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Dear 343 Industries,
I’m a huge Halo fan. Halo was the first game I bought for my Xbox. Half the reason I bought an Xbox One was for the Master Chief Collection. I even own a couple Halo toys and books. So I was excited for the Master Chief Collection. I was excited to play the games I loved. Excited to play Halo 2 online again. And even excited to see the future via the Halo 5: Guardians multiplayer beta.
Instead what I and others got was a mess of a game that is only now starting to work. Matchmaking for the Master Chief Collection was broken and unreliable. Partying up with friends was a hassle and didn’t work for most. It was a nasty launch that should have been avoided. I’ve heard rumors that this whole collection was rushed and if that is true then that really does suck for your studio. But it doesn’t excuse the crappy launch and extended amount of time the game was broken.
It also makes me nervous. If this is the quality level you or Microsoft are fine with I might pass on Halo 5 for a few months or weeks. You know, give you some time to finish the game. (Course there might be other reasons I skip Halo 5..)
Now to be fair you guys and gals are giving Halo fans who were frustrated by multiple issues some nice “We’re Sorry” gifts. The most exciting is Halo 3: ODST, the Halo game with the jazziest soundtrack and some cool noir inspired visuals. Bringing Halo 3:ODST to the Master Chief Collection is cool. It’s also a bit weird considering the Master Chief is barely in the game. (You can play as him in Firefight.) Hopefully this means that Halo Reach will end up coming to the Master Chief Collection.
Since the last update the game seems to be working. So at least for now it seems the Master Chief Collection is finally doing what it was meant to do: Provide Halo fans a fun trip down memory lane. Oh and Halo 2 Anniversary Edition looks great by the way.
Now let’s talk about Halo 5. The beta ran fairly flawlessly. Which was a nice change of pace from the disaster that was the Master Chief Collection. But after playing a bunch of matches of Halo 5, I’m worried about some things.
I’ll fully admit that I initially had a really sour taste in my mouth. As I spent more time with it I finally started to enjoy my time more. On the positive I really liked the visuals. I like how smooth the game looks and feels. Also the sound design, like Halo 4, is top notch.
But I’m worried that Halo 5 might be trying to be too “modern”. Sprint is fine, but you can run really fast in Halo 5. Add to that the fact that you can climb over stuff and even hover jump and dash and it starts to feel a bit too fast for Halo. On top of that I seemed to kill and die faster than previous games. I didn’t have as many “dancing duels.”
Playing Halo 2 and 3 online you find yourself in these “dancing duels.” You see a enemy and throw a grenade. They jump over it and throw a grenade. You move forward and shoot them. Their shields pop. They jump away, maybe behind a rock. You follow. They turn around and pull out a shotgun and pop your shields. You fire and miss most of your shots but get close enough to punch him and finally kill him.
These duels don’t always happen the same way. But so much of classic Halo multiplayer is built around these sustained encounters. And Halo 5 seems to have less of these moments. Levels seem designed to be more funnels than open battlegrounds and with the ability to aim more accurately with all weapons it leads to more long range firefights which tend to end fairly quickly.
It’s a change of style. One which some will no doubt enjoy and I found myself occasionally having some fun. But for the most part the more I played Halo 5 the more I found myself craving that older, slower Halo. I actually really liked Halo 4. It felt like a nice modern Halo. Sprint was added, but limited. You could make custom classes but maps still had power weapons. Halo 5 seems to be going even more modern. And I’m not sure I want to play that.
Anyways, maybe Halo 5 will have a classic mode. Maybe these changes won’t matter as much on bigger maps with vehicles. We will have to wait and see.
So 343 Industries, hopefully the Master Chief Collection was a good learning experience for making games on the new Xbox. I hope Halo 5 works great on launch day, but I’ll be honest I’m not sure it will. Let’s hope you prove me wrong. Good luck in 2015 and thanks for bringing the Master Chief back.
A big fan,
PS: I think The Prometheans are a super cool enemy and I had a ton of fun fighting them in Halo 4. I hope they return for 5. (And I hope the Flood don’t.)