I have given ten years of my life to competitive Halo. I’ve gone from being a national champion to commentating. For those who have been apart of Halo as long as I have will not argue that Halo has progressively gotten worse. Sadly, most of you started in either Halo 3 or the game that solely crippled the community called Halo Reach. You all have missed out on the glory days of Halo for sure. There is nothing more frustrating than being told to have patience by various people in this community. I’ve been doing this shit for ten years and I know what works and when something sucks.
I’m not going to talk about Halo CE much but know that it had/still has a cult like following. In order to play the game you had to manually searching for games through a program than ran on your PC. It was a major hassle but everyone did it because the game was so enjoyable to play.
Halo 2 was completely different than Halo CE, but it had something that Halo CE didn’t have… Wait for it…. Xbox LIVE! Finding games was so easy that everyone played for hours upon HOURS every day. Yes, the majority of Halo CE Pros despised the game at first but it didn’t stop them from logging countless hours on the game. “How was this possible?” It’s called RANKS! Ask every single “known” console FPS player what game they enjoyed the best and 99% of them will say Halo 2. This was all because of the ranking system and the online charts. Rumble Pit, Head to Head, Team Slayer, and both clan matches were the playlists that if one got to the top page they were viewed as gods. I remember making it onto the leader boards of Minor Clan matches (I believe that’s what it was called) and I printed out the page and brought it to school just so I could brag to my friends. This matchmaking playlist was AMAZING. It took forever to level up and you got punished for losing games. Unfortunately, Bungie didn’t realize the power the playlist had on the community and decided to “noob it down” for Halo 3.
Halo 3 began the dawn of customizations and forge maps. Some view it as a blessing others view it as a curse but that’s all perception. Regardless, Halo 3 had the largest on-line viewership of any other Halo Titles. Tsquared got on the Dr. Pepper bottle, Instinct got sponsored by Old Spice, Hot Pockets sponsored Triggers Down, and Stride Gum sponsored Carbon (but would move to sponsoring individual players). After reading that sentence there is no arguing that HALO was at it’s peak in terms of sponsors and exposure, but on-line experience wasn’t the same. Yes, MLG had a playlist and you could achieve a level “50,” but just about anyone in the top 64 could achieve a level 50. Personally, it wasn’t as meaningful to me, but it was still better than nothing. It gave a lot of new comers to the scene something to achieve if they couldn’t make it to an event. I believe this is the most overlooked detail of a ranking system. If players enter a play-list designed towards competitive play they are interested in being the best they will most likely look into events. Not everyone has hundreds, or even thousands of dollars to travel to an event to compete especially if they don’t know how good they are. If your dream is to become a professional player but if you don’t have the money to travel you’re essentially waiting around for the event to be close to your area. Without a ranked playlist these individuals are just sitting around playing various play-lists just to stop them from putting a bullet in their brain from boredom.
Halo Reach….. That’s all I’ll say about that. The Noble 6 was a pussy.
Now, I’m going to skip over talking about Halo 4. Ah, fuck it. I’ll talk a little bit about it. Halo 4 peaked at 470,534 on-line users on November 7th. Since November 7th the game has been on a steady decline. We have seen lows of 137,056 on-line users. Wow, that’s pretty abysmal. Now correlation doesn’t prove causation but it’s think it’s pretty safe to say that the online experience in Halo 4 just isn’t satisfactory. The biggest problem is ranks. I don’t understand how a game can get worse over the years, but Halo has done it. They were FLAWLESS with the on-line experience in Halo 2. Completely flawless, but then they get rid of it and turned it into a steamy pile of shit. This should be alarming for everyone who loves the halo series because it’s not looking good for us. I don’t want to talk about game types and settings for competitive play because it’s not going to change anyone’s perception, but food for thought. There is currently 2,013 online users in Team Slayer Pro. Team Slayer Pro is a stripped down version of Halo 4, but most players don’t like the stripped down playlist. Now Infinity Slayer has 26,861 players as we speak, so it’s clear what the majority of people enjoy. Now the obvious choice for competitive settings would be something in between Team Slayer Pro and Infinity slayer, but what’s actually happening is the opposite. Ghostayame, my former teammate and pretty good friend, is testing BR only start. He’s stripping the game down to the point where it’s more unappealing than Team Slayer Pro. If these settings are finalized you can expect about 2,000-4,000 players searching the MLG Play-list when it’s released. I just don’t comprehend the mindset of people. EVERYONE preached for fucking months before Halo 4 was launched that “everything needs to be vanilla. Let the game evolve. Blah!” Now the games been out for almost a month and everyone wants it changed. Still I can’t really figure out what’s worse, changing the settings to BR only and stripping down the game or using ALL FORGE MAPS so no casual knows what the fuck is going on.
Here’s the real message I want to convey to all developers (especially 343). The gaming industry is BOOMING. If you want your multiplayer title to be successful you MUST include a basic spectator mode, a bad ass rank play list, and you have to support the title in the competitive scene. It isn’t hard to understand. Not to be cliche but look at League of Legends. League is by far the biggest game is Professional Gaming and they have the three basics. A working ranked play-list (although ELO Hell sucks!), a sufficient spectator mode, and they support the competitive scene so much that they throw tournaments for the game. It is very hard to compete with that, so if you aren’t willing to even give your players two out of three of those things your game will eventually die. I give the life expectancy of games without the basics about six to nine months.
I sincerely hope we can find gametypes that make Halo 4 highly competitive but as it stands I’m not getting my hopes up. Sometimes people just care about the brand and not what’s good for everyone. Peace!