So the honey moon is over...now what? It’s no secret that the community at large is not impressed and has now become pretty much bored with matchmaking. I know I have. And yes I know many people are waiting for the new year because 343 promised us a CSR system that’s supposed to have competitive ranks and keep us wanting to play further down the line. But let me tell you all you something, ranks are not the problem with the Halo franchise and its community; it’s a small part of a much larger problem. This is evident in Halo 4’s initial sales, it’s evident in the piss poor low playlist population, and it’s evident in the apathy that this community has seem to grow accustomed to. The community used to be divided but now I feel that we all mutually hate Halo 4 and what the franchise has become. We could’ve just looked at Reach and said, "You know what? That was the one bad game, every series has it." But no this is evidence of a much bigger problem with the developers of the games.
Let’s be perfectly honest here, we’re playing a beta right now. There are a ton of bugs and things that need to be fixed. File sharing doesn’t even work, you can't turn off instant respawn, etc. With the plethora of the frustrating bugs and glitches in this game, there’s no denying that this game was rushed for release so that it could compete with Treyarch’s Black Ops II. If this was a competition, than 343 and Microsoft have lost by a lot, again. Halo hasn’t drawn the masses since Halo 3 came out. But as soon as Cod: 4 was released, the general FPS population has bought into that and never looked back. However instead of looking at the problem internally and addressing the major issues with the game. Bungie/343/Microsoft have blatantly tried to copy the best elements in CoD and shove them into Halo.
Loadouts, Sprint, Bloom, No real rank system but a progression system, large maps, weapon skins, instant respawn, kill streaks aka ordinance drops among other things all equal Call of Duty’s formula. You’re not fooling anyone by renaming the -Yoink-. The whole community is upset and the developers refuse to admit they’ve done wrong or at the very least correct their egregious mistakes.
So where do we go from here? Do we just sit while the population and community continue to dwindle while 343 release their useless bulletins and rotating playlists? No my friends, I’d rather do something about it. For too long have the old school, competitive, real Halo players been getting the shaft in exchange for a few extra dollars, but now even releasing a Call of Duty game with shields and calling it the next installment of “Halo” didn’t equate to more money.
But enough with the negative ranting. Let’s give some answers and talk about what our supposed “community loving” devs over at 343 industries can do to fix Halo 4 and prevent making the same mistake as their predecessors which have been plaguing the franchise since 2007.
I’m going to start off with the hot topic right now which is ranks. Case in point, we need ranks. Online Halo isn’t Halo without ranks. Everyone from the casual to the competitive need something worth fighting for when we hop into any given playlist. Without ranks this game will die before the year is over. The reason Halo 2 was the XBL juggernaut that it was, was because it had the best and most accurate ranking system out of any Halo game bar-none. Yes there were standbyers, circle boosters, modders, cheaters, de-levelers, but with all that it was still better than what we have today. Ask any person who played Halo 2 online and they will agree. This idea goes deeper than just having some number next to your name which is something I think 343 doesn’t understand.
Your rank was more than a number, it was an accomplishment, a personal goal; it was an achievement before there were achievements. You fought, you studied maps and strategy, and you did everything you could to get to that next level. And when you couldn’t, when you hit the “virtual wall”, you went into customs with your friends. Those games like Cat & Mouse, Tower of Power, Zombies, Boxer, Troy, etc came about because people had trouble ranking up as easily so they spent times in customs with their friends. This built interaction and actual friendships between people. This is something that has been missing since Halo 2. Look how easy it was to get a 50 in Halo 3. No one went into customs and had fun because they knew they could hop into any playlist and had a good chance of getting a 50 with minimal work and effort.
To put a little of my thought into H4’s Challenges, I honestly don’t give a -Yoink- about any of them. I don’t even look at them to be perfectly honest. What’s the point? So what, I can get a new helmet or some -Yoink-? Why? No one is going to look at what my Spartan is wearing if they have no discernible difference in the skill level between me and the person I just killed. Yeah I think it’s neat and it gives me something extra to do in the game but if I don’t have a visible rank that I worked for than everything else becomes dull and pointless. A Progression system is ok but its needs to be coupled with an accurate rank system. No true skill either, strictly based on wins and losses.
And maybe this is just me but have you noticed since Halo 3 no one really uses their mic anymore? Unless you’re with a party, good luck trying to communicate with your teammates. You know why this is so? It’s because there’s no need to. You needed a headset in H2 & H3 because talking to your teammates was a key to victory. Even if you didn’t know callouts, basic communication could be the difference in winning and losing. But if you’re playing a game when winning and losing don’t really matter then what’s the point of plugging in your mic? Reach and Halo 4 have in essence taken out that human interaction between random players because there is no reward for winning your match. That’s what I truly hated about reach and H4; it feels like the devs just wanted the players to act like gamer zombies: Just pre-order the game and play it until the next opportunity for you to give us your money comes around. They took away the organic, growing and social part of online interaction. And that is why ranks are needed in Halo multiplayer.