April 10, 2008

A Fleshy Pulse

> — Vociferous @ 4:03 pm

A brief and opinionated look at the evolution of Halo’s time-honored multiplayer – its twists, its turns and its future…

Despite many attempts by other game developers to emulate the combat system displayed in the Halo trilogy, Bungie’s multiplayer experience remains unmatched, no less improved upon. From top to bottom, whether you’re talking about the ground-level faculties like movement speed and sandbox diversity or the broad-based aspects like matchmaking and load balancing, Halo’s multiplayer component is arguably the best of our generation. As of late, however, its community is fraught with an ambiguous and problematic malaise. There is an exodus of sorts and the culmination of seven years worth of evolution in Halo multiplayer is in question – perhaps even in jeopardy.

Why doesn’t it feel the same as it did before?

A legitimate question for any fan to ask when the quality of what they hold dear suddenly becomes suspect. But to understand what is wrong, we must know what was right: How had Bungie tapped into a fleshy pulse – that living catalyst – which drove gamers to unflinchingly dedicate the last seven years of their lives to a single franchise. We could spend hours pouring over the various reasons that Halo’s current matchmaking system, seamless user interface, saved films/screenshots and overall customization options trump almost every other gaming product in feature scale and size, but I want to focus on what makes any game essentially fun – in particular, what makes Halo’s combat evolved.

Halo: Combat Evolved would become the template for the franchises’ legacy.

To do this we have travel back in time to around 2003 and squeeze into my previous thousand square foot apartment where there are four large standard definition televisions conjoining two rooms and sixteen loud-mouthed friends murdering each other for fun. They’ve bonded together from just about every race, creed and walk of life, but their solitary form of entertainment tonight is mutually resonant.

In their tightly-clinched palms are a variety of original Xbox controllers. You remember these: the iconic Duke, the S-Controller and its own litany of jewel-encased variants. Amidst the clamor of gun fire and grenade explosions, one can hear the elaborate profanity, the vitriol-laden taunts and the promise of violent reciprocity. Afterwards, I lie in bed as my wife prepares divorce papers next to me (I kid). I recall the events of the virtual internecine which had come to an end. And when the lights go out, I stare up at the ceiling playing out the battles in my mind, scene-by-scene and moment-by-moment – bullets, grenades and glory.

This was Halo: Combat Evolved and it was halcyon days of Halo’s combat system. While this is where we started, it is far removed from where we are now. Many have suggested that the differences between this title and Halo 2 were so substantial that they could literally be considered separate games. This may be true from a purist’s hardliner perspective, but Halo is still Halo to most people. Although there were very big changes, people recognize this series’ emblematic gameplay whether it be Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2 or our current platform, Halo 3.

Capture the Flag was an earmark gametype on Halo: Combat Evolved and remains the most popular objective gametype in the franchise.

But if we are now lost, the most obvious place to find our way back home would be to start at the beginning, right?

The first game of the trilogy had an unbelievable following at a grounds-roots level, reverberating even still to this day. Despite, at the time, receiving petulant barbs from PC gamers who believed that the game was simply just another first-person shooter, thousands of gamers kept the title on the top ten retail lists for years and week-in/week-out they brought their hefty black machines to each others’ houses for the legendary LAN-play. Whether you agree with its superiority on the first-person scene, Halo: Combat Evolved’s multiplayer popularity was irrevocably undeniable.

But what engendered this? Why was it such a powerful experience?

While not revolutionary and perhaps even somewhat borrowed, Halo: Combat Evolved’s core mechanics and gameplay was a hodgepodge of right choices. The two weapon system forced players to move around the map and generated a strategic element in each enemy encounter. The balance of the sandbox also permeated, and while oft-contended, Halo: Combat Evolved’s legendary pistol, the M6D, seemed to level the playing field for any and everyone, giving the player who spawned into misfortune a fighting chance at survival rather than a swift burial. Vehicle combat was practically without transition and played like a natural extension of its on-foot brother. Everything from the responsive movement and cunning map design to the game’s intriguing and often entertaining physics made Halo: Combat Evolved unforgettable.

The piece of God’s throne which has subsequently been lost.

If that was the case, why did Halo 2 depart from it so emphatically?

