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Why Halo 5's Weapon Sandbox Is Poorly Balanced

OP Kell of Salt

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*"Halo 5 has a well balanced sandbox, almost everything is worth picking up"*

Chances are, if someone talks about what Halo 5 does right, you'll hear a variation on the above sentence. And it is half true, everything is worth picking up.

But thats not the most important part of sandbox balancing in Halo. It *is* an important element, an element that Halo CE - Reach in some areas failed at. But other elements are important, like balancing for ease if use or designing a weapon matrix for a pick up based game.

So I will now explain why the Halo 5 sandbox has some large flaws with larger knock on implications, and how we can improve it going forward.

The first obvious one, automatics. In Halo 5 they make CQC encounters very uninteresting. "but they are CQC weapons!" and they SHOULD be, and they are inherently very easy to use in CQC by having large reticules with a lot of leeway for missing (similar to a shotgun, the tradeoff being more range/less lethality). I believe I speak for alot of players when I say we should value the strafe battles that arise in CQC with the precision weapons, they are straight up battle where all that matters is player skill. In Halo 5, those situations are far less common or even desirable, because it's better to just AR/Trust/Melee the opponent than have a strafe duel, which is also far easier. There is a better display of skill in a CQC strafe of than pressing Y to use the automatic.

Automatics are not skillful weapons. They are random, forgiving and easy to use *by design* because this gives them an inherent advantage in CQC. They don't need faster than precision weapon Killtime potential on top of this too. They should be capable of a fast shoot + Beatdown (like H2A/ Reach Spiker) But the optimum killtime should be slower than utility weapons because they are inherently easier to use. Some suggest making them skillful in various ways, personally I think that misses the point of automatics in Halo.

I hole-heartedly agree that automatics for a long time, have been bad, even factoring in balancing for ease of use. Halo 4/H2A Automatic balancing was a solid middleground between useful and balancing for skill. The AR in H2A is REALLY well designed, as is the ODST SMG.

Halo 4 of course had the issue of massively scaled maps (for sprinting) But automatics with the typical Halo game scaling in mind. This ties into a Halo 5's balancing issue for automatics. Even the 4v4 Maps in Halo 5 are pretty massively upscaled and as maps got bigger, there became less situations where traditionally designed weapons automatic weapons had their inherent advantage. And so they had to be buffed to the point the because OP in CQC just to be relevant. This is an example of how thr movement abilities have had rippling effects on the design of Halo.

moving onto to issues with precision utility weapons, though the automatics have share this issue to a lesser extent.

We can agree that the Magnum is your medium/long range utility weapon and the AR is your CQC utility weapon right? Ok well the next issue is that the precision rifles like the BR, DMR, Carbine, H2 BR and to a lesser extent the Light Rifle and the automatics like the SMG and Storm Rifle are just blatantly better precision utility and CQC utility weapons. The rifles have no meaningful downsides over the Pistol, and in a CQC duel the SMG and Storm Rifle have no meaningful downsides over an AR. They are just better versions of your spawning equipments respective roles. The TTK differences are fractions of fractions of a second, and due to netcode, is irrelevant. When a player spawns in and has a Magnum and his opponent(s) have BRs, his opponent has a utility role weapon that surpasses the respawning players in every way. More magnetism, aim assist, forgiving burst fire, red reticule range, easier BXRing, more kills per mag etc. There's no situations in which a Magnum can take advantage of a weakness on the BR. It's not like when you have to fight a Sniper, Shotgun, Grenade Launcher, Brute Shot etc in another Halo, where your utility weapon can take advantage of the opponents weapons weaker situations. In Magnum vs BR, the BR is always better and this extends to all the precision utility weapons. Same logic to CQC fights involving the AR vs other Automatics, but at least the AR actually can outrange the other Automatics and has this upside vs the other two.

