Building the Ultimate Halo Game

MULTIPLAYER

Map Designs
Player Spawns
Weapon Spawns
Gametypes & Matchmaking Playlists
Armor Permutations & Player Customization
Forge
Firefight

Just like the core gameplay, the multiplayer component would remain true to the roots of the Halo series. For example, there won’t be any class system or unlockable perks or weapons. It’ll still be the same Halo-style balancing where every player in a match will spawn with the same weapons and gear (or access to the same weapons and gear if loadouts are enabled), with other weapons and power-ups being acquired as pick-ups on the map, though certain asymmetrical or “non-standard” gametypes like Invasion, Infection, and Fiesta would be obvious and notable exceptions to this rule. I believe in the importance of an even playing field, and to stray from this would risk making Halo too much like the current status quo of popular FPS multiplayer modes, represented primarily by Call of Duty. Indeed, Halo 4 added several COD-ish elements, including rank-based unlocks, custom loadouts, and perks, which was a step in the wrong direction as far as I’m concerned, but fortunately it was a one-off thing that was ditched in Halo 5. While in general I’m all in favor of giving the player more options — hence my suggestions for customizable HUDs and, as you’ll see later on this page, a more robust set of tools for custom games and Forge — but not when it negatively affects game balance, which is extremely important in matchmade multiplayer.


Map Designs

Making good, memorable maps isn’t an easy thing, but I do have a few ideas on how to do so. Making sure they’re balanced is a given, and while this is easy to attain on symmetrical maps since everything is mirrored, it’s a bit tougher of a task on asymmetrical maps. Still, there are quite a few asymmetrical maps that work very well and are fun to play on, including Chill Out, Lockout, and Powerhouse, among others. It’s also important to make sure that they have a good flow and are uncluttered. If players are only using one part of a map and ignoring large parts of it entirely, it’s probably not a good map. If there’s one easily-defended focal point that makes camping it the only winning strategy, then it might not be a good map. If players are getting stuck on kibble that’s strewn about or can’t bounce grenades because they get stuck in miscellaneous little cracks and crevices that have no practical reason for being there, it probably isn’t a good map. If it’s hard for players to navigate, then it’s likely a bad map.

Art design helps facilitate good design as well. It’s essential for a map to have a clean, clear aesthetic, with various landmarks and/or other visual cues to help aid navigation. This feeds back into map flow: visuals can go a long way towards making it easier to find your way through a map and distinguish its various components and contents from each other. A muddy visual appearance, bad lighting, etc., can make things hard to see and the map difficult to navigate. Visuals also make for maps that are easily recognizable and just plain interesting, and having a unique, memorable design can help make a good map even better.

Some of the most well-regarded maps of past Halo games, including classics like Chill Out, Lockout, Zanzibar/Last Resort, The Pit, and of course Blood Gulch and its remakes all had interesting, unique designs and/or superb map flow, and had a distinctive character to them. Even Chiron TL-34, the black sheep of CE’s map pool, was at least trying to do something interesting and is a wholly unique design (though because no two rooms were identical and the map had an asymmetrical layout it was hard to navigate unless you spent some time memorizing the teleporters, which likely explains its mixed reception). Conversely, many of the maps from Halo 4 and Halo 5 run into each other visually, lack any distinctive character of their own, and don’t do anything interesting or have anything remarkable in terms of layout, and many of them have poor flow, frequently have lots of kibble and other stuff to get stuck on, and sometimes have visuals that are muddy or hyper-detailed enough to affect gameplay.


Player Spawns

Having a good spawn system is very important for multiplayer. A common problem in Halo games starting in Halo 3 was that many two-base maps, such as Valhalla and The Pit, have spawns for Team Slayer gametypes that are essentially the same as those in Objectives gametypes. In other words, if you spawn on one side of the map, you will always spawn on that side of the map. The most obvious problem with this is that it is very easy for one team to spawn camp the other team. This stands in contrast to every map in Halo 1 & 2, where on Team Slayer gametypes you could always spawn at any available spawn point, regardless of where it was. Another common problem throughout the series is that enemies can spawn right behind the player on some maps. Halo: Reach and Halo 4 had generally improved spawning, though they too some lingering issues that carried over from Halo 3, including the fact that on many maps (e.g., Paradiso, Exile) you can only spawn on one side, thus allowing for one team to potentially spawn trap the other, and on some maps, most notably The Cage/Uncaged, spawning right next to an enemy is still a problem.