There were a lot of reasons offered by Bungie, but perhaps the most obvious was Xbox Live. Halo 2 would have online play through Microsoft’s online gaming service, something its forerunner did not. This meant that not only would the population of players be larger, but it would also offer sanctuary to both the seasoned veterans of the MLG circuit and the witless nubbery of someone who simply liked the game’s box art. The skill disparity would be more diverse and the networking conditions would be more strained – so, Bungie determined, there would need to be considerable changes going into multiplayer.

And there were…

Though Halo 2 saw the succession of several of the original game’s weapons, all had considerable changes and several were removed including the default starting weapons, the MA5B assault rifle and the legendary M6D pistol. The rocket launcher now easily homed in on vehicles all but guaranteeing a kill, player’s melee attacks sent them careening toward their enemies, the ultimate close-quarters power weapon was introduced in the unquenchable and omnipotent energy sword, fall damage was removed and the poor ol’ M90 shotgun underwent a vasectomy. Many also noticed the alteration of vehicle physics due to their enhanced destructibility. Auto-aim and aim assist systems were exponentially increased, presumably to mollify any potential networking issues. One of the biggest changes, however, was a new style of short-range combat: dual-wielding (the ability to carry and fire two weapons simultaneously). From this change, the M7 SMG became the new default starting weapon; dual-wieldable and including an extremely low amount of efficacy, range and for a lot of people, fun.

Ivory Tower was a textbook example of how a small asymmetrical map should be designed.

Even well after the 1.1 update in April after the game’s release, many hardcore fans still disliked the new approach no matter what explanations were offered in its wake. They despised the coddling of Bungie toward lesser skilled players and scoffed at the claims of networking limitations. Through all of their squalor, many failed to really account for what was great about Halo 2 – only now has it become so vividly clear.

Apart from the brilliance of the innovative matchmaking system, there were a number of uncontested combat elements which were head and shoulders above the previous iteration. Halo 2’s overall weapon/vehicle sandbox was bountifully larger, including the entertaining use of turret emplacements from a third-person perspective. With the increased size of the sandbox, players were afforded with more choices on the battlefield – and choice is extremely important in multiplayer. The game also saw the addition of boarding (players could hijack vehicles being operated by the enemy), which gave the infantryman an opportunity to counter what had previously been a practically unchecked vehicular rampage.

For many, however, the single greatest achievement that Halo 2 offered was the maps.

Undoubtedly, Halo: Combat Evolved had some impressive maps for its time (Sidewinder, Blood Gulch, Hang ‘Em High, Prisoner, Damnation and Derelict were strokes of brilliance, even if somewhat accidental), but Halo 2’s default and subsequent downloadable content took the evolution of the game’s combat to another plane of existence. They not only tapped into what was right and balanced from a geometry and purpose-centric perspective, but the maps also had an amazing amount of character, detail and beauty. Whether you preferred the wispy simplicity of Lockout’s perilous walkways and platforms, the pristine, whirring alien architecture of Midship or the sand-drenched and blood-stained beach of Zanzibar, Halo 2 had cornered the map department in ways that most other shooters can only envy.

Sanctuary, one of the first downloadable maps for Halo 2, was a perfected mid-size symmetrical map.

That’s not to say that Halo 2 never saw a bad map; it absolutely did, but the maps were never the real problem with Halo 2. The real issues with Halo 2 were in (1) sandbox balance and (2) network solutions that negatively affected the game’s mechanics. Although the hardcore fans argued tooth and nail against the dozens of incremental changes revealed in Halo 2, most of that list can be coalesced intp those two categories. Now, looking back from Halo 3’s multiplayer platform, it’s clear that Bungie recognized the problems with both of those two branches.

So then, it was no surprise that when Bungie sat down to look at Halo 3’s multiplayer, they developed solutions for many of these complaints. Halo 3 represents the bulk of those solutions made manifest and the multiplayer beta months before the game’s release proved this to everyone who was afforded an opportunity to play. It appeared as though Bungie had listened to the fleshy pulse of their fan base and were making amends.

