SPOILER WARNING: This post contains major plot spoilers for Halo 3, 4, 5, the TV show, and Infinite.

It’s September 2007. You’re watching the countdown until your very first match of Halo 3. You’re about to experience countless games of Slayer and CTF on High Ground, Guardian, Valhalla, and a slew of other maps, and you’re going to love every second of it. You don’t know it yet, but you’re in the golden age of Halo.

That was 2007. We’re currently in the midst of 2022. Bungie is no longer at the helm, having given the reigns to 343 Industries after the release of Halo Reach in 2010. While some approve of the direction the series has taken since then, a large majority of longtime fans have been left frustrated and disappointed with each new game release. So how could this have happened? How has 343 managed to crash this ship so spectacularly?

Pull up a seat and get comfortable. We’re about to take a dive into each 343 release, another medium, and what can be done to right the ship.

A New Era: Halo 4

halo 4

From the player’s perspective, it had been five years since the Master Chief had frozen himself in cryosleep after being stranded on the wrong side of the Ark’s portal. Halo 3’s Legendary difficulty ending teased Halo 4 by showing the Forward Unto Dawn floating towards a mysterious Forerunner planet, and the wait began. When gamers finally booted up 343’s first proper entry in this universe, reactions were mixed.

The Good

The most apparent thing about this game was the graphics. They were gorgeous, and definitely pushed the limits of what the Xbox 360 could do. Though Bungie-era games never looked bad, per se, they weren’t known for groundbreaking graphics. This game changed that, and no matter what you thought of the new art style, it was hard to deny it looked damn pretty.

Pushing the Xbox 360 to its limits.

Though everyone knew who Master Chief was, not many people knew much about his actual thoughts. In the first three games, he was a stoic super soldier who rarely spoke. It was often Cortana who was providing the dialogue that broke up the silence. In H4, however, we got to hear a lot more back and forth between the duo. With Cortana’s impending rampancy, Chief was starting to show genuine concern for her. Through this, it made him consider his own humanity. Though some lines regarding this felt forced, it was good to hear more of our favorite Spartan.

The Bad

On the campaign side of things, the gameplay was certainly tight and felt good overall. However, certain things held it back from being truly great. The new Promethean enemies were annoying to fight, ammo capacity was frustratingly low for some weapons, and its eight-mission length was a bit short even by FPS standards.

After the launches of ODST and Reach, people had come to expect some sort of PvE game mode outside of the campaign. Halo 4’s answer to this was Spartan Ops, a story driven experience that featured side characters from the campaign, as well as your own custom Spartan. In theory, it sounded pretty cool. Unfortunately, it turned out to be more of a chore than a blast. Many of the locations were retreads of campaign areas, and there was a lot of backtracking. The gameplay loop was basically “fight waves, press buttons,” which got stale very quickly. The cherry on top was the poorly written dialogue. Instead of helpful handlers in your ear, you got to experience immature quips and constant bickering of whoever was on comms. This experience made me hate the A.I. Roland more than words can describe.

Call of Duty: Galactic Warfare

There may have been plenty to gripe about in the PvE parts of the game, but the real issues many people had with H4 are centered around the multiplayer. Sure, the gunplay and vehicle combat was still pretty good. However, the heavy emphasis on sprinting and other Spartan abilities rubbed a large chunk of the player base the wrong way. It created an amped up pace that just didn’t feel like Halo. This change was likely inspired by another popular shooter…

By 2012, Call of Duty was undeniably the champion of online FPS games. Instead of appealing to existing Halo fans, 343 sought to follow the leader by introducing loadouts and scorestreaks to the core experience of H4 multplayer. This really didn’t sit well with most, and the population shrank much faster than that of Halos 2, 3, or Reach. Maybe it’s not always best to follow popular trends.

Total System Failure: The Master Chief Collection

Following the launch of the Xbox One, fans were eager to be able to play Halo on the then-new console. When Halo: The Master Chief Collection (MCC) was announced in 2014, with a release set for that same year, fans damn near lost their minds. Not only was the collection going to feature all of Chief’s campaigns to date, but it was going to have all of the multiplayer content (including DLC maps) available for online play. As if that wasn’t enough, Halo 2 was getting the Anniversary treatment: a major graphics update, a re-recorded soundtrack, and fully rendered cutscenes created by Blur Studios. The whole package seemed too good to be true. As it turns out, it was.

