Building the Ultimate Halo Game


I hope you enjoyed my exhaustive treatise on what I think would make the ultimate Halo game. To sum it up, it would take the core of the Halo series’ gameplay and combine it with new gameplay elements, refinements/alterations of some older gameplay elements, Campaign stages that are on average far larger, more open, and less linear than ever before, AI that outshines even the best there is today, and a vastly expanded Forge mode. This is all in addition to new and returning special features not necessarily related to gameplay.

Certain things, like larger, less linear stages, smarter AI, and a better map editor I believe are necessary to keep Halo on the cutting edge of first-person shooters and are the main areas where combat should evolve. As the technology progresses, even stages the size of Assault on the Control Room or The Ark might start to seem small, even the best AI in contemporary games will look dumb compared to that of future games, and newer map editors will make Forge as it currently is look dated and anemic in comparison. Indeed, many developers are not using next-gen technology just for pumping out increasingly more advanced graphics, but they’re also doing things that actually matter for gameplay (e.g., larger amounts of playable real estate, more sophisticated physics and AI). While the extremely linear “on-rails” mission designs with heavily-scripted set pieces might work for Call of Duty (which has itself started to stray from this in recent years), it won’t work for Halo, which made a name for itself through such things as its large stages, generally high-quality AI, and dynamic encounters.

Other gameplay aspects are things that I believe make for good gameplay, such as retaining fall damage, removing the melee lunge, and making most of the weapons more accurate. They’re more about refining things that don’t really have to “evolve” in the sense of changing radically. As for things that haven’t existed in the series before, such as my suggestions for weapon attachments and specialized ammunition, they’re simply things I’d like to see but I wouldn’t be dead-set on. After all, it’s not like they haven’t been done before in other shooters, but I do think they’d fit in well with Halo’s gameplay (depending on the situation) and could serve as additional ways to evolve gameplay.

Like my other writings, this was something spur of the moment that I wrote out of boredom, composed a little bit at a time (about half an hour a day several days a week) over the course of several months. I’ve spent a lot of time criticizing the Halo series but I haven’t done a lot in the way of proposing alternatives (beyond discussing how the mid-range weapons should work, among a couple of other things), so I figured I’d write up something extremely detailed on how I’d make a Halo game if I had the chance. After all, Bungie always says they make the games they like to play, so I thought I’d give my ideas for a Halo game I’d like to play, tailored to my own personal preferences.

As always, constructive criticism is welcome. Also, if you have your own ideas on what you think would make the ultimate Halo game, then by all means send them in.

<<< Back to Part 7: Technical Aspects & Misc. Features


APPENDIX I: Damage Modifiers

Damage modifiers are multipliers applied to a weapon or attack form’s base damage. Most weapons inflict more or less than their base damage when used against certain targets, which allows for better fine-tuning of damage tables and thus also weapon & difficulty balance. These modifiers are expressed in terms of percentage of the base damage (e.g., a 50% modifier mean it inflicts half damage on the target, while a 200% modifier means it inflicts twice as much damage). For example, the plasma rifle has a base value of 14 hit points of damage when used by the player. However, it inflicts 28 points of damage against Elite NPC shields and Sentinels since it has a 200% damage modifier against those targets.

Attacks often have two modifiers in Campaign where certain damage values are further modified for difficulty. For example, if a player strikes a Flood Combat Form with a normal melee attack while playing solo on Heroic difficulty, 24 points of damage would be inflicted. A running melee has a base damage of 60 points, but has a 50% modifier when used against Flood as well as a further 80% modifier the player’s melees have on that particular difficulty setting, so 60 × 0.5 × 0.8 = 24.

APPENDIX II: Scoring in Campaign, Invasion: Warzone, and Firefight

In Invasion: Warzone, the score count would be set to, say, 25,000 points, with control of a territory adding 10 points per second. Killing enemy players would yield 100 points.

As per normal, point values are dependent on difficult and how many difficulty-enhancing skulls, if any, are activated. Multipliers from difficulty and skulls will be within the norm for the series.