In a future Halo game, there needs to be an improved spawn system. First, the player should be able to spawn at any spawn point in the map in any Team Slayer gametypes even on symmetrical or semi-symmetrical two-base maps, or at the very least be able to spawn somewhere more out of the way to make them less vulnerable to spawn camping; always spawning only on one side of the map should really only happen on CTF and Assault. Second, the player should tend to spawn in the safest available spots if at all possible. The spawn system should, if possible, be able to ascertain variables such as enemy positions (to keep the player from spawning right in front, behind, or next to an enemy) and line of sight (to keep them from spawning in an enemy’s view and potentially getting sniped or otherwise attacked by an enemy or accidentally hit by a friendly attack right off the spawn). If this requires far more spawn points than are typical on a Halo map, so be it. While no spawn system is perfect — for example, the safest available spawn point might not actually be all that safe all the time should nothing safer be available — these changes should reduce spawn killing to a minimum and would likely be the best system available.


Weapon Spawns

There is not much need for significant change here. Weapons would spawn on a fixed timer just as they did in Halo 1, 3, Reach, and 5, and the ordnance system from Halo 4 would not be utilized. Of course, while the spawn system itself would remain unchanged, it’s still important to place weapons in appropriate locations. Weapons that may dominate a particular part of a stage would be placed elsewhere. For example, a map similar to Snowbound with an open surface area and a close-quarters interior area would place a powerful close-quarters weapon like the shotgun on the surface and a long-range weapon like a sniper in the interior locations. Power weapons may or may not have waypoints over them to direct players to them like in Halo 5. I’m still not set on that one way or the other.


Gametypes & Matchmaking Playlists

This game would have every single one of the core gametypes players have enjoyed throughout the years, including Slayer, CTF, Assault, King of the Hill, Oddball, Infection, Race, and even more recent inventions like Invasion and Regicide, as well as all of their default sub-variants (e.g., One-flag CTF, Invasion Slayer, Rally). All of these gametypes would be available at launch. Likewise, Matchmaking would feature all the classic playlists like Team Slayer, Big Team Battle, Team SWAT, and Rumble Pit. Matchmaking would utilize the same voting feature from Halo: Reach and Halo 4, which was a big improvement over Halo 3’s simplistic veto system, particularly in playlists like BTB and Multi-team that offer a mix of Slayer and Objectives gametypes (note that like in Reach, but unlike in Halo 4, there would be a “None of the Above” option in the first round of voting). In the event of a tie vote, the winner would be randomly selected from whatever maps tied for most votes.

As mentioned before in this article, loadouts would be present but less widespread, being restricted to certain gametypes and/or playlists. They would not be present in standard 4v4 playlists like Slayer or CTF, nor would they be in BTB or Rumble Pit/FFA, but they would show up in Firefight and Invasion. Armor abilities, if implemented in the game, would typically be relegated to items on the map the player must pick up to use (they may be part of the loadouts in Firefight and Invasion, though). This places the overall game balance more on par with the first three games, which gave players identical weapons and attributes upon spawning.

Some classic gametypes would experience some changes, though. For example, players would spawn with only one grenade in most 4v4 gametypes in order to reduce grenade spam. Also, to avoid instances of deliberate (and accidental) betrayals and other shenanigans, friendly fire would likely be off by default in most gametypes. Also, since flag juggling defeats the purpose of reducing the flag carrier’s movement speed in CTF games, the flag carrier would always move at normal running speed, but otherwise CTF would function just the same as in Halo 2, 3, & Reach. The “Flagnum” introduced in Halo 4 would be removed, though; if they flag carrier wants to defend themselves, they either need to use the flag melee or just drop the flag and use their weapons. It should be harder for flag carriers to defend themselves without their teammates, thus emphasizing the greater importance of teamwork in objectives matches. Grifball would come in both classic Assault-based form as well as the Oddball-based form found in Halo 4.

