If you like the Halo 2 Anniversary Elites, I just ask that you please go into this with an open mind.
As someone who is not a fan of the Halo 4/5 Sangheili, not particularly fond of the Halo Reach Sangheili and cannot stand the H2A/HW2 Sangheili, I'd love to see a new design inspired by the classic Sangheili that appear in Halo's 1, 2 and 3. Here's a little summary of the appearances of the Elites across the games that may enlighten you as to why I'd like to see something new but classic inspired: (Click on the blue links to see some examples as you read)Halo CE - In Halo CE, the Elites have a simple, elegant, lean (slender but strong) design. They are clearly inspired by the Xenomorphs from the Alien franchise with their extra long skulls and necks as well as the Yautja from the Predator franchise with their split mouths/jaws. Their armour is sleek and colourful, but also pointed with 'fins' on their helmets, elbows and knees. Overall, they have an eel-like, shark-like appearance to match the rest of their ships, weapons and technology.
Halo 2 - The Sangheili change very little from Halo CE to Halo 2. With extra polygons, their shape is now more defined. The squid-like form of their heads, particularly the smoothness of the way their mandibles seamlessly split off from the sides of their heads, can now be more easily noticed. Two armour types have been discarded while four have been introduced, but overall, they still retain their sleek shark-like design.
Halo 3 - Their armour has a lot more detail to it and seems to be thicker without drastically changing the silhouette of the Elites. For the most part, they look, move and feel the same way as they did in Halo 2. On top of their more detailed standard combat harnesses, more armour has been introduced such as the Assault variant and plenty more multiplayer additions.
Halo Reach - Reach introduced the first major change to the Sangheili design. They now stand straighter and no longer have the rippled, fish scale texture beneath their armour. It has been replaced by rubbery undersuits. Their skulls are slightly shorter and don't meld into their mandibles in quite the same was as they did in Halos 1, 2 and 3, and there are far more variations of their armour. Overall, they still have the shark-like design to them, but it's much less obvious as they are far bulkier and with way more pieces to their armour than before. Their eyes have moved slightly closer to the front.
Halo 4 / 5 - Here the Sangheili armour changes again. It's equally as drastic as Reach's changes with around the same amount of armour variations. The default combat harness no longer comes with the classic 'fins' as before, which gives them a very different look. While their skulls are still long like classic Elites, they now have a dip in the middle and bumps/thorns along the sides. Their mandibles are very detached from their faces and start from a different position on their heads. For the first time, they physically move very differently from classic Sangheili. Their eyes have moved further closer to the front. Their hands are more claw-like. Overall, they retain some of their classic shark-like design, but lose much of it and feel a little more monstrous.
Halo 2 Anniversary - These Elites get a lot of praise in spite of the fact that they are arguably the most different from classic Sangheili. Their skulls are much shorter than any Sangheili ever seen in the games before this point. Their craniums are now clearly more inspired by Earth's snakes rather than sharks or xenomorphs. The front of their faces are quite flat with their eyes retaining their Halo 4/5 position at the front rather than sides. Their mandibles are very detached from their faces making them look much more 'clicky' and vastly different from Sangheili in Halos 1, 2 and 3. Their hands are claw-like, almost as much as the Halo 4/5 Elites. Their helmets are rounded and tilted downwards at the back rather than pointed upwards at the back as they've always been before. While their armour is still sleek-looking, overall, they look nothing like their classic shark-like selves from Halos 1, 2 and 3. They've gone from shark-like to saurian, a trait that used to belong exclusively to the Kig-Yar.
Halo 2 Thel 'Vadamee
If 343i are working hard to make Halo feel like Halo again then we need to return to the classic look and feel of the original Sangheili, not these lizard-beast hybrids that have appeared since.
This image linked by JadeDragoon136 perfectly conveys what I was saying about head shape. The Halo Trilogy Elites have consistently strong, well-defined and elongated skulls with mandibles that perfectly meld into their face. Whereas the H2A Elite head has a much flatter and shortened skull with mandibles placed in a very forward and lowered position, making them look more 'clicky'. The H2A eyes are further forward and higher up as well.
Elite VariationsSHAMELESS PLUG
Check out my in-progess Halo 2-3 Novelisation!I've kept both Halo 2 and Halo 2 Anniversary in mind when writing the descriptions, but I think it's obvious which design of the Elites I went with...
The reason people like the Halo 2 anniversary elites so much is because it was the first semi classic design in years. It was, like you said, different, but it held some of the classic look, opposed to the more "brutish" 343 design.
As for me, there is no design I do not like. Every design is different. If they were to make every species design exactly the same, the Halo series would be quite bland in my opinion. I look forward to new halo games not just because of story and multiplayer. No, I also look forward to seeing different varieties and subspecies of aliens, weapons, vehicles, and armor.
My favorite design though, happens to be the Halo 2 anniversary design. It carried the same type of scales the halo 4 elites had, and put their mandibles back to a more classic look. Beginning below the eyes and not behind. They also were much more slim, but still looked incredibly strong. Their voice was not rough or scratchy, like a brutes voice, it was deep, yet noble and elegant.
In conclusion, every elite design are not bad, just different. Each one having different strengths and weaknesses. If you happen to disagree with me, that's fine. Everyone's opinion matters. I said it before, and I'll say it again. I love every Sangheili design. From Halo CE, to Halo infinite.