Halo Infinite's Multiplayer- To Sprint or Not to Sprint?
**Disclaimer** - This is a long, opinionated post. Please bear with me if you so choose.
It is no secret that there is a huge divide within the Halo community with regard to whether the sprint mechanic belongs in Halo or not. There is the crowd of veteran fans who prefer the classic style gameplay (i.e. Halo CE, 2, & 3), and there is also the crowd of newer fans who prefer the modern style gameplay (i.e. Halo Reach, 4, & 5 Guardians) which consists of sprint and other enhanced mobility features like slide, clamber, thruster and jet packs, etc. This is clearly a major generalization of the different kinds of Halo fans, but for the sake of this premise, let's continue with this two-fold categorization in mind.
As someone who has been a die-hard Halo fan since 2005, and has extensively played every single Halo game ever released on all three Xbox generation consoles, I have put a great deal of thought and consideration into this solution. In my opinion, it would be within 343 Industries' best interest to cater to both crowds of fans within Halo Infinite's multiplayer as best as they can. Simply choosing to focus on one of the crowd's preferences while alienating the other's will only continue to divide the Halo community further apart. This is how I would structure Halo Infinite's multiplayer in terms of the style of gameplay(s) that would satisfy both the veteran and newer fans of the franchise:
In a nutshell, I would take both of Halo 5's matchmaking modes (Arena & Warzone) and dedicate the Arena mode to classic style gameplay, while also dedicating the Warzone mode to modern style gameplay within Halo Infinite right at the launch of the game. The Custom Games and Forge modes can be the bridge between both of those gameplay styles outside of matchmaking.
This is the best solution I can think of to keep both crowds happy and maintain high player population counts well into the lifespan of Halo Infinite. Let me explain my reasoning behind this idea:
Modern style gameplay does not work in the Arena mode for three, deal-breaking reasons:
First - Sprint and other enhanced mobility features compromise the "Golden Triangle" formula, an integral part of Halo's core identity since the first game. The Golden Triangle (which stands for guns, grenades, and melee), means that your character has the ability to shoot a weapon, throw a grenade, and use the melee attack at any point within a match. There are minor exceptions to this formula, such as duel wielding weapons, boarding / getting into vehicles, and using detachable turrets. However, all of these exceptions are strictly optional features that are not bound to your character's base mechanics. On the other hand, sprint and the other enhanced mobility features are animations that are always tied to your character as soon as you spawn into a match, whether as an armor ability (Halo Reach), spartan ability (Halo 5 Guardians), or a mixture of the two (Halo 4). These animations do grant you faster movement speeds, but at the expense of inhibiting your ability to attack enemy players while the animations are in effect.
Second - The gameplay's base mechanics need to accommodate the map's sandbox designs, and vice versa. For example, Halo 3's "Guardian" (Arena map) is too small to allow for sprint to be used, and Halo 5 Guardians' "Raid on Apex 7" (Warzone map) is too large to not allow for sprint to be used. Enabling sprint on the Guardian map would completely ruin the map's spawning system, and disabling sprint on the Raid on Apex 7 map would force players to traverse long distances at a painstakingly slower pace. To play devil's advocate for a second, Halo 5 Guardians' "Truth" (Arena map) does re-imagine Halo 2's "Midship" map where the former is built more to scale to allow for sprint. However, this alternative still does not work because of the first reason where the Golden Triangle formula is still compromised. Now, Forge maps created by both the developers and the community can absolutely be designed to allow for sprint and the other enhanced mobility features. However, this should occur only long after Halo Infinite has been released so as to not confuse people regarding which features belong to which playlists. There needs to be a "clear line drawn in the sand" (in this case between the Arena and Warzone modes) so that both veteran and newer fans have their own spaces within the game's matchmaking to enjoy the gameplay style of Halo that they prefer.
Third - Having sprint and other enhanced mobility features make Halo feel too similar to other first-person shooter franchises. Certain popular triple-A titles (i.e. Call of Duty, Titanfall, & Apex Legends) have normalized these faster base player mechanics over the years, but it does not mean that this is the correct way to innovate and evolutionize all first-person shooters as a whole. There are plenty of other popular triple-A titles (i.e. Battlefield, Overwatch, & Fortnite) that incorporate faster base movement mechanics either sparingly or not at all, and these games are still very relevant in 2019. I believe that there is a misconception about enhanced mobility in general where some people think that "moving fast" is a requirement for games to be fun and feel modernized. In reality, having enhanced mobility is entirely dependent on whether fast movement benefits or hinders a game's core identity in terms of its base mechanics. In Halo, I strongly believe the latter, at least with respect to the Arena mode that has existed in every Halo first-person shooter (that includes multiplayer) up to this point in time.
By now, it is obvious that I do prefer classic style gameplay to the modern style, with Halo 3 being my favorite game in the franchise. When Halo Reach introduced sprint for the first time, I was completely against the mechanic being incorporated into the gameplay, even just as a loadout option. Since then, I had continuously advocated for the mechanic's omission (along with the other enhanced mobility features) from that game, as well as from Halo 4 when sprint became a permanent feature. However, when Halo 5 Guardians finally introduced an entirely new game mode in the form of Warzone, something that we had not even remotely seen before, I realized that there is a space within Halo's multiplayer where these features can exist and even thrive. Furthermore, I think Custom Games and Forge are great equal opportunity spaces where maps and game types with sprint can be just as enjoyable as the ones without sprint.
At the end of the day, I want Halo Infinite to be a successful platform that is accepted by both crowds of Halo fans so long as it still feels like a true Halo game. Please feel free to leave comments in the discussion thread, and drop a like if you agree with this premise. I would love to hear your thoughts / concerns regarding this idea of mine, and would be extremely thrilled if 343 Industries actually sees this post and considers implementing this solution into Halo Infinite's multiplayer. Thank you for taking the time to read this post and I hope you have a great day!