Finally, Invasion would likely be expanded to a larger scale 32-player gametype and would incorporate elements of Halo 4’s Dominion, Halo 5’s Warzone (which is in many ways a mix of Invasion, Dominion, and Firefight), and even a touch of Battlefield 4’s Conquest. Each team of 16 players (up from 12 in Halo 5’s Warzone) would be divided into four squads of four players each. Standard Invasion spawning would apply, with a dead player being able to respawn on any one of his three squadmates or at a selection of fixed spawn zones (typically a base or other control point held by the team).

Due to the larger number of players, it would likely require larger maps. These maps would be designed to work well with standard Big Team gametypes (no point in making a map that can only be used in one game mode), and BTB itself may be scaled up to work with larger teams. And by “large maps” I don’t mean “slightly bigger than Blood Gulch” like Halo 5’s Warzone maps. Despite 343i’s Josh Holmes boasting that Warzone would have maps “four times the size of any previous Halo map,” the biggest ones are at best 50% bigger than Blood Gulch in terms of actual playable real estate, and some are actually a bit smaller than BG (Raid on Apex 7, March on Stormbreak, and Escape from A.R.C. can be compared to BG here, here, and here). And while they’re undeniably big maps, they are often quite cluttered, with limited avenues of approach, especially for vehicles, which are often very restricted in their movements. Ironically, there are Halo maps that, despite not being as big as some Warzone maps, somehow manage to feel more open, including Sidewinder, Waterworks, Valhalla, and Sandtrap.

I want something much more massive in scale. I’m talking maps that actually are two, four, or even six times the playable area of Blood Gulch, with a good mix of large open outdoors environments as well as interior areas more suited to closer-quarters combat. Think of something closer to the maps of the Battlefield series, which are often quite huge compared to the typical Halo map, and usually considerable more open than any Warzone map. To use some Battlefield 4 maps as examples, Zavod 311 is over twice the size of Blood Gulch, Rogue Transmission is at least five times the size of Blood Gulch, and the colossal Golmud Railway is at least a dozen times the size of Blood Gulch (comparison images can be seen here, here, and here). While bigger maps for a 16v16 Invasion would have design concessions made for Halo-style gameplay (which is obviously quite different from Battlefield’s), they would still be much bigger and more open than what we got in Warzone.

While Invasion may have a Requisition system similar to Halo 5’s Warzone, the REQ system would be changed a good bit. For example, the way REQ energy in matches would be handled would be changed to make matches a bit more balanced and less prone to “snowballing.” In regards to unlocking things, non-gameplay items like armor, emblems, assassination animations, skins, etc., would be separated from gameplay items. Also, gameplay items would be fewer in number due mainly to fewer overall weapon and vehicle variants. While the grind won’t be eliminated entirely, players would not have to invest unreasonable sums of time to unlock everything they want, and they would have greater freedom in determining what they unlock, as opposed to Halo 5 where all the unlocks are not only a total crapshoot when it comes to what to you get from buying REQ packs, but the REQ items are all lumped together and their total number is well over 1000. Even after nearly 120 hours of play time between Arena and Warzone in Halo 5 as of the time I wrote this sentence (Aug. 2, 2016), I’m still not even close to having unlocked everything, with my completion sitting at 40% for customization items (armor, etc.), 63% for loadout weapon varaints, and 57% for power weapons & vehicles. I will likely add an appendix to the end of the article detailing my ideas for “REQ System 2.0.”

As for variants of Invasion, the standard gametype would incorporate elements of old-school Invasion Slayer, Halo 5’s standard Warzone (sans any AI units), and Halo 4’s Dominion. Like those gametypes it would be a territories-based gametype. It would revolve around capturing and holding up to five control points scattered across the maps (not including each team’s home base, which cannot be captured), with secured capture points serving as spawn areas for your team. But it could possess elements of its namesake as well, meaning that, like in Halo 4’s Dominion, bases could potentially be fortified with defenses (auto-turrets, shields, etc.), and weapon and vehicle pads could spawn as well.