The rocket launcher no longer homed in on enemy vehicles, allowing the machines to survive and once again return to a place of prominence. Melee attacks, auto-aim and aim assist were all toned down considerably, falling somewhere in between the respective flavors of Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2. The M90 shotgun reversed its vasectomy (there is a God!). Although destructibility remained, vehicle durability and physics returned, to some measure, back to the olden days of Halo: Combat Evolved. Dual-wielding was tweaked and its showpiece, the M7 SMG (now also retooled), was now taking a backseat to a new starting weapon, the original assault rifle’s successor – a longer-ranged MA5C. Even the M6D saw its own kind return in the form of the M6G, a less-powerful but similarly satisfying field weapon. And with this new sandbox, a quantum leap improvement over Halo 2’s already bursting one, the new game showcased what many believe is the best large-scale map the trilogy has ever seen: Valhalla.

Valhalla is arguably the greatest large map in the trilogy; a balanced sandbox would finally find its place in an enormous landscape.

Precursors of this map existed in the form of Blood Gulch for Halo: Combat Evolved and Coagulation for Halo 2 – essentially two bases, tucked in a spacious canyon with an undulating and verdant valley that separates them. Valhalla is the pinnacle of what those maps stood for and its success above them is largely due to the proper implementation of compartmentalization, localizing small bouts as part of a larger battle and hedging off sniper exploitation through the large, rising geometry. As we soon find out, however, this map was one diamond in what many feel was a cluttered batch of coal and this design philosophy based on separation may have been taken too far.

Never-the-less, Halo 3 forgave many of the sins of Halo 2 and even offered contrition in a laundry list of interesting additions: unique new weapons, a support weapon system which allowed the removal and mobile use of turret emplacements, incredibly fun new vehicles and the advent of a third combat element, equipment. Halo 3 touted online cooperative campaign missions, the ability to capture screenshots and footage from both campaign and multiplayer, powerful stat tracking online and in-game, as well as Forge, an object editor which put to shame Halo 2’s once advanced multiplayer customization options. Halo 3 did a lot of things right on paper, both fixing Halo 2’s problems and implementing exciting new components.

But only months after this monolithic and revamped game mode was launched, other games began to steal Halo 3’s online thunder. Many fans, although in love with the beta, felt something was missing when the finished project rolled around in September of 2007. Something was wrong with the multiplayer – it wasn’t like we had remembered. The near immediate accusation which was leveled was the melee attack’s inconsistency.

Nearly a year before the game was released, Bungie began claiming that Halo 3 would rely on the ‘golden tripod’ of combat, their self-named system of weapon/melee/grenade encounters which made combat, well, golden. During their improvements to the networking code, they decided to eliminate the potency of host advantage when it came to hand-to-hand combat (something Halo 2 saw abused considerably). This was the birth of melee arbitration: A split-second process where the game rewards players with a kill even if they physically executed a melee moments after their opponent, giving whoever had the most health in that “instance” the kill. Bungie has since resolved this issue to some extent, shortening the window for arbitration to occur and awarding both players with kills/deaths in the event of a ‘tie,’ but this initial problem was by no means a small reason why players started to look elsewhere just months after Halo 3’s launch.

For a few months, even after the first downloadable content pack and the melee-fixing patch, many serious Halo 3 fans still found themselves wondering what still felt broken. It wasn’t just the melee attack, there was still something off – something else was wrong with the picture, something elusive…

Lockout, the most popular map in Halo 2 (and perhaps the entire trilogy), had the most random design, but nothing existed without purpose.

The odd transition from Halo: Combat Evolved to Halo 2 was that vehicles were almost entirely negated by the ultimate of all anti-vehicle weapons, the homing the M19 rocket launcher. Halo 2, ironically, had three massive maps at launch (Waterworks, Coagulation and Headlong), as opposed to Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 3, which only had two a piece. This doesn’t account for the first map pack for Halo 2 which included Containment for free, a fourth enormous map which was supposed to focus on vehicles in a sandbox which all but eliminated that form of combat.

