The very first thing that we're going to tell you is that your method of thinking is completely backwards from what needs to happen for the Halo franchise. I discussed this in the middle of a profanity-laden rant on a Bomb Planted episode when I said that the Halo series' mutliplayer is not in a state where we need to think about going forward; it is in a state where we need to think about going backward to fix the overarching problems that have nagged this series ever since the first sequel, before we even begin to think about adding new content on top of it. You're speaking about trying to create a fresh experience, but nobody at Bungie or 343 has ever communicated to us that they understand what the actual issues are that plague Halo's multiplayer and interfere with that kind of world-building attitude.
First of all, stop using gameplay elements to justify your aesthetic (or the other way around, whatever). I question the need to even employ this manner of thinking outside the campaign, as Halo's mutliplayer has always been a somewhat cartoonish side aspect compared to its single-player experience. There is no immersion in LoL's multiplayer, there is no immersion in CoD's multiplayer, because when pushed to the bleeding edge of competitive play both of these games look simply ridiculous. We're not focusing on realistic callouts from our teammates' avatars (an utterly ridiculous concept to start with), we're not focused on what our Spartan should be able to do based on lore and fair portrayal of a super soldier in the future. Let me restate this for emphasis - nobody who is trying to win at Halo cares about these things. Halo is not a simulator.
And before anyone even begins to bring this up, casual players do not matter in this discussion. The last two Halo games have seen massive dropoffs in both casual and competitive populations, so there is a global problem festering here, and no amount of spinning will distract anyone with a brain from that fact. Casual players had their shot to show just how into things they were with the broken gameplay elements of the last two installments that were presented so shamelessly fed to them with a silver spoon, and they dropped the ball. They don't get a say in this because they turned their backs to Halo just like the competitive community did. After getting the shaft for more than seven years, I think it's now our turn to get what we want.
But getting back to the problems, Halo players do not need "fresh and interesting combat options". What we need is for the developers to understand some very basic tenets about what Halo's gameplay is made of, because this is the thing that seems to be sorely lacking. Halo is a weird arena/squad mutant hybrid baby. Initially, there was no running or standing bloom. You can run at full speed zoomed in our out, there is palpable vertical access, and there are weapons on map. But then you have reloading, recharging shields, a max of two weapons, and grenades. In addition, there are some weird - but extremely important - aspects to Halo that lie somewhere in between, such as the medium running speed, the concept of a utility weapon plus the idea that you are supposed to hit the grand majority of your shots with it, and the specific resolution of kill times which lies squarely in the middle of squad-shooter-instant-death and the long, drawn out jousting matches of arena combat.
Now, let's get in depth on that for a second. Arena shooters have very extrapolated gunplay exchanges, and yet...squad shooters are the biggest culprits of camping. Do you notice how interesting that is? The mobility, the kill times, the weapon access and mechanics, these all have a multi-tiered interplay that produces results which are not necessarily the most intuitive. The point of me saying this is that Halo does not have a comfortable resting place between these two concepts. On the contrary, it sits on a very delicate fulcrum between them, where any minor adjustment can have drastic consequences for the gameplay. Take a look at Halo 2, for example. This is a game littered with problems, but the one thing that broke combat for years afterward was the lack of power that the battle rifle had compared to the pistol. It took literally more than twice as long to kill an opponent with perfect shooting, but if you were shooting someone in the back or at an unfortunate angle, you now had to blow an entire clip just to kill that one enemy. That, along with the change in map design philosophy, completely altered the way that Halo was played...for the worse, as most of us would tell you.
The only actual gameplay element that has been brought up so far is sprint. We say sprint is broken, you say that sprint enables creativity. Well, first of all, that would be true if Halo was actually a game with different classes that had incredibly distinct mobility differences, but that's not the case and never has been. Halo will never be a class shooter, no matter how much anyone tries to force it, as long as it still vaguely plays like Halo. So we're left with every Spartan awarded the ability to burn out and take off across the battlefield. As I mentioned in a post a while ago, this has many detrimental effects on gameplay:
- Sprint influences map design by pushing developers to make larger maps, which is inappropriate for Halo's core gameplay
- It creates a large area of "no man's land" on a map where nobody is actually expected to have a gunfight
- It also creates areas that are just segues into different parts of the map, e.g. the hallways on Adrift - those are not ideal fighting locations (see Chill Out for proper map-making inspiration)
- Sprint deconstructs the spawning system because players are able to get back in the battle too quickly, especially with a straight-shooting weapon like the DMR and lots of open spaces
- Sprint ruins map geometry by creating gaps that can only be traversed with sprint-powered jumps; jumping and shooting is kind of important in Halo
- Most significantly, it causes the Spartan to lower their weapon - at no point in a Halo game should a person be unable to shoot their gun unless they're holding the objective (lol, flagnum)
- It downplays the vertical aspect of Halo hugely, creating maps that are horizontally gigantic but vertically insignificant
This is probably not even the entire list of problems that sprint brings to the table. But the thing is, man...I don't even have to think that long or that hard to come up with a list of reasons why sprint is bad news for this game series. The lack of consequential logic here baffles me to no end, as does the complete absence of respect for Halo's fundamental gameplay.
Look, if you want to turn Halo into something completely different, then fine, that's your prerogative and your right as the people who have their legal fingers around the franchise. At that point, however, asking us our feelings becomes completely irrelevant. You guys know how to write Halo's programming, we know how to win tournaments. We push this game and exploit it and abuse it, and as a result we are very acquainted with all the seemingly trivial minutia and we know how things are going to play out when you've got eight people in a match who want to beat the other guys. Asking us to warm up to deviant changes in Halo's gameplay style, when they are clearly not intended to cater to us, is a fruitless endeavor. You can consider us an outlier in the grand scheme of things for selling your game, and that's fine. I would argue, first of all, that the tournament scene is the single biggest element of post-release exposure for the Halo franchise, and it had always been that way before we finally threw in the towel. But even beyond that, letting us influence the development of a Halo game (and I mean in a MEANINGFUL way) shows a very strong commitment to forging a creative product that is fundamentally sound, not just something that satisfies the shareholders.
Nobody here knows precisely how the politics work up there in 343 studios. Nobody knows who makes the real decisions, nobody knows if you've got black suits with sunglasses and earpieces peering over your shoulders, or if a bunch of corporate hacks are the ones calling the shots. We just know Halo, and you know what, we're pretty good at it. We're a valuable source of information about how to make this game function right on the bullet-to-helmet level.
I ask with as much patience as I have in me that you don't come here with the intention of calming the revolt. I want you to understand what we're saying - even and ESPECIALLY if you can't make what we want happen.