The Good

Almost all the Halos were in one glorious, remastered package! Playing some of my favorite games at 60 FPS was a treat, and having every single multiplayer map in the history of the franchise was cool as hell! The Anniversary campaign of Halo 2 was expertly crafted, and the game even included several maps that were rebuilt from the ground up with shiny new graphics on a new engine (the originals were there, too).

Another thing I loved about this collection from the start is the inclusion of campaign playlists. Sure, you could play through all the games start to finish or pick and choose a mission to play at a time. But if you wanted to play the final mission from each game without interruption, you could do that, too. Want to play all the sniper-centric ones? Go for it.

The Bad

When launch day arrived, it quickly became apparent that the undertaking was too much for 343 to handle. Players spent day after day trying to get into matches, with some waiting hours in the matchmaking queue. To make matters worse, those who were “fortunate” enough to find a match ran into severe lag. Playing the game was en exercise in frustration.

The problems weren’t limited to the multiplayer, either. The campaigns were presenting various issues, from progress loss and bugged achievements to disconnects and severe desync issues. You couldn’t even take refuge from the multiplayer issues without choosing a different game to play entirely.

At first, people brushed it off as launch week woes, and why wouldn’t they? That year especially, many games had issues that were patched out within a week or two. As time went on, though, it was clear this was a unique case. The network troubles continued not for weeks or months, but several years. What was supposed to be a hole in one ended up being (in 343’s own words) a black eye for the franchise. It was so bad that about six months after launch, Halo 3: ODST and a new Halo 2 Anniversary map were given to early purchasers for free as an apology. In my opinion, that was a pretty cool gesture, but the game remained in a technically abysmal state.

Luckily, things began to look up for the collection. I’ll cover that later on, but for now…

One Forward, Two Back: Halo 5

After the underwhelming Halo 4 and the colossal disaster that was The Master Chief Collection, players were praying for 343 to strike gold. Sadly, it was largely considered another miss.

The Good

Once again, this game looked pretty impressive in terms of graphics. Particle effects and animations were a sight to behold, lighting was believable, and textures were detailed. The 3D artists did good work.

Guardians introduced a new game mode called Warzone, a large scale PvPvE battle that was about zone control and killing bosses (and each other). One thing I loved about this addition was the sheer amount of awesome weapon and vehicle variants you could get your hands on. There were Carbines that fired supercombine needles (a la the Needler), Banshees that fired explosive bolts, sword that made the wielder invisible… the list goes on.

You could even use a Hunter’s weapon!

I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a shoutout to one of the best new characters in the series (who was promptly forgotten about in the follow-up title): 031 Exuberant Witness! She’s the monitor of the Forerunner world Genesis, and she’s just a delight. Her chipper tone, optimistic curiosity, and frank observations made her an immediately likable AI.

The Bad

Let’s start with the campaign. Leading up to launch, we were treated to one of the best audio dramas I’ve ever listened to. Hunt the Truth followed a fictional journalist investigating the past and current whereabouts of the legendary Master Chief. He had mysteriously gone AWOL, shocking those who idolized him. Through interviews and some intriguing detective work, the journalist brought rich lore to light and, more importantly, got everyone hyped for the campaign.

The story trailers for Guardians teased a galactic game of cat and mouse between Chief and the Spartan sent to find him, Locke. What we got instead was a mediocre showdown that was told entirely through cutscenes, culminating in a short fistfight between the super soldiers in which Chief came out on top. The whole plotline barely resembled anything we had seen (or heard) during the hype train we’d been treated to prior to launch. There’s even a scene depicted on the game’s box art that never happens.