Enemy AI units in Campaign, Invasion: Warzone, and Firefight would be worth the following base point values:


Rebel Soldier: 5
Rebel Officer: 10

Covenant Infantry

Grunt Minor: 5
Grunt Major: 10
Grunt Heavy: 10
Spec Ops Grunt: 15
Grunt Ultra: 25
Jackal Minor: 10
Jackal Major: 15
Jackal Marksman: 25
Jackal Skirmisher: 25
Drone Infantry: 5
Drone Leader: 15
Hunter: 150
Elite Minor: 50
Elite Major: 75
Stealth Elite: 75
Elite Ranger: 60
Elite Honor Guard: 100
Spec Ops Elite: 100
Elite Ultra: 120
Elite Zealot: 150
Elite Field Marshal: 200
Brute Minor: 25
Brute Stalker: 40
Jump Pack Brute: 40
Brute Captain: 50
Brute Captain Major: 100
Brute Chieftain: 150


Combat Form (Human): 10
Combat Form (Elite): 15 (Minor/Major host), 25 (Ultra/Zealot host)
Combat Form (Brute): 10
Carrier Form: 5
Juggernaut: 150

Forerunner Constructs

Sentinel: 10
Enforcer: 150

Human Vehicles (Enemy-controlled)

Warthog: 200
Scorpion: 400
Pelican: 800

Covenant Vehicles

Shade: 50
Ghost: 150
Chopper: 150
Revenant: 250
Banshee: 150
Seraph: 250
Wraith: 400
Shadow: 350
Spirit: 800
Phantom: 1000
Scarab: 2500


Boss units will have varying point values depending on the kind of unit and their difficulty level, but generally speaking would range from from two to ten times their base value. For example, a Mythic Elite Field Marshall would have a base point value of 2000 points.


APPENDIX III: Covenant Rank Indication Armor Colors & Permutations

(Note: Image links are provided when necessary to give an example of targeted basic design.)

Minor Grunt: Orange (standard backpack)
Major Grunt: Red & bronze (curl-back backpack)
Grunt Heavy: Green (“keg” backpack + full facemask)
Spec Ops Grunt: Black (“Starscream” backpack + full facemask)
Ultra Grunt: White (standard backpack + helmet)
Minor Jackal: Blue shield + light armor
Major Jackal: Yellow shield, heavier armor
Jackal Sniper: Light armor + headgear
Skirmisher: Red armor & helmet, blue shields
Drone Infantry: Green
Drone Leader: Reddish-brown
Minor Elite: Blue (Combat armor)
Major Elite: Crimson (Combat armor)
Stealth Elite: Bronze (“Spec Ops” armor)
Elite Ranger: White w/ blue visor (Reach-style “Ranger” armor)
Spec Ops Elite: Black (“Spec Ops” armor)
Elite Honor Guard: Crimson, Black, & Orange (ornate armor)
Ultra Elite: White w/ red highlights (modified Combat armor)
Elite Zealot: Gold (modified Combat armor)
Elite Field Marshall: Purple (“General” armor)
Brute Minor: Blue-green (simple helmet, light armor)
Brute Captain: Blue-violet (“samurai” helmet, heavy armor)
Brute Stalker: Black (“red-eye cyclops” helmet)
Jetpack Brute: Blue (simple helmet, jetpack harness)
Brute Captain Major: Gold/bronze w/ red highlights (“samurai” helmet, heavy armor)
Brute Chieftain: Black & red (ornate helmet & armor)

APPENDIX IV: Proposed Damage Curves For Explosive Weapons

Graph showing damage curves of select weapons possessing splash damage. (Click for full size.)

Above is a proposed model for splash damage. In this system, damage gradually drops off as you move away from the center of blast. This system is similar to the system used in most Halo games after the first one (in Halo CE, the explosions contained a series of discrete and concentric shells). As the figures in the chart are the weapon’s base damage, the damage done at a given range can vary based on the weapon’s inherent damage modifiers as well as modifiers based on the damage output of an enemy or ally at a given difficulty level. For instance, an enemy plasma grenade has a maximum base damage of 120 HP on Legendary, but on Heroic that amount is diminished to 84 HP as enemies only inflict 70% as much damage as they do on Legendary.


2 thoughts on “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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