Once upon a time I would play Halo to the detriment of almost all other games. All I cared about was getting better at Halo. It was about learning maps inside out, memorising short cuts, practicing BXRs until it was imprinted onto my muscle memory. It got me wondering: what would it take for Halo, as a franchise, to bring me back to that level of commitment? In fact, let's scale back. What would it take to convince me to simply play Halo multiplayer again?
Today Halo 4 is about to receive an update, you can check out the details here. The update mostly involves tweaks to existing weapons, the biggest game changer I suspect will be the Battle Rifle's return to a four-shot kill weapon. The Carbine has also received a sizable damage upgrade and I suspect these changes are an attempt to nerf the overpowered DMR.
But it's hard for me to say, because it's been so long since I've played Halo 4, and I didn't really play it that much to begin with.
In all honesty Halo 4 was the game that killed Halo's multiplayer stone dead to me. In an attempt to cater to fans of Call of Duty and Battlefield the game made a number of concessions that actually ended up removing Halo's unique point of difference. Ordnance drops, upgradeable abilities — 343 tweaked the fundamentals of the game in all the wrong directions and flattened the skill gap in the least imaginative of ways.
It'll take a lot more than some subtle weapon changes to bring me back.
And saying those words is genuinely painful. I've spent a ponderous amount of hours playing the Halo series. Mastering the maps, the weapons, reading up on techniques, watching pro events — but Halo 4's multiplayer, almost immediately, felt like a waste of my time. And it's the game that put the final nail in the coffin for competitive Halo, a scene I was heavily invested and involved with.
With the next Halo game I hope 343 Industries has the personnel and the initiative to truly reinvent Halo's multiplayer in a way that respects its core audience a little more. Halo always felt unique, it had its own set of rules and a style of play that rewarded players properly, with skills and knowledge — as opposed to the gamified COD-style upgrades we have to endure now. Why not work more closely with MLG? Build a game that works for the people who will spend the most time playing? When a game feels balanced from the ground up there is a genuine trickle down effect. Even casual players, on some level, will feel it.
I noticed that Microsoft is currently hiring a new Multiplayer designer for the next Halo. Here's hoping the team strips Halo back to its core elements and creates something worth playing again. Because I really miss playing Halo.