Building the Ultimate Halo Game
Written by Gravemind, originally posted at Shadow of the Void on April 23, 2009
For me, the Halo series has always stood out from the countless other FPSs out there. The enemy units and the environments you fought them in were inventive and varied. The graphics and art design were wonderful. The sound was great, with the music being some of the greatest to ever grace a video game. The story was intriguing as well. The gameplay, however, has been something I’ve scrutinized closely and criticized frequently over the last few years. The original game had very solid gameplay that set the bar for console FPSs, and it was incredibly fun as well as innovative for its time.
The basic controls were excellent and intuitive, with the Xbox gamepad showing how well-suited it was for console FPSs, especially as compared to the N64 controller. Being able to melee opponents or throw grenades without having to cycle through your inventory and formally equip a melee weapon (fists, chainsaw, or whatever) or grenades was something I had yet to experience in an FPS. It also had the first truly effective integration of vehicular combat in the genre, whereas in previous shooters I played you either didn’t have vehicles, or they were poorly implemented and tacked-on affairs. Both the Campaign and multiplayer stage designs were incredible and included a good mix of massive outdoors environments in addition to the smaller indoors arenas. The AI (at least that of the enemies) was often rather clever, especially compared to what had come before and, interestingly, most of what has come after it. Finally, you could only carry two weapons at a time instead of an entire arsenal — something that was as far as I know a first in the genre. The weapons themselves were generally well designed and useful, and included genre standards such as a machine gun and shotgun as well as interesting alien weapons such as the Needler.
The series has had its ups and downs, with each entry having its own strengths and weaknesses. For example, I feel that the sequels weren’t quite as good in terms of gameplay despite having the same solid controls as well as the high-quality visuals, sound, and music that Bungie is known for, not to mention a couple of interesting additions. Numerous changes and additions detracted from the gameplay and made for a less enjoyable and sometimes very frustrating experience, though in other ways the sequels surpassed the original. I have written extensive criticisms of the sequels elsewhere, so refer to those for in-depth details (there will be some commentary here as well, however). Of course, while the sequels didn’t quite measure up to the original, Combat Evolved was itself flawed in certain ways, and even the sequels each had aspects (gameplay and otherwise) that were the series’ strongest. Halo 1 was strongest on gameplay but its weakest aspect is the lack of XBL support. Halo 2 was strongest on storyline (just edging out Halo 1) but weakest on gameplay. Halo 3 was the weakest on storyline but strongest on extra features.
While a combination of the best parts of the first three games as well as a refinement of many game elements could benefit a future Halo game, it might not be enough to keep the Halo series on the cutting edge of shooters. Certain aspects of the series as a whole may have to be rethought entirely. If there are going to be other Halo FPSs in the future, perhaps it is time for combat to evolve once again.
In this article, you’ll find my ideas for what I’d like to see for a hypothetical future Halo title. The game would take the best aspects of the Halo trilogy, refine a lot of its core gameplay, and advance in certain ways to keep up with series that have surpassed it in one way or another. In other words, it would combine the latest in cutting edge gameplay and technology with the best of the old-school. Story-wise, it would mainly be a side-story to the series and would revolve around new characters: an ODST (an idea I’ve had well before Halo 3: ODST was announced), a Spartan-II (not John), a Spartan-III, and a Covenant Elite. Finally, as for the technical aspects, judging from what I’ve seen result from the current-gen consoles, this game would probably be best saved for the next Xbox console (due in about two or three years assuming historical trends in generation lengths hold true) and the far more advanced technology it will almost certainly offer.
As this game exists only as an idea I came up with and, barring some miracle, will remain forever so, everything in here is entirely provisional, but at the very least it should give you a general idea of how I would design a future Halo game. As for why I chose to do this rather than come up with my own ideas for an original FPS, it’s because the Halo series has, at its roots, a combination of elements — the setting, the pacing, the variety of enemies, the basics of gameplay that I outlined earlier, and so forth — that give it the potential to be far greater than just about any other series of shooters on the market. While it is still better than most of the competition in many respects and still remains a unique experience among shooters, it could be so much better, and is falling behind some of its other competitors when it comes to certain elements.
Like most of my other writings, this article is quite lengthy as it addresses almost every single aspect of the game, technical, gameplay, or otherwise. However, this time much of the length (about a third of the page count) derives from detailed stats rather than commentary. I’d like to thank Julian Gnam and Alan Chan for the stats they have published on the internet, without which I would not have been able to gain any information regarding things like weapon damage & accuracy or enemy health, among many other stats. Also thanks to The BS Police for a couple of ideas.
This game would remain at its heart a Halo FPS. There wouldn’t be anything radical added to the basics. For example, there wouldn’t be a Gears of War/Killzone 2/Rainbow Six-style cover system (as Frank O’Connor said “[T]here is a cover system in Halo - it’s called ducking behind objects and using the environment to shield you from harm.”) or any tactical shooter elements such as ordering troops around. It’s going to be the core gameplay everyone has come to expect from a Halo game. Of course, there will be gameplay changes, some substantial, some subtle. This section will deal with all non-weapon- or vehicle-related gameplay aspects that affect both Campaign and multiplayer.
Hopefully the next Xbox console's controller has the same design as the 360's, which feels natural and comfortable, a perfect fit for a console FPS. The default button layout would be much the same as it currently is (jump is A, melee is B, toggle weapon is Y, etc.), though there would be some noticeable differences due to new additions to gameplay. In particular, the D-pad and X button would have to have to take over these new features. I have one proposal for a default control scheme, which I detail in Appendix I.
As in the previous games, there would be several non-default button layouts for players to choose from. However, one layout that I would not bring back is the “Bumper Jumper” scheme introduced in Halo 3, as I consider it unbalanced compared to the other schemes. In other control schemes, you can jump repeatedly, but you can’t aim effectively at the same time as you have to constantly take your thumb off the right stick to press A. It’s a tradeoff — you can bunny-hop to throw off your opponent’s aim, but it makes aiming your own weapon rather difficult. Bumper Jumper lacks that restriction, as you can jump constantly while still being able to keep your thumb on the right stick to keep a steady aim on your target.
Shields & Health
Shooters (both first- and third-person) typically use one of two health systems: non-regenerating health restored by health packs, or regenerating health. Most old-school shooters use the former, including Doom, Quake, and Unreal Tournament, though some more recent titles like BioShock do so as well. In those games, you had a finite amount of health, which could only be restored by picking up a health pack. In certain games, you could gain additional protection from a body armor or force field pickup. Goldeneye 007 and Perfect Dark lacked even health packs, so once you took a certain number of hits that was it. They offered only body armor and shield pickups, respectively, to give you some added protection.
This system has largely been replaced in the genre by regenerating health. If the player has sustained damage, he can simply retreat to safety, wait a few seconds, and he’s good as new. This system is used in many notable titles, including the Call of Duty and Gears of War series. Resistance: Fall of Man and Far Cry 2 use a variant of this system where there is a health bar that is divided into sections. If the player’s health drops into a lower section, it cannot regenerate past that section.
Halo 1 used a combination of systems. You had non-regenerating health restorable by health packs, which was in turn overlaid by a regenerating shield. In the sequels, however, both shields and health regenerated (the latter more slowly than the former), and, consequently, health packs were removed. Both the Halo 1 and Halo 2/3 systems have their defenders and detractors. One of the most common arguments I’ve heard (in fact, the only I can recall offhand) in favor of regenerating health is that Halo 1’s system encourages people to camp the health packs in multiplayer. However, as one who prefers the first game’s gameplay to that of the sequels, I tend to like the original’s health system. In my experience, I’ve never had camping of the health packs be a problem. After all, there were multiple spawn points for health packs on most maps, and they respawned frequently, so it’s not like they were some rare, coveted item that had to be defended. Also, I’ve argued in the past that if the player's health regenerates, it encourages them to be less careful, since if they do get wounded, it doesn't matter as much since their health will automatically start to restore itself between encounters. Furthermore, I’ve heard others argue that regenerating health allows the player to “camp the health by default,” meaning that the player can simply hide anywhere to let their health come back rather than camp where the health packs spawn. Relating to this, I think health packs encourage players to cycle around the map more; not only would they have to cycle around the map to retrieve weapons and equipment, they’d have to go retrieve health packs if they’re wounded.
Personally, while I think Halo 1’s system worked just fine and I would make it my first choice for a health system, a compromise between it and the Halo 2/3 system could work. After all, even I sometimes find it a hassle to hunt down a health pack every time I'm injured despite my preference for the Halo 1 health system, plus an unaltered H1 system could pose a problem for the ODST and Spartan-III segments since those characters lack shields. Since most complaints about the two health systems revolve around multiplayer and its competitive nature, that should be a main focus in designing the health system. One possibility is that the player’s health could still regenerate, but very slowly, even slower than before. So, if a player who has taken damage to his health is able to keep his shields up after letting them come back, his health would start to gradually come back. However, if for whatever reason he feels his health is too low to let it come back on its own, he can run to a health pack to fully restore his hit points. Health packs could even become a form of equipment, allowing the player to pick up a pack to use later in an emergency rather than the effects taking place immediately. Another possibility is non-regenerating health with health packs functioning like equipment.
My preferred compromise would be a Resistance-style “sectional bar” health system, with the player using health packs to fully restore their health; the player’s health would have limited regenerative capacity, and could sustain damage that won’t come back on its own. The health bar would be divided into three to five sections, depending on which number works better for gameplay or for each particular character. The health bar would be a solid bar with no visible lines to demarcate the sections. Instead, it would change color as it diminishes depending on which section the player’s current health level occupies, similar to Halo 1’s health bar but without the less accurate individual squares that composed that one — the colors would be blue, yellow, & red if there are three sections, blue, green, yellow, & red if there are four, and blue, green, yellow, orange, & red if there are five. Each subsequent section could be made to regenerate slower than the preceding one. For example, the blue section might regenerate at one-quarter the rate of the shields, while the yellow section might regenerate only one-eighth as quickly and the red section might not regenerate at all.
Since the player’s health has limited potential for restoring itself, this would give players a better chance in the ODST and Spartan-III sections. Otherwise even with the latter facing mostly weak enemies and the former having a cloaking ability, their segments could prove too difficult without some form of regenerating health. If they weren't reckless, they wouldn’t have to rely as much on health packs as they would if their health didn’t regenerate, though they can still sustain semi-permanent damage. Also, a sectional health bar system could fit in well with the Spartan-II and Elite segments, providing an intermediary between the Halo 1 and Halo 2/3 health systems and making things consistent between multiplayer and Campaign. While allied NPCs would likely also have health with limited regenerative abilities, enemies would probably not have regenerating health.
As to how much shields and health a player has, it depends on the situation. Here are the stats for the various characters you could play as:
Shields: 75 Health: 75
Shields: 75 (MP)/100 (Campaign) Health: 75 (MP)/100 (Campaign)
Note: There are fractional hit points. For example, if a fully shielded Spartan-II gets hit once by a Grunt firing a plasma pistol on Legendary, he would take 10.8 HP of damage, leaving him worth 64.2 HP worth of shields.
As I mentioned in the introduction, one of the great things about Halo is that it was one of the first games (if not the first) to allow the player to melee at any time with their in-hand weapon rather than having to swap to a dedicated melee weapon. What’s not great about Halo’s melees is the lunge added in Halo 2 and carried over to Halo 3 with some modifications. Whether it’s the random thrashing of Halo 2 or the overpowered no-miss auto-hit beatdowns of Halo 3, the melee lunge is quite simply a bad system.
This game would restore the melee system back to the non-lunging melees of the first game. Halo 1’s melee system is basically as good as melee attacks can get, and any future Halo game should have melees functionally identical to those of the original. The only change I would consider is maybe trimming the range by about 0.5 to 1 meters down from the original 3.5 m, though if that causes any complications that did not exist with H1’s melees, then I would leave the range the same.
As in Halo 1, melees would do varying amounts of damage depending on whether the player is standing, running, or jumping. Furthermore, I’d add a damage bonus for heavy or bladed weapons like the rocket launcher or Brute shot, respectively. Here are the baseline damage values for melee attacks of Spartan and Elite player characters (weapon-specific damage bonuses will be listed in the weapon entries):
Melee Damage: 40 (standing), 50 (running), or 60 (jumping) Damage Modifiers: Player Health: 140% Player Shield: 140% Flood Flesh: 50% Sentinel Armor: 20% Light Vehicle Armor: 5% Heavy Vehicle Armor: 0%
Note that all AI-controlled entities in Campaign enjoy those same damage modifiers for their melees, even though their base damage may differ from the player’s (refer to Appendix II for a further explanation of damage modifiers). Furthermore, in addition to the above modifiers, the amount of damage the player inflicts in Campaign is further modified based on difficulty: two times damage on Easy, standard damage on Normal, 80% damage on Hard, and 50% damage on Legendary (the same figures as in Halo 1; I don’t know if it’s the same in the sequels). Finally, the ODST player character would inflict less base damage (perhaps half as much as the other PCs) in addition to all the above modifiers.
Fall damage is a feature from the first game but absent from the sequels that I would restore. I have always stressed its importance in gameplay. It provides tremendous incentive to watch your footing in areas with high drop-offs. Inattentive players can plummet to their death or at the very least suffer damage. Likewise, players who attempt to jump off a high ledge put themselves at risk of injury or death as a tradeoff to getting to lower elevations more quickly, thus providing a certain balance to methods of traversing a stage on foot in addition to encouraging players to be more careful. As Rampancy.net’s Narcogen said “A map that has fall damage can offer options and be balanced. One approach, for instance, might require a long drop that would weaken the player, but be the shortest and fastest possible. A longer route would cause no damage, but take longer.” Finally, in addition to damaging the player, non-fatal falls that inflict above a certain amount of damage also temporarily stun the player. Obviously, fall damage has a significant impact on gameplay.
The damage scale could perhaps be adjusted some from that of the first game, stretched and smoothed out a bit more (and the stun duration would of course be scaled appropriately as well), though a fall like the highest falls encountered in multiplayer maps — the highest altitudes on Damnation, Prisoner, and Boarding Action, for example — should definitely be fatal. Furthermore, the player would still be able to reduce the amount of damage they sustain by properly timing a crouch when they hit the ground.
A trend I’ve noticed in the Halo series is that in each subsequent game, you run slower but can jump higher. Halo 1 was somewhat slow for an “arcade-style” FPS (e.g., Quake, Unreal Tournament), but, especially compared to the absolutely sluggish Halo 3, you did move at a decent speed. Personally, I prefer that faster running speed from the first game. Therefore, I’d increase the base player speed about 10-20% from Halo 3. One reason why is that I would substantially increase the accuracy of practically every weapon (unless of course it couldn’t be made any more accurate, as is the case with the sniper rifle), which would make it too easy to hit an opponent in multiplayer if they moved as slow as they do in Halo 3. Likewise, it requires better aim to hit a faster, more agile enemy. Another reason is that it makes traversing large outdoors areas on foot more practical by cutting travel time by a substantial percentage. As for jump height, it’s negotiable. While I feel that the lower jump height in Halo 1 cut down on bunny-hopping — which might be exacerbated if you combined Halo 1’s speed with Halo 3’s jump height — jumping in the first game felt a bit unresponsive (I’ve heard this is mostly due to H1’s physics, though Halo 1’s controls did feel overall somewhat looser). Of course, there’s no reason it has to be as such in this game. Since rockets and frag & plasma grenades would have larger explosions on the order of what was seen in Halo 1, perhaps it would be better if the jump height was a bit more than in Halo 1, though not quite as high as in Halo 3. (Notes: The ODST, which would not be available in multiplayer, would run slower and have a lower jump height than the Spartans or Elites. Also, the Elite player character in Campaign would run faster than the Spartan characters since Elite NPCs are also faster than the Spartans. However, Elites and Spartans would of course be the same speed in multiplayer.)
While there’s nothing major that needs to be done, there are a few tweaks and additions I’d make to the HUD. First and foremost, I would give the player the option to choose from either the Halo 1 or Halo 3 HUD in multiplayer; in Campaign, each PC would have a standardized HUD type unique to them, e.g., the H1 HUD for the Spartan-II (John had the only known suit of Mjolnir Mark VI; the other surviving Spartans presumably all had Mark V armor). Both would receive certain adjustments, however. The Halo 1-style HUD would need to have a new alternate display in the top-left corner for dual-wielding if said feature is retained. I would also add the curvature and translucent visor outline of the Halo 3 HUD. The Halo 3-style HUD would of course have a health meter added to it, as not being able to monitor health levels is my main annoyance with the HUD in the sequels. The meter would be placed on the underside of the shield bar and would be color-coded as outlined earlier in the section on the health system. Another change to the H3-style HUD would be the range indicator found on the sniper rifle as well as on the various waypoints and objective indicators. Instead of the tiny, pale blue print, I’d use the larger & easier-to-read orange print used in Halo 1. Enemy names in multiplayer in the H3-style HUD would have the same placement (centered and just below the shield & health bars) and font size & color as the H1 HUD rather than showing up in bold red print right above the enemy’s head like in H3’s multiplayer. Also, the HUD may need a couple of extra additions or modifications for any new gameplay features, such as a map for Campaign (which the player may need due to how I’d approach level design) or a firing mode indicator for select-fire weapons.
Regardless of their HUD type or whether they’re playing Campaign or multiplayer, I’d give the player the ability to adjust certain aspects of the HUD, such as the opacity of its main features (shield & health bars, ammo & grenade counters, etc.). I’d also give the player the option to place the crosshair in the center of the screen; the crosshair’s placement in Halo 2 & 3 (about a third to two-fifths up from the bottom) is a common complaint I’ve heard, so I think it’d be nice if the player could choose whether to center the crosshair. Finally, I would give players the option to have the HUD use Covenant text when playing as an Elite.
Other changes would include extending the range of the motion tracker and letting the player control what kind of messages and feedback show up on-screen as well as select their viewpoint while in a vehicle. While the motion tracker’s default range was about 60 meters in Halo 1, it was only 25 meters in Halo 2 & 3; the latter is too short yet also too accurate, while the former might be too long-ranged for smaller multiplayer maps. I would make the default range somewhere between these two values, likely in the 40 to 50 meter range. As for feedback, the player should have the option to do such things as disable tutorial pop-ups (e.g., “press RS to zoom”) or choose whether information such as ammo/grenade acquisitions are shown as on-screen text or as the simplistic Halo 3 system. Finally, there would be an option to choose from Halo 1's first-person or Halo 2/3's third-person perspectives while a passenger in a vehicle.
Finally, there’s the issue of field of view. In Halo 3, while a player on a widescreen TV has a good FOV, a player on a standard TV gets shafted by being stuck with a much narrower FOV much like that of Halo 2. A future Halo game (or any other FPS, for that matter) should better balance how many degrees of field there are on the two types of TVs. While players on regular TVs should have a better horizontal FOV than they had in Halo 2 & 3 (preferably, it should be as much as in Halo 1, which IIRC gave the players about 10-15° more FOV than the sequels, which were around 55-60°), it shouldn’t be quite as much as they’d have on a widescreen TV, or else they’d have too much vertical FOV as compared to the latter. My initial suggestion would be 70-80° of horizontal FOV for 4:3 screens and 90° for 16:9 TVs. Alternately, the game could simply be letterboxed on standard TVs to make the viewable area the same as on a widescreen TV (this would be optional, and the player could have a full-screen view at the cost of less FOV than a widescreen TV).
