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What 343i needs to fix in Halo 6: Looking at performance, core gameplay, and story delivery

Starting with Bungie's last Halo creation — Halo: Reach — Halo has gone down a steady path of popularity decline. With each new release after Halo 3, game sales have decreased, along with the overall player base. Halo 5 might be incredibly successful due to its business model, but Halo as a franchise has fallen from its pedestal as the creme de la creme of first-person shooters.

One question many ask is, what caused the decline in the first place?

One question many ask is, what caused the decline in the first place? For many, there are specific aspects of the more recent Halo titles that sully the experience — things like the addition of the ability to sprint, art style changes, and quality of story have all been points of grief for Halo community members, among others. Therefore, it is for this reason that I believe that Halo's recent struggles can't be tied down to any one thing. Rather, it is a combination of these things that, when applied to the games together, create an experience that feels and plays very different to Halo's established formula.

With this in mind, I intend to analyze and dissect what I feel are collectively the fanbase's biggest issues with the latest Halo installment — Halo 5 — and identify what Halo 6 will need to change in order to avoid making the same mistakes twice. While a lot of it is subjective, I've spent a lot of time reading into Halo 5's reception and feedback (two years in fact) and I'm confident when I say that what I list below is fairly representative of the way the general community feels about the game. Something to keep in mind is that I myself personally enjoy Halo 5. What I'm saying here doesn't necessarily represent how I feel (though some of it does). My goal in this piece is to identify what I think the community thinks overall, not to push my own views forward.

Since identifying everything wrong with a game such as Halo 5 is a large undertaking, this article would be quite large if I covered everything in one go. In this first article, I'm going to talk about the big stuff:

  • Performance
  • Story
  • Core gameplay

Halo 5: Guardians

Halo 5: Guardians (Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

So, activate your energy swords, prime your plasma grenades, and load your battle rifles. Let's dive right in.

Stop reading now if you want to avoid Halo spoilers!

Performance: Polish is a priority

If features don't work, then there's no point in having them at all.

Arguably one of Halo 5's most devastating issues (and The Master Chief Collection's, as well) is the lack of polish. The game is full of performance snags at every turn — game freezes, user interface lag, and poor hit detection in matches only represents the tip of Halo 5's iceberg of bugs. Here, the bugs are not features, as the old saying would lead you to believe. Rather, they do nothing but take away from what Halo 5 has to offer. If features don't work, then there's no point in having them at all. Ask any Halo 5 player how often they use the Theater mode. I'd bet money that the vast majority of them would say rarely, or even never, due to how unreliable it is.

The simple fact is this: the content of your game doesn't matter if the content itself doesn't even work. Halo 6 needs to prioritize performance, and both Microsoft and 343 Industries need to devote adequate time for the game to be optimized efficiently before release.

Story: Halo needs character development and plot clarity

It's no secret by now that the biggest failing point of Halo 5's campaign was its narrative. Halo 5 promised a lot. It promised a chance to meet and connect with Blue Team, the Master Chief's Spartan-II brothers and sisters from childhood, as well as the opportunity to be introduced to four brand new Spartans — Fireteam Osiris. All of these characters would revolve around a plot centered around one of Halo's most beloved characters, Master Chief's AI companion, Cortana, who had returned after Halo 4's emotional conclusion to her story. However, Cortana is not who she once was, and her new plans for the galaxy would shake it to its core.

So, what went wrong? Why was the story received so poorly among fans?

After participating in and listening to as much critical discussion among the Halo community that I could, I've come to the conclusion that the biggest flaws about Halo 5's narrative are the over-saturation of characters and the lack of adequate clarification about the plot.

Having too many characters means that none of them receive adequate development or presentation in the story.

Having too many characters means that none of them receive adequate development or presentation in the story, and unfortunately, Halo 5 had so many characters in it that none of them felt well written. Generally, in gaming, the most successful stories tend to have only a few main characters, with the rest of the cast supporting as minor roles. In the case of Halo 5 and its plot, the main characters should have been Master Chief, Cortana, Locke, and the Warden Eternal. But, that wasn't the case. Halo 5 attempted to present its entire cast as main characters, with all of them sharing the "center stage" position.

In addition to inadequately characterizing the cast, this issue has the added side effect of taking time away from the plot. With so much time being devoted to giving every character a bit of the spotlight, time spent efficiently providing exposition is reduced. This results in a rushed feeling for the story. Details about the plot that should have been given to the player as they progressed through the game are instead dumped on them all at once at occasional intervals. "Wait, what?" was not an uncommon reaction to Halo 5's unfolding story.

What Halo 6 needs to do is re-adjust the character presentation of Halo 5. Have the game give adequate time to develop and explore the core characters to the narrative, while leaving the minor ones to assist from the sidelines. And that is not a bad thing, by the way.

