of waves of Elites using only the sword or maybe fight off Hunters with a rocket launcher while bouncing around in low gravity. The possibilities were endless for those times when you’re looking for a great challenge or simple and stupid fun.
Please No: Warzone
I’ll probably get shit on this one as well, but before you graciously offer your shit to me, I’d like to clarify that I’m not entirely against keeping Warzone in the series. I just think it needs some significant changes for it to avoid raising my blood pressure. I’ll start with the biggest issue: NPC bosses.
Basically, the first team to reach the point limit in Warzone wins the match. Teams can earn points by holding bases and killing enemies. When an NPC boss appears, there is a scramble to kill it and receive a huge point reward. The problem with this is that all of the points go to whichever team delivers the killing blow. I can’t tell you how many times my team threw tanks, ghosts, and all manner of other ordnance at a boss, only to have an enemy player pop one magnum round into it from across the map to get the kill. I’ve complained about this before and received responses that are basically “get good.” There are only so many people on a team, and the maps are too big to cover every spot. I would gladly welcome a system where boss kill points were distributed based on how much damage each team dealt.
On to the second issue I have with Warzone, which is not nearly as pressing but still annoys me to no end: Sarah Palmer. I think she may be my least favorite character in the entire series, and we have to listen to her throughout every match. About ten percent of her lines are actually helpful. The other ninety percent are only there to remind you that you’re losing. Say the enemy holds every base and is winning 980-30. This is when Palmer tells you that you haven’t lost yet. You can still destroy the enemy core!
Please: Long Lost Vehicles and Guns
The arsenal that every Halo game has to offer is pretty large and varied. From simple handguns to alien flyers that fire cluster bombs, there are plenty of ways to deal death to your enemies. But the series has left many fan favorites behind.
The first thing that comes to mind is the Revenant. Essentially a mini Wraith, this bad boy was incredibly maneuverable and packed a serious punch with its mini mortar. Unfortunately it only appeared in Reach, and has left a hole in my heart in the two major entries since.
I also find myself yearning for the days of the Hornet or Falcon. While it’s true that there is a human flyer in Halo 5, it’s quite fragile and doesn’t deal much damage. In addition, it doesn’t appear anywhere in the campaign and was added to multiplayer as post-launch content. I want to be able to hop into a flying UNSC death machine with my buddies again.
As for small arms, I’d like to see Halo Reach’s Needle Rifle make a comeback. Again, there was something similar added as post-release content in Halo 5 in the form of Blood of Suban, but it was more of a power weapon than a standard loadout one. Give me that sweet favorite of the Skirmishers (but please don’t give me the Skirmishers themselves).
I could go on about what I want to return… so I will, actually. But I have to devote another section to it.
I think we are long overdue for an appearance by the cute and cuddly monkey guys. Their last appearance in a mainline Halo game was in Reach and… yeah I’m starting to see a trend here. As much as I like Halo 4 and 5, I’m a bit bothered by the fact that 343 got rid of a lot of things from the Bungie era. In this case, however, the return of the Brutes seems highly probable. They were the main villainous species in Halo Wars 2, which ties into (but doesn’t really further) the overarching story. They were known as The Banished, and they were hell-bent on gaining power by way of Forerunner tech. Considering Halo Infinite will take place, at least in part, on a Halo ring, they could very well make an appearance.
And with the potential return of the Brutes comes the possibility of a whole slew of weapons and vehicles. As for the weapons, it’s been a while since we have seen the Brute Shot, Spiker, Mauler, or Spike Grenade. And then there’s the Chopper and it’s severely underappreciated brother, the Prowler. The Chopper had the unique ability to demolish other small vehicles by ramming them, and the Prowler was essentially a good version of the Spectre from Halo 2… God, that thing sucked.
Please No: Cookie-Cutter Boss Fights
Please don’t even consider these. Please. I would be forever grateful if you isolated whatever part of your brains that thought up and approved these kinds off encounters, and killed those cells outright.
Guess what my least favorite part of Halo 2 was. Yup, that horrible battle against Tartarus where you have to jump around waiting for Johnson to shoot him with the Beam Rifle before you can deal any damage to him was a really horrible way to end the game. It also didn’t help that it was followed by an infuriating cliffhanger.
And then there’s the Warden Eternal from Halo 5. In addition to being a whiny little bitch, he confronts the player five times throughout the campaign. Aside from the slightly varying strategies you need to employ based on the arena you’re in, these fights are all the same. His tactics, weaknesses, and weapons never change from fight to fight. The icing on the cake is the last encounter, when you have to fight three of him at once. Again, same tactics, but there’s just three times as much annoyance this time around.
However, after all that, I don’t think the concept of boss fights should be eliminated from the series completely. One could argue that the Scarabs in Halo 3 were bosses, and those were the highlights of one of the best campaigns in the series for me. You have three encounters with them throughout the game, and each one is set up differently. The first is fought using Mongooses (Mongeese?) and ghosts, and the arena offers a way to jump onto the Scarab without downing it. The second has you fight using either a Warthog or a Tank. The third throws two Scarabs at you and gives you a Hornet so you can take them on from above. This is how you do multiple boss fights. You don’t Command+C the things and paste them all over your campaign.
Honorable mention goes to the “fight” with 343 Guilty Spark. It was more of a necessary sequence that was quick, easy, and incredibly satisfying.
Please: Vehicle Runs
I’ll never forget the first time I hopped in the warthog and raced through the Pillar of Autumn at the end of the first game. In a time when final boss fights were the standard for game finales, Halo took an entirely different route. Its final boss was a timer, and you had to reach your destination before it hit zero. It was a finale that could rival that of Ocarina of Time.
I’ve already expressed my dislike for the finale of Halo 2, but I think I let out an audible yip when I came across the Warthog at the end of Halo 3. And I personally like that sequence even more than the one in Combat Evolved.
With the exception of the second game, these vehicle runs have become a kind of tradition in the main games. There was a short Mongoose run in Reach, Halo 4 had a somewhat frustrating but overall exciting Ghost sequence, and Halo 5 featured a Warthog/Mongoose section when the Guardian was waking up on Meridian. All of these are standout moments in their respective campaigns, and I’d love for this tradition to continue in Infinite. There’s just something awesome about speeding through the world as everything goes to shit around you.
In a similar sense, I’d love to see a segment similar to the arrival of Locke’s team on Genesis. Running straight down a guardian with your magnetic boots was terrifying and exhilarating, and it was one of the best parts of the game.
Keep Halo Great
Unlike the loud internet minority, I have loved every Halo game. None of them are perfect, but what game is (again, Superman 64 being the exception)? The above is just a small taste of why I love Halo so much, and I’m not bothered by the varying amount of features in each title. But I can always hope for that entry that has everything I want and none of the stuff I don’t.
Thanks for continuing to make great games, 343 Industries. I’m incredibly excited to see what you give us in Infinite.