As for the plot outside of the hunt for Spartan 117, it didn’t sit well with people, either. Cortana had been resurrected and was now the villain, hellbent on rallying her fellow “Created” (AKA Artificial Intelligence) to police the galaxy and persecute anyone who defied her. Though this was a jarring shift for the narrative, I was intrigued and even excited to see where 343 would take this story in Halo 5’s follow-up (more on that later). But I was in the minority. Most people thought it was a terrible direction for the series to take, and I can’t exactly blame them. This is one of the most beloved characters in modern gaming, and the devs pulled the rug out from under us and turned her into a supervillain. It felt off, and it pretty much undid her entire arc from Halo 4. Additionally, if you pay close attention, you’ll realize that Chief, Locke, and the other Spartans had no bearing on the outcome of the story. Events would have been identical aside from their presence had they not bothered to get out of bed that morning.

Time to unleash the bitch.

Another odd thing about the story of Halo 5 was its assumption that the players had a relatively deep knowledge of the extended lore outside the games. It introduced Blue Team, and gave a brief explanation as to who they were via a couple seconds of dialogue from one of Locke’s team members. Speaking of Locke, only one member of his Fireteam Osiris had ever appeared in a previous game. We were just expected to care about them for no reason. It didn’t help that they took out Jul ‘Mdama, the Elite that was set up to be a big bad, through (you guessed it) a cutscene in the very first mission.

If all of this wasn’t bad enough, the classic couch co-op experience was completely absent from this entry. If you wanted to play the campaign with friends, you all had to do it on your own Xbox. After receiving harsh criticism for this, 343 vowed that every future title would support split screen.

Okay, okay. Enough about the campaign. Multiplayer is a big part of Halo, and hopefully always will be. After the ill-received direction Halo 4 took with its PVP, the message had seemingly been received. Loadouts and killstreaks were gone, and matches once again started with everyone on an even playing field. In sharp contrast to the launch of MCC, servers were quite stable right out of the gate. But once people finished celebrating these things, they started to notice the cracks…

That’s a weird way to spell “Loot boxes.”

For one, REQ Packs were introduced. These were essentially loot boxes with random rewards. You could, thankfully, earn the points to purchase these packs by simply playing the game. That was a hell of a grind, though, and people were incentivized to pay real money for the packs (in a game they already paid at least $60 plus tax for).

There was a silver lining, though. Because the game was monetized via these REQ Packs, all the DLC maps were completely free! I admit, I forgave the the microtransactions (MTX) after learning this news—then I saw the maps. Content updates released on a regular basis, and the free maps (with a couple exceptions) ended up being remixes of existing ones. It seemed like a cheap shortcut for the devs to take, because it was.

If players thought the abilities introduced in H4 were too much, this entry featured some movement mechanics that drove the knife in deeper. The addition of boosting, Spartan Slam, and Spartan Charge was another misstep to a lot of people. Though it wasn’t enough to get me to stop playing, one of my friends absolutely hated the latter.

The art style of this game took us even further from the beloved classic look of the original trilogy. There were angles everywhere! Armor designs, especially those of the Prometheans, were overcomplicated and loud, with unnecessary pieces floating all over the place. The traditional design of the Spartan armor was practical and badass. It could be argued that the badass look was still present here, but the excessive textures, nooks, and crannies in pretty much everything wasn’t a welcome shift.

The overall package of Halo 5 still resembled Halo, but just barely. Maybe next time?

“Halo” on Paramount+

After nearly two decades of patiently waiting for a screen adaptation of one of the best sci-fi shooters of all time, we finally got one!

And it was dogshit.

The Good

There was a really cool battle, and the prop and costume designers clearly had a love for the franchise.

The Bad

There are so many issues I take with this show that I had trouble deciding where to start. I feel like every writer’s meeting consisted of them discussing what Halo fans wanted out of a show, then greenlighting the opposite.

The game series started in 2001, and we still don’t know what that version of Chief looks like. That’s the way an overwhelming majority of fans prefer it. The show, however, wastes no time in removing the helmet. Though the writers swore the moment would be earned, it took place in the very first episode. It wasn’t the only time it would happen, either. In fact, Chief spends a huge amount of screen time without his helmet on or out of his Spartan armor entirely. There are so many scenes of the guy butt-ass naked that the internet deemed this version of John 117 “Master Cheeks.” For every minute he spends kicking ass in his suit, he spends twenty wandering around half naked, whining about things his video game counterpart would slap him for.

