Halo 4 is going to be a completely new and refreshing Halo experience and words cannot describe my excitement for it.
E3 really demonstrated how awesome the campaign is going to be, but the thing is that the campaign is a game mode that you will realistically only be getting around fifteen to twenty hours out of. The real meat of the game is the multiplayer which looks absolutely amazing.
The entirety of Bungie’s Halo games followed the same format when it came to competitive multiplayer. Everyone starts out in the same position with the same weapons and then it was a mad dash to the power weapons which were always located at a specific and exact location. This was always one of the biggest differentiations among Halo and its competitors which all followed a more load-out based style with little emphasis on picking up new weapons.
Halo was the first game I really fell in love with, and I had always been a die-hard fan who turned his nose up at Call of Duty, Battlefield and all other popular first person shooters out there. I always felt Halo was the superior game because of the lack of load-outs and absence of rewards for playing well. At that point at least, Halo was a game about skill. If you did well in Halo it was because you played better than everyone else. It wasn’t because you got that awesome kill streak that turned the tables and it wasn’t because of that awesome gun you had just unlocked for hitting the max level. Halo felt so much better to me because everyone started the match on the same footing and everyone had equal access to all the powerful weapons. It didn’t matter how much you had played and how much you had unlocked.
After years of shying away from other shooters to play Halo instead I finally started to play a few other FPSs, primarily Call of Duty. After spending a good amount of time with several installments in the series I realized my immediate conclusion about load-out based shooters was definitely wrong. While there definitely was some level of unfairness due to the weapons one was starting with the advantages of a custom made load-out were almost immediately clear to me. Load-outs made the game better. Not only do they let a player choose and customize the weapons they enter into battle with but it ultimately lets the players customize the way they play the game and makes for better fitting set ups. The little bit of unfairness that was presented was more than made up for by the vast amount of variation and diversity it brought to the table. I had always thought of Halo being more bare bones and vanilla and I had come to the conclusion that load-out based shooters were much more double fudge brownie with chocolate chip cookie dough i.e. more complicated and well designed. Load-outs essentially add an RPG aspect to a FPSs which allows for the player to become more involved with their character.
Now even after learning of the glory of Call of Duty I still loved my Halo games more, but I now held a new found respect for other shooters and I wanted to see Bungie take a few notes from those other games. I didn’t want them to necessarily turn Halo into Call of Duty but rather take note of the things they did well and incorporate similar aspects into Halo.
When Halo Reach was released I was incredibly excited to see the introduction of load-outs to the series. The way Bungie incorporated load-outs into Halo allowed for some diversity among matches but in a way which was still incredibly balanced and fair (perhaps with the exclusion of Armor Lock) while also retaining the original format and play style of rush-to-the-power-weapons the game had developed over the years. But with that being said this new change to the series was still not exactly what I had been hoping for. The load-outs increased diversity but they were still significantly less intricate than other games and the excessive amount of customization was all only cosmetic. Instead of becoming a loosely load-out based game it became a loosely class-based shooter. Reach was able to boast of increased customization and load-outs but the game was still lacking the diversity and customization of play style that made COD great. My vision of the perfect Halo game had taken a step in the right direction but still wasn’t there.
And then information and details about Halo 4 started to be released. 343’s Halo 4 looks like the perfect Halo game I have been fantasizing about since first playing COD. Halo 4 looks like my dream Halo.
The first and foremost aspect of the upcoming shooter which I am stoked on is the return of load-outs. 343 has completely dumped Bungie’s set up and instead taken a more Call of Duty-esque approach. Halo 4 as of now is set so that every player will be able to design and customize their own load-outs in addition to lots of options on beautifying their Spartan. This means that you are able to choose what weapon and grenades you want to start with as well as other abilities such as Promethean/Forerunner Vision, turbo, Hardlight Shield, etc.. Another exciting aspect of this is that the customization goes deeper than that.
From the videos I have watched of the Halo 4 Multiplayer I have caught several glimpses of the load out screen and it looks like we are going to be getting two additional non-armor ability abilities we can add onto our character. While details about these abilities are still pretty hush hush I have heard during interviews with the developers that these abilities will be along the lines of being able to get infinite sprint. This was more than I had been hoping for. Players now get to choose their primary weapon, secondary weapon, grenade type, armor ability, perhaps ordinance options, and then two abilities. The additions of abilities now give players that many more options in which they can tune their Spartan so that it is ideal for them. In previous Halo games the only real defining characteristic between players was their armor but now with the addition of load-outs we are going to be seeing so much more diversity among players.