To the average player, the removal of enjoyable vehicle combat reflected a serious departure from the time-honored tradition created by Blood Gulch and Sidewinder. But every cloud has a silver lining…

What this did for Halo 2 was put the smaller and mid-size maps on the front row. Players migrated to maps which didn’t focus solely on vehicles: Lockout, Midship, Sanctuary, Ivory Tower, Ascension, Zanzibar, Turf and Warlock became the new bread and butter of Halo combat. Custom games saw squads replacing the effete SMG with the surgical BR55 battle rifle (the M6D’s virtual successor). These small-to-mid-size maps became the holy grail, our quintessential definition of what Halo had now become and what evolution had wrought.

When we look at Halo 3, it would seem to us that this should be a mirror reflection of the best of Halo 2. Players had been conditioned for literally years with the best maps that Halo 2 had available, playing them in an unending repetition – at their heart’s content. So when they took the jump to Halo 3’s online arena, they were hit with a brutal reality – Bungie’s philosophy for map design had changed.

Burial Mounds was not the greatest mid-size, asymmetrical map for Halo 2, but it decimates much of what Halo 3 has offered thus far.

On paper, what worked to fix the problems they had with the exploitable openness of several larger Halo 2 maps (Coagulation, Waterworks and Burial Mounds for example) should technically work for Narrows, Construct and Epitaph, right? Separate the combat, segment encounters and sever the cross-map line of sight to allow more localized movement. That would have the same positive effect, correct?

Unfortunately, no.

When you bring Valhalla’s ingredients and compartmentalization to smaller maps, you ruin the exact attributes which made Halo 2’s small/midsize maps work so well. What are these attributes I speak of?

Here are a few that come to mind:

  • Long Lines of Sight – The ability to see and shoot across the map properly balanced with cover.
  • Nonlinearity – Architecture which doesn’t stifle choice.
  • Predictable Physics – Environments which react to a player’s actions consistently.
  • Use of Space – Every place has a reason and purpose.

Unfortunately, even the higher-quality maps from Halo 3 like Guardian and The Pit suffer from this radical change in small/mid-size map design. Bungie was right to take the wide-open and deadly spaces of Coagulation and meld them into individual segments and compartments in Valhalla, but taking this theory to small maps has proven erroneous.

For example, although Guardian was never intended to be a port of Lockout, it was alleged to be the ‘spiritual successor’ of the aforementioned map. This time, however, it would include larger knee-walls, narrow corridors and accentuated linearity – it was a series of closed-off rooms and corridors which offered very little choice. A clear distinction from the open platforms and walkways of its older brother. Rather than have a map with Sanctuary’s symmetrically perfected long lines of sight and properly balanced cover, The Pit gave us a massive wall in its center, sacrificing nearly all ranged cross-map combat and squeezing the player through movement stifling tunnels and around unscalable platforms.

These maps are some of the best that Halo 3 has in the small-to-midsize department, but because of the philosophical change in how they were designed, they fall short of their closest comparisons in Halo 2. Other maps don’t even come categorically within arm’s length of the previous stable.

Narrows has only two ways to get from one base to the other, not including the perilous and overt man cannon. Construct, although somewhat redeemable, falls prey to similar movement constraints as well. There are only a handful of ways to physically move from the bottom spawn points to the top combat arena – which can be effectively camped with a strong enough team. Epitaph, although beautiful, also has a similarly confining architecture, one long corridor separated by a maze of peripheral walkways that guide the player in one direction rather than offer them choices.

The average Halo 2 player had gone from playing the crème of the crop, to playing a largely inferior and somewhat broken series of maps. We were bred to enjoy smaller maps because of the broken vehicle combat of Halo 2, but now that the former sin has been absolved and those wounds have been mended, the bandages Bungie created for those large maps still choke the parts of gameplay on the smaller ones – the ones which never needed healing in the first place.

The default maps in Halo 3, while entertaining at times, collectively did not meet the standards of its precursor. This, in my opinion, is the single barrier which will determine whether it falls to obsolescence or goes the way of glory like its predecessors’ maps. Can it be fixed? Absolutely…

Enter downloadable content.

Avalanche is being bred from a stable of already successful large-scale Halo 3 maps (Valhalla, Sandtrap and Last Resort). No one should worry about this one.