Stories are often made or broken depending on the quality of their side characters. Good minor characters help to bring the setting of the story to life, as well as contribute to the work's theme — all while leaving the door open for proper, natural flow of in-game events and clarity on why they're happening, as opposed to overwhelming exposition dumps.

Core gameplay: Return Halo to its roots

Perhaps the largest point of contention among Halo fans is the new style of gameplay. With the series nearing its 16th birthday, some fans argue that Halo should drastically change to avoid becoming stale. I would say that the majority, though, want Halo to return to its roots. One only has to look at the series' exponentially decaying mindshare since 2010 to see that the altering of Halo's mechanics has, at least in part, produced a negative impact. But I believe that 343 Industries can bring back the classic feel of Halo, while also satisfying fans that want new, fresh gameplay by designing Halo 6 as a modular experience.

Unlike altering core mechanics, innovation through sandbox and map design lets the developer choose where and how things are innovated upon.

The more modern Halo games changed the foundation mechanics themselves, the older games changed Halo by building upon that foundation with innovations in the sandbox and in map design. It is for this reason that I call it "modular."

Halo 2 and 3 innovated by "adding a module" onto the classic Halo formula. Think of vehicle boarding, man-cannons, or equipment items. Whereas Reach, 4 and 5 innovated by adding base traits like the ability to sprint, clamber up ledges, or by giving the player armor abilities. The fundamental difference between the two is that with modular design, there is significantly more room to work with. When you change a base mechanic for all players, every single map and element of your weapon/vehicle sandbox must change to fit around that alteration — because that alteration is made to the core mechanics of character control.

But when you make changes in the game's maps or sandbox, things that vary from match to match such as man-cannons or power-ups, a form of dynamic gameplay occurs. This form of emergent play helps the game and every match in it to feel fresh and new, while also retaining the core mechanics that make Halo, Halo. And the best part of it is, if players decide they don't like a certain change, the developer can change or remove it, and it will have a minimum impact on the game as a whole.

That wouldn't be the case if you were to, say, remove sprinting from Halo 5. Since sprinting is a core mechanic, removing it from Halo 5 would send ripples of issues throughout the game, as it's designed around that ability. This is why I think modular design for Halo is better than changing its foundation. Unlike altering core mechanics, innovation through sandbox and map design lets the developer choose where and how features are added, rather than being forced to make changes to every aspect of the game.

Halo 5: Guardians multiplayer.

Halo 5: Guardians multiplayer. (Image credit: 343 Industries)

Next time we'll look at the user interface, gameplay features, and art, along with an in-depth critique of Halo 5's controversial REQ system.

Do you agree with me about Halo 5's issues and what Halo 6 will need to change to be successful? Let me know in the comments below. And if you don't own it, consider playing the latest Halo title and seeing how you feel:

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.