Equipment & Power-ups
Deployable equipment, a feature first introduced in Halo 3, is something that I have mixed feeling about. I feel that it could have been implemented better, and I could do without it as it functioned in that game. While I could simply remove it entirely, I do think it deserves a second look. With the proper adjustments, I think it could actually be a really good part of gameplay. The player would still have the same one-item limit and each item would be restricted to a single use, but most equipment would be overhauled. The only pieces of equipment that I think worked fine they way they were are the gravity lift and the radar jammer. The latter was pretty useful in multiplayer and seemed to confuse enemies in Campaign despite the fact they never seem to utilize motion trackers (the Covenant does possess motion trackers, though, as evidenced from playable Elite characters in the sequels).
The bubble shield should be far less influential. Instead of lasting for a rather long stretch of time, it should only last long enough for a player to let his shield regenerate and/or reload his weapon (8 seconds is more than enough). It should also be more personal, so it would be a bit smaller. Finally, to compensate for these changes, the bubble shield would activate instantly rather than taking a second to deploy when the player presses the button. Alternately, the bubble shield could be very rare, with the "deployable cover" item becoming the primary form of stationary shield. Deployable cover would function just as the stationary shields of Halo 1 & 2 did, and would take damage like a Jackal's shield.
The regenerator could be reworked as well, though I could do without it. I don’t really care for how it functions in Halo 3. It feels wildly inconsistent; it either works really well or it’s useless, and a fight could go either way when two opposing players are inside it in multiplayer, even if there was a wide initial gap in shields. If it instantly restored any damage done to shields, then I’d consider keeping it. In other words, nothing short of a one-hit-kill attack (e.g., sniper headshot, rocket, or assassination) should kill a person inside of it.
The trip mine would remain a simple proximity explosive deployed just as it was in Halo 3. However, it would be smaller (about half the H3 model’s size), make no noise, and emit no light. In order to be more effective against enemies and less of a threat to careless allies, instead of the glowing and incessant beeping, it would have a bright red waypoint over it that is only visible to the allies of whoever deployed it. Finally, it would be more effective than it was in the final version of Halo 3. To make it as effective as it was in the beta, it would have the same damage and blast radius as the rocket launcher.
The power drainer would emit a single, instantaneous burst instead of a persistent field. In other words, it’d become more or less an EMP grenade. Indeed, it’d be a small grenade-sized device thrown like a grenade that detonates a couple of seconds after coming to rest. It would have a similar effect as before — it would knock out any shielding and temporarily disable any vehicle in its area of effect (8-10 meters radius). However, it would no longer cause damage to health or to vehicles, so there would no longer be any instances where a power drainer kills someone or blows up a vehicle.
The flare, as it functioned in Halo 3, was more of an annoyance or minor distraction than something useful. Instead of the Halo 3 version, which was basically a bright, blinding mini-sun that activated the instant it was deployed and persisted for a few seconds, I would have it function more like a flash grenade. Like the power drainer, it would be a smaller device thrown like a grenade. Once it detonates, it would emit an instantaneous flash of extremely bright light. Anything looking at the flash will be completely blinded should they be within a certain distance of it. Even if they are outside that range or are close but not looking directly at it, they would still suffer from “washed-out” vision, kind of like the HDR lighting effect when a player goes from a dark environment to a bright environment (a “dark theatre to bright outdoors” effect). The effects of the flare would of course be temporary, and any affected player’s vision would return to normal after a few seconds. Also, this time the flare would be useful in Campaign, as most enemies would actually be blinded as well. They could stagger around, fire in random directions, or run aimlessly around trying to flee.
The Forerunner auto-turret could use some upgrades, including more resilience and the ability to track targets more effectively. It was of extremely limited use in Halo 3, and if it was to be in a future Halo game, I’d like it to be more effective. I would also consider adding it to multiplayer. With proper improvements, this item could become an effective Halo version of Perfect Dark’s Laptop Gun’s sentry gun mode. Of course, depending on how effective it is, it may prove necessary to give it a limited battery life.
The invincibility item worked fine as-is, but I think it could be somewhat more common, though not too common. There was only one found lying around in Campaign, and normally could only be acquired by killing a hammer-wielding Brute Chieftain before he could activate it himself. I think there could be a few more than that in this game found lying around in Covenant supply caches, though I wouldn’t go any higher than one or two per stage. Also, I would consider adding it to multiplayer, though it would have to be extremely rare. Perhaps it could be found in some out-of-the-way location and only spawns once a few minutes into a match.
All equipment would, due to how influential it is in gameplay, would take much longer to respawn in multiplayer to place more emphasis on the traditional “Golden Tripod.”
As for the power-ups, there would be a few changes as well. First and foremost, the overshield would once again provide two extra layers of shielding, just as in Halo 1 & 2, instead of just one like in Halo 3. Furthermore, that attention-grabbing glow effect it gives the player would be removed.
The active camouflage worked fine in Halo 3 in terms of how effective it was, but I’ve had some ideas ever since its transformation into a piece of equipment in that game’s Campaign. I think this was an interesting change, since in the first game’s Campaign it was the same power-up it was in multiplayer. Personally, I think the camo being a device you can carry around and activate on command later is not only more plausible than some odd blue crystal or floating orb of energy you touch that takes effect immediately, it’s also more convenient for the player from a gameplay perspective, as sometimes the placement of the camo could make it to where it would run out by time the player got to where it would be of some use. Since the camo was in the form of equipment, then I think the overshield could be such a device as well. It would look the same as the camo and invincibility items, but emit red light, whereas the others emitted blue and yellow light, respectively. Furthermore, I think replacing the traditional multiplayer power-ups (the crystals or floating energy balls) with their equipment versions is an idea that should be considered. Since the player would have to consciously activate the camo or overshield, he can wait to use it when and where he thinks it would be most opportune to do so, though if for whatever reason he’s killed before he activates it, another player could acquire it.
Interactive Environments & Weather Effects
Environments in the Halo series have been largely static and non-interactive. I would try to make them at least somewhat more dynamic. One way would be to give them some degree of destructibility. While this game would not have destructible or deformable environments anywhere near the degree seen in games like Bad Company or Fracture, there would be a sense of persistent damage. This could be achieved by the implementation of superficial environmental destruction like that seen in Gears of War 2. Furthermore, certain objects that do not comprise the primary stage geometry such as trees or small and/or nonessential structures could potentially be destroyed. Certain light fixtures could be shot out as well, which would have various effects in gameplay.
Moving stage geometry could play a role as well. For example, in Halo 2 there were the moving parts of Cairo Station's MAC gun that interfered with the player's movement, various pieces of machinery operating in Forerunner installations (e.g. the elevator sequence in the stage The Arbiter), the piston on Waterworks, the fan on Zanzibar, and the radar dish on Ascension. I would like to see more stuff like that in a future Halo game.
Environmental hazards could also be an element. In snowy stages, there could be ice patches that cause wheeled vehicles to lose traction. There could also be rockslides, avalanches, and other falling stuff throughout the game (e.g., stalactites, which like the ones on Waterworks could be shot off to crush enemies), which could happen as part of a scripted event or as something triggered by the actions of the player or an NPC.
Finally, bad weather would come into play. Weather in the Halo series has largely been mild and usually quite fair. There was light snowfall on Assault on the Control Room, Two Betrayals, and Lockout, light, almost unnoticeable rain on The Great Journey and The Storm, and fog on 343 Guilty Spark and Backwash. Fog was the only example of adverse, gameplay-affecting conditions as it limited visibility to a few dozen meters. None of the other weather effects did anything other than add ambiance. Heavy rain, wind, thunder & lightning (with appropriate light sourcing), heavy snow or whiteouts, thick fog, and so forth would play a larger role in this game, and could affect gameplay by affecting visibility, interfering with vehicle maneuverability, and so forth. Weather effects could even be dynamic rather than static, changing as a stage progresses and even differing in the same place and time on separate playthroughs.
For custom multiplayer maps, weather effects could be customized for most outdoors stages, with the available effects being appropriate for the stage. Even time of day could be changed from the default time. For example, a snow-themed map could have clear, sunny skies or a raging blizzard, while a stage like Blood Gulch could be given rainy, stormy weather in the middle of the night. For indoors stages where weather isn’t an issue the player could potentially alter the lighting levels. Weather, time of day, and lighting would be customized in Forge mode.
Story Proposals & Basic Outline
Before tackling gameplay concerns for the single-player Campaign, one must first address what the setting, plot, tone, pacing, and so forth will be. I’ve had an idea of what I’d like to see for quite some time now which I mentioned earlier in the article, and that is a multi-sided Campaign that puts you into the shoes of several different characters and takes place in various times throughout the main Halo timeline (2525 to 2553). Unlike the main trilogy, which was mostly centered on the Halos, the Forerunners, and the Flood, this entry would focus primarily on the UNSC-Covenant war and would flesh out much of what happened during the conflict. Essentially, it would be a side story of sorts to events that occurred in both the games and the novels.
The game would start off with the player assuming the role of an ODST in the mid-2530s. His initial mission(s) would involve engagements with Insurrectionist forces, which is something I’ve always wanted to see. This would serve as a training mission of sorts, getting the player used to new features or whatnot. However, things would quickly change, as the ODSTs would be called on to combat a Covenant invasion of the same colony world the rebels were located on. There would be some plot element regarding Forerunner technology and relics that ties together the rebel’s activities and the Covenant invasion of the colony.
Since an ODST is a normal human with normal equipment and thus much less formidable than a Spartan, Elites and/or Brutes would be used sparingly, perhaps serving as mini-bosses of sorts. Like in the upcoming “Halo 3: ODST” Campaign expansion for H3, the ODST character would be weaker, slower, and have a lower jump height than the other players characters. He would also have no motion tracker on his HUD, but would gain the “Visual Mode” feature where allies are outlined in green and enemies are outlined in red. I might also consider adding other ODST-specific elements from the H3: ODST expansion.
Second, the player would shift to a Spartan-III. Unlike the MJOLNIR-clad Spartan-IIs the players have been used to playing, the Spartan-III’s API armor lacks any kind of shielding. Rather, it’s equipped with an active camouflage ability. This obviously lends itself to gameplay centered more on stealth, infiltration, and covert ops. Since SPI armor lacks shields, the camouflage would be more effective than the Arbiter’s was in Halo 2 to compensate, though it would function similarly. Instead of only lasting a few seconds, perhaps it could remain active until the player attacks or takes a hit, at which point a gauge begins to refill. After, say, 15 seconds, give or take (depending on difficulty level), the gauge would be full and the player’s camo could be reactivated. However, it wouldn't provide camouflage as good as an Elite's, and the player would become intermittently translucent, potentially rendering them noticeable to nearby enemies. Alternately, it would be just as good as an Elites, but last for a limited time; it would still last substantially longer than the Arbiter's did in Halo 2, though it could also be made to take longer to recharge as well.
Next, we’d go back into familiar territory and play as a Spartan-II. However, it would of course not be John. Since the Spartan-IIs didn’t receive the shielded Mark V armor until August 2552, these stages would all take place during the lattermost months of the war, most likely during the Brute occupation of Earth. However, there are only a few known Spartan-IIs alive and active during the Brute occupation and that are stationed on Earth at the time: Blue Team, composed of Fred, Linda, & Will, and Maria, who tested the Mark VI armor shortly before Halo 2 began. Maria would be an interesting character to expand upon, as we know little of her activities outside of testing the Mark VI armor. It is logical to assume she participated in the defense of Earth despite her supposed “retirement.” Another reason to have her as a PC is that playing as a member of Blue Team would mean having two Spartan-II AI buddies, who by necessity must be unkillable like the Johnson, Half-Jaw, or (in Halo 3 solo) the Arbiter, which could make the Spartan-II stages too easy.
Finally, the player would assume the role of an Elite. Rather than the Arbiter, the Elite character will be a normal low-ranking, blue-armored Minor Elite. Gameplay-wise, the Elite will be no different from the Spartan-II, except perhaps with more health and shields as well as mission-start equipment appropriate for a Sangheili warrior. Furthermore, to avoid confusion between Elite and Brute vehicular forces, the Brutes and their minions would have the standard purple-armored Ghosts, Banshees, Wraiths, and dropships, while the Elites would have vehicles with copper-colored armor like the Halo 3 AA Wraith or perhaps a color scheme similar to that of the Heretic's Banshees in Halo 2. The Elite segments will take place during the Covenant civil war, with the first missions taking place at Delta Halo and/or High Charity, occurring parallel to the events of the latter third of Halo 2. The Elite character would likely have some sort of connection with at least one human character, and he would be a human sympathizer rather than an anti-human zealot.
While this is the most likely order in which each of the four player characters would be introduced, they could potentially overlap, much like in Halo 2 or Call of Duty 4, where the player goes back and forth between multiple characters. Furthermore, the stage count would not be divided evenly between the four PCs. I’ve only envisioned the ODST and Spartan-III portions taking up at most a quarter to a third of the game due to the atypical nature of those characters as compared to the Master Chief and Arbiter from the main trilogy. The players, after all, are most used to playing as either a Spartan-II or an Elite. Their missions mainly exist to give the player some new experiences without butting too much in to what players expect from PCs in Halo (though H3: ODST makes the ODST segment not so much of a new experience, though it would offer human rebels as enemies for a change of pace). The Spartan-II and Elite portions would therefore comprise the bulk of the game. In addition to the story being told through cinema scenes and in-game dialogue, certain extra or non-essential plot points could be told through computer terminals or collectibles like in Halo 3 and Gears of War 2.
The game’s plot would try to tie together each of the characters in some way. However, things like most of the story details (including exactly how the characters would be connected), script, exact locations and times of most of the missions, and so forth, I haven’t quite figured those out. Though I have a few general ideas, I’m not a particularly good writer of fiction, but I’m sure a good writing team, working closely with Bungie’s story people to maintain canonicity, could produce compelling dialogue, story, and plot development.
I have several ideas for potential missions. The first mission would be a simple raid on an Insurrectionist base. You and a team of ODSTs will be tasked with eliminating a group of well-armed Insurrectionists who are stationed in a base situated near a small town on one of the Outer Colonies. The action would start off slow, with the player picking off small, isolated groups of rebels with silenced weapons, perhaps in a small urban area, in order to find the location of the base. The player could also be tasked with taking out key rebel installations (communication arrays, supply storehouses, etc.). The stage’s climax would be a full-blown battle involving numerous rebel infantry as well as rebel-controlled Warthogs, a Scorpion or two, and even a Pelican. The stage after the Insurrectionist's defeat to be an investigation of a buried Forerunner facility the Innies discovered; the player would end up fighting Sentinels, with an Enforcer serving as the stage's boss. Finally, there would be an engagement with Covenant forces that are also there for Forerunner tech.
The Spartan-III segment would pose somewhat of a problem if it were to be included. There were very few known missions involving S-IIIs, so coming up with missions that fit both this game and the Halo canon could prove a bit tricky. Alpha Company engaged in Operation PROMETHEUS (where they all died) as well as a few other earlier missions briefly mentioned. Beta Company’s only known engagement was Operation TORPEDO, while Gamma Company was involved in the Onyx incident during their training. Of course, Alpha Company was active for nine months and it stands to reason that Beta Company was active for a similar time span, so it’s likely that they participated in more missions than those mentioned in Ghosts of Onyx. Most likely, this segment would involve Alpha Company and be an immediate follow-up to the ODST segment.
For the Spartan-II segments, I’ve had some ideas for some time now, a couple of which I would’ve liked to have seen in Halo 3. One would be a “Siege of Sydney” stage where the player has to defend Sydney, Australia, the location of the UNSC High Command, from the Covenant invasion forces. Another stage would involve having to capture a base located in the Australian desert held by the Covenant (something inspired by the "Desert Brigade" wallpaper on B.net) and then defend it against reinforcements, including Wraiths and a Scarab. Finally, there should also be a stage where the player has to infiltrate a Covenant carrier and destroy it from the inside, much like the planned second mission of Halo 2 that was ultimately scrapped.
Some potential Elite missions could involve 1) evacuating the interior urban centers of High Charity in the face of Brute and Flood threats, 2) assisting the Arbiter and Rtas ‘Vadum in recovering Tartarus’ CCS cruiser situated above Delta Halo’s control room, 3) helping repel attempts by the Flood to capture Covenant vessels in orbit around Delta Halo, 4) assisting Elite and UNSC forces on Earth during the Brute occupation, and 5) staving off an attempted Brute invasion of Sangheilios or some other Elite-controlled world sometime during the months after the events at the Ark (the Brutes must still pose some kind of threat even after the collapse of the Covenant).
Another mission design issue is specific objectives the player must accomplish. The Halo series has been largely bereft of actual objectives. Usually, your only objective is simply to get from point A to point B. Sometimes, you’re required to kill a particular enemy or group of enemies or push some button in order to progress, but that’s about as far as it gets for the vast majority of the time. The only real objectives were when you had to escort Captain Keyes off the Truth & Reconciliation, when you had to destroy the reactors of the Pillar of Autumn and High Charity (the former a bit more complex and challenging than the latter), and when you had to cut the cable holding up the Threshold gas mine.
I think a future Halo game could benefit by giving the player more to accomplish besides simply blowing away a bunch of enemies and completing some simple token “objective” like pushing a button. Objectives don’t have to be overly complicated, and could include tasks similar to those in the other games, such as destroying a reactor or some other object of strategic value. Other objectives could include having to call in a squad of Longswords for a bombing run against enemy artillery in order to pass, or locating and stopping a convoy of enemy armor before it reaches its destination, giving you the chance to box them up inside a narrow pathway, or, failing that, having to fight them the hard way out in the open. The latter is example of an objective that is not necessary to complete the mission, but it would make things more difficult down the road should the player fail it. Whatever the case may be, objectives should certainly be more varied and frequent than in the past.
The Halo series has always been about huge, sweeping vistas and massive stages. No better example of this exists than the original game. Whether it’s the epic scale of Assault on the Control Room and Two Betrayals or the relative open-endedness of Halo or The Silent Cartographer, Combat Evolved’s addition of large environments and open fields of combat was something new for an FPS, and not even the sequels could match it.
However, more recent games in the genre have left Halo in the dust when it comes to huge, epic stage designs. Perhaps the best example is Crytek’s Far Cry and Crysis franchises. The latter in particular, which I’ve had the opportunity to play in its entirety, has some of the best single-player map designs I’ve seen in recent memory. The open-ended, largely nonlinear, almost sandbox-style gameplay combined with gargantuan stages make for an outstanding gaming experience that offers far more playable area than any Halo game. Likewise, Far Cry 2 has about 50 square kilometers of playable area (in one single contiguous environment rather than spread across several distinct stages), which is again far more than what Halo offers. The whole Halo trilogy combined probably doesn’t even total 50 square km of playable area.
While traditional corridor crawls will always have their place in the genre — as evidenced by 2K Games’ dystopian epic BioShock, which took place entirely indoors, or the commonplace interior environments in Halo and most other shooters — and modest-sized outdoors environments can serve certain games fairly well (Call of Duty, for instance), any future developer claiming to have a shooter with massive stages will have to look to the example set by games like Crysis for how to develop single-player stages, as they represent the current pinnacle of big, wide-open outdoors environments. I believe if a new Halo FPS is ever released on the future Xbox console it should go in this direction.
As for the types of environments, they should, like those in the main trilogy, be widely varied and include deserts, snowy/arctic terrain, forests, swamps, mountains, cities, spaceships, and so forth.