Halo 5 power weapons are overly lethal and forgiving, while the spawn utility precision weapon is skillful and difficult to use. In Halo CE, the Magnum was skillful but powerful, and the power weapons were VERY lethal and spawned rapidly, so it balanced out. In Halo 2, the Utility weapon had hilarious levels of magnetism, aim assist and was far less lethal than the CE pistol, but so were the power weapons. In Halo 3, the BR hit a middle ground between CEs shot leading and H2's ease of use, and became even less lethal, but so did the power weapons. In all these games, Bungie attempted to keep the utility weapon and power weapons on par with one another. In Halo 5 the power weapons are more lethal and more forgiving than ever before, while the pistol is the possibly most skillfull precision utility weapon since CE.
These issues defeat the purpose of having a utility weapon. Infact I would go as far to say they cause the magnum to fail at being a utility weapon on some levels. The utility precision weapon needs to be on par with the map pick ups in it's utilitarian role, to keep respawning players in the fight. It has the same inherent flaws as AR/SMG starts in Halo 2/3, just the Magnum and AR are made much more relevant, but it is still an imbalance.

This all culminates in a sandbox that creates a lot potential for steamrolling and is therefore poorly balanced. Furthermore, weapon placement variety on maps has plummeted. Think about the Pit in H3: 2 Snipers, Rockets, Sword, 2 Brute Shots, 2 Shotguns, OS, Camo, Plasma Pistol, Needlers (kinda).

Name one map in H5 with that level of unique role weapons/pick ups on one 4v4 map. You can't.

Halo 5 has the weapon balancing of a tiered unlock system, where each tier is better than the last, when an arena shooter should have a matrix, a matrix has no true power weapon, only weapons with distinctive roles the do well in that gives them an edge in a situation or let's them take up their intended role. They are intended to provide niche counterparts to the utility weapon. At social level, players are not likely to notice the difference, but at a remotely comeptitive level, you really can. And even the best Forgers in the community are sharing this view, as we struggle to find balanced and interesting weapon sets for our maps.

If a weapon has a high lethality output, and is capable of being used in a multitude of situations, it should be skillful (Sniper, Grenade Launcher)
If a weapon is easy to use, it should have lower lethality and/or very niche role (Shotgun, Automatics, Needler, Brute Shot, Sword etc)
The only exception to this rule in traditional Halo is rockets, which is used as a powerful set up breaker, and is made easy, lethal and multipurpose to make it very good at that role. In Halo 5 we have the majority of the Sandbox being easy, lethal and having very generous range.
The following are my suggestions for improvements to the sandbox design going forward. Some are pretty obvious, one is very experimental but has the potential to please alot of people all at once.

Automatics:
This is the toughest one. This depends on the factors in H6 such as map scaling and movement abilities. Assuming we have all the H5 abilities again, I say take the extra range and headshot multipliers away from the automatics, keep the TTKs similar, maybe a little slower. I think it defines their role better and with the many ways to close distances in H5, I think they would be fine with these changes. Chances are going forward comeptitive settings will no use automatics, and they can be enjoyed at the casual levels.

Precision Weapons:
Some people think that making them more distinctive from one another and all equally hard to use is the step forward. It think this is a losing battle. The weapons are always going to be some variation on a utility weapon, and we don't need that many precision weapons cluttering the pick ups.
I believe my suggestion is far more elegant. Take the Carbine and Light Rifle and do something unique with these weapons, as they are the two Alien faction weapons.
Then we take the Magnum, BR and DMR and we balance them for different experiences.
Eg:
Pistol: 3SK, 0.9 TTK
BR: 4SK, 1.2 TTK
DMR: 5SK, 1.5 TTK
Now, in the social Slayer playlist, we reintroduce VARIETY to the playlist. Remember how in Halo 3 social slayer wasn't just AR or BR starts, it had rockets, Snipers, team dual wieldd AND various others? Well use the multiple different utility weapons in Halo's past to accomplish a variety of Halo experiences.
You take the SMG and The 3SK pistol and balance them in way reminiscent of the CE/AR relationship. A CQC bullet hose and a skilfull fast TTK weapon, with the Power Weapons spawning faster than normal, just like CE.
The BR is used alongside the AR to recreate what the majority of the Halo audience is used to, the H2/H3 Halo TTK, and weapon spawn times like many of you are used to.
Alongside this we have rockets, Snipers, covie Slayer w/e in the social rotation.
Finally, the DMR is then optimised for BTB. Slower TTK would help crossing the bigger maps much easier, especially if they are to be scaled with abilities/sprint in mind. (you could also use the slower TTK utility weapon in social 4v4s)
You balance the power weapons around the BR, as this would be the default Halo 6 experience. All the UNSC weapon in the sandbox would be equally skilful. We just use them to optimise the various experiences Halo has to offer. Competitive players can use the one that best works for their settings.
I think this provides a plethora of ways to play Halo in one title. Optimising the three different UNSC utility weapons for different Halo experiences pleases ALOT of people at once, and rmov the issues with redundancy and functional clones, as these weapons need not interact.