97 Comments
  • Ditch the squads, return to basics, and tell a solid story. Do that and I'll be back on board.
  • Bring it to PC also
  • While on PC, they really need to do something that makes it work with Hololens. At least a tech demo - something.
  • They have to move back to Halo 2 Anniversary art style.
  • H2A/HW2 is my favorite Halo art style, 100%
  • Also having Cortana as the villain after her sendoff in Halo 4 was extremely dumb.
  • YES. That too. It was done so poorly and because of that it kind of killed Halo 4's ending impact :(
  • YES!!! This was sooo stupid. Cortana being a villain made zero sense. 343 really has only figured out how to ruin a franchise (do everything that pisses all of the fans off, it will work every time!)
  • Agree 100%.  This, and playing as the Chief in only 4 of 10 missions (or whatever) was very disappointing.  I don't care about Locke.  The Master Chief, his story with UNSC, ONI, Cortana, Covenent, Halsey, and the other the Spartan II's is where it's at.
  • Everyone said the same about playing the Arbiter in Halo 2. So many complained at the time. Then funny enough, 10 years later loads saying they loved the game.
  • I seem to be the minority here, but I think it is great. I saw it coming early (even posted the idea in Waypoint months before release.) When MS decided to use Cortana as their desktop assistant it made no sense they would kill her off. I also think it is a pretty good chance she will be rehabbed by the end of Halo 6 now that it had been confirmed the Flood is back.
  • I liked Halo 5 story an all. The multiplayer is really, really deep. Support is fantastic as well. I can see where people were put off by the service to the players who read the universe and get everything 343 was doing. I loved it only bc I understood it. That being said, I'd like to see someone take the reigns from Chief eventually.
  • Chief is just a boring 1 dimensional shadow of what the character could have been.  Hes just so damn boring and stale now.
  • I disagree. He's probably the best character in video game history. In terms of story development. From his childhood, to his unique leader ability. And everything he is ironically is because of Halsey.
  • Cortana's voice being used should have NO effect on the game's narrative. Most people who use Windows 10 don't play halo or even know or care about the link.    Beyond that, if they did bring her back because of the digital assistant, why would they make her a bad guy? Why would MS want a key feature of their operating system to be a tyrannical overlord?
  • Because everyone loves a happy ending to a challenging Love story. By the end of 6, I fully expect we will see a reunited Chief and Cortana.
  • You really think they need you to tell them how to make a good video game? Yikes. The last halo game was just fine, just not enough Master C. 343i is doing a great job with the Halo franchise.
  • For you, sure. But how do you account for sales drop, player base drop?
  • It's not that easy to maintain any franchise for this long, as the original 'core' player base ages and younger ones need to be brought on board, it's quite tricky navigating the generation transition without alienating the longtime players - there will be some inevitable difficulty. Nearly all franchises experience this. Take Street Fighter for example, and the apparent 'decline' in the popularity of the fighting game genre from their peak glory days, or Tomb Raider and the entire 'reboot', or Final Fantasy and the transition from turn-based to real time action rpg, or even relative newcomers like Mass Effect, with Andromeda having to fill such large shoes and appeal to the existing core audience of the original trilogy - I'd argue that if MEA was a standalone game from an 'unknown' studio, it would have been received extremely well because it's actually a very good game. The Soul Calibur franchise experienced the same thing as well, with many longtime players claiming SC2 is the best ever, although SC3, 4, and 5 are all great games in their own right. Call of Duty Infinite Warfare is another great example - awesome game but the backlash from the existing core CoD audience was incredible! Now Marvel vs. Capcom seems to be in this situation judging from internet reviews of early Infinite gameplay builds (I play fighting games a lot :-)). This is not exactly a problem unique to Halo, it's just a struggle of transition between generations of players while trying to appeal to both old and new players.
  • I personally don't think the "this franchise is old" argument is valid when you have franchises like Pokemon, Star Wars, Star Trek, or Super Mario, all of which have been around for 30+ years and still find both success and a monumental following.
  • The old franchises you mention are typically single player solo games, no online multiplayer etc. That is a very different terrain and experience. Furthermore, have you consistently followed each and every release of these games, and has every single release been as successful as the previous one without any complaints from the core audience? Super Mario for one I know has not always had a perfect flat run (I'm a big fan, but I can't stand any of the 3D marios), but they have such a huge number of releases and so many flavors, that if you don't like version 10, just skip it and wait for version 11, while you can keep yourself entertained with version 9 or version 9a. We need to compare the Halo situation with typical online multiplayer based games (like CoD, or most combat games) to see it is a very common trend.
  • Pokémon thrives on multiplayer between players. And no, they haven't, but the common issue either any newer content (like Halo) is that it strays too far from the established formula.
