The Halo games have always been a point of contention with me. On the one hand, I do enjoy the setting, its lore, all the vehicles and so forth. Playing them always has memorable moments; for example, taking down a Scarab for the first time put a smile on my face that didn’t falter for some time. On the other hand, I’ve always found the floatiness of the controls to be off-putting, not to mention Halo uses a somewhat unintuitive control scheme that no other shooter franchise does, and that can be frustrating. It’s nothing that can’t be overcome with a few rounds of practice, but it’s aggravating considering practically every other shooter franchise has adopted what has very nearly become a gold standard control scheme that makes it easy to jump from game to game without too much confusion.
The very little multiplayer Halo experience I’ve had so far have always been on these little maps that, combined with the floaty controls and the design for wild jumps and grenade tossing, plus the weapon pickups located at specific locations on the map (also one of many gripes I have with Gears of War Versus multiplayer), reminds me too much of Ye Olde Shooters like Unreal Tournament and Quake 2. I loved those back then, but I’ve grown beyond arena shooters period, and I’ve come to prefer the RPG Lite progression and loadout schemes modern shooters use.
I’d always planned to pick up Halo 4 but recently canceled my pre-order just because I already have stacks of Xbox 360 games waiting to be finished, plus the recent addition of Borderlands 2 and I’m anxiously awaiting Far Cry 3 as I mentioned recently.
But then 343 Industries unleashed the Infinity Multiplayer ViDoc on Halo Waypoint…
And I immediately hopped on Amazon to reinstate my pre-order! Progression and loadouts, huge team-based, objective-oriented maps, narrative in the multiplayer, not to mention the new cooperative Spartan Ops mode. Hell yeah, I’m in!
I’ve been playing a little Halo: Reach the past few days just to practice up on the whole Halo multiplayer vibe. I discovered the Big Team Battles playlist which is essentially Team DeathMatch but on larger maps that also include vehicles. There are no objectives that I’ve noticed but it’s at least been something I can learn to enjoy in its own right and separate from the Call of Duty and Battlefield franchises I usually play.
The campaign and Spartan Ops are a natural attraction for me, especially since it appears 343i have put some serious effort into bumping up the narrative in this new game. Hopefully the new multiplayer will be something I enjoy and continue coming back to next year.
I do feel it’s such an incredible shame that a decade later and all the lore written on the factions of the Halo universe that we’re still playing Spartan versus Spartan in (apparently?) holographic simulation battles. I think a bigger Battlefield-style game where we can choose our faction and a persistent online strategic territorial conquest campaign would blow the crap out of the Red vs. Blue stuff Halo has been doing all this time.