Halo and Change

When people talk about the Halo series changing has it has gone on, they sometimes point to Call of Duty as an example of a series that constantly changes itself.

Some people are upset about Halo 5, saying that it “doesn’t feel like a real Halo game.” Other people respond by saying “Halo has got to change in order to be relevant. And look at Call of Duty — that game keeps on changing.”

I think Call of Duty has a, for lack of a better term, more natural reason to change: The games take place during different time periods (WWII, the Cold War, modern warfare, the future) and so changes must be made accordingly. This is not the case with Halo. For example: What is the reason for Spartans being able to use jetpacks, armor lock, sprint and other abilities, in Reach, but not in Combat Evolved? The answer: There is no reason, other than gameplay.* While in Call of Duty, there’s a reason you don’t use Exo Abilities in Black Ops 3: There are no Exo Suits to wear because you are the Exo Suit.**

343 have implicitly stated that the reason Halo is changing doesn’t have anything to do with being true to canon, either:

Watch 1:54 — 1:59 in this video:

“We knew we wanted to expand the audience as far as we could but still satisfy the core as much as possible.”

Watch 0:06 — 0:12 in this video:

“The goal was to try and redefine Halo for a new generation of players.”

My point: Changes to Halo, such as Spartan Abilities in Halo 5, don’t have anything to do with making Spartans more like the semi-mythical killing-machines they are thought of as, despite what 343 says.*** Such changes are about making Halo appealing for a new generation of players: Changing Halo in order to keep it relevant.

I am not upset that Halo is changing. I liked all of Bungie’s Halo games. I liked Halo 4. I’m excited for Halo 5. I just want people to better understand why the Halo series is the way it is under 343.

*You could say that, since the planet Reach is essentially a military base, that these armor abilities are prototypes — works in progress — and that’s why we don’t see them in later Halo games: They were destroyed when Reach was destroyed. I disagree with this way of thinking though, for this reason: ODSTs are shown using jetpacks. And, if you want to get really picky, these armor abilities are just lying around, like any other widely used vehicle or gun (like the Pistol or Warthog), so it’s not as if they’re top-secret.

**In Advanced Warfare, you put on and take off your Exo Suit. In Black Ops 3, presumably, all of your abilities are built into you. Thus there is nothing to take off. Or, at least, take off as easily as you would an Exo Suit. (Also take into account that Advanced Warefare and Black Ops 3 are made by different studios, and though both games are called “Call of Duty” there is no indication that they take place in the same universe — hence the differences in gameplay.)

***I, personally, think 343 is using the line of thought of “We’re just being true to canon” as an excuse to put elements of modern first-person shooters — like enhanced mobility — into Halo.  Watch 0:54 — 1:18 of the Halo 5 multiplayer beta vidoc. 343 talks about realizing the full potential of the Spartan — players being able to do everything that Spartans have been shown to be able to do — and how Spartan Abilities (enhanced mobility) are what make that possible.

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