What Halo Infinite Needs To Take From Previous Titles
Halo Infinite, the next mainline Halo title by 343 Industries is surrounded by rumours and speculation. Very little is known about the game currently, and 343 Industries aren’t giving anything away just yet. That said, Halo fans are still hoping that certain elements from previous Halo titles are included in Halo Infinite, some going as far as saying it won’t succeed without these features. Putting aside the Bungie games, I think it’s as important to look at what needs to be taken from the 343 Industries Halo games and what they could implement from Halo 4, Halo 5 and Halo: Master Chief Collection.
The Perfect First Impression
When discussing first impressions for a Halo title most peoples minds go to either campaign or multiplayer, but the actual first impression is given off by the main menu and user interface. One thing that Halo: Master Chief Collection was scrutinised for at launch was its complicated menu structure and just how poorly it functioned. After many years and many updates, Halo: Master Chief Collection has now upgraded and updated its user interface to offer a new range of functions and improved ease of use.
Aside from the current Halo: Master Chief Collection Menu UI, another Halo Menu is much loved by the community. The Halo 5 Beta Menu is arguably one of the best looking and interactive menus ever made for a Halo game. It boasts an excellent soundtrack whilst in the menus, something that Halo fans have become accustomed to, but it also offers a feel for the game without actually playing it. The feeling of being on the UNSC Infinity ship with fellow Spartans and navigating the menus as if you already a part of the universe is something no other Halo game has offered. That feature alongside how easy the menu navigation was allowed players to enjoy their experience with the game before the gameplay has started, so I feel Halo Infinite would benefit from having a similar Main Menu design.
One new feature that Halo: Master Chief Collection added for players was the ability to select what piece of the game could be installed, as opposed to installing the entire game. This allowed players to choose if they wanted just the campaigns installed, just the multiplayers installed, or a mix of both throughout all titles available. I think this feature would be incredibly beneficial to keep in Halo Infinite when looking at the possible modes that will be available. Such modes as Forge, Theatre, Multiplayer and Campaign could all have separate install options, which would allow players to choose exactly what part of the game they’d like to play without the hassle of installing a potentially large game. This feature, much like the animated and moving Main Menu, adds to the ease of use for players and allows them to go into the game with a positive experience from the get go.
Halo 5 Marketing has to be the most infamous marketing for any Halo game for both all the right and all the wrong reasons. The interactive weekly experience that was “Hunt the Truth” was arguable one of the best marketing experiences for a Halo game to date. That coupled with the many Hunt the Truth trailers featuring both Master Chief and Agent Locke allowed fans to engage in a game before release like never before. Even the key art for Halo 5 was revealed due to Halo fans piecing together the puzzle that they received via email. The big issue with Halo 5 marketing wasn’t how the marketing was done, it was the fact that it had near nothing to do with Halo 5 itself.
After involving the community to such an extent with the game before release, it came as a shock to many that the marketing was somewhat false advertisement. The Hunt the Truth slogan and theme was near none existent in Halo 5. Despite the trailers heavily focusing on Master Chief and him being hunted for going rouge, this never happened in Halo 5 and players were only treated with a very short fist fight between these two main protagonists. Master Chief and his team appeared very little in Halo 5 too, despite them being core elements to the marketing and franchise. In total Master Chief was only playable for 3 missions, which disappointed fans heavily.
The important lesson to take away from Halo 5s marketing is that it is always good to get the community involved. Whilst there are many theories as to why Halo 5s story was changed or altered from what was advertised, 343 Industries is now in a position to learn from those mistakes. Halo Infinite could heavily feature interactive marketing once again, however it is vital that what we see is what we get. If Halo Infinite fails to deliver what is marketed to fans then 343 Industries risks losing the trust of the entire fanbase. Halo Infinite must be truthful in its marketing and provide exactly what they say and show us in future trailers. Adding such marketing as weekly podcasts or even large events will heavily impact the popularity and success of Halo Infinite, and allow fans to once again feel connected to the franchise that they perhaps doubted after Halo 5s marketing failures.
Balancing Social And Competitive Play
Since the beginning of Halo with Halo Combat Evolved, the balance between casual style play and competitive style play has always been a heavily discussed subject. The first Halo title that was able to somewhat balance the two styles was Halo 3. Halo 3 offered two different styles of multiplayer matchmaking appropriately named “Social” and “Ranked” in which players could decide if they wanted to play casually without care, or try their very best against good players in Ranked. This choice was strengthened by the type of game Halo 3 was, in the fact that it was very easy to pick up whilst also having a very large range of skill levels that could be achieved.
Since Halo 3, this balance of social and competitive play has been incredibly hard to balance. There are many reasons for this, such as the games popularity increasing, new abilities being added and the most noticeable change, the switch from Bungie to 343 Industries. When 343 Industries created Halo 4, they did so with one idea at its core. They wanted the game to be easy for everyone to pick up and enjoy, not just Halo veterans. I believe this idea was implemented based on how easy Halo 3 was to pick up.
The issue with Halo 4 and one of the common criticisms from fans was the fact that it was too easy. Anyone could pick up the game and be good at it without their being a large skill gap present to improve upon. Halo 5 on the other hand had the opposite problem. Fans argued that the entry level of skill for Halo 5 was just too hard to master. Halo 5 itself was marketed as being an arena shooter style game with a heavy focus on multiplayer competitiveness from the very start of its marketing. Halo 5 focused far too much on being a game for the extremely skilled, whereas Halo 4 focused far too much on being a game for anyone. Halo Infinite needs to capture just the right amount of both of these attitudes to be a successful game. If Halo Infinite is able to provide a skilled environment for Halo players, whilst also allowing new people to get involved and have a chance of getting better, it will surely be a success.
Understanding The Story
One of the main critiques of the Halo Universe and its lore since 343 Industries took over is just how hard it is to follow. Many hardcore fans won’t have a problem with the Halo lore, however there are far more casual Halo fans who only play the games. These casual fans may not understand what is going on in the game due to a lot of important lore taking place in comics and books. Halo 4 is a prime example of having an incredible story that is difficult to understand purely because core information was not put into the game, but instead put into outside media. The events between Halo 3 and Halo 4 being put into outside media heavily effected fans understanding of what was going on in Halo 4, which is never a situation fans want to be put in.
Having an expanded universe and a range of none game lore is vital to the Halo series and its survival. Comics, books, figures and various other items help craft the Halo universe to be something more than just the games, and this is something that should continue. However the important points should always be kept in game. It allows players to enjoy the experience and story a lot more if they can just get straight into where they left off. Players entering Halo Infinite should be able to understand the core story straight from Halo 5s ending. If this is not the case, players become frustrated with the game and story and lose interest fast.
Currently nothing is known about the Halo Infinite story. This is both a blessing and a curse in terms of fan expectation, as it gives a large opportunity to 343 Industries to both succeed or fail when it comes to linking Halo Infinite to previous games. Ideally Halo Infinite needs to either start directly after the events of Halo 5, or start off with an explanation of the events that have occurred since then. Leaving these explanations to outside media such as comic books would only hurt Halo Infinite and its reputation as a game.
Overall there are plenty of features and elements that need to be included for Halo Infinite to be a success, from the game itself to the marketing. It’s up to us, the fans, to give our continued feedback in hopes that 343 Industries will listen. If they listen to the right parts whilst also learning from their past mistakes, Halo Infinite will be set to be the best Halo game yet.