At least the Spartan suits were on point.

As for Cortana, her character was pretty thoroughly assassinated as well. John hates the thought of having her in his head, and she’s essentially installed as a failsafe should he defy orders or become incapacitated. I’m sure the goal is to develop this relationship in future seasons, but so far, this isn’t the blue AI we’ve come to know and love. She’s simply an extension of Dr. Halsey, who is less a morally gray scientist in this and more of a supervillain.

There’s an entirely new character introduced named Makee. She’s a human who was abducted by the Covenant at a young age, and is devoted to their cause. Her arc in this first season involves infiltrating the UNSC by posing as a prisoner of war. When her motives were made clear to the viewers, many people started joking that Chief was going to sleep with her. This hypothetical scenario was lightheartedly tossed around on forums and social platforms, and people had fun with the outrageous idea until it actually happened in the show.

For fuck’s sake, guys.

There were exactly zero barbers in the insurrectionist ranks.

As if all that stuff wasn’t bad enough, there was someone else added to the show who many people consider to be bratty and insufferable: Kwan Ha. This daughter of an insurgent leader spends the whole season hating the UNSC, being a twat to anyone who tries to help her, and generally acting as a vessel for a storyline nobody cares about. There’s even an episode that focuses entirely on her, which is the point in the season in which I stopped watching. From that point forward, I watched recaps and highlights.

In short, the show isn’t worth the time of fans of the franchise. It disrespects the world Bungie built and plays out like a bad fanfiction. One big sign that the writers didn’t give a damn about the source material actually comes in the form of the naming of Reach’s capitol city: Reach City. I shit you not, they couldn’t even be bothered to give it the name of the already established New Alexandria from the games. Imagine if we had a place in the real world called Earth City.

A Disappointment Six Years in the Making: Halo Infinite

Here we are. We’ve arrived at what, ultimately, is the reason for this post in the first place. The latest installment of the Halo video game series arrived last December after a tumultuous development cycle. Historically, there have been three years between each major Halo release. That time was doubled in the case of the wait between Guardians and Infinite. Unfortunately, you’d be hard pressed to find many people who think that wait was worth it.

The Announcement

During E3 2018, a trailer was being shown of what was clearly some sci-fi game. Exotic wildlife, beautiful, varied landscapes, mysterious caves, and intriguing artifacts were getting me excited for whatever game it might be. Eventually, a group of marines is shown, and the camera zooms out and focuses on the iconic helmet of Spartan 117. Not only was this his helmet, but it was a version that was inspired by the classic art style of the beloved series.

The online response to this trailer was something I hadn’t seen since the days of Bungie. Almost everyone was excited. It looked and felt like Halo again! People were ecstatic. If 343 could keep this hype up and deliver a true Halo experience, it might just become the go-to shooter once again.

Note: Not even close to representative of final product.

Delay, Free-to-Play, and Launch

The year following its announcement, Infinite got a cinematic trailer that set up the story, but no actual gameplay. It did, however, give us a release window: Holiday 2020. What could go wrong by then? It was E3 of 2020 that gave us our first look into the campaign, showing off several minutes of gameplay. Sadly, the reception to this was less than stellar.

The graphics were pretty at a glance, but everything looked too clean. Almost like plastic. There were no scuffs on armor, no interesting or life-like textures on much of anything. In addition, enemy facial animations left a lot to be desired. It was this demo that spawned the legendary Craig the Brute.

The internet’s response to this demo probably wasn’t what 343 was expecting. It was swift and brutal. Memes were spawned, vitriol was thrown, and the developers were mocked for showing off such a half-baked demo. The real concern most people had, though, was that the release window was later in the year. Until it wasn’t.

Introducing Craig

Shortly after that fateful day, 343 delayed the game. It would no longer be a launch title for the Xbox Series X/S. They didn’t give a new release date at the time, but it ended up being a postponement of over a year. Nevertheless, people were still excited. Though bummed that it would take a bit longer, the general sentiment was happiness that the developers were taking the time they needed to deliver a great product. I shared that sentiment, and along with so many others, kept building optimism that was going to be destroyed once Infinite saw the light of day.