“Invasion: Warzone” would be standard Invasion but with neutral AI-controlled enemies incorporated into the gameplay that can be killed for points. There would be a broader spectrum of enemy ranks, and perhaps no real “super bosses” like in Halo 5 but rather squads of especially tough Covenant like Zealots, Chieftains, and Hunters. The scoring for killing AI units could function similar to Campaign & Firefight scoring, but with the points scaled to be more suitable to a multiplayer match.

“Invasion: Assault” would be more like the default Invasion from Halo: Reach or Battlefield’s Rush mode, being a phased attacker vs. defender mode where most of the map is initially cordoned off and the offensive team must secure a particular control point and/or plant a bomb, and, if successful, the level expands and a new control point opens. The final phase could involve acquiring a data core or destroying a generator. Unlike Warzone Assault, but like classic Invasion, there would be two rounds, with the attacking and defending teams in the first round swapping roles in the second round.

All gametypes, including every Invasion variant, would be playable in custom games.


Armor Permutations & Player Customization

The player would still be able to select from various permutations of Spartan-II and Elite armor, which would include both a variety of new armor as well as most of the older permutations from Halo 3 & Reach (and a select few from Halo 4 & 5). As in Reach and Halo 4, the player can mix and match any pieces available to them, including shoulder, arm, leg and body armor. In addition to armor permutations, there would also be a variety of armor and weapon skins as well as the obligatory selection of emblems and nameplates, which would be expanded greatly (every emblem that has ever existed would be present, not incluing those copyrighted by Bungie for obvious reasons). Emblems would be separate from nameplates, and players could utilize whatever mix of primary and secondary colors they want for either. I believe players should be granted as much freedom to customize their character as is practically possible, without the artists dictating certain armor piece combinations or emblem color schemes to them like in Halo 5.

As to how the player unlocks these items, well, ideally I believe they should have access to all of the armors, helmets, emblems, etc., right from the get-go. But these days it is expected and even considered desirable by devs and gamers both to lock aesthetic items behind a “player investment system” (read: Skinner box) that requires players to sink a certain amount of time into the game to “earn” various things. Nevertheless, I would try to have an unlock system that better respects the player’s time. As mentioned in the Gametypes section above, unlike in Halo 5, cosmetic items would not be tied in with gameplay items. They would be given their own REQ packs, and perhaps entire armor suits (helmet, body, shoulders, & legs combined) could be purchased directly with REQ points or as microtransactions (see Appendix V for proposed changes to the REQ system). Additionally, some achievements would have REQ packs attached to them that would offer a selection of cosmetic items (many retro armors & emblems could be unlocked that way); this was the way Halo 3 handled armor unlocks.


Forge

Forge has been a great tool for the community, allowing Halo players to modify existing maps and even create new ones from scratch thanks to designed-for-Forge “blank slate” levels like Foundry, Sandbox, and especially Reach’s expansive Forge World. At this point Forge is a must-have feature.

Forge’s functionality has improved quite a bit overall since its 2007 introduction, and a more complete listing of improvements and other changes can be viewed on Halopedia’s Forge article here. Yet despite all the various improvements over the past several games each iteration of Forge was lacking in various regards. While Reach’s Forge was flexible, the endless sea of slate-grey Forerunner levels seen in Forge World was tiresome to the eyes, and while Forge World did have a wide variety of areas, the fixed terrain could cause some issues. Meanwhile, Halo 4’s smaller-scale canvases and inferior gametype and option selections limited what players were capable of creating; large-scale insanity like Bluerunner’s “Sangheili Don’t Surf” and my own Forge World-spanning creation “Death Race GT” were simply not possible to recreate in Halo 4. Despite the introduction of terrain pieces in Halo 2 Anniversary, you still can’t specifically define the exact layout of the terrain to your specifications as the pieces are preset and immutable, plus they come at the expense of the item budget. Finally, Halo 5 expands the number of items at your disposal, but also discards most preexisting structural pieces and also drastically changes the controls, UI, and how object manipulation works, thus making Forge far more awkward to use for many who are used to the old way of doing things.

