Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Taking a hard look at the Halo 4 preview

Anyone who's seen the preview trailer for Halo: 4 (link), will know that the Battle Rifle (BR) is making a much deserved return in the next game in the series. Not everyone will have noticed that the skilled player's weapon of choice also signifies the return of a fixed reticle.

This move will be seen as welcome by and large by the community, and rightly so. The only purpose which bloom served was to slow down individual battles, giving the inferior player a second chance. However many players will have been expecting this, as when 343i took over the reigns of Reach multiplayer, one of their first choices was to add the ability to tweak (or remove) bloom from all weapons.

Another detail in the preview was a short clip of multiplayer gameplay from first person view. It seems that Halo 4 will feature 3 types of grenades; most likely frags, stickies and a new variant. I hope this new grenade type has a distinctive purpose, like the spike grenade in Halo 3. It also appears that the health system has been changed back to shields only. I feel this is a crucial improvement as players can now engage in 1v1 battles in the knowledge they are on level ground.

The player model in Halo 4 is a Spartan. Not the mechanically disabled blob in Reach, which never learned how to jump. Now by pure speculation it looks like the jump height has been raised, and movement acceleration means that we could see the return of strafing. These key gameplay mechanics mean that there could be a revival of competitive Halo. Of course the game still features on the MLG pro circuit, but low team sign-ups and a lack of interest make its future there uncertain.

The most noticeable thing in the trailer was its lack of info. More specifically any details regarding the ranking system. Now I'm all for rewarding players, but only those who deserve it. The credits system in Reach annoyed me greatly, as it allowed for any player to progress through the ranks regardless of their ability or level of skill. Halo 4 needs to bring back some type of ranking system that rewards the good players, not the bad.

How can that be done? Well the answer is as clear now, as it was when Halo 2 was released; winner takes all. That is to say, the only way to improve rank should be through winning. There are those that argue an individual performance should be rewarded, but what is the point of performing well yourself if it doesn't lead to a team victory? Essentially Halo is a team game, and while it's nice to get a good K/D, it's no substitute for working together for a common goal.

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