If you are a Halo fan, I am sure by now you have heard about the upcoming update for January 2016, Infinity’s Armor. As promised, each month 343 Industries will be releasing a content update to coincide with the next month’s multiplayer season. Last update we got the much-anticipated Forge, new maps for Warzone and some tweaks to the Arena playlists, and in November we saw Halo 5’s take on Big Team Battles. Suffice to say the community divided on how these updates have turned out. Some like the increased complexity and control in Forge, others the move toward a more eSports-friendly and competitive Arena system, yet there are some who question the approach. They claim the game’s new stewards aren’t quite cutting it with the lack of playlists, join-in-progress system, and ‘remixed’ map variants.
I thought it would be good to explore these gripes in greater detail, and explain why, despite my excitement for the next update, I am still not wholly happy with 343’s approach. So why am I excited about this update? Firstly, I love Battle of Noctis for Warzone, so Urban, a Warzone Assault variant should be a fun addition to a playlist that has grown quite stale since launch (being the preferred REQ grind can’t help). Secondly, the aesthetic additions because, despite my reservations about the REQ system, I have loved collecting alternate weapon skins, customising my character appearance, and seeing the return of the Halo 2 battle rifle gave me a very pleasant tingle.
“Why are you grumpy then Alasdair?” you might ask. Well, because it’s all just a bit, meh. The absolute lack of asymmetrical map variants, non-standard playlists, and the seemingly perpetual remix of that one human industrial building have made for a game that becomes dull very quickly. I never thought I would see the day where Halo became Call of Duty in space. However, that isn’t necessarily to disparage CoD or Halo 5 because both games have their place of love in my Xbox library; it’s just that I love them for different reasons.
Halo 5: Guardians introduced one of the best multiplayer games I have ever played, from a mechanical standpoint. But that isn’t all that matters. A game that is mechanically awesome may not always have the fun factor of a goof-around such as seen in Griffball, or the challenge of knowing that your opponent got lucky enough to spawn in an advantageous half of the map. Variety matters and the 343 approach of streamlining the experience and introducing droves of remixed maps isn’t going down well with fans like myself.
I have suggestions, though, so I hope that makes me less vapid than the average forum griefer. 343, you need to introduce some more game types. I have heard you intend to bring back fan fave Griffball, but where is Infection, and why is Shotty Snipers only on the weekend? You also need to learn from Bungie (as galling as that may seem). While it lasted, they did well by Halo for the most part. As a consequence, some of my best memories were from Halo 3 multiplayer with friends, a feeling shared by many. Somehow you chose only to include mostly symmetrical battlefields or tiny, boxy arenas, forgoing the wacky setups we all loved from Halo 2 and 3.
My hope for future updates going into the Spring of this year is that the remixes and the streamlining focus get shunted to second priority and that 343 try and deliver a more Halo experience. Whether that comes from more fan-service like the Halo 2 BR and Griffball, or through quirky new maps, I don’t mind. I just think it’s time they think outside the box, stop hedging and be comfortable in the fact that they released a good game that can handle a couple of changes.
Thanks for reading. If you liked this first of what I hope to be a weekly segment, please comment with topic suggestions for me to discuss related to the Xbox experience.