So, how can Forge improve in the future, besides refining the existing tools? Well, for one I would have multiple options for basic controls and object manipulation, with one option for Reach/H4/H2A-style controls and other for Halo 5-style controls. Also, I would alter the scale to be based on meters instead of generic “world units” like in Reach/H4/H2A or feet like in Halo 5 (seriously, who outside the U.S. uses feet?); for reference, in the old system each unit was the equivalent of 3 meters. By using meters instead of world units, we can have a wider selection of block sizes than in Reach/H4/H2A while at the same time yielding blocks that scale properly with preexisting ones from Reach/H4/H2A .

Additionally, I would expand the selection of various object classes quite a bit. For a while, Halo was severely outclassed by certain other map editors in this aspect. There were a bit over 100 pieces in the “Structure” category to work with in Forge World in Reach. Halo 4 increased that amount of a bit, with roughly 150 structural pieces (including pieces specific to each of the three Forge levels) and a few gametype-specific objects like the various Dominion pieces. Both games also have a few dozen miscellaneous other objects (sandbags, crates, explosive items, gravity lifts, shield doors, teleporters, toys, etc.), spawn points, trait zones, weapons and vehicles. But this pales in comparison to what some other map editors offer. For example, the Far Cry 4 map editor outclassed Halo 4’s structural object count with just natural structures alone, with over 230 different rocks or clusters of rocks (many of which share the same model but have different textures), 32 trees, and 27 bushes & miscellaneous other individual plants. Additionally, it has a vegetation generation tool that offers 70 different palettes that contain various mixtures of grass, shrubs, and trees. The number of buildings and other smaller pieces, building blocks, and structures number even greater; I stopped counting when I reached one thousand, but I’d estimate they number around 1500, so when you add in all the rocks and plants you’re talking some 1800 individual pieces to work with, give or take (note that I’m not including gameplay objects like weapons, vehicles, AI units, and player spawn points).

Halo 5 finally expanded the item count by a significant amount, with over 1700 items total, thus putting Halo on par with Far Cry, but it also came at the cost of losing pretty much every structural piece from previous Forges. So, if Halo 5 could yield over 1700 pieces there’s no reason we couldn’t go even further, perhaps closing in on 2000 pieces. So, what would I put in this expanded collection of Forge pieces? Well, the basic categories would be pretty much as they’ve always been but with a greater variety of pieces. As mentioned earlier, pretty much every Forge object from Halo 3, Reach, Halo 4, H2A, and Halo 5 would be added, even items that were only found in specific levels that weren’t really built for Forging. This means the “Buildings” category, which was eliminated in Halo 5, would be reintroduced and expanded considerably. Also, building blocks and other structural pieces would include Forerunner architecture, several distinct classes of human structures (UNSC, civilian, industrial, etc.), a proper selection of genuine Covenant structures (something that has barely existed in Forge aside from a single Forge piece on Penance in Reach), and various blocks of generic materials (e.g., stone, metal, wood). Generic building blocks would likely have a feature similar to Halo 5 where when selecting it you can toggle the color, e.g., metal pieces would have primary & secondary colors and stone blocks could be switched to where they look like sandstone, granite, concrete, etc. Even various objects previously found in Campaign, such as the Covenant watchtowers as well as countless other miscellaneous objects, would be present.

As for natural structures, there would be well over a hundred different rocks of various shapes, sizes, and textures, including many large enough to serve as cliff walls and the like. They were would also be at least 50 different trees & other plants (including those odd glowing tree-like plants found in various locales from High Charity to Backwash). I would also have a vegetation generation tool similar to one from the Far Cry map editor so players could quickly place a large number of plants and/or small rocks or cover natural terrain with grass and the like.

Beyond basic artificial and natural structures, there would also be various decorative items such as signs and emblems (something first introduced in Halo 5) as well as holographic displays and panels like those found in various Forerunner and Covenant structures, which could spruce up your map. Also, for the first time ever weapons would actually be able to be placed in weapon crates (of which only the Covenant variety have been available in Forge before; I would make every type of weapon crate that ever existed a Forge object, both UNSC and Covenant). Perhaps instead of spawning a weapon separate from the crate and having to place it into the crate, when the player highlights the crate they could bring up a sub-menu to assign weapons into the appropriate slots. Also, in addition to the individual floating disembodied lights that have been present in previous Forge modes, there would be various light-emitting structures to choose from (street lights, antennas, wall-mounted light fixtures, etc.), a class of items first introduced in Halo 5.