The last bit of significant news 2020 would bring was the announcement that the multiplayer portion of the game was going to be free-to-play. This is when optimism turned into concern for a lot of people. It meant 343 would be relying on other forms of monetization to account for the zero dollar price tag, though they didn’t outline what that plan was at the time.

Fast forward to November 15, 2021. Though 343 had set a release date of December 8th, the multiplayer portion received a surprise release. Though the early release and the fantastic gameplay gave players a boost of adrenaline, the crash came shortly after. Once that honeymoon phase had worn off, people realized there was a serious problem.

A Lack of Content

Though the time between surprise release and official launch was treated as a beta period, the developers had made it clear that all the content was there. That’s what people took issue with. There were ten total maps. Three for Big Team Battle and seven for classic Arena. Not an incredibly low number, but certainly one that would look smaller and smaller as months passed with no additions. While most online games these days operate on three month seasons that bring consistent content like new maps and weapons, Infinite’s first season was slated to be six months long. That’s half a year with no new content.

Did I mention none of the maps truly stuck the landing as a classic?

To make matters worse, the game launched with no dedicated Slayer playlist. I’m not sure who thought it would be a good idea to launch a multiplayer shooter without the most classic mode in gaming history, but here we were. Slayer did exist in the game, but it was crammed into a playlist that also included Capture the Flag and Oddball. If you just wanted good old fashioned deathmatch, you had to cross your fingers and hope for the best everytime you queued up. It wasn’t until very late in the year that a proper slayer playlist was added. At that point, the Big Team Battle playlist was broken, and the developers took a two week break while their game was hemorrhaging players. Turns out, if you want people to stick around, you need to give them something to do.

Another punch to the face was the news that season 2 would also be six months long. That means the first year of this game’s lifespan will have seen two new maps. For a game that’s supposed to support the Halo brand for the next decade, that’s a pretty slow drip feed.

A Broken Progression System

Up above, I mentioned that retaining players means giving them something to do. That isn’t limited to the maps they play on and the playlist that are available to them. To keep someone invested and make them feel like their time spent in the game means something, there needs to be a progression system. Something that always gives them something to work towards, and something that shows a record of their accomplishments so far. Halo Infinite launched with, and still has, none of that.

The only progression in the game is tied to the battle pass. The battle pass that costs $10 if you care to unlock any cosmetics that look even slightly neat. There’s no service record. Nowhere to see the wins you’ve racked up, the medals you’ve earned, your kill-to-death ratio, or your most-used weapons and vehicles. Nothing. There is only the battle pass. And how do you level up that battle pass? By playing the game and earning XP that’s determined by game time and performance? Nope! The only way to see that progress bar fill is by completing challenges.

Look at all the deep progression!

In most games, challenges are pretty simple affairs that incentivize you to keep playing with the promise of rewards. In Halo, challenges are there to force you into specific playlists or use specific weapons. Often times, I would have to complete a challenge for getting kills with specific weapons. Aside from the fact that this forces you into playstyles you don’t care for, each map features weapon racks that could have different weapons in them from game to game. So if I had a challenge to get kills with the Bulldog, it was possible I would get thrown into a match that didn’t even have that weapon on the field. And if I had a challenge to win three games of Oddball, I had to play the Team Arena playlist in hopes of getting an oddball game. And then I had to win it. Three times.

343 has said that they are working on a true progression system, as well as working to make the challenge system more satisfying. But I have to wonder: did they think people would like the system we currently have?

Customization and the Shop

I’ve written and rewritten this section’s first paragraph so many time I’ve lost count. The reason is that this is a huge point of contention with players to this day. This customization system is the result of the free-to-play model that people were worried about, proving their concerns were justified.

Though 343 promised players millions of customization options for their Spartans, that simply wasn’t the case. The only way to select colors for your armor was by choosing one of the few “coatings” on offer. These were colors schemes for your entire armor set, so those hoping to be able to choose colors for individual pieces were out of luck. To make matters worse, there were some basic colors that weren’t even available at the start. Keep in mind, Halo: Combat Evolved, released in 2001, allowed players to select a basic color for their characters in multiplayer.