The AI in the Halo series has always been rather inconsistent. While enemy AI was pretty good in the first two games and your foes were generally competent fighters (more so in Halo 1 in the Elite’s case, since they were faster and more agile, while in Halo 2 they relied more on inflicting massive damage rather than speed and agility), they did do stupid stuff on occasion. For example, they’d frequently jump off ledges to avoid grenades or vehicles (often resulting in their deaths), they sometimes wouldn’t react to obvious threats, and they seemed like they didn’t notice your presence past a certain range and wouldn’t react even if you were picking them or their allies off with a sniper rifle. In Halo 3, though, the enemy AI was average at best and mentally retarded at worst, relying almost entirely upon their ability to inflict insanely high amounts of damage. Brutes had almost no evasive skills whatsoever and would often not bother taking cover or dodging even when being repeatedly fired upon, though they were decent shots and would fire at you if they saw you. Hammer-wielding Chieftains wouldn’t attack you if you were standing on a crate or platform only a couple of feet above their head, opting rather to stare at you while you shot them to death. Enemies wouldn’t advance on your position in many areas, and some enemies often wouldn’t even bother diving out of the way of grenades or vehicles that they saw coming. All of this is in addition to making the same kind of mistakes that the AI in the first two games did. The only time Halo 3’s enemy AI truly shines is when they’re piloting vehicles, which actually can be problematic considering how overpowered enemy vehicles are in Halo 3.
Friendly AI in any of the games has never been anything to write home about, either. While they can be useful at times, they also do some incredibly stupid things. Whether it’s killing you, themselves, and/or the other Marines with grenades or a rocket launcher, or being horribly incompetent drivers, they are frequently a hazard to themselves and everyone around them.
I believe that the quality of the AI is the most important Campaign-specific gameplay element, and a future Halo game would have to do much better than what has been offered by the series so far. Enemy AI should act like how you’d expect a well-disciplined, battle-hardened enemy to behave. They should be competent, aggressive fighters who use good tactics and work together well as a team, react realistically to the actions of the player, and are able to ascertain the strengths and weaknesses of the player and his allies. They shouldn’t ever sit still in combat unless it gives them some tactical advantage. They should be able to fight in formation — for example, Jackals in a “V” like in the E3 ‘03 “Earth City” demo — and use covering fire to assist their teammates. If you’re holed up in a bunker or other fortification, they should try their damnedest to flush you out or, if they have a serious advantage in numbers and/or firepower, run in and try to kill you. They shouldn’t always sit outside and wait for you to make a move. They should use cover logically, whether it’s to take cover when being fired upon or when they feel you have an advantage. They could even be made to use blindfire from around corners to keep you pinned down and cover their allies’ advance. They shouldn’t just sit out in the open and let you shoot them. They should be able to use the terrain to their advantage. They should exhibit more advanced and realistic senses, such as hearing you if you make too much non-weapon-related noise (by breaking glass, knocking stuff over, etc.) or seeing the light cast by your flashlight, and reacting appropriately to the stimulus by going into an “alert mode,” sending someone to investigate, or whatnot. If they are aware of your presence, they should be able to react to you regardless of how far away they are. Likewise, they should be able to notice their allies getting sniped and react appropriately even if they don’t know where you are. If you attempt to run away from them, they should pursue you relentlessly if they are capable of doing so. If you have them outnumbered and outgunned, they should retreat if it’s their best option, covering their escape as best they can, until they are able to turn the situation against you either by getting to help or running to some location that gives them an advantage. However, Flood AI would be different than Covenant or Insurrectionist AI. They would attack the opponent en masse, using overwhelming numbers rather than advanced tactics. They would be more akin to their Halo 1 versions, who were most prone at “flooding” the players defenses with their numbers; in Halo 2, they fought in fewer numbers and relied more on increased firepower, while in Halo 3, they were more conservative combatants that sometimes retreated and, like the Covenant, would often not bother rushing the player, at least not in large numbers.
Likewise, allies should have AI that’s as good as the enemy. They shouldn’t be too effective, or else the player would come to rely on them rather than on their own skills, but they shouldn’t be hazards or liabilities, nor should they be useless outside of some minor support role (their effectiveness could be reduced by having them fight in fewer numbers or use less advanced tactics than the enemy). They should be able to fight reasonably close to how well the enemies do. They should be able to drive vehicles as effectively as the enemy. At the very least they shouldn’t be prone to driving off cliffs, getting stuck on simple obstacles, or going well under the vehicle’s top speed when it’s not necessary. They shouldn’t be prone to killing you, themselves, or the other good guys because they’re too stupid to use a rocket launcher, grenade, or vehicle with any degree of competence. They shouldn’t be hesitant to get into a vehicle but they should also always jump in in a logical fashion (e.g., the guy with the rockets jumping in a Hog’s passenger seat and the guy with the AR manning the turret, rather than vice versa, which is not uncommon in Halo 2 & 3).
In short, the artificial intelligence should be, well, intelligent. I’ve seen pretty good AI from current and last-gen games. The F.E.A.R. and Gears of War series as well as Killzone 2 have fairly smart enemies, and even Halo 1 & 2’s enemy AI was good aside from the obvious flaws. Certainly, a future Halo game (or any other future FPS, for that matter) benefiting from the power of a next-gen console should be able to exhibit advanced AI capable of fighting effectively and intelligently, even more so than the best current-gen AI, and any incidences of stupidity should be exceedingly rare. There’s really no excuse for the AI to not be as good as whatever the current technology allows. At the very least, it should be demonstrably better than that of the aforementioned games.
Simply making sure the enemies and objectives are neither too easy nor too difficult for a given difficulty level is not the only consideration that needs to made when balancing the several difficulty levels. The basic approach should also focus on what exactly makes it difficult. In Halo 1, the enemies were both smart and agile. While they did gain a large damage bonus on higher difficulties, they still did somewhat less damage than what the player could dish out; they were great shots, however. In Halo 2, they were still reasonably smart, but, at the expense of certain enemies (mainly Elites) losing much of their speed and agility, they gained the ability to inflict far more damage than they did in Halo 1. For example, your basic blue Elite could kill with only a short burst from the plasma rifle on Heroic and Legendary, which is far more damage per shot than what the player could inflict (presumably, the enemies had the same or higher base damage than the player for any given weapon, whereas in Halo 1 their base damage was typically about half the player’s). Also, on Legendary, the newly-introduced sniper Jackals very rarely missed and did enough damage to kill with one shot even if the player had full shields and health. In Halo 3, the enemies were neither agile nor incredibly bright. Instead, they relied mostly on overwhelming power as they retained the same ability they had in Halo 2 to inflict considerably more damage over time than the player on higher difficulties, not to mention they typically fight in larger numbers than before. When you get killed in Halo 3, which can happen quite often on Legendary, it’s not because the enemy did something smart. It’s because they can kill with just a couple of direct hits.
Personally, I think that the trend towards making enemies tougher rather than more intelligent is a bad one. Most of the challenge of facing an enemy should come from quality AI rather than brute force (no pun intended). As the saying goes, fight smarter, not harder. That should apply not just to the player but to the NPCs as well. If the enemies are sufficiently intelligent then they wouldn’t need to inflict absurd amounts of damage; in fact, if they were really smart and inflicted as much damage as they did in Halo 2 or 3, it would result in the game being too hard on higher difficulties. Quality enemy AI, coupled with good encounter and objective design would result in a challenge that legitimately tests the player’s skills rather than just their patience.
Of course, even with good AI, there still exists the need to give the enemy health and damage bonuses or penalties and certain changes in behavior so as to make them individually stronger or weaker depending on difficulty level. After all, it can be argued that the game wouldn’t be much harder on higher difficulties unless the bad guys were made physically tougher, regardless of how smart they are. In each Halo game, enemies and allies received health & damage modifiers, and both NPC and player shields recharged at varying rates. Here are the modifiers by difficulty (damage/health modifiers for infantry apply only to AI, not to the player):
- Enemy infantry inflict 30% normal damage & have 60% normal health & shields
- No modifiers
- Infantry units inflict 1.4 times normal damage
- Infantry units inflict 1.8 times normal damage
In addition to the above modifiers, there are a couple of aspects of enemy behavior that change depending on difficulty. Enemies (including vehicles) have better reaction times and fire in more accurate and sustained bursts on higher difficulties than they do on lower difficulties. Their AI remains otherwise unchanged, however.
Finally, the higher the difficulty, the more common higher-ranked enemies become. For example, Elite Majors would replace Elite Minors on a more frequent basis. This is a feature from the Halo trilogy that often did more to boost difficulty than did any health or damage boost the enemy received. Perhaps most notably, the grav-lift bay on the Truth & Reconciliation would on Legendary difficulty have multiple Elite Zealots rather than the Stealth Elites encountered on Heroic and lower difficulties.
This game would, like Halo 3, support 2- to 4-player co-op both online and off. Unlike Halo 3, which provides four different player characters (Master Chief, the Arbiter, and the two co-op exclusive Elites), this game would probably just use PCs identical or nearly identical to player one. After all, four ODSTs, four Spartan-IIIs, or four Elite Minors all fighting together isn’t a big stretch. Even four Spartan-IIs could work, as we could have Maria teaming up with Red Team (no, Linda doesn’t spawn with a sniper rifle unless the others do). It’s not like the exploits of the PCs controlled by the second, third, or fourth players have ever been considered canon (two Chiefs in Halo 1 & 2, two Arbiters in Halo 2, or the Arbiter hanging with the Chief all throughout Halo 3 instead of being away for half the game).
Skulls & Campaign Scoring
These features would return pretty much unchanged. Enemy units would still be worth about the same amount of points as before (see Appendix III), and skulls would give the same multipliers as before. In addition to the skulls there were in Halo 3, there could very well be others.
Health: The base amount of hit points the enemy has.
Health: 50 Weapons: Pistol (3 damage) SMG (2 damage) Assault Rifle (3 damage) Battle Rifle (6 damage) Sniper Rifle (50 damage) Gatling Gun (8 damage) Other Attacks: Frag Grenades (80 to 120 damage) Melee (10 damage)
Notes: Most of the rebels, particularly those encountered at the beginning of the first stage, would be equipped with weaker weapons like pistols and SMGs. Towards the mid to latter parts of the stage, ARs would be their weapons of choice. There would be a handful of marksmen armed with BRs scattered about, employed much like Carbine Jackals, and there would only be a couple of snipers. This distribution of weapons should better balance the difficulty considering the ODST's lack of shields or other protection and relatively low health as well as the generally high effectiveness most human weapons have on unshielded players. In addition, they inflict considerably less base damage than the player (typically around 30%, compared to 50% for the Covenant) due to the sheer speed with which the projectiles of human weapons travel.
Health: 65 Weapons: Pistol (3 damage) Assault Rifle (3 damage) Battle Rifle (6 damage) SMG (2 damage) Shotgun (5 to 75 damage) Rocket Launcher (45 to 80 to 300 damage) Gatling Gun (8 damage) Sentinel Beam (30 damage/sec) Other Attacks: same as Infantry
Notes: Rebel officers would utilize heavy weapons like the shotgun or rockets in addition to more standard weapons like the AR. You may have also noticed an odd weapon in the above stats for an Insurrectionist to have. That ties in with my ideas for how the ODST segment plays out.
Health: ? Weapons: ? Other Attacks: ?
Notes: I’m still not sure what to do about the commander of the Insurrectionist forces. Should he be fought? If so, then how? Does he have some sort of powered armor? Does he use a vehicle? Or could he be a weakling like Keyes in Halo 1? Would he be a non-combatant that you have to capture? My preferred idea is that he should end up aboard a Pelican towards the end of the mission. The dropship could then be fought as a boss battle, and defeating it could result in the commander’s capture or death.
Several of the client races of the Covenant are divided into a color-coded ranking system (refer to Appendix IV), though each member of the respective races have always had common attributes that they all possess despite rank. Elites would be pretty much the same as they’ve always been. They are fast (their running speed would once again be faster than a Spartan's), agile, and smart, which when combined with their regenerating shields makes them formidable foes.
Brutes would experience some changes from their Halo 3 versions. They are slower and less agile than Elites, but are stronger and have more health. However, while they aren’t as fast as Elites, they won’t simply plod around like they did in Halo 3 and would have decent evasive abilities. Their powered armor functions similar to the Elites’ shields but it repairs itself at a slower rate than an Elite shield regenerates and as before if it's destroyed it cannot be restored. However, a Brute’s armor typically provides more protection than the shields of an Elite of equivalent rank. Also, unlike in Halo 3, the Brute’s armor would be less vulnerable to plasma weapons than Elite shields. For example, a plasma pistol’s charged shot would not, as a rule, completely destroy a Brute’s armor, though it would do substantial damage. Finally, Brutes would be less prone to going into berserk mode. Only the last Brute in a pack would berserk, just like in Halo 2. Furthermore, only lower-ranking Brutes (Minors & Majors) would go berserk, as I would imagine the higher-ranking ones would be more disciplined and thus less prone to recklessness. When a Brute does go berserk, though, they would be quicker and more unpredictable like in Halo 2 rather than engage in the slow, predictable charges of Halo 3.
Grunts would remain the basic foot soldier, with certain differences existing amongst the various ranks but otherwise having the same basic function in gameplay. However, one thing I’ve noticed about Grunts is that their methane tanks never explode despite being filled with said flammable gas. I would like to change that if at all possible. For example, if a Grunt’s gas tank is ruptured — by inflicting a certain amount of damage to it with a weapon firing solid projectiles — and then set on fire (or set on fire and then ruptured), it would explode like a grenade, killing the Grunt if it wasn’t already dead and becoming a hazard to anything around it.
Health: 45 Weapons: Plasma Pistol (10 damage) Needler (5 damage/40 to 60 damage) Other Attacks: Plasma Grenades (80 to 120 damage) Suicide Attack
Notes: Your basic Grunt would be much like they’ve been in the past: individually weak, but dangerous in large numbers, with very hierarchy-dependent behavior. When their leaders are dead and their numbers are low, their morale breaks down and they are likely to break ranks and panic or at the very least become less effectual. On some occasions, they may prime a pair of plasma grenades and rush the player to attempt a suicide attack, a last-ditch tactic introduced in Halo 3 that I found surprising, amusing, and often quite dangerous.
Health: 60 Weapons: Plasma Pistol (10 damage) Needler (5 damage/40 to 60 damage) Other Attacks: Plasma Grenades (80 to 120 damage) Suicide Attack
Notes: As before, these guys are the same as the Minor Grunts in terms of behavior, but are somewhat more resilient and are better shots.
Health: 65 Weapons: Plasma Pistol (10 damage) Fuel Rod Gun (40 to 75 damage) Plasma Cannon (7 damage) Other Attacks: Plasma Grenades (80 to 120 damage) Special Abilities: Can operate most light vehicles
Notes: These Grunts would still fill a heavy-weapon/vehicle specialist role, wielding fuel rod guns, manning turrets, or driving Ghosts. If they are somehow removed from a turret or vehicle and forced to fight on foot with a plasma pistol, they fight about as effectively as Grunt Major.
Spec Ops Grunt
Health: 75 Weapons: Plasma Pistol (10 damage) Needler (5 damage/40 to 60 damage) Fuel Rod Gun (40 to 75 damage) Other Attacks: Plasma Grenades (80 to 120 damage)
Notes: Found only in Special Operations units, these Grunts would still be as tough and disciplined as before. They’re better shots than lesser Grunts, they throw grenades more frequently, and they never panic, even if their Elite commanders are killed.
Health: 85 Weapons: Plasma Pistol (10 damage/35 damage) Plasma Rifle (7 damage) Needler (5 damage/40 to 60 damage) Other Attacks: Plasma Grenades (80 to 120 damage)
Notes: The toughest Grunts of all, these guys are not only more resilient, but are smarter and more aggressive as well. They’re better tacticians, they never break rank or panic, and they can command lesser Grunts if an Elite or Brute is not present. They also have a better understanding of weapons than their lesser brethren. They’re not only more accurate and fire in sustained bursts (they’re as effective as Elite Minors in terms of using their weapons), they can use the plasma pistol’s charged shot and they also can use plasma rifles. Also, like Spec Ops Grunts, they throw grenades quite frequently.
Health: 50 Shields: 150 Weapons: Plasma Pistol (10 damage/35 damage)
Notes: Regular Jackals would be at least as formidable as they were in Halo 1. They would use their shields very effectively, rarely giving the player an open shot in a standoff. They would be very quick — even running full-tilt like in Halo 2 to cover larger distances — and have excellent evasive skills. They would be less prone to turning their back on the player when aware of them. They would also be very accurate with their plasma pistols, firing the weapon very rapidly when using its normal firing mode.
Health: 75 Shields: 250 Weapons: Plasma Pistol (10 damage/35 damage)
Notes: Majors are like Minors, but with better accuracy, more health & shields, and perhaps better AI.
Health: 75 Weapons: Carbine (7 damage) Beam Rifle (70 damage) Plasma Pistol (10 damage/35 damage; backup weapon only)
Notes: Jackal marksmen would be a bit different from how they were in past Halo games. Since they’re better balanced for difficulty — a Jackal sniper can no longer kill a Spartan-II or Elite player with full shields & health in one shot on Legendary, though they can severely injure them — their optical headgear would no longer glow bright purple to give away their position. Also, their behavior would change in certain ways. Rather than staying still, they’d attempt to flee to a new vantage point if possible when fired upon by the player. Also, as they lack shields but possess weapons with long range, they would try to put as much distance between themselves and the player as would be practically possible (at least 30 m for Carbine users and 50 m for snipers). Snipers would still switch to their plasma pistols for close-range defense when necessary, firing just as effectively as their shielded counterparts. Once at a safe distance, they'd re-draw their beam rifles. Carbine users would probably stick with their rifles, however, as said weapon is more effective up close than a sniper weapon. Finally, marksmen would be just as fast and agile as regular Jackals.
Health: 40 Weapons: Plasma Pistol (10 damage) Needler (5 damage/40 to 60 damage) Other Attacks: Melee (10 damage) Special Abilities: Flight Can walk on walls & ceilings Not susceptible to headshot damage
Notes: Drones are not dependent on any hierarchy, they don’t break ranks, and they don’t show fear. As before, they typically fight in swarms of at least a half-dozen, often more. Their flight patterns are unpredictable, and they would use their ability to fly well, getting above and/or behind their targets and surrounding them if possible. Unlike in Halo 2 & 3, where they typically sat still after landing on a wall, they would be able to crawl across walls and ceilings just as easily as they can the floor. They would use this ability just as much to their advantage as they would their ability to fly.
Health: 350 Weapons: Hunter Assault Cannon (40 to 75 damage) Other Attacks: Melee (45 damage) Special Abilities: Not susceptible to headshots Assassination immunity Shield is immune to & deflects small arms fire Plasma/Spike sticks do not kill instantly; normal damage (adjusted for modifiers) is inflicted
Notes: Instead of the beam cannons they had in Halo 2 & 3, the Hunters’ assault cannons would function like the player’s fuel rod gun but with a slower firing rate. However, I would allow the possibility of them having both firing modes, though I prefer the fuel rod version to the beam version. Hunters would also be relatively common, with at least as many if not more pairs as there were in the first game.
Health: 100 Shields: 100 Weapons: Plasma Rifle (7 damage) Needler (5 damage/40 to 60 damage) Carbine (7 damage) Other Attacks: Plasma Grenades (80 to 120 damage) Melee (20 damage)
Health: 100 Shields: 150 Weapons: Plasma Rifle (7 damage) Needler (5 damage/40 to 60 damage) Carbine (7 damage) Other Attacks: Plasma Grenades (80 to 120 damage) Melee (20 damage)
Notes: Elite Majors are better shots than Minors but they are otherwise identical in behavior.