Power Weapons:
Better ease of use vs lethality vs utility balancing across the board really. This could be a whole post on it's own really. But sniper needs to be skillful and we don't need five easy, lethal and multipurpose role rocket launcher role weapons in one game. 343 need to do a better job of making power weapons stand out from one another.

Thanks for reading everyone
From a casual standpoint halo 5 is amazingly well balanced,from a competitve standpoint it's pretty bad.
From a casual standpoint halo 5 is amazingly well balanced,from a competitve standpoint it's pretty bad.
It's only well balanced from a casual standpoint in the sense that a casual might not understand the issues.

The steamrolling effect while happen at a casual or higher level.
I agree with your view on automatics and power weapons and that is basically where it stops. I think that the precision weapons and the map should be inherently better than the weapon you spawn with otherwise there would be no purpose of picking them up and they would just be useless clutter. Additionally not everyone has one at a time so you can think of it as a very mini power weapon/upgrade. I think that their spawning is the issue and not their stats. There should only be 1 on the map at once in the sense that it wont respawn until it despawns instead of respawning 15 seconds after pickup. I also think the magnum can hold its own very easily against these weapons and a lot of the time I pass these weapons and keep the magnum. This can be seen in competitive play as well. I'll be honest, I didn't read your whole post because it was just too much for me to read late at night, I read the first half and then skimmed the second. I apologise if you address anything that I have said here or if I miss anything.
From a casual standpoint halo 5 is amazingly well balanced,from a competitve standpoint it's pretty bad.
It's only well balanced from a casual standpoint in the sense that a casual might not understand the issues.

The steamrolling effect while happen at a casual or higher level.
That's my point.For someone who's ignorant of issues they won't know or care.All they'll see is "every gun is viable!!!omg"

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From a casual standpoint halo 5 is amazingly well balanced,from a competitve standpoint it's pretty bad.
It's only well balanced from a casual standpoint in the sense that a casual might not understand the issues.

The steamrolling effect while happen at a casual or higher level.
That's my point.For someone who's ignorant of issues they won't know or care.All they'll see is "every gun is viable!!!omg"
Every gun is useful is the definition of balance! What people should be saying is they want Halo back to an unbalanced one gun game if you don't like that we finally have a game where every weapon fills a niche.
LethalQ wrote:
From a casual standpoint halo 5 is amazingly well balanced,from a competitve standpoint it's pretty bad.
It's only well balanced from a casual standpoint in the sense that a casual might not understand the issues.

The steamrolling effect while happen at a casual or higher level.
That's my point.For someone who's ignorant of issues they won't know or care.All they'll see is "every gun is viable!!!omg"
Every gun is useful is the definition of balance! What people should be saying is they want Halo back to an unbalanced one gun game if you don't like that we finally have a game where every weapon fills a niche.
ಠ_ಠ
LethalQ wrote:
From a casual standpoint halo 5 is amazingly well balanced,from a competitve standpoint it's pretty bad.
It's only well balanced from a casual standpoint in the sense that a casual might not understand the issues.

The steamrolling effect while happen at a casual or higher level.
That's my point.For someone who's ignorant of issues they won't know or care.All they'll see is "every gun is viable!!!omg"
Every gun is useful is the definition of balance! What people should be saying is they want Halo back to an unbalanced one gun game if you don't like that we finally have a game where every weapon fills a niche.
Every gun is useful in Modern Warfare 2

That game isn't balanced at all.
I think weapons balanced like they are in Halo 5 is favorable. It creates variety, and it further differentiates the game from other FPS titles. What do I mean by this? Take CoD for example. Players are able choose from number weapons, but only a small number are seen in matches. That leads to unskilled gameplay because everyone has the mentality of "use these weapons because these weapons kill easier" unlike Halo 5, where players are encouraged to use all the weapons available because each weapon has its own role.
LethalQ wrote:
From a casual standpoint halo 5 is amazingly well balanced,from a competitve standpoint it's pretty bad.
It's only well balanced from a casual standpoint in the sense that a casual might not understand the issues.