Pictured: Half of the base game cosmetics.

The coating issue was exacerbated by the implementation of armor cores. These act as armor templates a player can select, that then supports any unlocked pieces associated with that core. This addition to a seemingly endless list of customization restrictions was made worse by the realization that armor coatings were tied to specific cores, as well (the same goes for visor colors).

But there is a solution! There is a way to get additional armor and colors! The store is here to save you!

It’s no surprise that the store was the reasoning behind players not having access to every single customization option 343 created. They have to make their money somehow in a free-to-play game. The shocking thing was just how overtly they tried (and are still trying) to exploit your wallet. At first, they swore that armor pieces being tied to specific cores was to avoid pieces clipping. However, people noticed that plenty of pieces within the same core clipped anyway, and bots in games were running around enjoying cross-core customization. After gamers called them on their bullshit, they started to reverse course very, very slowly. At the time of this writing, we can enjoy cross core customization with visor colors. Everything else is, allegedly, being worked on.

Though prices in the store have gotten better since launch, they’re still a little ridiculous. I believe a bundle that includes some armor coatings, weapon coatings, and an emblem or two is about $12. Some might be okay with that, but to me, it’s an outrageous price for some colors and icons nobody is going to see in the heat of battle. At launch, however, these bundles were $20 fuggin’ bucks. Twenty. That’s a third of the cost of a brand new video game for a few pieces of customization. We no longer have microtransactions, folks. These are macrotransactions.

CQB is still MIA.

And now for the other frustrating part of the shop. Say you want one of these bundles and have some money to burn. You saw a cool coating a few weeks ago that you want to rock on your armor. Tough shit, buddy. That item has been rotated out, and who knows when (or if) it will ever be available again. There are even some items that were in the pre-release marketing materials that haven’t seen the light of day at all (like the armor in the image above).

One other thing about the shop: If you have one of those pesky challenges that takes the fun out of the game, you can swap it out for another one using a challenge swap. Which can be earned via the (paid) battle pass or be purchased outright in the store. Hm…

Campaign

I’ll start by saying I really enjoyed the campaign. It was a blast to play through, and that classic art style and soundtrack was a treat. But after the credits rolled and I had some time to think on it, it seemed like a monument to missed opportunities.

Firstly, much of what was shown in that initial reveal teaser was nowhere to be seen. Aside from the couple small critters here and there, the wildlife was absent. There were no deer- or rhino-like animals. There were no massive sea creatures (or underwater segments at all). There were no caves with mysterious hieroglyphs. The desert and snow environments were nowhere to be found. In fact, the game’s open world had a singular biome that was similar to the American Pacific Northwest.

It’s pretty, but it lacks variety.

Perhaps my biggest complaint is the story. Rather than a complete narrative, it felt like an extended prologue. There’s a lot of talk about a mysterious new race called the Endless. There are teases of the Flood making a return. None of that happens, though. It seems obvious at this point that it will happen with a future release, but I feel like we waited six years for a setup rather than a proper story. Imagine if Halo: CE’s credits had rolled right after Chief watched Jenkins’ video log.

Then there’s the matter of Cortana and the story of Halo 5: Guardians. That game, divisive though it may be, set up an intriguing world where a once-beloved character had become the most powerful antagonistic force the galaxy had ever seen. Personally, I was excited to see where that led. Then I played Infinite and realized they had taken a page out of The Rise of Skywalker’s playbook. They had walked everything back, resulting in a campaign that spent its runtime undoing everything that Guardians teased. If 343 had a long-term plan at all, they must not have believed in it. They buckled hard under internet pressure.

There are a bunch of smaller things that could have made this campaign truly great. When I heard it was going open world, I was skeptical, but hopeful of the possibilities. Were we going to get to fight scarabs that wandered the landscape? Would we enjoy a huge sandbox of vehicles that we had already seen in Halo Wars 2, which introduced the villainous Banished we fought in this game? Would the Banished lead ambushes and assaults on human outposts and strongholds? All of these things would have been wonderful, and none of them came to be.

Imagine this in Halo Infinite.