Health: 100 Shields: 50 Weapons: Plasma Rifle (7 damage) Energy Sword (151 damage) Beam Rifle (70 damage) Other Attacks: Plasma Grenades (80 to 120 damage) Melee (20 damage) Special Abilities: Active Camouflage
Notes: While Stealth Elites have weak shields (to balance the fact that they have active camo), their shields would, like in Halo 2, regenerate faster than the shields of other Elite ranks. Also, I would also consider adding a couple of Stealth Elite snipers into the game just to make some interesting and intense encounters. Behaviorally, Stealth Elites are the same as Elite Majors.
Health: 100 Shields: 100 Weapons: Plasma Rifle (7 damage) Carbine (7 damage) Other Attacks: Plasma Grenades (80 to 120 damage) Melee (20 damage) Special Abilities: Flight
Notes: Rangers would be more maneuverable than they were in Halo 2, and would utilize their jetpacks more effectively to attack from just about any angle.
Honor Guard Elite
Health: 100 Shields: 250 Weapons: Plasma Rifle (7 damage) Energy Sword (151 damage) Other Attacks: Plasma Grenades (80 to 120 damage) Melee (20 damage)
Notes: I’m still thinking of ideas on how to fit Honor Guards into the game, but most likely they’d be tasked with guarding Covenant VIPs (high-ranking commanders or political figures) or religious sites (including Forerunner ruins). In terms of behavior, they are smarter and are better shots than Elite Majors.
Spec Ops Elite
Health: 125 Shields: 200 Weapons: Plasma Rifle (8.5 damage) Carbine (8 damage) Beam Rifle (70 damage) Other Attacks: Plasma Grenades (80 to 120 damage) Melee (20 damage)
Notes: Working solely within Special Operations units, these Elites and their Grunt assistants would work as highly effective fireteams. Their AI would be better than lesser-ranking Elites and they would work together far better as a team than other Covenant infantry groups.
Health: 100 Shields: 300 Weapons: Plasma Rifle (8.5 damage) Carbine (8 damage) Fuel Rod Gun (40 to 75 damage) Energy Sword (151 damage; backup weapon only) Other Attacks: Plasma Grenades (80 to 120 damage) Melee (20 damage)
Notes: Ultras would be found in the same roles they were in Halo 2, for instance, commanding large groups of enemies or captaining a Scarab. While there might be only a few scattered across any given stage, they would prove to be very formidable opponents, second only to their Zealot commanders among the Sangheili ranks. As before, they typically use Plasma Rifles, Carbines, and sometimes even Fuel Rod Guns, but they’ll still tend to switch to a sword for close-quarters combat.
Health: 100 Shields: 400 Weapons: Plasma Rifle (8.5 damage) Energy Sword (151 damage) Other Attacks: Plasma Grenades (80 to 120 damage) Melee (20 damage)
Notes: Smarter, faster, and deadlier than any other Elite, a Zealot would be one of the toughest opponents the player could face. Sticking them with grenades or blasting them with a plasma pistol charged shot would prove difficult given their evasive abilities. I would also consider giving them the ability to use the invincibility equipment.
Health: 120 Armor: 120 Weapons: Spiker (8 damage) Mauler (3 to 60 damage) Carbine (7 damage) Other Attacks: Spike Grenades (10 to 240 damage) Melee (25 damage)
Health: 120 Armor: 180 Weapons: Spiker (8 damage) Mauler (3 to 60 damage) Carbine (7 damage) Other Attacks: Spike Grenades (10 to 240 damage) Melee (25 damage)
Notes: Brute Majors are better shots than Minors but they are otherwise identical in behavior.
Health: 120 Armor: 240 Weapons: Spiker (8 damage) Carbine (7 damage) Brute Shot (25 to 40 damage) Mauler (3 to 60 damage) Fuel Rod Gun (40 to 75 damage) Other Attacks: Spike Grenades (10 to 240 damage) Incendiary Grenades (30 damage per second) Melee (25 damage)
Notes: Captains don’t really have a rank equivalent to any Elite rank, though their stats place them around the level of a Spec Ops or Honor Guard Elite. They would normally be tasked with commanding any group of Brutes above a certain size, perhaps around eight to a dozen, though they could be found at random in smaller groups or alone commanding lesser Covenant species. They have a 25% chance of being equipped with incendiary grenades rather than spike grenades. In addition to being physically tougher, Captains are more skilled in combat than both Minors and Majors.
Health: 120 Armor: 60 Weapons: Spiker (8 damage) Plasma Rifle (7 damage) Other Attacks: Incendiary Grenades (30 damage per second) Melee (25 damage) Special Abilities: Active Camouflage
Notes: Like Stealth Elite shields, a Stalker’s armor repairs itself at a faster rate than other Brutes despite being relatively much weaker. Behaviorally, Stalkers are the same as Brute Majors.
Health: 120 Armor: 120 Weapons: Carbine (7 damage) Spiker (8 damage) Brute Shot (25 to 40 damage) Other Attacks: Spike Grenades (10 to 240 damage) Melee (25 damage) Special Abilities: Jetpack-assisted jumping
Notes: As they are able to leap well over 50 meters into the air, Jetpack Brutes would use this ability to not only attack the player from above or get behind them; they would also jump to high places and other out-of-reach locations in order to attack the player.
Health: 120 Armor: 300 Weapons: Spiker (9 damage) Plasma Rifle (8.5 damage) Mauler (3 to 60 damage) Other Attacks: Spike Grenades (10 to 240 damage) Melee (25 damage)
Notes: As before, these Brutes would be found two at a time accompanying a Chieftain. They are not found outside of this role. Their AI is identical to that of a Brute Captain.
Brute Captain Major
Health: 120 Armor: 360 Weapons: Spiker (8 damage) Carbine (7 damage) Brute Shot (25 to 40 damage) Mauler (3 to 60 damage; single- or dual-wielded) Fuel Rod Cannon (40 to 75 damage) Other Attacks: Spike Grenades (10 to 240 damage) Incendiary Grenades (30 damage per second) Melee (25 damage)
Notes: Captain Majors are the Brute equivalents of Elite Ultras and are found in similar roles and numbers. Like regular Captains, they have a roughly 25% chance of being equipped with incendiary grenades. They would be somewhat better combatants than regular Captains in addition to being physically tougher.
Health: 150 Armor: 450 Weapons: Gravity Hammer (100 damage/40 to 60 damage) Plasma Cannon (8 damage) Fuel Rod Cannon (40 to 75 damage) Other Attacks: Spike Grenades (10 to 240 damage) Melee (30 damage) Special Abilities: Temporary Invincibility (via Equipment) Armor is immune to Needler rounds, deflects plasma & spike grenades
Notes: Hammer-wielding Chieftains would not make the same mistakes in combat that they did in Halo 3. If the player were standing on a crate, the Chieftain would simply jump up and hit the player or, if they can’t quite reach him, knock the crate out from under the player. If the player is on a more stable spot, the Brute could use the hammer’s shockwave ability to knock the player back or jump or climb up after him, though if the player is simply out of reach, he would retreat to safety instead of blindly rushing a target he can’t get to. Also, if the player charges him in a vehicle to run him over, he would smack the vehicle back with his hammer and then move in to smash it again. He would even use his hammer’s shockwave ability to swat rockets and other projectiles away if he sees them coming and has time to react. Of course, a Chieftain armed with a plasma cannon or fuel rod gun could simply shoot the player since they’re not restricted to close-quarters combat.
The Flood would retain many of the same immunities and weaknesses they had before. They would all remain immune to assassinations. The Infection Forms lodged in the chest of the Combat Forms would still function as a head for gameplay purposes. All Combat Forms could still be dismembered or even gibbed entirely by certain weapons, though shooting off both arms will no longer cause them to self-destruct. All Combat Forms could also be temporarily knocked down by non-fatal damage, just like in Halo 1. If their Infection Form “nerve centers” are destroyed by a headshot-capable weapon, another Infection Form can revive them assuming they aren’t destroyed or dismembered.
Health: 0.1 Weapons: none Other Attacks: Infection Attack (same damage as in Halo 1)
Combat Form (Human)
Health: 100 Weapons: Pistol (5 damage) Battle Rifle (10 damage) Assault Rifle (4 damage) SMG (2.5 damage) Shotgun (8 to 120 damage) Plasma Pistol (8 damage) Plasma Rifle (6 damage) Needler (4 damage/40 to 60 damage) Carbine (6 damage) Spiker (7 damage) Mauler (3 to 60 damage) Brute Shot (25 to 40 damage) Fuel Rod Gun (40 to 75 damage) Rocket Launcher (45 to 80 to 300 damage) Other Attacks: Melee (20 damage)
Combat Form (Elite)
Health: 120 Shields: 50% of host's (when active; see below) Weapons: same as Human Combat Form Other Attacks: Melee (25 damage)
Notes: Like in Halo 2 & 3, Elite Combat Forms would sometimes possess an energy shield. The frequency with which they would possess shielding would depend on the difficulty level. On Easy, it would be 10%, on Normal, it would be 20%, on Heroic, it would be 40%, and on Legendary, it would be 70%. The shield is treated as identical to that of an Elite for gameplay purposes, but would only be half as strong as what the host’s originally was.
Combat Form (Brute)
Health: 150 Weapons: same as Human Combat Form Other Attacks: Melee (30 damage)
Health: 50 Weapons: none Other Attacks: Self-destruct (40 to 70 damage; 1.5 to 6 m blast radius) Special Abilities: Not susceptible to headshots
Notes: A carrier form’s explosion has the same damage modifiers as a frag grenade. They release 4 to 8 infection forms when they die.
Health: 750 Weapons: none Other Attacks: Melee (60 damage) Special Abilities: Not susceptible to headshots
Notes: The Flood Juggernaut, which was cut from Halo 2, would come back as a mini-boss character. There might be only a few in the game, and they’d be quite tough, sort of like the Flood's answer to the Hunter. Their arms could be shot off, though they’d regenerate after a while.
All Forerunner Constructs are immune to assassinations. Flight is their only means of locomotion.
Health: 80 Shields: 60 Weapons: Sentinel Beam (30 damage per second) Other Attacks: Explosion (30 to 60 damage; 1.5 to 4 m blast radius)
Notes: A Sentinel’s death explosion, which occurs when its remains hit the ground, has the same damage modifiers as a frag grenade. A Sentinel’s shielding takes damage just like that of an Elite; however, certain attacks, such as melees or plasma pistol charged shots, will ignore a Sentinel’s shield, striking the construct directly.
Health: 5 Weapons: Utility Beam (10 damage per second) Special Abilities: Non-combatant
Notes: While they are very weak non-combatants, a Constructor’s beam can hurt the player if he walks into it. Also, destroying a Constructor will trigger the deployment of Sentinels.
Health: 800 Shields: 100 per section Weapons: Auto-cannon (5 damage) Mortar (15 to 30 damage; 1 to 2.5 m blast radius) Other Attacks: "Crusher Arms" grab and damage or destroy vehicles
Notes: Enforcers would be much like they were in Halo 2. Their tripartite shields function like those of a Jackal for gameplay purposes. Their auto-cannons would have the same damage modifiers as a Needler round, while their mortar cannons would have the same damage modifiers as a Brute Shot. Unlike the Sentinel Beam, these weapons cannot be retrieved from a destroyed Enforcer.
Health: 2000(?) Weapons: none Other Attacks: Melee (200 damage) Special Abilities: Super-strength Immune or resistant to most weapons & attack forms
Notes: The Drinol was a creature originating in the Marathon series that was apparently considered for inclusion in Halo 2 (there was even a render made) but later scrapped. Described as a “vehicle smasher,” it was supposed to have been a massive boss creature the Covenant kept chained up. I would try to finally get it into the game series. Perhaps it could be introduced later in the game during the Elite segment. It would be a massive (15-30 m tall) creature that uses its bare hands to fight. It could kill the player or crush light vehicles in a single strike; its strength allows it to ignore the usual penalties given to melee attacks. It could even throw vehicles and other heavy objects around, and could even flip a tank over with ease. As for how this creature would be fought, I’m still brainstorming ideas, but he should obviously be quite formidable.
Health: 50 Weapons: Pistol (5 damage) Assault Rifle (5 damage) Battle Rifle (10 damage) SMG (3 damage) Shotgun (8 to 120 damage) Sniper Rifle (60 damage) Rocket Launcher (45 to 80 to 250 damage) Plasma Pistol (10 damage) Plasma Rifle (8 damage) Needler (5 damage/40 to 60 damage) Carbine (7 damage) Beam Rifle (60 damage) Spiker (8 damage) Mauler (3 to 60 damage) Fuel Rod Gun (40 to 75 damage) Other Attacks: Frag Grenades (80 to 120 damage) Melee (15 damage)
Health: 60 Weapons: same as Marine Infantry Other Attacks: same as Marine Infantry
Notes: The “Helljumpers” would be more resilient than a regular Marine and their AI would be better. They would be far better combatants that work together more effectively as a group. Furthermore, they always use silencers when equipped with pistols or SMGs. However, they would of course not be as common as regular Marines.
Health: 70 Weapons: same as Marine Infantry Other Attacks: same as Marine Infantry
Health: as per rank Shields: as per rank Weapons: as per rank Other Attacks: Plasma Grenades (80 to 120 damage) Melee (20 damage)
Health: as per rank Weapons: as per rank Other Attacks: Plasma Grenades (80 to 120 damage)
Notes: During the Elite segment, there would be Grunts fighting on the side of both Elites and Brutes. To reduce confusion, only Spec Op and Ultra Grunts will fight on the Elite side, while Minor, Major, and Heavy Grunts will fight with the Brutes.
Health: 350 Weapons: Hunter Assault Cannon (40 to 75 damage) Other Attacks: Melee (45 damage) Special Abilities: Not susceptible to headshots Assassination immunity Shield is immune to & deflects small arms fire Plasma/Spike sticks do not kill instantly; normal damage (adjusted for modifiers) is inflicted
Notes: While Hunters would still be fought as enemies during the Elite segment, I’d like to have some as allies like in Halo 2. While I might not have allied and enemy Hunters fighting at the same time, to reduce confusion on who’s an enemy and who’s an ally, friendly Hunters could be distinguished from enemy Hunters by a simple pallet swap; their armor would be a copper or bronze color rather than the regular blue.
In the Halo series, aiming your weapon has always been a more simplistic affair than in most other contemporary FPSs. The crosshairs for most weapons are very prominent and well-defined, and there’s usually a significant amount of auto-aim (the tendency of projectiles to fire towards an opponent even when slightly off-target; AA assistance is indicated by a red crosshair in the trilogy) on most weapons as well as crosshair magnetism (the tendency of the targeting reticle to automatically gravitate towards a target when it’s close to one). While Halo’s approach to aiming is more than adequate, I don’t think it’d hurt to refine it a bit.
First off, auto-aim should be extremely low (nonexistent for certain weapons like rockets). With sufficiently accurate weapons, there wouldn’t be a need for large amounts of auto-aim to keep the player’s shots on track, though there is a necessity for at least some AA. Auto-aim levels would be no higher than in Halo 1, which had the least amount of AA in the series. Second, crosshair magnetism should be minimal if it is added at all, and even if it does exist in the game, the player should have the option to disable it if they find it to be an annoyance (as some do, including myself). Finally, certain weapons could have their crosshairs redesigned.
In many contemporary FPSs, the crosshairs are much simpler than those in Halo, usually existing either as four small, thin lines or a faint, translucent circle. They often expand when the player is walking. Unlike the well-defined crosshairs of most of Halo’s weapons, the crosshairs found in other games makes it a bit more challenging to aim properly without some kind of scope or sights. Perhaps a future Halo game could benefit from this. For example, the crosshairs of weapons like the AR, shotgun, and pistol could be pared down to where they’d be four small segments of the originally fully or near-fully circular crosshairs they had in the main trilogy. The less obvious crosshairs combined with high accuracy and minimal auto-aim would require more refined aiming skills on the part of the player.
To compensate for the increased difficulty of aiming, many weapons not equipped with a scope would have iron sights. Like those in other games, iron sights would allow for more refined aim than shooting from the hip by giving the player a better sense of where his bullets will go as well as by providing a small degree of magnification (1.2x to 1.5x zoom sounds like a good range of figures) and, like a scope, slowing down their turn rate slightly, though unlike scopes they wouldn’t be knocked out of zoom mode when the player is injured. Of course, players who are proficient enough in their aiming could still shoot from the hip effectively, particularly if the weapons so affected by these changes were sufficiently accurate and otherwise still functioned more or less like they always had rather than like a gun from, say, Call of Duty. Of course, even if no weapons had their crosshairs redesigned, I’d most likely still keep iron sights to take advantage of the increased accuracy of most weapons.
If it were to be implemented, this redesigning of crosshairs would be applied only to a few weapons, mostly bullet hoses like the AR. Most of the other weapons would have crosshairs with designs more or less identical to what they had in the main trilogy, particularly the more atypical or unusual crosshairs of weapons like the plasma weapons and Needler or weapons where precision isn’t a major factor (rockets and other area-effect weapons, for instance). After all, I wouldn’t want the basics of combat to differ too much from what the players have come to expect from Halo.
I’ve always considered dual wielding to be an overall bad and completely unnecessary addition to gameplay. It resulted in several weapons that were originally good single-wield weapons being reduced to mere “half-guns” that had questionable efficacy when not used in conjunction with another dual-wieldable weapon. Furthermore, it was a substantial deviation from the “weapons-grenades-melees” triad, as it restricted the use of the other two. While it was a major selling point of Halo 2, it was de-emphasized in Halo 3, where more emphasis was placed on single-wield weaponry. Nevertheless, I think dual wielding should be de-emphasized even further if not eliminated entirely, and weapons such as the plasma rifle would, like the Needler in Halo 3, be restored to effective single-wield weapons.
If dual wielding were to be included, I would only apply it to handguns. While a single handgun might not be quite as effective as a single-wield weapon, they could be extraordinarily powerful if you were carrying two. I think if you swap from your dual-wield combo to your other weapon, you shouldn’t drop one of the two duals. They would both be holstered, one on each leg. However, it would still require that you drop your left-hand weapon or swap to your slung/holstered weapon to throw grenades, since you would need a free hand to do so. Furthermore, you wouldn’t be able to zoom in even if the weapon is usually capable of doing so, since you would of course not be able to look through two different scopes or sets of sights at the same time. I’m still undecided on whether the player should still drop his left-hand weapon to melee. On one hand, I don’t see any reason why you can’t pistol-whip someone when holding a handgun in each hand. On the other hand, it could be considered unbalanced if the player could also melee in addition to having increased firepower.
A new feature I would add would be the ability to modify certain weapons beyond their default attributes. This would be something simple, like being able to add various attachments or utilize special types of ammunition, but I think it’d add some more depth to gameplay. Since this feature has the potential to complicate weapon balance in Matchmaking, it should be restricted to Campaign and custom games only.
As for how this feature gets utilized by the player, there is a need for some new controls and/or user interface elements. For example, a radial menu like the ones in BioShock or F.E.A.R. 2 could be utilized. Alternately, a Crysis-style interface could be used.
Damage: The base amount of damage, in hit points, the weapon inflicts per hit (or per second, for certain weapons).
*Note: Halo 1’s code used “distance units,” which were approximately equal to 3 in-game meters, for its standard unit of length. I simply translated the distance unit figures I have for H1’s weapons back into meters. I’m not sure what Halo 2 & 3 use for units of length.