  • I feel like you are making excuses for 343. History shows us that the best way to maintain and grow a base is to build atop its popular foundation, not change its core.  When you look at series like MGS, Pokémon, 3D Mario, counterstrike, battlefield, COD, 3D Zelda, 3D GTA, minecraft, etc, you see franchise that have withstood the test of time by remembering their roots and building on their strengths rather making sweeping alterations to the formula,  several of the franchise I've mentioned have had hiccups- directly related to sweeping changes to mechanics. And guess what? Going back to the basics allowed these franchise to recover.  343 needs to reign in their urge to put their own stamp on halo. They should Spend time Making a classical halo game, so that they can understand WHY that style of play worked. Only then will they be able to make changes that actually make Halo stronger.
  • Install base is a #1 for Halo 5 (when the game launched there was less then 10 million Xbox One even sold). The climate of games now is also a factor where people buy games and in two weeks are playing something else -- the microwave generation. Heck even if you were born in the 80's and remember the days you would have a game for a year of playing it, now a days due to access for other forms of media and entertainment you focus less on one game for a set time. Halo 5 was refreshing: The story was trash -- the gameplay was fast and fluid but could use some tweaking for sure but the negative media about no split screen etc I know didnt help as some coworkers/friends were put off by that
  • There are more ppl playing halo 5 on a regular basis now than 3 months after it launched.  
  • what sales drop what player base decline. Neither of those have happened it has the best player retention since and sold as well as the Halo games. All of which is online said by 343 
  • Halo 5 has sold rough estimates of 6-7 million copies, which is a far cry from the sales of Halo 2 and Halo 3. Reach and 4 sold exponentially less than Halo 3 too. Player base is roughly around 15-25k daily based on Halo 5's position on the Xbox Game Chart. And all "monthly retention" means is that everyone comes back every month to rank in the new Arena seasons. Once people get to their rank they want, they stop playing.
  • If do you have a Halo game without MC is not Halo. Then the sales drops. Elementary.
  • I disagree with that, I think the Halo series is MUCH more than Chief. But that's a whole other can of worms. :p
  • What drop? Halo 4 sold the same as Reach. And outdoor halo Ce and 2. 5 has sold over 5 million retail in less than 2 years and has 2 million + sales in digital. It will easily hit sales of Halo reach and Halo 4.
  • Considering how vocal 343 has been in saying they messed up Halo 5 and they'll listen to the community going forward, yes they do need the community to tell them how to make a good game. 
  • I personally enjoy Halo 5, lol. But the numbers don't lie, dude. I'm not "telling" them in any sort of commanding sense like you're implying. I'm simply giving the feedback I've seen up close for two years the spotlight.
  • More MC indeed.
  • Some people say I "sully" the experience.
  • As someone who likes the Halo franchise, but did not buy Halo 5, I can say that my primary reasons for not buying it was because of the lack of split-screen and the move to In-App purchases and not at all because of the story.
  • This is good feedback. I feel like this article is looking too deep into changes to the game that were actually implemented very well, but may have alienated a few. If you take away all these new things for halo 6, the game will be regressing. However the lack of split screen deterred MANY from purchasing the game. They have no idea how awesome the multiplayer is. The other big negative was the story. Between those two, its changed the way people perceive Halo and accept 343 as a developer. The funny thing is that makes me crack up, is that Halo 5 is an amazing game. But some people will never know and that's solely on 343's plate.   The in-app purchases however is a poor excuse. Everything can be earned in-game without spending money. Also every DLC was released for free. It's a common trend now with games, but I dont remember any other FPS for consoles that started this trend. It's what kept the community together.   My complaint about halo 5 are the procedural texture-less maps. Some maps look like they took effort to make and aare really attractive. Other maps are flat walls with no textures. They're mostly player-made maps but some aren't.... Looks bad
  • As I said in the article, I'm writing another part on it (next week, if you'd like to keep an eye out) that covers the rest of the game's issues. Not alienating anything, rather just splitting up the articles because covering everything in one sitting would be a daunting task for both the writer and the reader. I don't think I was looking too deep. What I covered to me is the basics of game design. But, I appreciate the feedback nonetheless. I agree with you that splitscreen was an important Halo feature from a social perspective. Thankfully 343i has confirmed it will be in the next Halo title. I have to disagree in regards to the REQ system though. While everything is earnable through playing, the issue is that people can just burn through their wallet and just buy everything instead. It's a pay-to-win system that, while isolated to one game mode, still hurts the experience and takes away from Warzone as a new mode in the series.
  • I was going to buy a Xbox One and Halo 5 because my boys love playing split-screen.   After I found out that it was gone, I left it on the shelf.  I I'm certianly not going to buy 4 xbox ones and 4 copies of the game so we can play!   The cloud/live is no place for my kids, shame on Microsoft for trying to funnel everyone in that direction intitialy.  Finding out that its a buggy title doesn't help.
  • If those are your reasons then you clearly aren't someone who likes the franchise. Split screen was dumped because so few ppl used it, well under 5%.  and you don't need to make ANY in-app purchases at all.