However, there’s a lot more I’d like to do with Forge than simply making it more user-friendly and expanding the selection of structural pieces. I would greatly expand what Forge is capable of as a map editor, having it offer greater variability in defining one’s custom-made play spaces. These new tools would include:

• A proper terrain editor
• A texture tool
• A water level tool
• A time of day/sun angle tool
• More advanced weather tools
• A more advanced skybox tool

These additions were inspired by the map editors from the last several Far Cry games as well as Bungie’s “Grognok” tool they used to build environments in Reach and even the recent Project Spark released for the Xbox One. I’ve actually spent some time with the map editors in FC3 & FC4 as well as Project Spark, and while the controls and interface are rather ungainly compared to Reach/H4/H2A-style Forge (though the terrain editor controls better in Project Spark than in Far Cry, plus it makes digging tunnels more easy), they allow the player to do many things that cannot be done in Forge, and I think Forge would benefit from incorporating the best aspects of more full-fledged map editors.

By adding these new tools, Forge would allow the player to define literally any type of available environment. As great as Forge World was in giving a wide variety of terrains in which to make maps, dedicated Forge levels in general have always had one other major shortcoming in addition to the ones listed earlier: the inability to alter the existing primary stage geometry or create new primary stage geometry. There’s been many times I wanted to alter the natural terrain of Forge World, but it’s not possible. Later on, Halo 2 Anniversary added terrain pieces like cliffs, but as mentioned earlier those have their own shortcomings. So, simply having a bigger budget and offering more building blocks won’t overcome the issues coming from either a fixed environment or from fixed natural structural pieces.

Forgers would be given a simple empty square from which they can start completely from scratch. I’d call it “Tabula Rasa” and it would be a flat, textureless one-kilometer square, with the airspace above it having a decently high ceiling (say 500 meters). Forgers could mold this blank slate to whatever shape they want, raising and lowering the terrain to create new mountains and valleys, carving caves into or through cliffsides, digging out rivers (and there would be a water tool to facilitate adding new bodies of water as well as set a global water level), and otherwise molding the terrain to fit their needs.

To complement the terrain editor there would be a texture tool where one could take the plain default texture of Tabula Rasa and “paint” a variety of textures to further define the type of environment. There would be at least several dozen textures to choose from (Far Cry 4 offers 64 various textures, including various types of grass, rock, dirt/sand and snow). The combination of terrain and texture tools would essentially make Forge a full-fledged map creation tool where advanced Forgers are no longer restrained by the bounds of a pre-made Forge canvas or preset terrain pieces, and are thus far more capable of unleashing their creative potential.

For novice Forgers or those who would rather not mess around with a terrain editor, there would still be a pre-made “Forge World 2.0,” which would itself be a creation of this more robust map editor and thus capable of being reforged into new shapes and even given new areas. Like the original version of Forge World it would have multiple distinct regions and be highly reminiscent of the original. By default it would look like it originally did (green grass, grey stone), but with the use of the texture tool they can repaint the environment to look like any of a number of other environments: desert, snow/arctic, savannah, tropical forest/jungle, wetlands, bizarre alien landscapes, and other possibilities. The player could simply load Forge World, bring up the texture toolbox to select, swap out the default textures with other textures, and *POOF!*, Forge World could become “Desert World” or “Snow World.”

Players would be able customize weather effects in these Forge levels. The severity of the weather would be adjusted by a simple slider. Weather conditions could include rain, snow, wind, thunder & lightning, fog of varying thickness, and so forth. Even time of day could be changed from the default time, as well as angle of the sun. The player would also be able select from various skyboxes providing background scenery, e.g., cities, outer space, several outdoors backdrops with or without a Halo ring rising up from the horizon). For example, a snow-themed map could have clear, sunny skies or a raging blizzard, while a level with a more tropical environment could be given rainy, stormy weather in the middle of the night or simple overcast skies during the day.

