Microsoft revealed a new Halo game at E3 this year, planned to be released next year for the Xbox One. They didn’t clarify if it’s Halo 5, but all logic points to the next numbered title. Come 2014, the new Halo may very well be the first must-own exclusive on Microsoft’s new console.
They say Halo combat will evolve on Xbox One. With so little known right now, I can’t help but think about what I want to see in the next title, and how it could evolve. Here are some ideas.
Bigger Multiplayer Maps
As much as I enjoy Halo 4’s multiplayer, some of the maps feel too small. The set pathways for vehicles feel very congested at times. There is less freedom to drive around and more opportunities for enemies to board you. The latter might be on purpose to balance players against vehicles, but honestly, I think a lot of us miss Blood Gulch-sized maps. We could even go a little bigger than that.
Halo 4 looks great, but its engine can’t hold together technically with really large maps. So we get “small” big maps like Exile and Meltdown. My hope is that the tech in the Xbox One allows games like Halo to look pretty and not bog down as big groups of players move in huge spaces. Halo could really take a hint from Battlefield, which offers truly massive maps and puts a strong focus on vehicle combat.
The Halo universe already has everything it needs: tanks, air vehicles, transport vehicles. Please, put them all in an enormous map and let us play war. And when I say all, I mean pilotable Pelicans, Phantom dropships, Hornets and Elephants from Halo 3, every kind of Warthog, multiple tanks and Banshees and Mantises, and all the tools and weapons to keep it balanced.
More than 16 Players
This is something Halo has never deviated from; the limit has always been 16 players. Larger maps like I mentioned would need to be populated by more players. Why not double the limit of players — have 32 Spartans running around?
Again, we could take a hint from Battlefield. With Halo, many of the multiplayer maps have tried to conform with the game’s fiction, that every little map is its own war. Well, to have more believable wars, shouldn’t we have more players participating? And not just for competitive multiplayer; what if the next Halo’s co-op mode included not 4, but 8 players. That could be really fun, and leads me to my next idea…
Bring Back Firefight
Spartan Ops was not well received. It wasn’t all bad, but the constantly recycled environments each week lead to a lot of disappointment. I think our expectations for episodic co-op missions were too high. With that in mind, now is a good time to bring back Firefight. We don’t need a great story in our co-op mode; just give us a wealth of options and dozens of enemies to shoot at, a la Halo: Reach.
A new Firefight mode will also need new enemies and challenges. Imagine if you could choose your faction to fight: Covenant or Prometheans. Maybe even a mix of the two. Imagine if the Flood debuted in Firefight. It’s been years since we’ve seen those wonderful zombies in a Halo game. They would be perfect additions, and the ability to choose between these 3 factions could make Firefight endlessly replayable.
This is something Halo has never done, and frankly, it’s never needed to. But A.I. bots could really add a refreshing aspect to multiplayer. They could fill in for unbalanced teams, which is a problem I often face in Halo 4’s matchmaking. When I ask for 32 players in a game, bots could help populate teams if necessary.
Some other shooters have been including multiplayer bots for years, like Gears of War. Why not bring bots to Halo? They could make great practice dummies, and think about forging. Imagine you just created an awesome Forge map, but you had no one to help test it. Bots would become your best friends.
Unless, of course, you could…
Host and Join Public Custom Games
This feature has been sorely lacking since Forge debuted in Halo 3. Unless you have the right friends, it’s very difficult to join custom games in Halo 4 or Halo: Reach. I feel like by now this shouldn’t be the case. We should be able to connect and play with others however we want, especially when it’s already possible in the game. We just need easier ways to do it.
Imagine browsing a list of custom games hosted by other players. While creating your own custom games, you could decide whether to host them publicly or privately. You could show off those Forge maps a whole lot easier. Like multiplayer bots, this isn’t new to gaming; it would just be new to Halo, and it would be awesome.
Bring Back Familiar Faces
Other than a new villain or two, Halo 5 doesn’t need a lot of new characters in its story. Many of the new faces in Halo 4 were entirely forgettable. Please, bring back characters from older games. Isn’t Jun from Reach still alive? Can’t the Arbiter have an important role again? Bungie created some great characters with Halo 3: ODST — what happened to them?
It might be too much to bring them all back, but familiar characters are usually more compelling than brand new characters. Plus, many of the characters I’m thinking of were voiced by big name celebrities: Keith David, Nathan Fillion, Tricia Helfer, Ron Perlman. Bring back the star power.
Bring Back Classic Weapons and Vehicles
The Halo sandbox of weapons, vehicles, and abilities has grown considerably with each title. Halo 4 features 26 weapons, or over 30 if you count grenades and turrets. I smile at those numbers, yet I still feel like some things from past games are missing, weapons and vehicles both:
- Target Locator (Halo: Reach, Halo 4 sort of)
- Flamethrower (Halo PC, Halo 3)
- SMG (preferably the suppressed one in Halo 3: ODST)
- Plasma Launcher (Halo: Reach)
- Hornet (Halo 3)
- Falcon (Halo: Reach)
- Revenant (Halo: Reach)
I don’t expect all of these to make the next game. But in addition to brand new weapons and vehicles that Halo 5 will surely have, some classics would be nice. Halo 4 welcomed back the Battle Rifle, Carbine, and Beam Rifle, which were absent in Halo: Reach. What will Halo 5 welcome back?
I’m sure 343 Industries is planning some exciting things for the next Halo. They’re going to have to keep it the industry giant that it is. Halo has been the definitive sci-fi shooter for over a decade. It can be for another decade, but 343i may need to push Halo beyond its comfort zone, and there’s no better time than with a new generation of hardware.
I may be asking for too much with these ideas. All this could be a lot to fit on an Xbox One disc, but shortcuts could be taken. Multiplayer maps could double as Firefight maps, and use smaller, more focused areas to create traditional slayer maps. Some maps could be recycled from the Campaign (preferably only a few of them). I just want these ideas put to reality.
Truly massive multiplayer maps, dozens of players and vehicles, loads and loads of options, intelligent A.I. opponents, easily joinable custom games, all set on fantastic sci-fi worlds… I want to see Halo make this happen before some other sci-fi shooter comes along and tries to take the crown.
But however the next Halo turns out, it will be great to step back in the boots of Master Chief. 2014 can’t come soon enough.