  • I'm sorry but the Halo 5 gameplay is close to perfect. Adding sprint AND dodge was really clever to maintain all the players with the same abilities. The problem with Halo 4 and Reach was the spartan special abilities especially the jetpacks and shells that were really disgusting and closer to a COD or Titanfall gameplay
  • I would argue that Halo 5 is more like Titanfall than any other Halo. And while H5 may play well with advanced movement, I think that the Halo fanbase wants a return to roots.
  • Well I'm from the Halo "Fan-base" as you say, and since Halo 1 FPS have evolved a lot. Nowadays you can't find slow FPS without sprint for example. And sorry, Halo Reach and 4 are exactly like titanfall, with weird abilities depending the type of spartan you choose. Halo 5 is pure, exactly like Halo 1 and 2 were.
  • I'm not saying you aren't part of the fanbase. I'm only stating that I feel the majority want a return to roots based on game sales, everywhere I've looked in the community for feedback, etc. I myself tend to enjoy H5, but I 100% then majority of people would rather have a classic style Halo
  • single player matters.
  • Yes...yes it does. High five, campaign bro!
  • Yep.  Its the reason I LOVE titanfall 2 so damn much.
  • Halo 2 is still my favorite by far. Halo 3 annoyed me to no end because they subtly changed the control schemes on me and I could never quite get used to it. Stupid reason to not like it I know but because of that Halo 2 is my favorite. I actually like Halo 5 but I agree that it could've been way better.
  • I personally like Halo 5 too, but it's clear that the majority of fans want a return to roots. And Halo 2 is my favorite as well! The campaign was phenomenal
  • Yeah I loved Combat Evolved as well lf course but it just felt a little slower compared to Halo 2.
  • I don't care about the 'majority of fans'. It has to bring new people to the game. At the era of 60fps it HAS to be faster and it needs more mobility (most games follow this paradigm now sucessfully) in the core movements. I so much like the thrusters and indeed their constant presence. Losing them makes the game so much more 'basic'. But I agree with you on the squad size: 2 teams of 4 is too many characters to really get a feeling of. Halo 4 had such a good personal feeling - getting read of the soldiers running around you actually helped. I think they have to look at Gears 4 formula and expand a bit on it: optimise for 2 players +1 AI, and be decent for 1 player or 3 players. 2 players is the magic number in halo: manageable to organise, and more fun than 1 player. 
    So 3 main characters should be enough (plus a few well written NPCs. I really like Cortana and her creator). I think the most divisive change was the different respawning mechanic: they need to flesh it out more to get the nice 'buddy' feeling of Gears. At least crawl to cover while down, it makes it more interesting and avoids having the whole team of AIs dying as they're trying to heal each other. With a good implementation it  makes way more sense than the old 'I run back to make my buddy-who is identical with me - reappear'. But I seriously have no complains about multiplayer. It's a-ma-zing. It's the only multiplayer shooter that makes me come back to it.
  • Halo 6 must and most likely will have a VR mode.
  • That would be interesting, but I'm not sure if they would do it. The gameplay seems like it would be difficult to do well with VR
  • Nah, I disagree.  It would make an excellent VR title.  My prodiction is that Halo 6s VR mode will be the showcase for XBOX VR at E3 2018.
  • I would be interested to see it, but with how headshot-centric Halo is I think it would be heavily disadvantageous to use VR in-game. Especially with how "jittery" a lot of VR controls are. But we'll see!
  • "One question many ask is, what caused the decline in the first place?" Biggest reason? The massive disruptor that was Call of Duty 4. That game single-handedly created a new standard in how FPS's would operate from then-on. 343 was tempted to copy their formula (and you saw hints in Halo 4), but they wisely stepped back from that in Halo 5. I think the series has always been great, but the competition has never been fiercer. Halo 1 and 2 (and most of 3) had free-reign in the multiplayer console space. Once Infinity Ward cracked open those RPG elements in CoD, Halo has never been able to get back on top (not to mention it's console-exclusive, meaning it will never hit the total potential audience of CoD).
  • But Halo 3 competed with and surpassed even CoD 4 many times. Even when the competition is fierce, Halo's classic formula holds up.
  • What you talked about with the Core mechanics is the main point of a video that Fayvn created a week or so ago. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yz9GA6oTWTY
  • Yes! Favyn is someone who I agree with on many topics, this being one of them :)
  • It has to include local couch co-op. That is really what defined Halo and some dumba$$ stupid developer thought "nah, we don't need that, just hardcore gamers". I will not buy Halo 6 if this feature is missing, they fooled me once with Halo 5 promising to have it and then removing it at the last minute. Not this time. I'm not really expecting much from 343, I supported them when Bungie left, but not any more.
  • Perhaps having all the Halo games NOT available on PC after Halo 2 has a small effect, too? There are people like myself that have a PC and like to play a video game now and then but are not hardcore, serious gamers and don't want to have a separate gaming device. I loved Halo 1 and Halo 2, but have never been able to play any other Halo games after Halo 2 because none of the other games afterward were available to play on PC. I understand the reason why it wasn't available on PC, but I think that did make a difference, even if it was minimal. I still don't know what happened after the cliff-hanger ending of Halo 2!  :-O  
