With the upcoming release of Halo: The Master Chief Collection and the 2015 release of Halo 5: Guardians, a lot of buzz has been going on around the Halo community and for good reason. People are genuinely excited again for Halo, and not just because it’s another Halo but also because it’s the Halo games we know and love. Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, Halo 3, and Halo 4’s separate multiplayer modes will be playable in the Master Chief Collection.
Many people argue about the core of Halo. What is the core? Is it the 3 shot pistol from CE? Is it dual-wielding from Halo 2? Is it ordinance drops with custom loadouts from Halo 4? I believe the core of Halo originated in Halo: CE with the developers at Bungie directly adopting a lot of core principles from id Software’s Quake 3, a team-based, arena style first person shooter for the PC. Halo: CE released in 2001 and Quake 3 released in 1999. There’s little doubt Halo: CE used a lot of the concepts from Quake 3 and made them playable on the console.
Halo: Combat Evolved was the first time that an FPS was on consoles since the Golden Eye days of the Nintendo 64. Halo: CE introduced new gameplay on consoles that used two analog stick controllers and basically brought the gameplay of Quake 3 over to the consoles. So why is this so important? Why should we even discuss Halo: CE being related to Quake 3? It’s very simple., Halo: CE is a slower version of the same core gameplay of Quake 3.
Halo: CE’s multiplayer is quite simple:, start with an automatic assault rifle and switch over to your secondary weapon, a scoped pistol that’s deadly at many ranges, and capable of killing in three shots to the head. This starting weapon set concept is exactly like Quake 3. In Quake 3, you start with a fully automatic machine gun, yet you have nothing else…so how is this the same? It’s the same because the concept calls for players to be able to defend themselves with a starting weapon that can literally kill from a variety of ranges. In Halo: CE, you start with average weapons that you can defend yourself with in a fair manner against opposing players that may be wielding a more powerful weapon.
Halo: CE and Quake both share the same core power-ups principles:, set the powerups on timers that are constant. In Quake 3, a powerup’s respawn timer is immediately set once someone picks up the powerup. For example if the red armor spawns every 60 seconds after it’s been picked up, then a player who’s controlling the red armor can mentally keep track of when they picked it up and know that they need to be back in the red armor area to get the next pickup 60 seconds later – Meanwhile the opposing player doesn’t know when it was picked up, thus they have to try to kill their opponent and pick the armor up for themselves to set a new timer.
In Halo: CE, the powerups work similarly, except that they’re on static timers. So every 60 seconds, an overshield will spawn regardless of whether a player has picked it up or not. This gameplay mechanic allows for creative flow in a match, and forces players to mentally keep track of timed powerups/weapons, etc.
Many weapons from Halo: CE are similar to Quake 3’s. The sniper rifle in Halo: CE can be related to the railgun in Quake 3. It’s a straight line, hit-scan weapon that deals massive damage, usually killing in two body shots to a player or one to the head. The railgun differs because it deals damage equally across the player model, there isn’t any extra damage dealt from aiming at the head.
The weapons philosophy in both Halo: CE and Quake is pretty much the same. Both games have shotguns, rocket launchers, sniper-type weapons, fully automatic machine guns that deal average damage, plasma weapons, etc. The core element here is that they’re strategically placed on the maps in both games to promote movement and map control.
Player movement is pretty similar, but one thing Halo: CE did was it slowed down the player movement speed in the game, and I think it was because of the controller. The speeds you can reach in Quake 3 with strafe jumping (jumping mechanic that builds momentum as you string together carefully timed jumps) are insane and they make the game very fast paced. Meanwhile, in Halo: CE, while the base player speed isn’t all that fast and there isn’t any strafe jumping mechanics, the killing speed is what makes the game feel fast. The Halo: CE movement creates a more tactical-style arena shooter versus a straight up Quake/Unreal style game, but still, they’re very similar.
Core Multiplayer Concept
This is where the two games share the main core principle., They’re multiplayer deathmatch games that pit two players against one another to test their shooting skills but also their mental thinking skills with managing timed weapons, timed powerups, etc. Halo: CE is hailed as being the best Halo game because it was pure and, at its core, tested the best players and allowed raw talent and skill to shine.
The core concept is spawning in the game and then figuring out where to go next:…pick up power weapons, pick up powerups, control them, time them, etc. At each death however, in Halo: CE, you are given a fair chance to defend yourself because of the starting weapon set. The other Halo games didn’t do this. They started you with a weak weapon and rewarded you for getting a better one, and continued that reward because newly respawned players in the game would continuously keep spawning with a weak weapon until they got a lucky spawn or were fortunate enough to kill the player with the stronger weapon.
Halo CE didn’t guarantee victory if you were holding a power weapon. A player could kill you in three shots to the head with the pistol., That was the beauty of the game. Like in Quake 3, a player could strafe jump around the map, running away from other players and still be able to pick them off with just the starting machine gun. Again, balanced and fair.
This is why Halo: CE is regarded as the best Halo game. It’s not just about the 3 shot kill pistol, or the amazingly designed multiplayer maps, it was about the core gameplay. Just as people hail Quake 3 for being an amazing game for multiplayer, Halo: CE brought us that same style and concept to the consoles, something that had never been done before.
As the Halo games progressed in the series with Halo 2, 3, Reach and Halo 4, we see the once great core concept from Halo CE being completely lost. Will it come back in Halo 5? We don’t know yet. If it doesn’t, we at least have Halo: CE on Xbox Live running at 1080p, 60 frames per second and played on dedicated servers.
With Halo 5 coming next year, I believe the game should revert back to its roots of Halo Combat Evolved which should pay its respects to Quake 3. Halo 5 has the potential to provide a game experience like no other on the Xbox One. It has the opportunity to stand in the same ranks as Starcraft II, League of Legends, DOTA 2 and Ultra Super Street Fighter 4.