But regardless of whether I would go with a simpler “Forge 3.0” solution that’s simply Halo 5’s Forge with some minor improvements and an even wider variety of Forge pieces or go all out an have a full-fledged map editor complete with a blank, flat level that can be molded by a terrain editing tool, I’d still try to expand the options at the player’s disposal. I love how Forge allows for the Halo community to generate such a wide variety of content. Sure, not all of it is good, and some of it just plain sucks, but there’s a ton of great stuff as well, from competitive maps, to maps designed for casual, goofy fun, to maps that are Rube Goldberg devices or even pure works of literal art, and the simple fact that we are capable of making new maps makes Forge an invaluable, indispensable tool for the community. And as before, popular and/or well-made map designs could possibly be integrated into a specialized matchmaking playlist in the vein of the various “Community” playlists in Reach and Halo 4.


Firefight Mode

This game would combine aspects of both ODST/Reach Firefight and Halo 5 Firefight. Instead of the player count being eight players like in Halo 5, the player count would likely be capped at four, at least in Matchmaking. This would allow for larger groups of enemies like in Halo 5 while at the same time not requiring each individual enemy to be grossly overpowered in a one-on-one situation with the player.

The marquee version of Firefight would be a phased variant of five rounds where players have to accomplish certain tasks (e.g., kill x amount of enemies, kill a boss, or protect an objective) in order to progress to the next round. There would also be a survival-based variant similar to ODST and Reach, where the players share a combined pool of lives and must survive progressively tougher waves of enemies. Additionally, Skull modifiers would be utilized in the Survival variant, with each new round activating a new skull to amplify the difficulty.

In matchmade Firefight, the default difficulty would be Legendary for standard gametypes. While this is a drop from Halo 5’s 8 players back to the player cap from ODST & Reach, I think 4 players is better for balancing reasons. The more players there are, the more enemies there need to be, and the more damage they need to output, or otherwise it’d be too easy for the team. However, that also has the side effect of enemies that are grossly overpowered even in a simple one-on-one fight with an individual player, much less when a player is attacked by a group, plus the sheer amount of one-hit-kill attack in Halo 5’s Firefight is ridiculous. Four players would allow for balancing more on par with Campaign, just with larger swarms of enemies.

Enemies would be worth the same point values as they would be in Campaign (see Appendix II). In addition to standard enemy units, boss units would be present as well. Bosses would be standard infantry and vehicle units, just with more health. Bosses would come in various tiers like in Halo 5, with each tier conferring extra hit points to the unit. For example, a standard infantry boss could have upwards of 5 times the HP of its non-boss counterpart, while a Legendary infantry boss could get an increase of at least 10 times and a Mythic boss could get a 20-times increase over the base unit’s HP. However, the multipliers would not always be the same, and would vary by enemy type for balancing purposes (vehicular bosses in particular would get much smaller boosts, as would bosses that show up in large groups at once). Also, bosses would be more likely to carry advanced weapon variants.

As in ODST and Reach, but unlike in Halo 5, Firefight could be played in customs as well. There would be many options for creating an assortment of custom Firefight gametypes. I would expand the available selection of enemy squad types (imagine an all-airborne squad made of Drones, Elite Rangers, and Jump Pack Brutes) and modify others that existed in Reach, e.g., the Elite Spec-Ops squad would have a mix of Spec-Ops Elites (the old-style ones from Halo 1 & 2), Stealth Elites, and Spec-Ops Grunts. Firefight gametypes in matchmaking would utilize a wider variety of squad types as well, as opposed to how in Reach many squad types go unused in matchmade Firefight.