Admittedly, Halo 2 had some grand default maps, but its golden days were in the spring and summer of 2005, when Xbox Live play for the game was at an all-time high and they were releasing nine new multiplayer maps, several of which would become historically profound. As of now, Halo 3 has already impressed with downloadable content in the Heroic Map Pack, featuring Standoff and Rat’s Nest, two large maps which promised and delivered impressive vehicle encounters and properly executed close/mid-range battles – and we expect similar success in the Legendary Map Pack’s Avalanche for those same reason.

But big maps were never a problem in Halo 3; Bungie nailed that aspect of the game. It was the small maps, the medium size, infantry-operated maps which need be awakened.

Blackout is the new Lockout: Halo 3’s potent gameplay combined with the most popular map in the franchise’s history.

Next week, and for the first time in this console generation, we will see the advent of two categorically smaller Halo maps in Ghost Town and Blackout. The way they play and the success they have will greatly dictate the multiplayer potency of Halo 3’s future. These maps will be the crucible, the fulcrum – they’ll be the determining factor on the game’s ability to once again retain its presence in a year which will not only see entrenched Call of Duty 4 fans but also the second coming of Epic’s Gears of War franchise.

Ghost Town has qualities reminiscent to the popular Turf; it is the only original map in the Legendary Map Pack being released on 04/15.

No, this is not a denigration of the competition or a demand for Halo to dominate the leaderboards on Xbox Live as it did with Halo 2, but something has happened in the Halo community, something critical and alarming. Our brothers in arms have left their first love for another. If these maps and those which follow fail to recapture the fans who’ve become disenchanted, then Halo 3’s multiplayer may well be at an end.

If they succeed, however, this will ignite the fleshy pulse buried in the lifeblood of the community. Members both new and old – both loyal and prodigal – will grab their battle rifles from the shelves and wage war. If downloadable content can resolve the problems we’ve discussed, Halo 3 will once again regain the glory of the franchise.

I hold firm to the latter and if you’re a Halo fan, you should too.



  1. i agree that matchmaking is not good.waiting in a lobby just toplay with people you dont know?are u serious.Halo Combat Evolved :you just go in the internet server and pick the game you want.no waiting Halo 3.the only thing good o it is the graphica advanced of coarse and the new weapons.

    Comment by [RVX]Scream — July 1, 2008 @ 4:53 pm

  2. also i have a question
    how did you do those image effects i want to do that with my halo images
    please tell me man.

    Comment by [RVX]Scream — July 1, 2008 @ 4:53 pm

  3. You cant it just happens on there and there are the orbs on senery u can select to play

    Comment by Killaramas — August 8, 2008 @ 8:33 am

  4. One thing I’ll throw out there is on the topic of Bungie’s new matchmaking system supposedly coming up in this month (announced in one of their weekly updates).

    To start off, I think a huge reason veterans are annoyed with the system nowadays is simply because so called “n00bs” can rank even while continuing to play miserably. This occurs because the ranking system is not based on your in game performance (medals, kills, K/D ratio, etc.) Yes, getting MVP might bump you up a skill level or keep you from losing exp when you’re on that verge, but ranking is solely based upon if you’re on the winning team. A n00b with no kills ad a -15 K/D ratio will get the same experience as that person who annihilated for 20 kills and a +14 ratio.

    I can’t say I know how this new system will go down, but it appears to me that everything will STILL RELY ON EXPERIENCE. It’s just different in the fact that each individual playlist will give you an individual ranking.

    I’ve only played COD4 once and don’t even own it, but here’s my comparison in why COD4 online play is so great. Every kill you get earns you experience. Every assist you get earns experience. Every territory (or whatever it’s called in COD4) captured, earns you experience. Winning the match simply grants you a bonus. If you dominate the game, you will be rewarded. Halo 3 is nothing like that. I could move on to Gears of War.

    Personally, I couldn’t care less about ranking in Halo 3. I love the game, and I take enjoyment in playing social with my friends splitscreen style. I’m just voicing out the many opinions I’ve heard. Still though, it would be nice to be rewarded for simple things like an overkill or killing spree. I know this system wouldn’t work with what exists now, but maybe Bungie could reform the whole thing!

    Comment by Paul — August 13, 2008 @ 12:59 pm

  5. Sometimes you just have to agree to disagree.

    I like H3 better than H2, despite the powered down BR.

    Some people don’t.