**Note: As in previous Halo games, headshots can only be inflicted on an enemy if the shot that hits can inflict damage to health, as shields take the same damage from a weapon regardless of where the shot hits.
NOTE: All stats for the handguns assume that they are all single-wield-only. Certain stats (mainly damage, rate of fire, and/or accuracy) might change somewhat if dual wielding was retained. All handguns have somewhat quicker melees than larger weapons.
1. M6 Pistol
Damage: 10 (AP rounds) 20 (HE rounds) Accuracy: 0.3° Rate of Fire: 6 rounds/sec Projectile Speed: 600 m/sec Ammo Capacity: 12 rounds Max. Ammo: 72 rounds Sights: iron sights 2x smart-link scope (optional attachment) Other features: Attachments: Silencer (cannot be used with scope), Flashlight Variable ammo types: LAP, SAP-HE Headshots kill instantly Damage Modifiers: Player Health: 140% Jackal Shield: 0% Hunter Armor: 50% Flood Flesh: 150% Sentinel Armor: 25% Light Vehicle Armor: 20% Heavy Vehicle Armor: 0%
Notes: This particular iteration of the M6 pistol would combine the accuracy of the Halo 1 M6D with the rate of fire of Halo 2’s M6C. It would be capable of using standard light armor piercing rounds, which would be about the same power as in pre-1.1 update Halo 2, or the explosive M225 SAP-HE rounds from Halo 1. The latter would of course be in shorter supply than the former since they are much more powerful. The pistol could also be fitted with the familiar 2x smart-link scope or with a silencer, the latter which would be useful for stealth. The silencer would make it to where no one could hear the weapon firing past a few meters. Also, if it’s included in multiplayer the silencer would make it to where the player wouldn’t show up on the motion tracker when firing while standing still. To keep the silencer from being too useful, using it could either reduce the weapon’s accuracy or power.
2. Plasma Pistol
Damage: 20 (normal) 70 (overcharged) Accuracy: 0° Rate of Fire: unlimited semi-automatic Projectile Speed: 120 m/sec (normal) 75 m/sec (overcharged) Battery Life: 150 shots (normal) 10 shots (overcharged) Heat Capacity: same as in Halo 1 Stun: 0.2 sec Sights: none Other features: Overcharged shot Damage Modifiers (normal): Player Health: 60% Player Shield: 60% Elite Shield: 200% Brute Armor: 150% Hunter Armor: 50% Hunter Flesh: 50% Sentinel Armor: 200% Light Vehicle Armor: 20% Heavy Vehicle Armor: 5% Damage Modifiers (overcharged): Energy Shielding (all forms): Completely disrupted Player Health: 60% Brute Armor: 200% Hunter Armor: 25% Hunter Flesh: 50% Sentinel Armor: 200% Light Vehicle Armor: 20% Heavy Vehicle Armor: 5%
Notes: The plasma pistol would once again become a formidable standalone weapon, functioning almost identically to how it did in Halo 1. Instead of the anemic little plasma bolts from Halo 2 & 3, the normal shots would once again be capable of causing significant damage, and their stun effect would return as well. The overcharged shots would, in addition to remaining a shield-breaker, once again be capable of causing damage to a target’s health. Their tracking would also be like it was in Halo 1: good but not too good, unlike in Halo 2 where the charged shots never missed what they tracked or in Halo 3 where the tracking was negligible and required a somewhat difficult-to-get lock-on. Overcharged shots would still be capable of temporarily disabling a vehicle, just as they did in Halo 3. With the offensive capabilities it had in Halo 1 combined with the ability to disable vehicles, the plasma pistol would be a versatile, effective weapon that is outright deadly in the right hands.
Damage: 7 to 140 (7 per pellet x 20 pellets per shot) Accuracy: 8° Rate of Fire: 2 rounds/sec Projectile Speed: 600 m/sec Ammo Capacity: 5 shells Max. Ammo: 20 shells Sights: iron sights Other features: enhanced melee damage (45 to 55 to 65) Damage Modifiers: same as Shotgun
Notes: The Mauler wouldn’t change appreciably from how it functioned in Halo 3. It would have less accuracy than the shotgun due to its shorter barrel, and while it’s a lot weaker it fires much faster, reloads much faster, and the blade on the handle would give it enhanced melee damage. The Mauler-melee combo, a popular attack in Halo 3, would not be as easy to execute since the melee lunge would be removed, though it would still be very dangerous. In fact, when using a single Mauler in multiplayer, a well-placed shot at very close range (<5 meters) followed up with a jumping melee would be fatal, though if it was followed up by a standing or running melee the enemy could survive the combo if they have full shields and health. Of course, the victim would still be in very poor shape if they survived, what with the lack of shields and low health. Given this fact and taking into account damage modifiers, the player may wish to strike with a melee first and then fire the Mauler.
1. MA5 Assault Rifle
Damage: 10 Accuracy: 0° (semi-auto) 0.2° (burst fire) 0.5° to 1.5° + recoil (full-auto) Rate of Fire: unlimited (semi-auto) 3 bursts/sec (burst fire) 12 rounds/sec (full auto) Projectile Speed: 900 m/sec Ammo Capacity: 32 rounds Max. Ammo: 192 rounds Sights: iron sights various optional scopes (see below) Other features: 2x headshot damage (semi-auto & burst modes only) Select-fire Attachments: Flashlight (default), Shotgun, Grenade Launcher Variable ammo types: AP, "Shredder", AP-I Damage Modifiers: Jackal Shield: 0% Elite Shield: 70% Brute Armor: 80% Hunter Armor: 30% Hunter Flesh: 60% Flood Flesh: 65% Light Vehicle Armor: 20% Heavy Vehicle Armor: 0%
Notes: The AR would be perhaps the most heavily altered weapon of all. It would become a select-fire weapon, having not only semi- and full-auto modes, but also the 3-round burst fire of the Halo 2/3 BR (though if it proves too extraneous, I'd remove the burst fire). To make the weapon less random as well as to give players less incentive to bum-rush their opponents with a hail of spamfire at close range, the full-auto mode would be much more accurate and thus have longer effective range. In other words, it’d still be “spray,” but with a lot less “pray.” However, since the AR in full-auto mode is still a bullet hose and thus takes comparatively little skill to use effectively as compared to a weapon like the BR or Carbine, there might be a need for something that makes it a little bit more difficult to use. Therefore, I would also likely have some recoil added to it (about the same as the Halo 3 SMG), which would require more focus to keep the weapon on target (for those concerned about realism, recoil on the AR is quite logical, considering it should recoil as badly as real-life weapons like the M14, G3, or FAL, which fire the same round as the MA5 and are known for having really bad kickback on full-auto). This would in turn encourage players to either use shorter, controlled bursts of automatic fire, switch to another fire mode, or simply get good at controlling the weapon’s recoil. Fully automatic fire would still be most useful at closer ranges, though the tightened spread makes that range a good bit further than in Halo 1 or 3.
The burst fire mode would be almost as lethal as that of the Halo 2/3 BR since the AR would, like most of the other automatic weapons in this game, inflict double damage for headshots (I would probably not have enhanced headshot damage for full-auto due to the more random & luck-based nature of the bullet spray). With the damage figures listed above, the AR could kill in four full bursts in multiplayer if the player hits every round, with the final two bursts striking the head (the third burst would finish off shields and do some damage to health, while the fourth would kill the enemy). However, since headshots aren’t instantly fatal, a player can no longer sweep the crosshair over an unshielded enemy’s head for an easy one-shot kill, so the player must try their best to keep their bursts on track. Of course, they could also forgo headshots and shoot their target in the body, though this would take a minimum of five full bursts. However, burst fire would still have a lot of the same drawbacks as before, and the player might want to go semi-automatic for more predictable results. The semi-auto mode would, like that of the plasma pistol, have an uncapped rate of fire, allowing the player to fire as fast as they can pull the trigger. It’s also the most accurate mode. While semi-auto fire might not be as effective as full-auto at close range unless the player has a ridiculously fast trigger finger, it’d be more effective at longer ranges thanks to the dead-on accuracy. Both the semi-auto and burst modes would also be good at picking off weaker enemies in Campaign while more efficiently conserving ammo.
Another significant change would be making the AR a heavily modifiable weapon. The default configuration would be a bare-bones affair that looks similar to the MA5K variant seen on the cover of Ghosts of Onyx (which looked more like a contemporary assault rifle than the B and C variants), and would include only the default iron sights. It could accept optional scopes, such as the BR’s optical scope, the SMG’s red-dot sight, or the ammo counter “dome” seen at the fore end of the B & C variants. The latter would, in addition to giving the AR a more familiar appearance, contain a 2x smart-link scope much like that of the pistol as well as an enhanced crosshair when not zoomed in. Finally, the AR could utilize secondary weapons. The most viable weapon attachments would be a shotgun or 30 mm grenade launcher (both underslung, just like similar attachments used by real-life assault rifles). The shotgun attachment would fire the same number of pellets as the M90 but would be less accurate (same spread as the Mauler) and do less damage per pellet (12 HP of damage before modifiers). Also, it would only hold three shells rather than the M90’s six. The grenade launcher attachment would have the same velocity and ballistic arc as the Brute Shot, but would only hold a single grenade at a time which would have somewhat lower damage and smaller blast radius than the frag grenade (say, 60 to 100 points and 2 to 6 m, respectively). Either attachment would obviously give the AR much greater firepower. The player would switch to these attachments by either holding (not pressing) the Y button, or by utilizing the select-fire button (i.e., pressing the button would cycle from semi-auto to burst to full-auto to the attachment and then back to semi-auto).
Finally, the AR would be another weapon capable of using multiple ammo types. In addition to the standard armor-piercing rounds, there would be the “shredder” rounds mentioned in the novels, which are apparently some sort of fragmenting/frangible rounds designed to “shred” soft targets. Therefore, the shredder round’s special attribute would be the ability to inflict double damage on any organic enemy. However, they would still inflict standard damage on shields or mechanical targets. Another possible ammo type would be incendiary rounds, which could cause persistent damage to an unshielded target (say, 2 points per second per round over a duration of 5-10 seconds) as well as ignite combustible targets such as a Grunt’s methane tank. There could very well be other special ammo types, but I can’t think of any off the top of my head right now.
2. Plasma Rifle
Damage: 14 Accuracy: 0° Rate of Fire: 10 shots/sec Projectile Speed: 150 m/sec Battery Life: 200 shots Heat Capacity: 20 shots @ max. ROF Stun: 0.05 sec Sights: none Other Features: 2x headshot damage Damage Modifiers: Player Health: 50% Player Shield: 200% Elite Shield: 200% Brute Armor: 150% Hunter Armor: 50% Hunter Flesh: 50% Sentinel Armor: 200% Light Vehicle Armor: 20% Heavy Vehicle Armor: 5%
Notes: The plasma rifle, having been returned to single-wield status, would function very closely to how it did in Halo 1, including the ability to briefly stun an opponent. One thing I never liked about the H1 version is that there was substantial shot spread with sustained fire, which hardly makes sense given the large amount of leading required to hit a target past close range. Therefore, all spread would be removed. Since this accuracy increase may make it too effective of a weapon if it had the same amount of stun as in Halo 1, I would likely cut the stun to a third of what it was in that game.
3. M7 Submachine Gun
Damage: 6 Accuracy: 0° (semi-auto) 0.3° to 1° (full-auto) Rate of Fire: unlimited (semi-auto) 20 rounds/sec (full auto) Projectile Speed: 600 m/sec Ammo Capacity: 50 rounds Max. Ammo: 300 rounds Sights: iron sights reflex sight (optional attachment) Other features: 2x headshot damage Select-fire Attachments: Silencer, Flashlight Damage Modifiers: same as Assault Rifle
Notes: While I would keep the SMG in the game for continuity’s sake (though continuity isn’t exactly one of the Halo series’ strong suits, hence all the other changes I'd make to the game's weapons), I’m still having conflicting ideas on how to keep it from being a redundant copy of the AR. While it would be weaker per-shot, it would have a substantially higher rate of fire, and would be more accurate (including lacking recoil for full-auto fire, which has been transferred to the AR). Like the AR, it would be select-fire, having both semi- and full-auto modes, though the semi-auto mode would be of questionable use in multiplayer due to the weak per-shot power. While it wouldn’t have as many attachments as the AR or any special ammo types, it would be capable of utilizing a silencer, which would function identically to the one used by the M6 pistol: inaudible past a few meters, but perhaps with reduced accuracy and/or damage. However, there needs be a way to differentiate the SMG from the AR in online multiplayer, which would reduce both weapons to their basic models (i.e., no attachments and no special ammo) and thus render the SMG a redundant near-copy of the AR.
My preferred solution is to have a silencer attached to the SMG by default in Matchmaking. While this conflicts with my current stance on attachments in multiplayer, having a silenced SMG in multiplayer would give it a distinct functional difference from the AR. It would be weaker, but highly suited for stealth attacks. Another possibility is retaining dual-wield capability for the SMG. While I’d prefer it to be a single-wield weapon, if dual wielding were retained I would still consider leaving it a dual-wield weapon should it prove to be too similar to the AR. The handguns would all be weaker dual-wieldable approximations of larger weapons (e.g., M6 pistol/BR & Carbine, plasma pistol/plasma rifle, Mauler/shotgun), so like them, perhaps the SMG could remain a weaker, dual-wieldable counterpart to the AR. Yet another possibility is making the SMG a Campaign-only weapon so as to keep redundancies in multiplayer to a minimum.
Damage: 15 Accuracy: 0° Rate of Fire: 10 rounds/sec Projectile Speed: 75 m/sec Ammo Capacity: 24 rounds Max. Ammo: 144 rounds Sights: none Other features: 2x headshot damage Enhanced melee damage (45 to 55 to 65) Damage Modifiers: Jackal Shield: 0% Hunter Armor: 40% Hunter Flesh: 80% Flood Flesh: 80% Light Vehicle Armor: 20% Heavy Vehicle Armor: 0%
Notes: The Spiker would no longer be a dual-wield weapon. However, it would become far more formidable than before. While it wouldn’t have the versatility or fast-moving projectiles of the AR or the anti-shield and stun abilities of the plasma rifle, it has more raw power than both. Though the spikes are relatively slow, they inflict a good bit of damage. Combine that with double headshot damage, and a player with good aim and leading skill could kill an enemy quicker than they could with an AR or PR. Its magazine capacity has been cut in half to balance the increase in per-shot power. Also, the Spiker’s dual bayonets give it higher melee damage than the AR or PR. Finally, the spikes would still ricochet and would exhibit a ballistic arc flight path (i.e., the spikes fall over distance).
Damage: 10 (needle) 40 to 60 (explosion) Blast Radius (explosion): 1 to 3 m Accuracy: 4° (homing mode; random spread) 0° (HV mode) Rate of Fire: 10 rounds/sec Projectile Speed: 18 m/sec (homing mode) 90 m/sec (HV mode) Ammo Capacity: 19 needles Max. Ammo: 95 needles Sights: none Other Features: select-fire Damage Modifiers (needle): Hunter Armor: 50% Flood Flesh: 120% Light Vehicle Armor: 20% Heavy Vehicle Armor: 0% Damage Modifiers (explosion): Jackal Shield: 150% Elite Shield: 300% Brute Armor: 200% Hunter Armor: 20% Hunter Flesh: 50% Flood Flesh: 200% Sentinel Armor: 400% Vehicle Armor: 20%
Notes: This iteration of the Needler would have one major change, and that is the addition of an alternate-fire mode. Both are full-auto-only, but one is the trademark homing mode, while the new one I’d add is a high-velocity mode. In homing mode, the Needler is almost identical to the Halo 1 version. There are two slight differences, though. First, the “warm-up” time where the weapon takes a second to get to its maximum rate of fire would be removed — the rate of fire is a flat 10 rounds per second. The second change is that the speed of the needles would be increased by 50%. The degree with which the needles homed in on targets seemed good enough in Halo 1, based on the apparent turn radius, but the needles moved too slowly (their speed was a paltry 12 m/sec). The bumped up speed should make the tracking mode more effective than it was in Halo 1, perhaps to the degree of efficacy seen in Halo 3. However, unlike in Halo 2 & 3, the “superdetonation” would no longer be instantly fatal (unless of course the target is weak enough to die from the damage) and would rather inflict the same amount of damage it did in Halo 1.
The second fire mode would be a high-velocity mode where the needles don’t home, but they’d move at least five times faster. This mode would be useful in situations where the homing mode wouldn’t be. Some players could very well settle on using one of the two modes exclusively depending on their playing style or how they think they’d get better results.
Rifles (Non-automatic) & Other Long Guns
1. BR55 Mk. II DMR “Battle Rifle”
Damage: 20 Accuracy: 0.1° Rate of Fire: 3 rounds/sec Projectile Speed: 900 m/sec Ammo Capacity: 12 rounds Max. Ammo: 72 rounds Sights: 3x optical scope Other Features: Headshots kill instantly Damage Modifiers: Player Health: 150% Jackal Shield: 0% Hunter Armor: 40% Flood Flesh: 125% Sentinel Armor: 20% Light Vehicle Armor: 20% Heavy Vehicle Armor: 0%
Notes: This is one weapon I’d like to change above all others. The BR would finally be a semi-automatic weapon functionally almost identical to Halo 1’s M6D. While not as powerful as H1’s infamous hand-cannon (thanks to a slightly lower rate of fire and damage), it’s more accurate. While it wouldn’t have quite the same edge the M6D had over most of the other weapons in H1, it will still be one of the preferred weapons of most players. In regards to the Halo fiction, since the per-shot damage has been increased, the magazine capacity reduced, and the fire mode becoming semi-auto, it obviously wouldn’t be the same model BR. It would be a variant with a different designation and firing a different round (say, 9.5 x 60 mm).
2. Covenant Carbine
Damage: 13 Accuracy: 0.05° Rate of Fire: 5 rounds/sec Projectile Speed: 1000 m/sec Ammo Capacity: 18 rounds Max. Ammo: 108 rounds Sights: 2x smart-link scope Other Features: Headshots kill instantly Damage Modifiers: Player Health: 150% Jackal Shield: 200% Hunter Armor: 30% Flood Flesh: 125% Light Vehicle Armor: 20% Heavy Vehicle Armor: 0%
Notes: The Carbine would experience minor changes from how it functioned in the past. It would still fire faster and be weaker per-shot than the BR (though the per-shot power would be a bit more than in Halo 2/3). It would also be a lot more accurate to compensate for the slightly spammier fire that results from a high rate of fire. With a maximum spread of only 1/20th of one degree, it would actually have “sniper-like accuracy” this time around (to quote Frank O’Connor’s rather inaccurate description of the H3 Carbine).