Just like how Firefight and regular Warzone share maps in Halo 5, the Invasion/Big Team maps in this game would also serve as Firefight maps.
Online Play, Offline Play, & Dedicated Servers

Being able to play Halo online has been an integral part of the series since Halo 2. Every game from Halo 2 to the Master Chief Collection utilized peer-to-peer networking for online, which often led to issues like host advantage and serious lag. Halo 5 eliminated P2P and introduced dedicated servers, and while this does do away many of the issues present with P2P and generally improves match search times, it introduces at least one major issue of its own, namely, it results in the game’s multiplayer being unable to be played offline. This means no true support for LAN play. It also means that if the game’s servers go down or you lose internet connection, you cannot play anything besides Campaign. Halo 5’s multiplayer in all of its aspects is utterly dependent on the internet. This makes it the first time in series history that the multiplayer is online-only.

I still believe in the importance of supporting local play, so I would not make this game’s multiplayer online-only. While matchmaking would still utilize dedicated servers, at the very least there would be an offline mode for multiplayer, that way players can still enjoy Forge and custom games even if the servers go down for whatever reason, or even if they lack internet access entirely.

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Forward to Part 7: Technical Aspects & Misc. Features >>>

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2 responses to “Building the Ultimate Halo Game

  1. Ok, I was just reading this article, and while I haven’t reviewed all the minutae and every single statistic yet, I have some comments…

    For one, I 100% agree with the idea of making a new game which focuses on the human/covenant war across different planets and colonies, rather than on the rings and the flood. You could really position this at any point in the timeline so as to provide the best battle scenarios.

    I really would like to see the Elites return as the primary enemy. I definitely agree that the Brutes would need some reworking to really contribute to the game, but I can’t even really think of how you would do that…and I wouldn’t miss them if they weren’t there.

    The number one thing I’d like to see in a new Halo campaign would be a serious, more realistic (Blomkampish) tone, and an enhanced focus on combat mechanics and AI. I would try to make the campaign combat match the intensity of a multiplayer match as much as possible. IMO an Elite should have equal health/shields and deal equal damage to the spartan player, and those values should not change across different difficulty levels. Ideally, the difference in the difficulty levels would entirely lie with how smart and aggressive the enemies were.

    Definitely agree about the AR – compress the old AR and old BR into one select fire weapon. With a good spread-bloom system, accuracy would be reduced during sustained auto fire enough to balance it out, while short bursts and rapid semi-auto would grant enough accuracy to go for head damage at mid range.

    I actually think there could be potential to use the fire mode selection as a wider overall game feature. The AR would be the primary reason to implement it, but it could be used in other weapons as well. For example, imagine switching modes on the Plasma Pistol – one mode being the dual function one we’re used to, one charge mode that automatically charges and holds an overcharge bolt until you pull the trigger, and “semi” mode that only fires the mini shots, but does so as soon as you pull the trigger rather than when you release it. You could also use such a command to adjust the rate of fire of the PR (ie 300/450/600 rpm) to manage damage vs overheating rate, or to toggle between magnification levels on the Sniper Rifle (5x/10x) or even the BR and Carbine (2x plus a 5x option).

    On the SMG – I think the way to differenciate it is ammo capacity and accuracy of sustained fire…it could even be changed to a very compact LMG (think mk46 mod 0). Firing a lighter round (even up to 5.56) it could deliver full auto with a tighter spread/less recoil than the AR for up to 70-100 rounds straight, at the cost of lighter per hit damage and no ability to go for pinpoint headshots.

    Of course I also agree with you on most other aspects we’ve dicussed in the past – i.e. semi-auto BR, health packs, fall damage, etc.

    As far as implementing different classes of characters, I can think of a lot of different ways to implement them. For example, when playing the ODST or any other human character, you might experience much more severe recoil effects on weapons like the SMG, AR, and BR…or even more realistic tactical shooter-ish characteristics like (basic/limited) posture/movement based accuracy and aiming only with whatever sighting was available on the weapon (irons, or scope).

    By comparison, playing the spartan you would have the superhuman strenth and coordination to fire the heavy recoil weapons to the performance we’re used to in Halo regardless of movement or posture. Due to the enhancements of the HUD, the spartan might be able to fire towards a projected reticule without actually using the sights of the weapon (due to cpu-managed eye/hand coordination). One thing I did in my last mod was make the 2x magnification universal to all weapons – this could be explained as a magnification feature of the spartan helmet/hud and not the optics of the weapons.

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