  • we never "finished the fight" on halo 2., then all of a sudden the story became a jumbled up aliens vs aliens vs earth.  we just wanted to save our world from aliens, then it became halo rings and guardians. i dont even know whats going on in the story.  all i know is tho is that Locke should be the new Hero.  Retire Chief and reformat that demented Cortana.
  • It was always about the rings and the flood. Earth as it happened turned out to have a control centre built by the Prometheans a long time ago. So the universe itself and the story hasn't actually changed. The first trilogy is called the reclaimer trilogy. It was about the Prophets putting together a covenant to activate the rings they believed would lead the to salvation. But the rings are actually a weapon built by the Prometheans to destroy all life in the universe which was the only way to eradicate the parasitic lifeforms The Flood. The new Trilogy focuses on the aftermath of the remnants of the Covenant, Humans and now the Prometheans have returned. But alongside that is the Story of Cortana choosing a path an AI believes is the best option to help all life. She got rampancy after 7 years in service where an AI begins to deteriate. I really love the Story. I can appreciate some of the Storytelling in Halo 5 can be hard to follow. Especially without no outside knowledge of the lore. And this can and should be addresses to feel more cohesive. But as far as the actual story in 5 is, i really like it. Love the twist with Cortana and look forward to seeing where the Promethean line takes us.
  • "So, activate your energy swords, prime your plasma grenades, and load your battle rifles. " That. That right there is why i dont play Halo anymore. Be honest, how lame does that sound?? It was fun/cool when i was 15, but I'm 32 now...give me a realistic shooter with blood effects and stuff. People get sick of the futuristic crap; we all have thoroughly experienced it since childhood in the form of movies, books, video games, etc. That's why all the futuristic CODs and Battlefields always do worse than their old school or modern era entries. Realistic shooters is where it is at. Or even semi realistic...which Halo still is not ..
  • COD and Battlefield aren't realistic and to be honest its the rehashing of constant samey war games that is the exact reason i don't buy Cod or Battlefield.
  • I dont buy COD or Battlefield either, tom Clancy's rainbow 6 seige is my go to shooter. I'm simply stating that COD/BF sales/reviews always take a dip when they go all futuristic and i dont think it's pure coincidence....
  • Ok i understand that. But one could argue Halo sales aren't in decline. Halo 4 sold the same as Reach 9 million. The inly Halo game that beats 4 is 3 saleswise. And 5 has over 5 million retail. Not including digital, which it is the best selling game on Xbox Live ever. So easily sits over 7 million currently. And will end up around the 9 million mark like the previous 2 games.
  • I doubt it, given it's weak popularity as of right now. Halo 4 may have outsold Halo 2, but Halo 2 held onto its players MUCH longer than 4 did. 4 was a dead game within a year and a half. And Halo 5 isn't exactly healthily populated either right now.
  • I explain to your other post about population of online games in todays market as opposed to the days where Halo 2/3 were the only amazing online shooters for console at that time. The fact that Halos sales after 3 have remained constant ( launches aligned Halo 5 is currently outselling Reach ) show people still love it.
  • Ummm, wasn't just about every major release of halo bundled with the console? That would skew the sales figures a bit, but Brendan's point, lack of ongoing user engagement is definitely and indicator to the games performance aside from initial reviews upon release..
  • Still difficult to guage against Halo 3. Because halo 3 was the only community driven great fps online game for console at release. Cod battlefield etc came later in the gen. Today, no multiplayer game on Live holds 300k week in week out. Games like Battlefield, COD weekly have 20-30k at times as well. There's far far more choice in todays gaming with many online fps titles, mobas, mmos, shared worlds etc on console. Where their wasn't when Halo 3 hit in 2007. Halo 5 is considered by many the best multiplayer halo ever. Admittedly 4 wasn't good multi. But was amazing campaign wise. But as i said the sales show the series is still bought. And yes every first party game in history from Sony, Nintendo and MS that posts big numbers gets heavily bundled. Halo, Gran Turismo, Uncharted, God Of War, Gears etc etc.
  • Dude Halo 2 was a different era...there were less games to choose from..now you have COD/BF releasing every year..to name a few. 
  • Halo isn't in decline. Halo 4 sold more than Halo CE, Halo 2 and equals Reach. Only beaten by Halo 3. Halo 5 is over 5 million copies retail. Not including any digital sales. Of which its the best ever selling Xbox Live digital game. So Halo 5 is easily over 7 million sold including digital. Less than 2 years after launch. Over the course of the next couple of years Halo 5 will easily reach the 9 million figure that Reach and Halo 4 achieved no problem.
  • Agreed.  Halo is still one of the biggest and most popular franchies in gaming.
  • Halo 4 did indeed sell more than 2. However when I said "decaying game sales" I meant following Halo 3. Also Halo 2 and Halo 3 held onto players for MUCH longer, an issue that all of the post H3 games have had, especially Halo 4. Halo 4's popularity lifespan barely crawled over the 1 year anniversary, while Halo 2 continued to be a popular game from 2004 all the way up until the servers being shut down in 2010, and Halo 3 remarkably sees a few thousand players 10 years later. Halo 5 may have good monthly player retention, but that doesn't mean anything in my opinion. Players logging in every month to play a few dozen games and ranking and then stopping isn't a healthy form of retention. Halo 5's position on the Xbox Games Chart indicates a population ranging from 15-25k daily. For Xbox's flagship FPS, only a year and a half post launch, that's pretty rough. Meanwhile both Halo 2 and Halo 3 had hundreds of thousands playing after that timespan.