3. SRS 99D AM Sniper Rifle
Damage: 101 Accuracy: 0° + recoil Rate of Fire: 1.5 rounds/sec Projectile Speed: 1500 m/sec Ammo Capacity: 4 rounds Max. Ammo: 24 rounds Sights: 2x/10x smart-link scope Other features: Night vision (usable only when zoomed in) Headshots kill instantly Penetrates lightly-shielded and unshielded infantry Damage Modifiers: Jackal Shield: 0% Elite Shield: 150% Brute Armor: 150% Hunter Armor: 50% Hunter Flesh: 200% Flood Flesh: 5% Sentinel Armor: 20% Light Vehicle Armor: 25% Heavy Vehicle Armor: 10%
Notes: The sniper rifle would only experience a few small changes. It would retain the recoil and slower rate of fire it had in Halo 3. The shots would still be able to punch right through most enemies and keep going, damaging anything else that might be behind them. However, this would only happen if the shot hit an enemy with light shields (<101 hit points worth of shielding) or no shields. If the shots could not break a shield, they would be stopped by it. The shots would also not penetrate more heavily armored targets like Sentinels, Hunters, and vehicles. I would also re-add the night vision ability from Halo 1. The night vision can be blinded by bright lights, and could even be temporarily disabled by the flare equipment. Also, you may have noticed that the sniper can now do damage to light vehicles. Since it’s an anti-materiel rifle, I always found it puzzling that the sniper rifle was incapable of causing harm to Warthogs, Ghosts, & Banshees. Now, a sniper round would do moderate damage to light vehicles. For example, a sniper could shoot down a Banshee in multiplayer with a half-dozen shots. However, since sniper rifle ammo is usually very scarce, the player must make a tough decision on whether to use the rifle’s high power to tear apart an enemy vehicle or save the ammo for use against infantry. Finally, to make no-scoping an even greater challenge, the sniper rifle’s crosshair would either be a single dot or not exist at all when not zoomed in rather than having the same crosshair it does when zoomed in.
4. Particle Beam Rifle
Damage: 101 Accuracy: 0° Rate of Fire: same as Halo 2 Projectile Speed: 3000 m/sec Battery Life: 16 shots Heat Capacity: 2 shots @ max. ROF Sights: 4x/8x smart-link scope Other features: Thermal vision (usable only when zoomed in) Headshots kill instantly Penetrates lightly-shielded and unshielded infantry Damage Modifiers: Elite Shield: 150% Brute Armor: 150% Hunter Armor: 50% Hunter Flesh: 200% Flood Flesh: 5% Sentinel Armor: 50% Light Vehicle Armor: 20% Heavy Vehicle Armor: 10%
Notes: The beam rifle was considerably disadvantaged to the sniper rifle in Halo 3. I don’t mind that it overheats very quickly — that and the fact that it’s battery-powered are the main features that separate it from the sniper rifle — but it also had recoil and (in multiplayer) a highly-limited battery life. Since the beam rifle overheats after two or three shots even when firing as slow as the sniper rifle, it made no sense to gimp it further by adding recoil. Furthermore, recoil makes no sense since the beam rifle is a directed-energy weapon. Also, a highly-limited battery makes no sense considering the weapon is battery-powered and thus extra ammo cannot be acquired; it must be discarded for a fresh beam rifle, which means discarding however many shots were left in the old one. Therefore, in order to more fairly balance the beam rifle against the sniper rifle, I would remove the recoil and give it a longer battery life. The shots, however, would retain the same penetration abilities as the sniper rifle’s rounds. Also, like the sniper rifle, the beam rifle’s crosshair would either be a small dot or not exist at all when not zoomed in.
Other changes would be giving its scope different magnification levels than the sniper rifle, which would further differentiate the two. Also, instead of night vision, it would have thermal vision. Both are good for dark places, though the thermal vision’s ability to detect heat sources gives it different strengths and weaknesses. For example, enemies or running vehicles are more well-defined (oranges, yellows, & reds against the colder blue background) and it can see through fog or even detect camouflaged enemies, but certain enemies won’t show up (the insect-like Drones, for example, as they are presumably cold-blooded) and anything sufficiently hot, such as an incendiary grenade, can effectively blind it. Finally, the scope would also have a range indicator like the sniper rifle’s, though in Covenant script.
5. M90 Shotgun
Damage: 18 to 270 (18 per pellet x 15 pellets per shot) Accuracy: 6° Rate of Fire: 1 round/sec Projectile Speed: 420 m/sec Ammo Capacity: 6 shells Max. Ammo: 36 shells Sights: iron sights Other Features: Flashlight attachment (default) Damage Modifiers: Player Shield: 50% Jackal Shield: 0% Hunter Armor: 20% Flood Flesh: 150% Sentinel Armor: 50% Light Vehicle Armor: 20% Heavy Vehicle Armor: 0%
Notes: The shotgun would have the same ammo capacity it had in Halo 3, but otherwise it would function very similar to how it did in Halo 1. It would fire 15 pellets per shot, with the pattern retaining the same Gaussian distribution from H1 (as opposed to Halo 2’s “donut spread” or Halo 3’s random distribution). However, to keep up with the rest of this game’s accurized arsenal, the maximum spread would be reduced substantially from the original 10 degrees. The damage done per pellet would no longer drop with distance; it ranged from 25 to 18 to 8 damage points per pellet in Halo 1. Since the shotgun would be twice as accurate as before, I chose the middle value as the single invariable damage figure. It would do less damage up close than before, though the damage is still more than enough to put down many enemies in Campaign or an opponent in multiplayer with one well-placed shot within a few meters.
1. Rocket Launcher
Damage: 45 to 90 to 300 (rockets) 70 to 100 (missiles) Blast Radius: 1.5 to 4.5 to 7.5 m (rockets) 1 to 2 m (missiles) Accuracy: 0° Rate of Fire: 1 round/2 sec Projectile Speed: 30 m/sec (rockets) 45 m/sec (missiles) Ammo Capacity: 2 rockets Max. Ammo: 6 rockets Sights: 2x smart-link scope Other features: Enhanced melee damage (50 to 60 to 70) Variable ammo types: SPNKr rockets, homing missiles Damage Modifiers: Flood Flesh: 200% Sentinel Armor: 40%
Notes: The rocket launcher functions almost identically to how it did in Halo 1. The rate of fire is the same, the reload speed would be as slow, and the rockets travel at about the same speed. However, the damage and blast radius has been tweaked. The original blast radius was 1.5 to 6 meters (same as the plasma grenade) and the damage was 80 to 330 points. The inner blast radius would remain the same in this version, though the damage is somewhat less (if it proved to be too large of a radius, I would trim it down to 1 meter). However, there are now two outer blast radii. The middle radius inflicts 80 points of damage only out to 4.5 m, and the outermost radius, which is now the same as the frag grenade, only inflicts 45 damage points.
I would seriously consider re-adding homing rockets, but only as a special ammo type, perhaps something similar to the missiles from the Halo 3 Missile Pod. These missiles would inflict much less damage than the standard rockets and have a smaller blast radius, but would fly about twice as fast. Also, they would lock on to vehicles in the same fashion as the Halo 2 rocket launcher. If missiles were added to multiplayer, I would either have ammo packs containing missiles as a pick-up lying around the map, or I would have missiles split off into a separate single-shot weapon similar to the real-world Stinger missile (I favor the former). Having missiles as a specialized rather than standard munition would place more emphasis on the usage of weapons that require leading one’s target. Homing missiles, which due to their greater ease of use (homing weapons inherently requires less effort to use to maximum effect than do non-homing weapons), would be more valued and sought-after than other munitions effective against vehicles, thus requiring them to be scarcer.
2. Fuel Rod Gun
Damage: 40 to 75 Blast Radius: 1.5 to 4.5 m Accuracy: 0° Rate of Fire: 1 round/sec Projectile Speed: 45 m/sec Ammo Capacity: 5 fuel rods Max. Ammo: 20 fuel rods Sights: 2x smart-link scope Other Features: Enhanced melee damage (50 to 60 to 70) Damage Modifiers: Jackal Shield: 200% Elite Shield: 140% Brute Armor: 120% Flood Flesh: 300%
Notes: The fuel rod gun would retain the same appearance and functionality (i.e., magazine-fed, same RoF) it had in Halo 2 & 3, but the projectiles would behave more or less like they did in the first game, inflicting the same damage and having the same ballistic arc trajectory. Unlike in Halo 2 & 3, where the projectiles had a slight homing ability when used by NPCs, the FRG would not have any homing ability in this game.
3. Brute Shot
Damage: 35 to 60 Blast Radius: 1 to 2.5 m Accuracy: 0° Rate of Fire: 1.5 rounds/sec Projectile Speed: 45 m/sec Ammo Capacity: 6 grenades Max. Ammo: 24 grenades Sights: none Other features: Enhanced melee damage (50 to 60 to 70) Select-fire Damage Modifiers: Flood Flesh: 300% Hunter Armor: 50% Hunter Flesh: 50% Sentinel Armor: 40% Vehicle Armor: 50%
Notes: The Brute Shot would do more damage than it did in Halo 3, taking only 3 direct or near-direct hits to kill someone in multiplayer, but it would have a slightly lower rate of fire. Otherwise, the BS’s grenades would have the ballistic trajectory they always had. The only major change I would consider is the addition of an alt-fire mode. One mode would have the grenades detonate on impact like in Halo 3, while the other would allow them to ricochet like in Halo 2. The latter mode might need some changes to the damage and/or rate of fire figures if it proves to be unbalanced as compared to the detonate-on-impact mode, although the fact that it might prove unpredictable in a face-to-face fight (a problem I always had with the H2 BS) might be enough to balance it out.
4. Gatling Gun
Damage: 24 Accuracy: 1 to 2.5° (as turret) 1.5 to 4° + recoil (when detached from mount) Rate of fire: 12 rounds/sec max. Projectile Speed: 900 m/sec Ammo Capacity: infinite or 100 rounds Max. Ammo: 200 rounds Sights: none Other Features: Turret-based weapon, removable from mount Enhanced melee damage (50 to 60 to 70) Damage Modifiers: same as Assault Rifle
Notes: This version of the machine gun turret would remain a Gatling-style weapon, but unlike the Halo 3 HMG, it would not be a “support weapon.” In fact, there would no longer be support weapons as they existed in Halo 3. You would remain in first-person view and retain normal mobility. Since it would deal an amazing amount of damage at its maximum rate of fire, it would take a second or two to “spin up” to its maximum, firing more slowly at first before unleashing its full power. It would be considerably less accurate than the assault rifle as well when it’s removed from its mount due to the awkward nature of the “T2/Predator-style” handling of the weapon, and on top of that it would generate prodigious recoil when firing at its maximum rate. Finally, it could actually be reloaded, with the weapon being fed by a 100-round drum magazine; the player could carry one spare magazine (the ability to reload is extremely provisional).
5. Plasma Cannon
Damage: 14 Accuracy: 0° (as turret) 0.5 to 1.5° (when removed from mount) Rate of Fire: 12 rounds/sec Projectile Speed: 150 m/sec Battery Life: infinite or 150 shots Heat Capacity: infinite Stun: 0.05 seconds Sights: none Other Features: Turret-based weapon, removable from mount Enhanced melee damage (50 to 60 to 70) Damage Modifiers: Player Shields: 150% Otherwise same as Plasma Rifle
Notes: The plasma cannon would once again be the Covenant equivalent of the human’s machine gun turret. It’s basically a somewhat faster-firing version of the plasma rifle that doesn’t overheat. While it does less damage over time than the Gatling gun, it doesn’t have a “spin up” time, so it fires at its maximum rate the moment the player holds down the trigger, plus it has a slight stun effect. Also, even though it doesn’t overheat, it does have some shot spread due when being carried around to the same awkward handling it shares with the Gatling gun. This inaccuracy should balance out the aspects of the weapon that give it an advantage over the plasma rifle.
1. Energy Sword
Damage: 151 Battery Life: variable (10 kills in multiplayer) Other Features: 10% speed increase Damage Modifiers: Flood Flesh: 150% Light Vehicle Armor: 25% Heavy Vehicle Armor: 10%
Notes: The sword would function differently than it did in Halo 2 & 3. While it would still be just as powerful, there would no longer be a lunge as the melee lunge would be removed entirely. Instead, it would have a 180° swinging arc with the same or slightly longer range than a standard melee (~3.5 m). Everything in that arc will take damage. While a regular melee will only affect one enemy directly in front of the player, the sword could affect several enemies and inflict far more damage in the process. These changes would make it similar to how it functioned in Halo 1. While only certain Elites used it, it was very dangerous to an inattentive player. I’ve been cut down by it more than a few times. Nevertheless, the removal of the lunge may prove to make it less useful, at least in multiplayer since it cut the range it had in Halo 2 & 3 in half. To increase its usefulness in multiplayer (being restricted to melee range, it might become easily overwhelmed by other close-range weapons), perhaps it could be drawn very quickly as well as provide a speed boost to the user, and all the other nerfs added in Halo 3 (except limited battery life) would be removed.
2. Gravity Hammer
Damage: 100 (hammer impact) 40 to 60 (shockwave) Standard melee damage (handle strike) Blast Radius (shockwave): 2 to 6 m Battery Life: 20 shockwaves Damage Modifiers (hammer impact & shockwave): Flood Flesh: 200% Light Vehicle Armor: 50% Heavy Vehicle Armor: 25% Damage Modifiers (handle strike): same as standard melee attack
Notes: The hammer would, like the sword, function somewhat differently since there would no longer be any lunging melees. The hammer strike would be slower and have a somewhat longer range than a regular melee attack (0.5 to 1 m longer) but otherwise function the same way. The shockwave it generates would be centered on its head, and like before would be much like a grenade blast, except it’s harmless to the hammer’s user and generates considerably more force, enough to knock infantry back quite a few meters and even flip a light vehicle over. It could still also deflect grenades and rockets. If the player hits their target with the hammer, both direct impact and maximum shockwave damage is inflicted. Once the battery is exhausted, the player could still strike with the head, though striking with the handle would be faster.
3. Sentinel Beam
Damage: 90 per second Accuracy: 0° Rate of Fire: continuous beam Battery Life: 20 seconds of fire Heat Capacity: 4 seconds of continuous fire Sights: none Other Features: see below Damage Modifiers: Light Vehicle Armor: 20% Heavy Vehicle Armor: 5%
Notes: While the Sentinel Beam isn’t as powerful as most other weapons, it is a hitscan weapon with no shot spread, so hopefully that makes up for its lack of raw power. If not, I may add some form of stun to it like the plasma rifle, though since it doesn’t fire individual shots like the PR, the SB would have to reduce a player’s movement somewhat, perhaps by 10%. Alternately, the beam could push targets around, which it appears to do in Halo 3’s Campaign. In addition to keeping opponents at bay, it could even shove a target off a ledge, which could potentially kill them depending on how far they fall and/or how much prior damage they sustained.
Damage: 70 per second (direct fire stream) 30 per second (burn damage) Accuracy: see Notes Rate of Fire: continuous flame Fuel Capacity: 15 seconds of fire Sights: none Other Features: Sets most targets, objects, & surfaces on fire Damage Modifiers: Jackal Shield: 50% Elite Shield: 150% Brute Armor: 125% Hunter Armor: 50% Sentinel Armor: 50% Light Vehicle Armor: 20% Heavy Vehicle Armor: 0%
Notes: The flamethrower’s stream of napalm would likely retain the same area of effect and limited range as the Halo 3 version, though since “support weapons” no longer exist the player would retain normal mobility and first-person view. The flamethrower is dangerous not because it can kill more quickly than other weapons, but because it sets things on fire. A target, object, or surface remains on fire for four seconds after they were last exposed to the fire stream. A short burst is enough to kill an opponent in multiplayer, though they’ll still live long enough to initiate a counterattack. Of course, constant exposure to the fire stream will kill an enemy much quicker.
NOTE: The grenades would follow the Halo 3 inventory system, with the player being limited to two of each type.
1. Fragmentation Grenade
Damage: 80 to 120 Blast Radius: 2 to 7.5 m Fuze Length: 1 sec Damage Modifiers: Hunter Armor: 25% Hunter Flesh: 50% Flood Flesh: 200% Sentinel Armor: 40% Vehicle Armor: 50%
Notes: The frag grenade would be almost identical to the Halo 1 version. It would inflict the same base damage, have the same fuze length, and would arm only after it came to rest. The only change would be trimming the inner damage radius by one meter.
2. Plasma Grenade
Damage: 80 to 120 Blast Radius: 1.5 to 6 m Fuze Length: 3 seconds Special features: Adheres to infantry & vehicles "Grenade stick" instantly kills most infantry Damage Modifiers: Jackal Shields: 150% Elite Shields: 300% Brute Armor: 200% Hunter Armor: 25% Hunter Flesh: 50% Flood Flesh: 200% Sentinel Armor: 300% Vehicle Armor: 50%
Notes: The plasma grenade would, like the frag, function the same as it did in Halo 1. While it can stick to an enemy to kill them instantly, it has a longer fuse and a smaller blast radius. It also would once again inflict the same base damage as the frag grenade. This contrasts to the Halo 2 & 3 incarnations of the plasma ‘nade, which in multiplayer can instantly kill an enemy with full shields and health without having to stick them, which kind of diminishes if not defeats the purpose of that distinguishing characteristic.
3. Spike Grenade
Damage: 20 to 480 (shrapnel; 20 per spike x 24 spikes per grenade) Blast Radius: special (see below) Fuze Length: 2 seconds Special features: Adheres to infantry, vehicles, & most surfaces "Grenade stick" instantly kills most infantry Damage Modifiers: Vehicle Armor: 25% Otherwise same as Spiker
Notes: The spike grenade is interesting in that instead of traditional splash damage, it expels a shower of shrapnel perpendicular to the surface the grenade sticks to. However, I can’t help but feel that the shrapnel spray is of questionable use, considering how many spike ‘nades I’ve seen get thrown around vs. how many people (including me) I’ve actually seen get killed by the shrapnel. Sometimes, it’s very deadly, while other times it’s largely ineffective. When I watch the spike ‘nade explode in saved films, I also get the impression that the shrapnel is very finicky in its behavior. Instead of an actual cone of shrapnel, there’s a circular area about 1.5 to 2 meters wide on the surface the grenade explodes on that emits the shrapnel at random, somewhat shallow angles. The spikes vanish after about 8 to 10 meters. (To get a better idea of what I’m trying to describe, just watch a spike ‘nade explode in slow-mo during a saved film.)
I would have the spike grenade function somewhat differently. It would blast its shrapnel in an actual cone this time, with the vertex being at the point of adhesion. It would have a random spread with a maximum angle of 20° (the zero-degree angle would of course be perpendicular to the surface the ‘nade sticks to). In other words, it would behave much like a spike shotgun, except with a much larger spread and not all the spikes are fired off at the exact same time. The shrapnel would be rather plentiful, filling the air with two dozen spikes that behave more or less like those of the Spiker. They would travel a maximum distance of 15 meters before disappearing. They can still ricochet off most surfaces until they reach that distance. Of course, the number of spikes and/or the damage they inflict as well as the maximum spread of the cone would be subject to change depending on how effective the hail of shrapnel is.
Finally, sticking a target will either kill them outright, as is the case with most infantry, or inflict a large amount of damage on that one target, as would be the case with vehicles. A spike ‘nade that stuck a target would also expel its shrapnel in a spherical rather than conical blast, causing additional damage to whatever the grenade stuck to (if the target survived) and potentially damaging any surrounding targets.
4. Incendiary Grenade
Damage: 60 per second Blast Radius: ~2 m or 1 target Fuze Length: detonates on impact (flame lasts for 4 seconds) Other features: Sets most targets, objects, & surfaces on fire Damage Modifiers: same as Flamethrower
Notes: I really liked the incendiary “firebomb” grenades from Halo 3. However, it wasn’t very common as only Brute Stalkers, which were rather uncommon, carried them in Campaign, and they were never found as pickups either. They were also not found by default on any multiplayer map, supposedly because it would cause framerate issues or some such nonsense (it causes no problems in custom games I’ve participated in or hosted online). I’d like to change that. Firebombs would be carried by a wider variety of Brutes and could even be found as pickups in weapon caches. They would be found on certain maps in multiplayer as well. They would function pretty much the same as in H3, bursting on impact and setting things on fire. It will set fire to only one target or, if it hits a surface, create an irregularly shaped pool of flame averaging around 4 meters across. While there is no impact damage, the 2200° C fire deals a lot of damage. A direct hit on an enemy is a guaranteed kill unless they have very strong shields (e.g., an overshielded opponent in multiplayer or a high-ranking Covenant soldier).
