What 343i needs to fix in Halo 6: Art, game features, user interface, and business model

Halo 5: Guardians

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

The latest main entry into the Halo franchise, Halo 5, is a game that has capitalized and expanded on many changes made to the Halo formula since Halo 3.

Some of us like these changes and some strongly hate them, but one thing that's certain is that Halo isn't the titan of the gaming industry it once was 10 years ago. And while you could argue that Halo is on the decline due to the series' age and/or its increasing competition in the market, industry staples like Zelda, Call of Duty, and Mario all continue to drive considerable amounts of hype and interest irrespective of their age.

Halo 5 remains a popular entry in the series, over all, but with a bit of TLC, Halo 6 could take the franchise back to its glory days.

I began to outline in a previous article how I believe Halo's overall declining success in the industry can be attributed to the radical changes in its designs and formulas. I'm not against change or evolution, but I do think that the changes that have been made push Halo beyond what made the franchise appealing in the first place.

In the previous article on this topic, I talked about gameplay mechanics, story deliverance, and polish. This time, we're going to talk about art and design, game features, user interface, and the controversial REQ pack business model.

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

Without further ado, lets grab an overshield, hop in a Warthog and drive head-first into the fray.

Art and design: maintain Halo's timeless look

A hot topic in the Halo community lately is the changes made to the art style of Halo, and with good reason; almost everything in the series has received a new form of visual appearance.

Halo's designs can be altered, but should not be majorly changed in a way that radically goes against the established look of the series.

From the Spartans we control to the Grunts we headshot, everything has been given a fresh coat of paint, so to speak. However, I feel that a lot of these design changes have been too over the top. The Covenant in particular (both the phenotypes of the alien species, and the armor they wear) have been changed in a way that I think goes against what themes they have in the universe.

Take the Elites, for example — in the lore and in the original games, the Elites are fit, fast, cunning, and tactical. So, moving forward, their design should, in my opinion, reflect that. Unfortunately, the changes made to them in Halo 4 and Halo 5, to me, go against that entirely. The Elites in the latest Halo games have been much more heavyset, and in addition, their armor looks much bulkier. It makes them look very sluggish, not unlike another classic Halo enemy, Brutes. This look is a far cry from what the Elites were previously established as during the original trilogy, and this is why I think the latest art changes should be reeled in and replaced with new designs that maintain continuity of themes and appearance between games.

An example of a good design change 343i has done is the Halo 4 Forerunner architecture. While it manages to look fresh and new due to different colors, shading, and shapes, it still retains much of the old Forerunner feel of an ancient, mysterious race. Not all of the changes are negative, but I do feel that a good amount of them are, and in general I think the series will severely benefit from some new designs that take heavy inspiration from the original, iconic look of Halo.

Game features: a complete game at launch

One big and undeniable issue with Halo 5 was that it launched very bare-bones. Sporting only eight playlists at launch, as well as no Forge mode, Halo 5 simply did not have a particularly large amount of content at launch — and that's a huge problem.

Without a good supply of content at launch, a game will not have the longevity that it could.

If the game doesn't have a healthy variety of things to do, then people will get bored of it quickly, especially when other content rich games are available. Sure, 343 did add new things every month, but it was content that was already there at launch in Halo 3, Reach, and 4. It was things that should have been in the game to start with.

Whether or not this happened due to time constraints or development hiccups, we'll never know, but I wholeheartedly think that Halo 6 will retain its player base much longer than Halo 5 if it launches as a complete game with a wider variety of content.

User interface: the smoother, the better

Halo 5's user interface floods the user with images and text in mere seconds, and I think that's a bigger problem then most people give it credit for. When you go to choose an armor or helmet in Halo 5, you have to scroll through dozens of items to find the one you're looking for. And instead of compiling everything into a list that displays things one at a time, it displays as many things as possible.

This is even more troublesome when you take into account that Halo 5 doesn't organize any of its UI items (like the aforementioned customization armors) in any specific way. You can't find things alphabetically, by rarity, or by any other means of categorization. This is a staple that has been present in user interfaces for years now, and I don't think there's any justifiable reason why Halo 5's UI is this sloppy. It makes the game feel like a chore to navigate, when instead it should be easy, simple, and relaxing. While the UI may seem like a minor problem, I'm of the belief that making your game as easy to navigate as possible will do wonders for improving the experience players have with your game.

REQ pack business model: make it easier for players to get what they want

Perhaps the most controversial addition to Halo has been Halo 5's REQ system. While I would prefer if Halo didn't have microtransactions at all, I doubt that, after how much money they've brought in for Microsoft and 343i, they would get rid of them. So instead, I've come up with a way to improve the system.

By reducing the amount of randomness in the system, players can get the REQs that they want faster and easier.

Essentially, the problem with the REQ system is that it's too much of a grind. Since armor, skins, weapons, vehicles, emblems, and power-ups are all tied to the REQ system, players who want to get any one type of thing often times fall victim to the random number generator. For example, many players weren't even able to get the standard loadout DMR gun in a year's worth of game time due to the REQ packs they bought never giving them one.

My solution for this issue is to make it so that you can buy REQ packs for specific items. Instead of cramming every aspect of Halo's customization and sandbox into one pack, there should be weapon packs, vehicle packs, armor packs, etc. This would work because having packs that only give one type of thing would significantly reduce the randomness and make it so that players can get what they want.

People who play Halo 5's Arena mode and want the latest skin could buy skin packs for a very good chance at getting it, while Warzone players who like using power-ups could buy a power-up pack and have a high probability of getting their desired item. I believe that if this kind of improvement is made to the REQ system in Halo 6, then it will be much more player friendly and will improve everyone's experience with REQs tenfold.

Your thoughts

Do you agree with what I've said here about Halo 5 and how Halo 6 can improve upon these problems? Let me know how you feel down below in the comments. In addition, if you haven't picked Halo 5 up, consider doing so to get a more hands-on opinion!

Brendan Lowry

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.