  • Halo 3 was an odd one. Sales wise. It was the first major Online game for consoles since halo 2. And really paved the way for COD 4 and others. It was literally the only FPS played online with a community in that generation at that point. So literally every FPS fan of online multiplayer bought that game. I would argue that the sales post Halo 3 show a consistant 9 million+. That actually shows Halo has a large player base that continues to purchase each iteration. The difference nowadays is there are ALOT of multiplayer games out there. And literally none of them hold 300k a week like Halo 3. Due to the volume of choice. Referring to Live here. Not combined PSN, Live, Steam games etc online numbers. Halo 5s multiplayer is considered by many fans of Halo as the absolute return to form. With some even saying its the best one. My point is their isn't a decline in sales. 3 was the odd one out as I mentioned why above. And when you have a large fanbase many will differ on which one they prefer for story. I know alot of fans think 4 was the best campaign. Then others prefer 3. Many also prefer any of the others. It's like Star Wars. Many differ on their faveourite one.
  • You're unfair here, forgetting the competition. FPS competition is stronger nowadays AND Xbox is clearly behind in console wars. It's easy to look at the tree (the game) and forget about in how big and how competitive a market it operates in.
  • I just played through Halo 5 this past week and wrapped up on Saturday.  I didn't have many issues with the game.  The story was the weakest part, I'm also not a fan of having Cortana being the villian. 
  • I agree that the story was the weakest part of 5. As a lore junkie I was super disappointed lol
  • The one thing I did not like about Halo 5 was the forge. I tried switching the controls back to what they were in previous games, but the ui was just too confusing. I gave up on making maps after the first week, but it was the one thing I was most excited about. I spent days in Reach's forge and less in Halo 4's, but still a lot. Reading up on all the changes they were doing for Halo 5's forge got me really hyped and I was really bummed when I got to play it.
    I'm hoping Halo 6 can let you choose to go back to the basic forge mode like in Reach or Halo 4, instead of the confusing mess it is currently, otherwise I'll probably just skip buying it all together...
  • Surprised to see Forge as a negative. As far as I'm aware it's almost loved universally. But, I can see what you mean. Personally I learned the new controls in 30 minutes and I don't ever want to go back as I feel theyre MUCH more intuitive. But if you have trouble adjusting to new control schemes I can understand your issue
  • It was always about the rings and the flood. Earth as it happened turned out to have a control centre built by the Prometheans a long time ago. So the universe itself and the story hasn't actually changed. The first trilogy is called the reclaimer trilogy. It was about the Prophets putting together a covenant to activate the rings they believed would lead the to salvation. But the rings are actually a weapon built by the Prometheans to destroy all life in the universe which was the only way to eradicate the parasitic lifeforms The Flood. The new Trilogy focuses on the aftermath of the remnants of the Covenant, Humans and now the Prometheans have returned. But alongside that is the Story of Cortana choosing a path an AI believes is the best option to help all life. She got rampancy after 7 years in service where an AI begins to deteriate. I really love the Story. I can appreciate some of the Storytelling in Halo 5 can be hard to follow. Especially without no outside knowledge of the lore. And this can and should be addresses to feel more cohesive. But as far as the actual story in 5 is, i really like it. Love the twist with Cortana and look forward to seeing where the Promethean line takes us
  • I'm shocked that you didn't mention split screen and multiplayer capabilities.  Part of what has made Halo, Halo for over the past decade has been that you can have a bunch of buddies over and play Halo together on one xbox and one tv.  Now you have to play either on separate consoles/tv's in the same house or play with your friends online instead.  I can deal with a mediocre game, I thought Halo 4/5 were both mediocre at best, but I can't deal with no split screen capabilities and 343 tarnishing the reputation that the Halo franchise has had from the beginning.  I think the lack of split screen capabilities, the at best lame storyline and glitches were the things that killed the latest installment.  It's especially frustrating because of all the hype that they did promoting it before it was released.  All of the ONI stories and the investigator dude, even the Halo Nightfall that was absolutely terrible and with graphics that were worse than terrible.  It made me get pretty excited for the 343 comeback after a lame excuse for a game that was Halo 4.   I don't have an issue with multiple main characters or even a group of main characters... In Halo 2 and 3 you played as both the Master Chief and Arbiter and in Halo Reach you played as part of Noble team.  I loved Halo 2 and 3 and thought Halo Reach, as depressing as it was and without even having the MC in it, was still quite well done.  I don't think the "having too many main characters" part was what bombed this game.  It was the storyline and playing as Locke, which had little excitement to add to the story.  