At least what was there felt like classic Halo, and I could have a blast going at it with friends. Oh wait…

No Co-op or Forge at Launch

Remember when I said 343 promised every title after Halo 5 would have split screen co-op? Turns out that was only (allegedly) half true. A couple months before launch day, the most unenviable person in game development, Joseph Staten, said co-op would not be ready for day one. Not just couch co-op. Co-op altogether would not ship with the game. Keep in mind this is a series that is partly defined by the ability to sit with your friends and play the campaign.

It has been almost nine months since the game properly launched on December 8, 2021. Though 343 set a target launch window of late August for co-op, it’s not looking likely. Flighting has been done for the mode, and it’s been radio silence since then. In addition, the co-op that is allegedly coming soon is network only. There is still no split-screen version on the horizon. It’s pretty telling that the developers said all future games would have split-screen co-op, then failed to deliver on that promise in their very next game.

This will be in the game… eventually.

Speaking of missing features that have become mainstays, Forge, the multiplayer map-making tool, is still not in Infinite. Luckily, it is being added sometime this year (or so they say). Leaks and screenshots of the tool support its existence. But again, I ask: Why wasn’t this ready for launch in the first place?

Hints of a Comeback

I know, I know. Up until this point, it’s been a lot of doom and gloom. I realize this, and admit to needing to keep my negativity in check sometimes. With that in mind, there are glimmers of hope that hint at a wonderful return to form for this beloved franchise.

First off, those Forge leaks? They look awesome. Almost everything I’ve seen looks beautiful and promises deep customization options (unlike your Spartan appearan—okay sorry sorry). I’ve seen videos of a Reflection remake, recreations of other pop culture locations, awesome race tracks, and brand new map ideas that look like an absolute blast. I really hope 343 nails the delivery of this tool with minimal bugs, a custom games browser, and implementation of the best creations into matchmaking proper. If those things can happen, Forge will make the game content-rich in no time.

Let’s take a brief look at another title from 343 that could shoot some optimism into our veins: The Master Chief Collection. Though its launch was a disaster, the game is currently one of the best (if not the best) collection of titles in gaming history. Matchmaking works. Reach has been added. Challenges are fun, varied, and abundant. They’ve even had free battle passes for seven seasons of content. On that last point, they have threaten—uh, hinted at implementing microtransactions. I really hope that doesn’t happen. If it does, they better not fuck up the monetization like they did with Infinite. That would lose a lot of goodwill towards the game. But this is supposed to end on a positive note, so let’s right the ship.

The addition of Reach solidified MCC’s status as one of the greatest comebacks in gaming.

One other thing they’ve done with MCC is add some maps to Halo 3 that were never in the original release. They are remakes, but of maps in the cancelled, Russia-only Halo Online. It’s great to see them get some proper love!

Though Infinite left a lot to be desired in terms of content, the developers do seem to be taking steps towards addressing that issue. To start, they are hiring full time workers. Up until this point, they’ve been relying largely on contract workers who were barely there long enough to learn the software. Since that business strategy has blown up in their faces spectacularly, they seem to have taken the hint. It will take some time to get people up to speed, but if they can establish a solid team, it could spell good fortune for their game.

For most people, 343’s track record has left a lot to be desired. After three big releases that all received mixed to negative sentiment, it’s difficult to see light on the horizon. I’ve almost run out of hope. And yet, perhaps part of it remains…

The next few years of Halo will be telling. Are they finally swallowing their pride and making the tough decisions that are necessary for the franchise to capture the hearts of millions again? Sure, the show is a lost cause for most. There’s no redeeming it short of a full reboot with writers who love the source material. But Halo Infinite might just be poised to make a glorious comeback. What’s important now is patience, hope, and constructive feedback. The pessimist in me says the glory days are over, but the optimist says 343 is just getting started.

One thought on “343 Steps in the Wrong Direction: The State of Halo

  1. In my opinion, the Master Chief Collection is the biggest AAA game disaster in gaming history. Cyberpunk has nothing on the mess that is/was MCC. As of last month there are still issues with progress not being recorded on the campaign. Beating a level in Halo 2 on legendary and then finding out the game did not record the progress is just not acceptable.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s