    That’s fine by me.

    Comment by the silver fox — August 23, 2008 @ 12:51 am

  6. I kind of disagree that H2s multiplayer was better than H3s. The problem I have with H3 is matchmakng. I wish Bungie at least put in a custom games playlist. I usually play infection and slayer and don’t really care about ranking up.

    The only other problem I have with Halo (not H3 but all three games) is the fact that the Spartans can flip tanks and other extremely heavy objects. That being said, the player should be able to dual wield pretty much every weapon in the game.

    Other than that, I think H3’s multiplayer is perfect. If players want a game where you kill people in a few shots, play COD 4 since it’s supposed to be realistic. Don’t bitch about how it takes too long to kill someone who has an OVERSHIELD AND ARMOR. It’s a sci-fi game and people need to accept the fact that they aren’t going to get away with killing someone so easily.

    Comment by MC Warhammer — September 16, 2008 @ 11:12 pm

  7. I will join the minority here and speak in favour of Halo3 multiplayer – of course it has changed from Halo2 but Bungie has done many things right in with this change.

    Case in point: The melee. Now rather than being subject to either complete ownage by a power weapon wielding teabagger or having close combat degrade into a series of “whacks” until one of the combatants falls over from boredom, the close quarters combat has been leveled. One can now enter into a room knowing that his/her actions will largely determine whether he/she lives or dies, not purely the weapon choice of the “awful camping B***h.” The retooled melee has added balance to an incredibly weapon biased combat sequence. There is also the added bonus of that little rush you get as you see your opponent fly backwards 30 feet with limbs trailing, only to meet a wall and crumple to the floor.

    Another touchy subject – The Battle Rifle: Affectionately known as the “BR” by its legions of wielders who never enter combat until they have secured one. In Halo2 the battle rifle was king; in any mid range situation (with the exception of extreme fault on the user’s behalf or the introduction of the carbine) the belligerent ignoramus attempting to best the hallowed BR in its prime territory was deserving of all forms of postmortem humiliation that it no doubt received. Yet in this new Halo3 experience, balance has yet again been added. The battle rifle no longer “auto-locks” onto a target but shoots a predetermined spread. This makes Swat, and even standard game play more skill based rather than pure reflex and “sweep sniping.” An added note of increased sniper suppression in the new BR, and the fact that the target no longer is a bullet magnet helps balance the gameplay even more.

    In defense of the Bungie matchmaking and online play I would like to point out that it is the culmination of accessibility. Call of Duty’s matchmaking, while fast, lacks the quality, settling with horrendously unbalanced teams and putting players into matches already in session. The Gears of War matchmaking is not even worth mentioning, as anyone who has waited ten minutes for a single person to complete the teams, and then died within minutes and watched the battle be decided by the few elite can attest. Halo’s matchmaking will almost always ensure fairer teams than any of its competitors, and keep players at the rank they rightly deserve. (Apologies to all ratings whores, but if you aren’t leveling up, odds are it’s because you have hit your skill niche.) One thing that would do well though: less rigid skill matching; I hope I am not alone in my occasional yearning to be owned gratuitously, or vice versa.

    The point of compartmentalization and its affect on game play – Yes, it turns many maps into grenade traps and play areas for those who molest with shotguns, but the good in this has been largely ignored… Perhaps good was too strong a word. The “compartments” have turned into a team war of attrition, or an area of avoidance/camping in free for all matches. With a few exceptions (Ghost Town notably) the methods for taking said compartments are few and insipid; granted they are varied when compared to past Halo games, or any other games, yet in the context of Halo3 the numerous strategies at the player’s disposal die at the threshold.

    The spawning system succeeds brilliantly: A bold yet substantiated statement. For every spawn which puts you into premature contact with the enemy there are a hundred perfect spawns. Again I must reference the competition. The CoD spawning system is faulty, more than rarely birthing players into the middle of a firefight. Of course the firefight is short, but painfully, so is your health. With exceptions of Lockout and occasionally Guardian, the Halo3 multiplayer spawning engine succeeds brilliantly, shining even brighter when compared to its competition.