Another COD aspect which 343 is introducing to the game is ordinance drops or killstreak rewards. Now players will be able to call in support after getting several kills in the form of a powerful weapon or a custom power up. This is an opportunity to grab that sniper rifle that your teammate has been hoarding all game or get yourself that speed boost so you can more effectively grab the enemy flag. 343 has done a pretty sweet job of making sure that this isn’t an aspect of the game which will be abused. From the footage I have seen it appears that players get ordinance points for kills and you don’t lose these points after dying. So even if you are playing poorly and have a terrible KD you are still going to be able to get that drop and perhaps turn things around. Another thing is that you have to call in these ordinance drops meaning that there is a time period where your drop could be snagged from you. While this is definitely an irritating downside it is an important one. Killstreaks in COD are one of the things that have made gameplay a little unfair in the past and it is clear that 343 is aware of that. By delaying the delivery of the ordinance they are giving the system a necessary weak point preventing it from being abused all while incorporating a new mechanic which will hopefully prevent camping and lead to more exciting play.
So a big thing that has come along with the announcements of ordinance is that weapons will be dropped in ordinance style. A lot of people have heard this and interpreted it as “there is no rocket, sniper or shotgun spawn,” and that these weapons will be dropped at random places always. A lot of people have heard this and hated the idea because that means we are going to be seeing the abolishment of that traditional Halo style of mad dash to the power weapons and then proceeding to hold that location. While it is arguable that this would be a good thing for the series I don’t think this is what we are going to be seeing. Halo 4’s War Games (multiplayer) Head Designer, Kevin Franklin has described these weapons being dropped in “classic Halo style, as you can imagine, this is very predictable, the same ones will be going everytime,” leading me to believe that that Halo style we have all grown to love isn’t being ditched so quickly. The way Franklin described it made it sound like weapons will at the very least be getting dropped in to the same spot in the beginning of the game but perhaps not later in the game.
Halo 4 is the biggest change to the Halo series we have probably ever seen (with the exclusion of Halo Wars) but the amazing thing is that it still looks like Halo. Even with the addition of load-outs and ordinance players are still going to hauling ass to the sniper spawn. Even behind those shiny new graphics, beautiful new sounds, and gorgeous visual upgrade it still looks and sounds like Halo. Despite all of these new weapons and abilities we still have our Battle Rifle and we have a pistol with a scope; we have the weapons that make Halo, Halo. While Halo 4 might be the most drastically different from Halo: Combat Evolved it still holds onto everything that makes it Halo.
So we have seen that 343 has the prowess to make the Halo game we need but they are also giving us the Halo game we want. On top of all of the necessary things to improve gameplay and keep the series fresh they are also giving us players all of the tiny things that makes Halo just so much fun.
First off are assassinations. Reach showed us just how fantastic it was being able to initiate a sweet cut scene for when we were able to assassinate one of our buddies and Halo 4 is running with that concept. Not only have 343 greatly expanded the amount of animations for assassinations but they also upped the amount of ways you can trigger one. While details on this are still not completely clear it looks like we are going to be able to perform assassinations from the front and sides now as well as the back given we are able to sneak up on the target in the appropriate way. Assassinations have never been a good idea to do. Performing one leaves one vulnerable for several seconds which is significantly inferior to the fast and clean instant kill punch to the back. But despite that fact, everyone always does them even if it means vulnerability or even death. Assassinations are ridiculously fun to do and it is a facet of the game which may be unnecessary but is absolutely awesome. 343 definitely recognized this and thus greatly expanded on this purely fun aspect of the game.
343’s dedication to making a fun Halo doesn’t just end there. They are also greatly expanding on the already vast cosmetic adjustments one may make to their Spartan. Like assassinations, this is a facet of the game which really isn’t all that important but was fun to do and really let a player become more involved with the game. The last thing I wanted to mention is the Scattershot. The Scattershot is the new Promethean shotgun and the thing is, it really is just a shotgun. After watching more and more videos of it being used it is pretty clear that is power level is exactly on par with your standard shotgun. With that being said the Scattershot looks like it is going to be so much more fun. From the cool way you pick it up to crimson inferno it fires to the ember like disintegration it produces, the Scattershot is going to be so much fun to use, even if it really is just the shotgun in the disguise. Once again, this is an unnecessary update but one that is going to lead to a more fun game.
Halo 4 is going to be best Halo game ever[editor's note -- this is a factual statement]. 343 has built on everything that Bungie has established in a beautiful and innovative way leading to a rejuvenated Halo that is in fact still Halo. In addition to giving the game everything it really needed to be the best it could be, 343 also gave it a big dash of fun and everything the community wanted. Did I also mention that Armor Lock isn’t showing up again? I guess all I am really trying to say is that I am really excited about this game. Halo 4 is my dream Halo
So what do you guys think about the game so far? How do you feel about the load-outs? What do you think some of the new abilities are going to be? Have you pre-ordered your copy yet?! I want to hear all of your thoughts so be sure to let me know in the comments below!