While destructible vehicles have always been a part of Halo, I always felt the damage systems could have been better. In Halo 1, the system was good, but it suffered from inconsistent application as only Covenant vehicles in Campaign could be destroyed. In the sequels, all vehicles could be destroyed in both Campaign and multiplayer, but the system itself was bad. In both Halo 2 & 3, a vehicle’s “health” was tied into the health of its driver and/or other occupant(s). An in-use vehicle could only be destroyed if the health of all occupants was reduced to zero (the only exception was the Ghost in Halo 2, which could be destroyed by shooting the fuel tank on its left side). As a consequence, a vehicle could withstand an unlimited amount of damage so long as the occupants kept their health above zero. This, when combined with the fact that vehicles can usually kill quickly if not instantly, results in them being quite overpowered. While there are several weapons that can kill a vehicle outright, a competent Warthog crew, tank driver, Banshee pilot, or whatever can easily run roughshod over players who are on foot and lack an effective anti-vehicle weapon. Similarly, in Campaign, killing an enemy vehicle becomes more difficult than normal should the operator have more shields and/or health than another, weaker operator, which is rather nonsensical (e.g. in Halo 2, killing a Wraith piloted by an Ultra Elite was more difficult than destroying one piloted by a Minor Elite on the same difficulty level). Ironically, the anti-vehicle weapons are themselves overpowered and easy to use against vehicles — for example, the missile pod and H2 rocket launcher are homing weapons and the laser cannon is an instant-kill hitscan weapon —, and it can be annoying to get blasted to bits by them before you can even get started on a good streak, but they’re the only thing that can nullify the equally overpowered vehicles.
Instead of a plethora of easy-to-use anti-vehicle weapons which infantry may or may not have access to — and thus are either a) practically helpless against a good vehicle crew, or b) anti-vehicle killing machines —, perhaps it’d be better to just reintroduce Halo 1’s simple, straightforward damage system, though unlike in the first game it would be applied consistently to all vehicles. Like Covie vehicles in the first game’s Campaign, each vehicle would have a certain amount of non-restorable hit points represented by a damage meter on the HUD. Any and all damage a vehicle sustains is permanent and irreversible. Once a vehicle takes a certain amount of damage, it’s destroyed. Player and vehicle damage are totally independent. You shoot a driver, gunner, or passenger, and they take damage, not the vehicle. Likewise, shooting a vehicle doesn’t do anything to the driver, unless of course said shooting results in blowing the vehicle up, which would cause serious if not fatal damage. The only exception to this “only the vehicle or only the driver” would be explosive weapons, due to the splash damage, which would damage everything within the area of effect, unless of course the driver was completely enclosed in the vehicle, which is the case with tanks.
This system would not only be simpler, but it would be fairer to players on foot who might not have a rocket launcher or similarly powerful weapon. For example, in multiplayer, a team under siege by a skilled Warthog crew, Banshee pilot, etc., could gradually chip away at it with their standard-issue weapons. It might take a little while for them to neutralize a vehicle even with concentrated fire, but their efforts won’t be in vain, unlike in Halo 2 & 3 where if they don’t kill the vehicle in one attempt, the driver can simply run away, wait for his shields to come back, and it’s like the vehicle took no damage. Of course, even with a simple, non-restorable damage meter, if a team doesn’t focus on taking an enemy vehicle out, the latter can amass a sizeable number of kills before dying or being forced to abandon their ride. Conversely someone in a vehicle will have to be more wary of enemies equipped with small arms, or else he could find himself with a completely thrashed ride, though he wouldn’t have to worry quite as much about anti-vehicle weapons as homing or hitscan arms like the missile pod or laser, respectively, would be de-emphasized if not outright eliminated and the focus would return to weapons that required the wielder to lead their target, like the rocket launcher or fuel rod cannon.
As for the graphical aspects of vehicle destruction, I’ve always felt that the visible damage a vehicle shows and what happens when a vehicle explodes could use more variety. Instead of a graphical progression from pristine to near-totaled that looks the same every time, all the dents, gouges, holes, and blown-off chunks would be plentiful and randomized. Also, there should be a larger number of destruction animations than in the past. For example, a Banshee that explodes mid-air could simply erupt into flames and fall to the ground in one piece like in Halo 1 or blow into pieces in many different ways. A vehicle might only blow into pieces if an explosive device destroys it, though Covenant vehicles might sometimes explode anyway like they did in Halo 2 when destroyed.
Finally, there’s an idea I’ve been toying around with, and that is the ability of a vehicle to sustain certain specific types of damage that affect its performance. For example, damage to a wheel or wing would affect the vehicle’s mobility, perhaps by reducing its turn radius, reducing its speed, or disabling its ability to boost, while damage to weapon systems could affect accuracy or rate of fire. However, this addition comes with at least one caveat: shooting a vehicle’s tires/treads/wings/etc. or weapon systems would not directly damage the vehicle (though weapons with splash damage can cause the destruction of the vehicle since they would affect whatever is inside the blast). Only damage to a vehicle’s main body would cause it to lose hit points. As for how much damage a wheel, wing, weapon, etc. can take before being disabled, it should be no more than half and no less than a fifth of what would be required to destroy the vehicle itself.
I always liked the idea of being able to hijack an enemy’s vehicle and forcibly eject him from it. While it worked fine in Halo 2, Bungie added some changes to it in Halo 3. For one, successfully boarding any vehicle will inflict damage on the victim, whereas in Halo 2, the only time boarding inflicted damage was when it was a tank being jacked, as doing so required punching the driver to death or throwing a grenade into the tank’s interior. The second major change was the fact that boarding a vehicle effectively paralyzes the occupant. Once boarded, the occupant cannot disembark by choice. In the case of light vehicles (Warthogs, Ghosts, etc.), the vehicle’s occupant cannot jump out once boarded, and after he is removed, he is not only damaged, but also suffers from temporarily but severely (i.e., almost totally) restricted movement. In the case of tanks, once boarded, the occupant is completely at the mercy of the boarder. He is forced to remain in the cockpit until the boarder kills him or is himself killed by a teammate of the tank driver.
In each case, getting boarded in Halo 3 is almost always an automatic death sentence. While a player may have deserved to lose his ride, he shouldn’t also be forced to die on top of that. I think that damage should be retained for boarding light vehicles (and would of course remain par for course when hijacking tanks), but otherwise, vehicle boarding should be identical to how it worked in Halo 2. If a player is being hijacked, he would still have the option to leave his vehicle under his own volition at any time during the encounter. Furthermore, being ejected wouldn’t paralyze the player. He would retain full mobility. The only threats he’d face are his opponent and their newly acquired ride, enemy infantry who could take advantage of his weakened shields, or falling to his death if he’s ejected from a Banshee or Hornet at high altitude.
As for damage values, whether it’s kicking an enemy out of a light vehicle or punching a tank driver, the player should inflict a base value of 40 damage points, same as a standing melee attack.
Health: The maximum amount of damage, in hit points, the vehicle can absorb before being destroyed.
Health: 200 Weapons: M41 LAAG, M68 Gauss Cannon, or none
Notes: The Warthog would once again have several permutations, including standard, arctic (w/ treads to keep it from losing traction on ice), troop transport, and even civilian.
Health: 75 Weapons: none
Health: 160 Weapons: Dual Plasma Cannons
Notes: The Ghost would have about the same base speed it had in Halo 1 (maybe slightly slower), including when strafing and driving backwards, though it would be just as responsive as in Halo 2/3 and still have the ability to boost.
Health: 120 Weapons: Dual Plasma Cannons, Fuel Rod Cannon
Notes: The Banshee would handle just like it did in Halo 1, including the ability to hover when the player pulls back on the left stick. Its base speed would be the same as well. It would still retain the ability to boost and barrel roll, however. Also, it would once again be usable by the player in Campaign after having been stripped of that capacity in Halo 3.
Health: 150 Weapons: Dual .50-caliber Machine Guns, Dual Missile Launchers
Notes: The Hornet would handle the same way it did in Halo 3.
Health: 175 Weapons: Dual 35 mm Auto-cannons Other Attacks: Saw-blade ramming attack
Notes: The Chopper would handle a bit better than it did in Halo 3. Its ramming attack inflicts damage based on the angle with which it strikes another vehicle. If it strikes head-on, it can destroy another vehicle. However, glancing blows would inflict moderate to light damage. The ramming attack is only effective against light vehicles and even then only when the Chopper is boosting.
Health: 200 Weapons: Plasma Turret
Notes: The Prowler would handle the same as it did in Halo 3.
Health: 100 Weapons: Dual Shade Cannons
Notes: Though it’s technically not a vehicle, the Shade functions like one in that it can be boarded and that it takes damage like a light vehicle. It would be the same ball-type turret it was in Halo 3, though it could conceivably rest on tripod legs like the Halo 1 Shade instead of on a platform fixed to the ground.
Health: 350 Weapons: Shade Cannon
Notes: While the Shadow APC made only a brief appearance in Halo 2 despite featuring prominently in the 2003 “Earth City” demo, it would play a much heavier role in this game. As a ground-based troop transport, it would take over the role of dropships in areas where landing or maneuvering an aircraft would prove difficult or impossible. It could carry up to 8 passengers, depending on their size. Alternately, it could carry a Ghost (with driver) for deployment.
Health: 450 Weapons: 90 mm Cannon, 7.62 mm Machine Gun Turret
Notes: The Scorpion’s machine gun would most likely remain a separate turret controlled by a second player rather than the driver-controlled coaxial version from Halo 1 & 2. The cockpit hatch could perhaps be shot off by regular weapons to expose the driver, taking damage as if it were light vehicle armor. Finally, the player would once again be able to ride on the tread pods like they could in Halo 1.
Health: 450 Weapons: Plasma Mortar or Dual Anti-Air Cannons, Plasma Turret
Notes: Like the Scorpion, the Wraith's plasma cannon would likely remain a turret controlled by a second player, and the cockpit’s hatch could be shot off by regular firearms. Also, the weak spot from Halo 3 would be removed. The AA Wraiths would be the same color as the standard Wraith (normally purple, but copper for the Elites in the Elite segment).
Health: 800 Weapons: M41 LAAG x 2 (1 chin-mounted, 1 bay-mounted), Dual Missile Launcher Pods (three missile tubes per pod)
Notes: The Pelican would actually be destructible in regular gameplay. Rather than simply dropping troops and supplies for the player, they could also provide heavy close-in air support. This can be scripted, or the player could summon them on a limited basis. Also, as mentioned earlier in the game, there would likely be a Pelican fought as an enemy during the ODST segment.
Health: 1000 Weapons: Shade Cannon x 3 (1 chin-mounted, 2 side-mounted)
Notes: The Phantom would be more akin to the Halo 2 version in terms of offensive capabilities and troop deployment, dropping troops from the grav-lift only and having two side-mounted Shade cannons instead of the Grunt-manned plasma turrets. Also, it can still deploy two light vehicles or a Wraith.
Health: 750 Weapons: Shade Cannon
Notes: Less heavily-armed and armored than the Phantom, the Spirit, not seen since Halo 1, would return as a faster dropship focused more on quick deployment of troops rather than the gunship-style action of the Phantom. It also can only drop off a single light ground vehicle like a Ghost.
Health: 8000 or special Weapons: Beam Cannon, Heavy Plasma Turret, Plasma Cannon x 2 (same weapon as infantry-issued turret)
Notes: The Scarab would be much like it was in Halo 3. However, it wouldn’t be just a big, dumb, slow clod that blows up real nice. It would be given better AI and larger arenas in which to fight and show what it’s capable of. When it comes to fighting it, the player can still board it, though the crew would be better at guarding the power core than in Halo 3. Of course, the player could attack it with from the outside with a vehicle or heavy weapon, though the rear armor and legs would be considerably more resilient, and the player would have to disable at least two legs to disable the Scarab for boarding from the ground. The core's shield would be more resilient this time as well. The player could also simply just shoot the Scarab to death instead of taking out the core, though the walker could take an insane amount of damage before going down. Finally, the Scarab would have the same weapons as before; the large plasma turret at the rear of the vehicle could actually be completely destroyed this time, however. I would also consider adding an automated light plasma turret or Shade cannon to the Scarab's belly for added protection.
Vehicle Weaponry Attributes
Note: All vehicle-based weapons have infinite ammo and, in the case of plasma weapons, infinite heat capacity. Also, all the below entries follow the same layout as those of the infantry-issued weapons.
1. M41 LAAG
Damage: 24 Accuracy: 1 to 2.5° Rate of Fire: 12 rounds/sec max. Projectile Speed: 900 m/sec Damage Modifiers: Light Vehicle Armor: 25% Heavy Vehicle Armor: 10% Otherwise same as Assault Rifle
2. M68 Gauss Cannon
Damage: 300 Accuracy: 0° Rate of Fire: 1 round/2 sec Projectile Speed: 600 m/sec Damage Modifiers: Sentinel Armor: 40% Vehicle Armor: 25%
3. Ghost/Banshee Plasma Cannon
Damage: 14 Accuracy: 0° Rate of Fire: 6 rounds/sec Projectile Speed: 150 m/sec Stun: 0.05 sec Damage Modifiers: Light Vehicle Armor: 25% Heavy Vehicle Armor: 10% Otherwise same as infantry-issued Plasma Cannon
4. Banshee Fuel Rod Cannon
Identical to the hand-held Fuel Rod Gun, except: Rate of Fire: 1 round/4 sec
5. Chopper Auto-Cannon
Damage: 30 Accuracy: 0° Rate of Fire: 4 rounds/sec Projectile Speed: 450 m/sec Damage Modifiers: Light Vehicle Armor: 25% Heavy Vehicle Armor: 10%
6. .50-cal (12.7 mm) Machine Gun
Damage: 24 Accuracy: 1 to 2.5° Rate of Fire: 6 rounds/sec Projectile Speed: 900 m/sec Damage Modifiers: same as M41 LAAG
7. Shade Cannon
Damage: 14 Accuracy: 0° Rate of Fire: 4 rounds/sec Projectile Speed: 150 m/sec Damage Modifiers: Light Vehicle Armor: 25% Heavy Vehicle Armor: 10% Otherwise same as Plasma Rifle
8. Missile Launcher
Damage: 60 to 90 Blast Radius: 1 to 3 m Accuracy: 0° Rate of Fire: 1 missile/5 sec Projectile Speed: 75 m/sec Damage Modifiers: same as Rocket Launcher
9. 90 mm Cannon
Damage: 45 to 80 to 300 Blast Radius: 1.5 to 4.5 to 7.5 m Accuracy: 0° Rate of Fire: 1 round/4 sec Projectile Speed: 600 m/sec Damage Modifiers: same as Rocket Launcher
10. 7.62 mm Machine Gun
Damage: 10 Accuracy: 0.5 to 1.5° Rate of Fire: 15 rounds/sec Projectile Speed: 900 m/sec Damage Modifiers: same as Assault Rifle
11. Plasma Mortar
Damage: 45 to 80 to 300 Blast Radius: 2 to 6 to 10 m Accuracy: 0° Rate of Fire: 1 round/3 sec Projectile Speed: same as in Halo 3 Damage Modifiers: same as Fuel Rod Gun
Notes: Since the Wraith’s plasma mortar has a slow, arcing trajectory instead of the fast, straight-line trajectory of the Scorpion’s main cannon, I’d give it a somewhat larger blast radius and faster rate of fire to compensate.
12. Anti-Air Wraith Cannon
Damage: 60 to 90 Blast Radius: 3 to 7 m Accuracy: 0° Rate of Fire: 1 round/sec Projectile Speed: same as in Halo 3 Damage Modifiers: same as Fuel Rod Gun
Notes: The AA Wraith’s cannons would function just like they did in Halo 3, traveling a certain distance before bursting in an explosion just like a real-life flak cannon.
13. Wraith/Prowler Plasma Turret
Damage: 14 Accuracy: 0° Rate of Fire: 12 rounds/sec Projectile Speed: 150 m/sec Stun: 0.05 sec Damage Modifiers: Light Vehicle Armor: 25% Heavy Vehicle Armor: 10% Otherwise same as infantry-issued Plasma Cannon
14. Scarab Beam Cannon
Damage: 150 per second Accuracy: 0° Rate of Fire: Continuous beam Projectile Speed: 50 m/sec
15. Scarab Heavy Plasma Turret
Damage: 40 Accuracy: 0° Rate of Fire: 1 round/sec Projectile Speed: 90 m/sec Damage Modifiers: Vehicle Armor: 50% Otherwise same as infantry-issued Plasma Cannon
In addition to all the vehicles listed above, I’d try to fit some others from the series into gameplay in some fashion. Most notable among these are the Longsword and Seraph fighters. They could serve as some form of air support, appearing during scripted events or being summoned by the player. For example, we could have a situation like in the E3 ‘03 “Earth City” demo where Longswords bombed a Covenant heavy artillery emplacement that kept the UNSC ground forces pinned. I’ve also considered the possibility of actually letting the player pilot these vehicles; they’d have several times the hit points and heavier weapons than the Hornet or Banshee, and would be used sparingly, likely in short stages or sequences designed especially for them.
Another thing I would consider is adding some of the vehicles introduced in Halo Wars. They seem rather interesting, though they could potentially clutter up the roster with redundancy. They may work fine in the confines of an RTS, but they may lack the necessary distinctiveness to warrant a place in an FPS. For example, do we really need a Rhino, Vulture, or Locust when we already have the Scorpion, Pelican, and Wraith? However, it is possible that a couple of them can be fit into this game. For example, the Hawk can be a mini-boss in the ODST segment, though the vehicle itself would not be available to the player for reasons explained during in-game dialogue. The Vampire could be a Covenant air-support unit since the Phantom isn’t as heavily armed as the Pelican. Finally, the Locust could be a unit more focused on direct engagements with ground forces whose walker abilities give it the ability to more effectively traverse rough terrain than the Wraith, which would be more focused on artillery barrages. The Locust could also have shields just like in Halo Wars, though it’d have less hit points than the Wraith.
Just like the core gameplay, the multiplayer component would remain true to 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 weapon and will have the same base attributes (VIP & Infection being notable exceptions), with other weapons being acquired as pick-ups on the map. To stray from this would risk making this like the current status quo of popular FPS multiplayer modes, represented primarily by the two most recent Call of Duty games.
Having a good spawn system is very important for multiplayer. While the first two games had a generally good spawn system, they did need improvement, and Halo 3’s spawns were just plain terrible on several maps. Many two-base maps, such as Valhalla, The Pit, and Standoff, 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, especially on larger stages when ARs are the starting weapon and/or when vehicles are enabled. 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 problem with Halo 3’s spawns is that enemies can spawn right behind the player on some maps (Highground is the most notable). Of course, spawning right next to the enemy or in the middle of a firefight or explosion is commonplace in the entire trilogy.
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; always spawning only on one side of the map should only happen on CTF and Assault. Second, the player should always spawn in the safest available spot. The spawn system should be able to ascertain such variables 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 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.
There is not much need for significant change here. Weapons would spawn on a timer just as they did in Halo 1 & 3. 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.
As the primary means of sifting the wheat from the chaff in online play, it is important to have a ranking system that properly rewards and punishes players.