It was like 343 just wanted to throw another game out there and didn't care what pile of you know what that they produced.  Also, the prometheans I think are just boring.  Halo 4 and 5 are the only Halo games that I haven't played the campaign multiple times.  They were a one and done type of thing.  I mean c'mon, I even played Halo ODST more than once.  343 needs to go back to making it more like classic Halo.  I think they should figure out a way to bring back the flood... as much as I hated playing against them at the time, they make for a great storyline and can be quite difficult to play against. Lastly, when you release a game that isn't ready, aka full of bugs, you're going to piss off a few fans.  Halo 5 was riddled with bugs at the launch and they had to make multiple patches and what have you just to make it playable.  Everything from glitches to not being able to join a match for sometimes close to an hour made players look to other games to play instead.  I'd say it was definitely the game with the most glitches and bugs at launch out of the whole series.  And what boggles my mind is that they had years to polish the game up and make it bug free.   343 needs to do some serious changes to the next game or I think they will be finished and whatever long term fans are left will move on to other games.  Or at least the few that are left will do so
  • As I said in the article, I will be covering things like that in the next piece.
  • For me Halo = Master Chief adventures!
  • Halo 5 has near perfect shootibg mechanics. But a few things take away the fun that made the older Halos fun. The stupidly horrible sandbox and physics in Halo 3 made the game so much fun to play! You had so many minigames and glitches to exploit. And punching a brute to see him fly 100 feet, and hear "he was my lover" from another brute nearby was just perfect. Now it's more "kid friendly", theres very little blood in campaign, and next to none in multiplayer, nothing makes jokes, bodies respawn the second they die. I think they should return to their roots on those things, and keep the shooting fast and modern
  • By the way, someone who i feel illustrates my feelings on gameplay well is the Halo YouTuber Favyn. Check out this video - he really goes super in-depth on the topic and breaks it down more than I could the blog post format: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yz9GA6oTWTY
  • Halo 5 has the best of all Halo multiplayer imo (although Im not a fan of seasonal rankings). I understand the importance of a good campaign but its the multiplayer that keeps the game relevant.  I only play a campaign once (although I will play through it again in 4k when I get my xb1x).
  • I think the core gameplay had needed a facelift for some time. Halo 5 was a breath of fresh air IMHO. The story, well, needs work. I loved the dichotomy of Master Chief and Locke. but the story needed more exposition in clever ways, not just in the between level cut scenes. i really did nt absorb much new infor while playing, just during cur scenes. Loved the squads though. they should keep that going forward.
  • The other irony about people bashing 343i is that all the important people from Bungie left Bungie and stayed making Halo at 343i. 343i is more Bungie than Bungie is. Ironically. Yet media and people always love to bash MS first party. If MS made The Last Of Us it would have for 80 meta definite.
  • I haven't seen any performance issue. I don't think it's the lack of polish - Battlefield One had way more performance dips and it's still very succesful. I agree that modularity is improtant (and Warzone actually achieved that pretty well).  The model and value proposition of Halo 5 is amazing. I think most of the negativity was due to the campaign which suffered from indeed a convoluted story, strange way to show the lore (Halo Wars 2 lore entries were more meaningful) and the lack of co-op. Multi is just great. Just bring it to PC, bring cross-play coop and you'll see how it will fly. With all the content of Halo 5 (even some of the best community maps) easily technically translatable to Halo 6 it'll be a walk in the park.
  • Removing sprinting and other game mechanics which make the game feel up to date would also be extremely dumb. I can't stand playing Halo, 2  or 3 anymore because of this very same reason. Tititles like Titanfall and Battlefield have set the bar quite high. Going back to basics as some claim won't do anything but alienate more players. I think the improvements need to come way of story and performance.
  • I don't see why they should remove sprinting as well..Master Chief is a super soldier..sprinting is a must...
  • Sprinting is actually the feature I miss the most in the first 3 Halos. Traversing those environments without sprinting - what a pain. On the other hand I agree that charge is not adding anything meaningful and ground pound while it's amazing it's one click to complex to pull off.
  • In order for the next Halo to be successful it should be handled thus: Halo 6 needs to be released as "Halo Six". The 'i' in "Six" needs to be replaced with an 'e'. There needs to be VR support, both Oculus & Vive on PC. There needs to be VR support for Xbox One X. There needs to be lots of Cortana*. I mean LOTS. This must be a Rated Adult/18+ game and "experience". If you know what I mean. (See 2/3/4/5) (*)-or a 'Master Chief" or 'hunky/foxy marine' if that floats your boat. This folks, is the future of entertainment.
  • Halo 5 is and was super polished.
  • The bugs were inconsistent. I personally rarely experience any, yet many of my friends run into problems daily. And judging by what I've seen, Halo 5 can be very bug-ridden for many people.
  • I don't understand how. I've played it both from internal and external ssd, no issues. Performance wise it's one of the best stable 60fps we've ever seen, even though it has to drop the resolution and details to achieve this. I don't know what people are complaining about.