    The Vehicles have also taken much flak from those who cling to the past. Halo1 saw the vehicle as the undisputed ruling power, with Halo2 having little advantage due to the Rocket launcher and hard hitting stickies. Halo3 again brings about balance. No longer are maps controlled by a single machine of death. There is the odd occasion when a brilliant duo will whore their hog to multiple terrorized customers, but they can only go so far before a beam of red relieves their position. In the current arrangement warthogs, choppers and ghosts work well as support weapons and perform very well as anti-human spearheads, but never so well as to bring about the apocalypse. Props to Bungie on the balance.

    In a brief conclusion to what has been much longer than originally projected, Halo3 is different, and in most cases better than its progenitors. A few last points as my English essay is dying to be written –
    -the assault rifle is not an entirely crappy weapon – it only suffers from extreme balance and mediocrity, and when coupled with the BR as a starting weapon raises the quality of game play.
    – The online halo experience suffers mainly from repetition. A year later custom games are gaining popularity and matchmaking population is declining (from my eyes, actual stats will hopefully prove me wrong). Surely this is a call to Bungie to mix it up and keep online halo fresh and exciting.

    Comment by Epitomous Nub — September 23, 2008 @ 1:55 am

  8. Yeah. What he said.

    ALSO! Need more elite players online.

    Comment by Caleb — September 23, 2008 @ 11:15 am

  9. Although I agree with most of the things you said, I am really getting sick of people who complain about how bad H3 is to H2. Stop compairing the two, theyre different games. Act, if you will, as if H3 was not part of the series, treat it like a different game. Then, people will begin to see that Halo 3 is, in my opinion, the best MP game ever made. Some of the maps are almost flawless. Construct, The Pit, Guardian, and Assembly( I went to PAX, ive played it.) are some of the best maps in the trilogy if you dont compare them to maps of the past. The large stuff is simply amazing, and we’ve still got 6 maps coming(Longshore,Citidel,Heretic,Orbital,Sandbox,Assembly)

    If those live up to the standards of small maps of the past, youll all be eatin your words.

    God Speed, voc

    Desert Rat 852

    Comment by Desert Rat — September 28, 2008 @ 9:38 pm

  10. Hey, how do you give the images the “comic book” feel?

    Comment by Tom-Tom — January 10, 2009 @ 11:25 pm

  11. I know I’m coming in a bit late here, but this is my view on the MP:

    First off I’d like to let you all know that it’s okay to crucify me for, of course, comparing the H3 maps to the HCE maps. Without a doubt, CE had far better maps. But, like with most games, the original always exceeds the successors. Halo 3 is still a beautiful game in its own respect.

    I’m not one to scrutinize the maps and point out all of the flaws in them. Tbh, I think that it should be the players’ responsibility to adapt to the changes. A lot of the close-quarter combat introduced in H3 means gamers need to focus on timing. Patience is another big issue. With the exception of The Pit, a lot of close-quarter maps don’t have a spot that you can just stand and frag safely from your secluded corridor. Often times you need to sacrifice a small amount of cover to get your precious explosives.

    Now for the big maps, I must admit that Valhalla does not seem to be the best to me. Sure, on the “Valhalla Heavy” variant, the geometry of the map works beautifully. However, on a regular Team Slayer or Team Objective game, you’re virtually screwed. The trees conveniently placed on the crest of the central hill let anyone who knows where the crouch button is and has a sense of stealth to hold that post almost uncontested. I could also argue that it’s the beauty of the map. You can’t rely on just charging into battle with your BR barrel melting from use. You need to focus strategically on securing at least some high ground, or risk being picked off with ease.

    Moving on to the vehicular standpoint of it. Aside from popular belief, a threesome in a warthog did not necessarily dominate a round (with the PC version at least). It simply means you need to watch where you’re running until you can have the upper hand. On some maps the “overpowered turret” has blind spots that make a duo of infantry an equal opponent, rather than a kill medal. Also, a properly placed plasma grenade can annihilate a team in a hog just as easy then as it can now. Of course, like with anything, it takes some skill. I don’t think we can condemn the vehicular dominance of CE, or even regard it as dead with H3. To truly dominate takes some form of skill. Of course, with hijacking it is 10x easier to stop a hog. Just watch where you’re driving. If someone is looking right at you prepared to board then you obviously shouldn’t try to splatter them.

