Here’s What You Need to Make Halo: Infinite a Success
As Last Gen Arcade rounds out its Halo: Combat Evolved coverage, there is a lot of news going on about the next installment in the franchise – the highly-anticipated Halo: Infinite.
Halo is massive, and we’ve some serious highs and lows from each new addition (ranging from games to books to straight-to-DVD movies). But it’s time to take Master Chief and his Microsoft overload to task and finally figure out what this new game HAS to do to be a success.
Now, I’m not saying it needs to be an “instant classic,” but there are some very clear rules 343 Studios and its developers need to follow to ensure the game is spinning in our disc drives (or rumbling in our hard drives) for the next couple of years.
Have a Co-Op Mode at Launch
It’s already been announced that the game will not launch with co-op when it comes out on December 8th, and that’s a huge shame. But I think I get it.
From what I’ve seen, the go-to answer is that the developers need some time to figure out how to approach the world cooperatively. In other words, I think they want to see how people are playing the game when it comes out and implement co-op where it fits best.
This could look like several things:
Split-screen free world roaming
Co-op for certain missions
The return of Firefight mode
A separate co-op campaign a la Spartan Ops
What everybody generally expects is an honest-to-god split-screen approach. But this ultimately depends on the game’s design and how players progress.
In older Halo games, it’s pretty easy to hand your buddy a controller and go, “we’re going that-away.” But these days, many people have a personal connection to their player-character.
They have armour builds, stats, and weapons all customized to their unique playstyle. Add in story-driven progression items (like areas you can’t complete unless you have “x”-item), and it’s going to be much harder to play the game with others without being spoiled or getting stuck.
This probably isn’t an issue for everybody (I, for one, tend to beat Halo in co-op with long sessions so my buddy and I are always neck-and-neck with each other). Still, there are some challenges to overcome when designing a cooperative open-world.
My opinion: the safest way to get co-op at launch is to do something like Spartan Ops – maybe with some looter-shooter missions for good measure. This mode should satiate people like myself who simply want to play with buds while buying time for Bungie to see how they can make this new open-world Halo game design work.
Don’t Fall for Open-World Design Tropes
Speaking of open-worlds…
Towers, escort missions, grocery-list collectables–these are all going the way of the dodo.
Seriously, though. I love Red Dead Redemption and Assassin’s Creed as much as the next guy, but we’ve hit a point where open-world games are about as limiting as any corridor shooter. People know what to expect, how to navigate, and they certainly know when exploring the world isn’t fun.
But what can 343 Studios do to manage this? I think it might be a good idea to look at another franchise featuring a bulky armoured badass for inspiration: Metroid.
Let me explain:
I’ve been playing a lot of Control recently, which is a third-person action shooter from Remedy Entertainment. To make a long story short, I had a lot of trouble getting into Control until I played Super Metroid a couple of months back (also the subject of our next game on Last Gen Arcade).
Playing Super Metroid was the “I can see The Matrix” moment I needed to enjoy Control, and this level/map design is exactly what Halo needs to be fresh, bold, and familiar in all the right ways.
With an open-world, there are ample opportunities to create large, maze-like missions that players can come back to once they find the next tool or key they need. You can limit the boring sprawl players have to wade through in games like Red Dead or Assassin’s Creed, and keep the focus on moment-to-moment action. As the map opens up, players will see the amount of space they’ve traversed while having a sense of accomplishment.
No Forerunner Nonsense / Avoid Too Much Lore
This complaint is more a thing for me than for anyone else, but I am beyond done with long-winded world-building. Even though I did stop playing new Halo games after 4 and have no clue what happens in 5, I know for a fact that I don’t want to have to look up a Wikipedia article to figure out which faction of enemies belong to which clan.
It’s a shooter. Let me play a shooter.
Doom and Doom Eternal are the prime examples I think of when I think of balanced world-building and endless, raucous fun. A lot of the story is told over text that you can dive into it whenever you want, but it’s not a requirement for knowing what’s going on.
Complex plots have their place in gaming, for sure, but Halo is… well, Halo. You only need so much motivation to get your ass in gear, and spending too much time on a bad guy’s religious beliefs is just going to slow me down.
As a wise man once said: Rip and tear.
Fair Start Multiplayer
I’ll be the first to admit that multiplayer is not really my thing. I’m not fast enough, not coordinated enough, and just not social enough. However, I do know a thing or two about being completely alienated when it comes to multiplayer shooters–and it starts with how each match starts.
When talking to our resident Halo expert Jacob for our next Halo episode, he made a really good point about fair starts in Halo and why they’re instrumental for introducing new players without throwing them into the inferno.
This point made me take a step back and look at all the multiplayer shooters I loved. PUBG, Halo 3, the first Gears of War, Overwatch (for a time); each of these had everyone virtually stand on equal footing for every match. Sure, yo
u could be quick on the draw and know the map layouts a little better than the next guy, but those aren’t items you can purchase with real money or in-game currency; that’s skill.
And even though the most skilled players can make a mistake, they make far fewer mistakes if they either bought or grinded for the best gear imaginable.
Mountain Dew/Dorito Endorsements
Look, Halo only really matters to me when I have an obscene amount of Mountain Dew cans and Dorito bags laying around. Each of them endowed with Master Chief either striking a pose or running straight towards me.
It’s absolutely essential. If I don’t get a Master Chief Doritos bag by Christmas, this game is an automatic 0/10.
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