The ranking system in Halo 2 & 3’s matchmaking system has used a rather convoluted system for determining how much “experience” a person is rewarded for a win or punished for a loss in a ranked match. Sometimes, a player can win several matches in a row and not rank up, but one subsequent loss after that win streak can cause them to drop a rank. Furthermore, this can happen even if the player performed well but had a poorly-performing teammate cost the match or if his team had generally poor group cohesion and/or was overwhelmed by inherently superior opponents. I have devised something a bit simpler and fairer.
A player would be rewarded or punished a flat base rate of experience points towards their rank in a particular ranked playlist after each match, say, 100 points. There would then be points modifiers based on how well a player performs in a particular match. For example, kill/death spread, medals, assists, and so forth can contribute to one’s score in a Slayer match. Therefore, a player on a winning team that performs poorly won’t gain as much experience as one who performs well. Conversely, a player on a losing team who does well won’t be punished as severely as a worse player, and might actually gain some experience if he does really, really, ridiculously well (i.e., lots of kills, medals, and assists, and few if any deaths). Finally, the amount of experience points required to advance would of course increase the higher the player gets in the ranks, so advancement would require a generally good win-loss ratio, with individual performance either increasing or decreasing how fast the player advances.
As for actual point values, assuming we keep my win-loss dependent ±100 points (or whatever other number is chosen) as the standard base reward/punishment, in Slayer gametypes, the player should be rewarded one point for each kill or one-half a point for an assist, and should lose one experience point for each death, two points for a suicide, and three for a betrayal. In addition, the player would be rewarded various amounts of points depending on how many and what type of medals they received over the course of the match (suggested values for the medals are listed in Appendix V).
In objectives games, experience points would be rewarded for the appropriate scoring factors rather than for kills or deaths. For example, a successful flag capture or bomb detonation would net 10 points. Medals may still come into play, but due to the potential for focusing on racking up as many medals as possible rather than on scoring flag captures, killing VIPs, or spending time in the hill, points might only be rewarded for objective-specific medals such as killing a flag carrier. Since there will likely be fewer bonus points to be had in objectives games, the experience points required to advance would not increase as sharply as in Slayer in higher ranks.
As a side note, at first I thought that the points for kills and deaths in Slayer matches should be a multiplier for the total of all other points based on the kill-death ratio (e.g., going 10 and 5 would yield a twofold increase in points), but then I realized that a player going 2 and 1 would be rewarded the same increase as a player going 30 and 15, which hardly seems fair. Furthermore, it’d be kind of absurd to give someone, say, a 20x multiplier for going 20-1, plus it’d be hard to figure out what kind of multiplier to give someone who didn’t die any (or conversely, someone who did die at least once, but got no kills). So, instead of the K/D ratio, the K/D spread would be the determining factor. As mentioned earlier, a player would be awarded one experience point for each kill and penalized one point for a death, so someone who goes +15 would get 15 extra points, while someone who goes -3 would have 3 points subtracted from their overall score. That would be far simpler and fairer than my previous multiplier idea.
Playlists and Gametypes in Matchmaking
While this game would retain the same basic Matchmaking system as Halo 2 & 3, including the latter’s veto feature, there would be a few changes made to the types of playlists and the gametypes therein. One thing I never cared for was mixed playlists. There are only a couple that contain only Slayer or only Objective gametypes. Personally, I’m not a big fan of objectives games, and I would really like the ability to play mostly or only Slayer even in ordinarily mixed playlists (more often than not, I’m in a party that’s too big for 4v4 playlists, which all of the Slayer- or objective-only playlists are). While you can veto an objectives game (in Halo 3, at least), there’s no guarantee the new gametype will be Slayer. While I would like to see every formerly mixed playlist get split up into two separate Slayer and Objective playlists, this could make the lineup a bit cluttered and thin out playlist populations. Perhaps there could be a “Prefer Slayer” or “Prefer Objective” option, much like there are options to prefer players by connection, skill, or language. That way, one party that preferred one or the other could be matched with another party with the same option, or at the very least would be more likely to get a Slayer or Objective game. Alternately, there could be a voting system similar to the one in Gears 2, where the players get to choose one gametype or another in the pre-game lobby.
Another change would be to remove starting grenades from certain gametypes. While this might seem a small change, it would have a substantial impact on gameplay as players wouldn’t always start each life with the ability to regularly spam grenades. For example, during a 4v4 Slayer match there exists the potential for 16 explosive devices to be flying through the air at the beginning of the match, with two more each time a player respawns. I’m of the opinion that players should not always spawn with grenades and should rather be required to earn their explosive weapons. While most objective gametypes would retain grenade starts and there would be a “Slayer Pro” playlist where the players spawn with grenades, the majority of Slayer-based gametypes would remove starting grenades. This applies mostly to smaller maps, as grenades starts won’t be as much of a problem on larger, more open maps.
Yet another idea I’ve been thinking of is a “Spartan vs. Elite” playlist, where instead of red & blue teams, there are a team of Spartans and a team of Elites. I got this idea from the Call of Duty and Gears of War series, which force the player to be on one of two themed sides. Since the player can customize armor permutations of both, this playlist could automatically force the player to be either their Spartan or Elite permutation, depending on which team they’re on. They could also start with species-specific weapons: either ARs or BRs for the Spartans and plasma rifles or Carbines for the Elites, for example (there would be no grenade starts if this were to be implemented, however, since plasma grenades can stick to opponents while frags cannot).
The player would still be able to select from various permutations of Spartan-II and Elite armor, most of which must be unlocked by completing achievements. As before, the player can mix and match any pieces available for either species. In addition to the permutations found in Halo 3, there would be new ones the player could unlock. For completing all achievements, the player would unlock the Arbiter, which is a full-body permutation that cannot be mixed with other permutations but can be given alternate color schemes, mostly a few metallic colors. Also, there would be no developer-exclusive permutations like Recon, a highly sought-after armor that won’t be available to the general public until Halo 3: ODST is released.
For reasons of balance and consistency, the player would not be able to assume the role of a Brute. Likewise, they cannot be an ODST or Spartan-III as they function in Campaign, though permutations that look like those armors but otherwise function like other Spartan-II armors can be unlocked. Spartan-II and Elite models would of course be functionally identical and tested to make sure they are properly balanced.
Unlike in Halo 3, Forge would carry no weapon or item type restrictions. The player can put whatever they want on any map. Vehicles would have very limited restrictions: larger maps would allow any and all player-controllable vehicles, while smaller maps may have restrictions due to limited playable area. Budgets would likely be expanded as well, and the number of any given item would not be as restrictive as it was in Halo 3 for weapons or objects that were once highly-limited (e.g. flamethrowers).
Rather than just loosening item restrictions, however, I would consider expanding Forge into a full-fledged map maker much like Halo: Custom Edition or the Crysis map maker rather than keeping it a simple map editor. The player would be given an expansive set of tools with which to create stage geometry, define the type of environment, architecture, skybox, etc., and whatever else is needed to create a map from scratch. If it is unfeasible to have such a feature in the game at launch and/or for it to function properly on a console, perhaps it could be an expansion pack available at a later date and that can be used on the player’s computer. Players could then import their maps into their file shares. In any case, I’ve seen some interesting map designs result from Halo: Custom Edition and the greater creative freedom it allows. Popular map designs could possibly be integrated into matchmaking.
The following sections deal with issues regarding the game engine as well as non-gameplay aspects that affect both Campaign and multiplayer.
A next-gen console would of course allow not only the ability to create larger stages and more advanced AI, but graphics that surpass those of current-gen games. Current consoles are already capable of producing some very good-looking games, including but not limited to Gears of War 2, BioShock, Killzone 2, and Resistance 2, just to name a few high-profile shooters, and since a next-gen console’s graphical abilities should be more than capable of producing games that look much better than any current game — in fact, they'll likely be more than capable of running a graphically intensive game like Crysis (at max settings) with no problems —, there probably won’t be much of a reason to push the system to its limits to make top-notch graphics. In fact, I wouldn’t want it pushed to the limit since I’d want sufficient computing power available for advanced AI and whatever is necessary for having large stages, plus pushing it to the limit could result in unexpected flaws, for example, the texture “pop-in” seen in Halo 2.
This game would remain faithful to the previous titles in terms of art design, though it would be somewhat grittier — but no less colorful, with a similar color palette as Halo 3 — than the previous games, at least in certain environments. Instead of creating brand new character, vehicle, and weapon models from scratch, the models from Halo 3 would be reused, perhaps with some modification. However, with the power of a next-gen console, textures would be much higher-res and not subject to “pop-in,” lighting would be enhanced, animations would be improved, smoother, and wider in variety (the frame rate would be set to 30 FPS), and models will be better-rendered and more detailed, with perhaps a greater polygon count than in Halo 3 if necessary to enhance their appearance. The draw distance for objects would also be drastically increased from Halo 3, and “phasing-in/out” of things like bodies, certain foliage, and other objects would either not occur at all or be made to happen at far enough distances so that the player would not notice (oddly enough “phasing” didn’t happen at all in Halo 1 and was minimal in Halo 2). Spark effects would be like they were in the first game as well. Decals (bullet holes, blood stains, etc.) would take longer to fade and do so more gradually, more like they did in Halo 1. The game would also use the same graphical tricks that current games use, though at a level of quality suitable for a next-gen game. Some effects would not be used in certain situations, however. For example, depth-of-field would not be used in regular gameplay and would remain restricted to cinema scenes.
Sound & Music
This game would utilize many of the same sound effects that exist in the main trilogy. Explosions would sound like they do in Halo 3, while plasma weapons would sound like they do in Halo 1. However, most human weapons would have all new sounds, as I’ve always felt that most of them have always sounded more like toys than implements of war. They would be made to sound like real world weapons such as the M16 (AR), Desert Eagle (pistol), P90 (SMG), M14 (BR), and M82 (sniper rifle). Weapons fire would also once again be made to sound differently at long range just like they did in Halo 3.
The music would stay faithful to Marty O’Donnell’s work, and would contain many familiar themes, with any tracks from the first two games being reworked to current standards of audio quality. Original music would likely have to be composed by someone besides Marty since he’ll be busy with whatever Bungie would be working on, though I’d like for him to be an advisor.
This game would likely use the latest Havok engine for the physics. While Havok does well as a physics engine, there are some elements from Halo 3 that I would change. Most notably, bullets would not be capable of moving any heavy objects, especially vehicles. It’s preposterous for a single BR round to apply enough force to flip a 3-½ ton Warthog, especially considering it can’t do the same to an object that is much lighter. Likewise, all other attack forms would have consistency regarding conservation of momentum and application of force on objects in the game world. For example, if a Chopper auto-cannon or a Brute Shot cannot send a relatively lightweight object flying through the air or even flip it easily, then they should not be able to send heavier objects flying even farther. If those attacks can’t send a half-ton Spartan flying long distances through the air, then they shouldn’t be able to do so for objects several times more massive. Realism is generally pretty far down on my “Important Things in Games” list, but these physical inconsistencies, especially the flipping of Warthogs with a BR, strain credulity.
Saved films would have improved functionality from Halo 3, including more refined navigation such as skipping forward (you can only skip back in H3) and rewinding without skipping backwards. Also, Campaign films could be re-wound, and film clips could be made from Campaign films, whereas in Halo 3, the player could do neither. Finally, the player would, like in Halo 3 beta, be able to save films to their library directly from the post-game lobby. If the post-game “party up” feature from Halo 3 is retained, the player could save the film by bringing up the post-game Carnage Report and then pressing the X button.
All three games in the Halo trilogy were rated Mature, though I thought they weren’t quite graphic enough to warrant that rating. The language has always been PG-13, and while there is a fair amount of blood, most of the truly graphic violence results from shooting up green, slimy, alien zombie parasites. Overall, it’s a far sight from titles like Gears of War. So, as a Halo FPS that’s likely going to get an “M” slapped on the cover, well, I’d make it earn it. The language wouldn’t be riddled with “colorful metaphors.” Nor would this be some gore-fest with exploding heads and gibs (non-Flood gibs, anyway) flying all over the place, but it would definitely be more intense.
This can be accomplished by something simple like increasing the amount and prominence of blood shown spraying from wounds or spilling on the ground, but more detailed and graphic methods could be used. Just like vehicles that get visibly crushed, dented, and banged-up as they get damaged, human and Covenant characters can sustain procedural damage to keep maimed or dead individuals from looking like they’re in pristine condition (the Flood can already be shot to pieces). Gunshot wounds and armor damage would be visible and like bullet holes in walls would be locational, though perhaps only more damaging attacks as well as killing blows would show up. NPCs that are set on fire would react appropriately, and anyone that is burned to death would have appropriately charred, smoking, and blackened remains. New death animations could be introduced, such as a slow, lingering death for someone who was finished off with a gunshot to the gut.
In regards to a less graphic but more technical part of the violence, NPCs would react to injuries more realistically. Like in Halo 1, an enemy might recoil in pain and grab their shoulder if shot in it, or they might stagger and fall to one knee if shot in the leg. Of course, these reactions would be better animated, much like the impressively animated reactions of the Helghast in Killzone 2.
While players could still look up detailed stats online just as they did with Halo 2 & 3, they would also be able to look up some more basic stuff from their in-game service record. Multiplayer stats (those from online play only) would include kills, deaths, suicides, betrayals, kill/death ratio, and medals, while Campaign stats would include total enemies killed (and probably also how many of each kind), total deaths, total allies lost, and best meta-game scores & best completion times for each stage.
Achievements have been a popular aspect of the current generation of games and are likely to continue existing in future generations. Making sure the achievements provide unique challenges with varied levels of difficulty and appropriate point values is of course paramount in designing a good list of achievements. While I don’t have any solid ideas at the present time, there is one thing I’m set on, and that is restricting achievements to Campaign.
Multiplayer achievements almost invariably have the inevitable and undesirable effect of disrupting the normal flow of combat. We’ve seen this in Gears of War where the intensive grinding and lack of party support discouraged teamwork, and in Halo 3 where the original MP achievements ironically encouraged teamwork in a ranked free-for-all setting — the only place they could be unlocked — due to the extreme difficulty of unlocking most of them legitimately. Gears of War 2 and the second batch of Halo 3 achievements made several improvements to make their acquisition less disruptive, such as by making many of them unlockable in any play mode in the case of Gears 2 or making them unlockable in both ranked and unranked and in both team and free-for-all in the case of Halo 3.
If this game were to include achievements in multiplayer, they would take a cue from the example of Gears 2 and latter-day Halo 3. They would not involve grinding, they could be unlocked regardless of whether the match is ranked or unranked or if it is a team or FFA scenario, and, if their nature allows for it, they could also be unlocked in Campaign. However, I’d simply prefer there to be no multiplayer achievements at all. Even the best-designed ones will still affect the normal flow of gameplay to some degree, and besides, not everyone has access to Xbox Live, and MP achievements unlockable offline can be easily acquired illegitimately. Campaign-only achievements don’t require XBL, and since he is on his own time fighting against AI opponents, the player won’t be disrupting the intended flow of multiplayer competition. Furthermore, restricting achievements to Campaign allows for the entirety of the game’s gamerscore to be devoted to a wider variety of interesting challenges for the player to accomplish. After all, there’s more to do — and more sheer potential for things to do — and more to explore in Campaign.
Making sure the game works properly is of course important. Before a game goes to market, it should be tested to make sure there are no glitches, that the hit detection is functioning correctly, and so on and so forth. One thing that needs a lot of attention is the netcode. Halo 3 rarely plays well in 8v8 matches online, and even the standard 4v4 match will often be quite laggy on a frequent basis. I’ve played other games (CoD4 being the most recent 360 FPS) that play fine almost all the time even with the same amount of people in a match as a medium to large Halo match. Considering that regardless of the game, a random set of players will have on average the same kinds of connections, which means that if a game lags more frequently than another game, it must be the game’s netcode or some other element intrinsic to the game rather than player connection speeds. Therefore, a future Halo game needs more stringent testing to make sure it plays as smoothly as possible online. While this game would retain the same 16 player limit as Halo 2 & 3, I would insist on it being tested as if it were intended for at least 32 players, if not more. If a game can be made to where it could handle at least that many players smoothly on a consistent basis, then it would be more than capable of running an 8v8 game no problem, and laggy matches would be far less frequent. I’ve always noted that Halo 3 would be incapable of handling a 32-player match, though games like Killzone 2 and Resistance 2 have matches that size, and I understand that they both play perfectly fine online. There’s no excuse that a future Halo game with only half as many people in a match as those games couldn’t play smoothly online on a regular basis.
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, massive Crysis-style Campaign stages, and AI that outshines even the best there is today. This is all in addition to new and returning special features not necessarily related to gameplay.
Certain things, like larger, less linear outdoor stages and smarter AI, I believe are necessary to keep Halo on the cutting edge of first-person shooters. As the technology progresses, even stages the size of Assault on the Control Room or The Ark might start to seem small, and even the best AI in contemporary games will look dumb compared to that of future games. At least, I certainly hope that future advances in technology aren't used simply for pumping out increasingly more advanced graphics rather than things that actually matter for gameplay (e.g., smart enemies, larger amounts of playable real estate).
Other gameplay aspects are things that I believe would improve gameplay, such as reinstating fall damage, removing the melee lunge, and making most of the weapons more accurate. Things that haven't existed in the series before, such as my suggestions for alt-fire modes, weapon attachments, and specialized ammunition, are simply things I'd like to see but I wouldn’t insist on. They've been in other shooters before, so it's not like they haven't been done before, but I do think they'd fit in well with Halo's gameplay (depending on the situation).
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 (besides saying the BR should be semi-auto, among a select handful of other gameplay issues), so I figured I'd write up something on how I'd make a Halo game if I had the chance.
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.
Left Stick: Move, navigate weapon customization menu, click to crouch
1 Assuming said feature is added
NOTE: Controls for vehicles, Forge Monitor mode, and the saved films camera would remain as they were in Halo 3.
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. 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. However, it inflicts 28 points of damage against player shields, 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 running melee attack on Heroic difficulty, 20 points of damage would be inflicted. A running melee has a base damage of 50 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 50 x 0.5 x 0.8 = 20.
Rebel Soldier: 10
Grunt Minor: 10
Combat Form (Human): 10
Human Vehicles (Enemy-controlled)
Minor Grunt: Orange
Notes: In addition to the standard color-coded rankings, certain enemies besides Brutes would have multiple permutations. For example, the “curl-back” Grunts from Halo 1 would be reintroduced. Blue-skinned Jackals and Jackals with helmets, both also missing after Halo 1, would come back as well (Sniper Jackals would retain the optical headgear).
1 point: Beatdown, Sniper Kill, Grenade Stick, Splatter, Wheelman, Incineration
Notes: All points for multi-kills and kill sprees would be cumulative. For example, someone who gets a Triple Kill still gets the points for the Double Kill they got in the process of getting the Triple. So, each time they got a Triple, they’d actually get 5 points total: 3 for the Triple, and 2 for the Double.
Also, I never agreed with Bungie’s decision to bump Killtacular up to a 5-kill multi-kill and Running Riot to a 15-kill spree. I would restore those classics back to a 4-kill multi-kill and a 10-kill spree, respectively. The 15- and 20-kill sprees would have the same names they did in Halo 2. All other medal-related nomenclature would remain as it was in Halo 3.
Finally, the player would obtain a Death From the Grave medal if he gets a kill for any reason at any point between his death and subsequent respawn, unlike in Halo 3 where there’s apparently only a short window during their death when they can acquire the medal.
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