    Common sense plays a big role in the transition from game to game. It’s just a different playability and sooner or later you need to adapt or get over it. Comparing a different game to its “former glory” isn’t bad, but using the originals as a template to find the faults in the new surely is. As the series evolves the playability evolves. It’s up to the players to decide if they want to try and master a new weapons cache, a new art of vehicular warfare, and a new way to combat opponents in close-quarters.

    On the matchmaking end of the spectrum, it’s a dark cloud with a distinct silver lining. I think that in some cases it suits a lot of people. However, I did like the notion of choosing from a list of custom games, much like in CE. The only issue with that was the fact that often a clan or group of friends could stack a team and just mow people down. If used together, I think a custom games list would work splendidly alongside the current matchmaking system. Variety is always good, and that’s all it really takes to keep me interested. Another useful thing (as previously mentioned) is setting a game type preference. I liked this idea in particular. The feeling sucks when you get pounded with oddball matches all day. Just toss me a good old CTF match and I’m satisfied.

    Lastly, I’d like to apologize for writing a novel in response to a year-old topic. If you’ve read this whole comment then I give you a nice pat on the back.

    Comment by SandsOfTime404 — February 12, 2009 @ 8:26 pm

  12. Nice… Try make one with a person doing a double kill sniper ricochet! That would be great!

    Comment by Maxwin — May 18, 2009 @ 11:51 am

  13. hows about a guy stuck with a spike grenade


    Comment by Christian Bethel — July 9, 2009 @ 12:02 pm

  14. Joining thw minority here -You are totally off. It’s all strategy. I’ll start with team chat -THAT’S THE POINT! If you don’t want to be a part of a team just play FFA. But with most gametypes the people are divided into teams to complete objectives. Sure a skilled player can kill the whole opposing team and capture the flag -Hell, give a n00b a rocket launcher and you’ll get the same result, but most of us fit neither category. Therefore, band together and dominate.
    As a result we have compartmentalized combat. Send one fireteam here, have the guy w/ the turret defend this corridor, grab the Warthog… end result: we own the good spots. Sure, a good counterattack strategy and we’ve lost some spots, but that’s what war is all about: owning the high ground and killing the enemy before he can kill you and getting the goods. and last time I checked Halo was a war game.
    The AR spray-and-pray strategy abd the grenade-rush-melee tactic can be resolved with one strategy -LEARN TO HEADSHOT WITH THE BR. roughly 4 bursts to take down shields and one of the bullets from the 4th burst will make cleaning the inside of that helmet a royal pain.
    Now matchmaking. See #23 for my views on this matter.
    Seeing as we’re all here to complain about something we don’t like about Halo 3 MP, which I see for a lot of you is EVERYTHING (Just go play H2 and leave us die-hard fans alone!), I don’t completely like the damage system on vehicles. H2 was superior in that regard, what with the VECHICLE taking the damage instead of you.

    Comment by Will — August 7, 2009 @ 4:24 am

  15. Y’know this is such a cool website. Did you draw those guys cause they look a lot like drawings.

    Rtas Monkatarae,out

    Comment by Rtas monkatarae — September 16, 2009 @ 3:23 am

  16. I don’t know what you people are complaining about. As far as i’m concerned Halo:CE was amazing, Halo 2 was just as good, and i can’t wait to play Halo 3(I don’t have an Xbox 360 yet, but i’m working on it). Also, as far as any flaws in the games, DEAL WITH IT!! Flaws and glitches in the game just make it more fun, because it gives you something new to deal with. It forces you to change your tactics, just like war should really be. Which is more interesting to deal with,an average gamer, or a noob glitcher? The noob right? And if people like that piss you off, teach them a lesson BY OWNING THEM!People have a tendency to stop using noob tactics if they don’t work.Speaking of which, camping is not necessarily a noob tactic, if applied correctly and not abused.
    Nice article enjoyed reading it, the Installation Overview, and I,Sanghaeli (did i spell that right?).My avatar is, in fact, a Covenent Elite.

    Long live Halo, Bungie is amazing.

    Comment by Vulcan — January 13, 2010 @ 10:13 pm

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