The steamrolling effect while happen at a casual or higher level.
That's my point.For someone who's ignorant of issues they won't know or care.All they'll see is "every gun is viable!!!omg"
Every gun is useful is the definition of balance! What people should be saying is they want Halo back to an unbalanced one gun game if you don't like that we finally have a game where every weapon fills a niche.
Every gun is useful in Modern Warfare 2

That game isn't balanced at all.
I don't play easy games like COD so I wouldn't know
kaykx wrote:
I think weapons balanced like they are in Halo 5 is favorable. It creates variety, and it further differentiates the game from other FPS titles. What do I mean by this? Take CoD for example. Players are able choose from number weapons, but only a small number are seen in matches. That leads to unskilled gameplay because everyone has the mentality of "use these weapons because these weapons kill easier" unlike Halo 5, where players are encouraged to use all the weapons available because each weapon has its own role.
This exactly. There is more to skill than ability with a BR.
To me the problem in H5 isn't the weapon balance. It's that most maps favor CQC where autos are most effective. If they open the maps up more and have longer sight lines you would see that the pistol and rifles do out perform the autos.
Every gun is viable. You just aren't good enough with them, to be hating on automatic weapons as the SMG and AR. The AR is designed for close to mid-range combat. SMG is supposed to give you the upper hand in a CQC situation. Everything is balanced, just use them correctly.
From a casual standpoint halo 5 is amazingly well balanced,from a competitve standpoint it's pretty bad.
The unfortunate part of H5 is that it tries to be too competitive and not enough casual.
Unknown wrote:
I agree with your view on automatics and power weapons and that is basically where it stops. I think that the precision weapons and the map should be inherently better than the weapon you spawn with otherwise there would be no purpose of picking them up and they would just be useless clutter. Additionally not everyone has one at a time so you can think of it as a very mini power weapon/upgrade. I think that their spawning is the issue and not their stats. There should only be 1 on the map at once in the sense that it wont respawn until it despawns instead of respawning 15 seconds after pickup. I also think the magnum can hold its own very easily against these weapons and a lot of the time I pass these weapons and keep the magnum. This can be seen in competitive play as well. I'll be honest, I didn't read your whole post because it was just too much for me to read late at night, I read the first half and then skimmed the second. I apologise if you address anything that I have said here or if I miss anything.
The point being that having weapons which are inherently better in every way than other weapons is bad sandbox design. A weapon sandbox should be designed as a matrix where all the weapons have different advantages/disadvantages against each other. If I have a Magnum and my opponent has Rockets, their disadvantage is that they have limited ammo and slow firing projectiles. I can keep my distance, try to gain a height advantage or position myself away from certain surfaces to make it harder for the guy with Rockets to kill me. This is interesting weapon design. However in Halo 5, If I have a Magnum and the enemy has a BR, we pretty much have the exact same weapon except his is better in every way. There is no downside to having a BR vs a Magnum and it makes for an uninteresting encounter. A power weapon isn't just a better weapon that guarantees kills. It should be something that offers a specific role to the player, different from the role of the utility weapon. There are too many weapons in Halo 5 that do what the starting weapons do, just better.
I know exactly what your saying and I agree with it to a certain extent. If 343i changed it to be the way you described it above then id have no problem. In saying that I dont think that halo 5 needs to be changed. While yes the other weapons are better, they are only slightly better and it really doesn't make much of a difference at all. Thats why you see people like me and pros not drop the magnum for those weapons. Sometimes the magnum just 'feels' better.
This post has been edited by a moderator. Please do not flame or attack other members. This includes stat-flaming.

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How hypocritical of you tell him to stop stat-flaming and yet you stat-flame him.
Pistol: 3SK, 0.9 TTK

I believe you mistaken the Halo CE Pistol for the Halo 5 Pistol which is a 5SK. Overall I'm interested in seeing post like this to see other people's perspective on Halo 5's weapon sandbox.
This post has been edited by a moderator. Please do not bump.

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