Recently, following 343 Industries' showcase of the Monarch armor coating, the Halo developer wrote a blog post that (in addition to teasing the Red Shift armor coating) contained an explanation about how Halo Infinite's coating customization system will work in detail. Specifically, coatings were defined as special shaders that change the color, material, and/or pattern of an armor piece, weapon, or vehicle. Considering the fact that material and pattern customizations haven't been options in Halo before, this initially got people excited.
343 Industries then confirmed these coatings are replacing the primary and secondary color system that has traditionally always been in the Halo games. This means players can't freely pick what colors their armor has; instead, you'll have to pick from the color combinations that are available in the coatings you unlock. Most fans (myself included) are not happy about this change. Here's why, and also some suggestions on how the coating system could be made better.
The problems with Halo Infinite coatings
Ultimately, the community's biggest problem with the coating system is that because color preferences are such a uniquely specific thing to each individual player, it's highly unlikely that there will be enough coatings in the game to give every player the type of color combination they want. I expect there will be coatings for common color combos like black and red or gray and green, but what about weird ones like brown and orange? If you think that would look ugly, I would agree with you, but that's not the point. People should have the choice and freedom to use that combination right out of the gate just like you could in all previous Halo games, rather than be forced to hope the developers make a coating that suits their very specific taste.
The second concern I and many others have with the coating system is that it looks like you won't be able to use the colors of a specific coating without using the armor material and pattern of that coating as well. So, for example, let's say that the brown and orange coating is in the game after all. However, to use those colors, you'll also have to make your armor look worn down and chipped — and you want your armor to look normal. In this situation, you'd forced to choose between the colors you want or the armor texture you want.
Considering the point of Halo's customization system is to allow players to make their Spartan look the way they want, this "one or the other" situation would be terrible. Colors should not be tied to the other things coatings change, as this limits a player's options and forces them to make annoying compromises.
How could the coating system be improved?
In terms of how the coating system could be improved upon, I think a compromise would be to separate color options from coatings entirely, at least for armor. This way, players will be able to choose the colors they want freely like they could in previous Halo games. Additionally, this change would allow for people to come up with more creative combinations, since you'd be able to use different types of colors with each texture and pattern, which are currently locked to one color scheme.
If the developers aren't willing to budge on coatings affecting color, than I think it would be ideal for the coating colors to at least be separate from a player's main colors. Maybe a coating could give your armor white accents on the plates, for instance, so players retain the freedom to choose their main colors while the developers can still incorporate color into coating designs in interesting ways.
What do you think of the coating system coming to Halo Infinite? Do you agree with me and the wider Halo community that the removal of the traditional color system isn't a healthy change? Let me know.
Halo Infinite is currently expected to release in 2021 on the Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One family of consoles, and on WIndows 10 PCs. While you wait, we highly recommend checking out the Master Chief Collection.
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