First of all, let me clarify that in no way do I think Halo 4 is a bad game. In my eyes Halo 4 is a disappointment. I don’t believe the transition between Bungie and 343 was as seamless as some might think. Keep that in mind throughout your reading.
Halo 4 had me at Halo.
The transition between Bungie and 343 studios seemed like only a minor speed bump on the road to Halo 4. Bungie laid down so much groundwork that even I could scrap together a team and make Halo 4. Of course, that is a bold-faced lie, but you get the picture. Halo Reach fully fleshed out the forge world and gave users nearly unlimited customization. So, why would anyone worry about Halo 4? Bungie practically threw up the metaphorical alley oop pass for 343 to slam it in. Unfortunately, that’s not how it went down.
Many Halo 4 players won’t think twice about the multiplayer. It works just like it always has; there are familiar gametypes and playlists with a few new additions and tweaks. So, what is the problem you ask? Under the hood, Halo Reach’s deep multiplayer customizations have been gutted inexplicably. The simplest gameplay settings from Reach are gone, such as: the option to drop the flag or oddball, you can’t disable sprint, you can’t customize weapon spawns like in previous Halos, and the list goes on and on. You can see a more detailed list here. My question is why? Why would 343 take out staples in the Halo series many of us have to come love? It’s a question that burns in the minds of many hardcore Halo players such as myself.
One question in particular is about the map rotations on the playlists. There are two maps on the disc not being used, Ravine and Erosion. Furthermore, if you go to 343’s websitethey list the maps as playable under their map section. However, two months after the game’s release we still haven’t seen them in action; in fact, we received new DLC maps in the playlists before we saw two maps included on the disc. The only way to play Erosion and Ravine is in custom games. This is peculiar to say the least. Once again, I have to ask why?
While we’re on the subject of playlists, let’s discuss another issue. Halo 4 has the smallest choice of playlists since Halo 2, and yet there are more copies in the wild than any other Halo. Currently Halo Reach has 16 different playlists while Halo 4 has a meager 11. In an interview with Halo Waypoint a 343 employee said, “We put new playlists into rotation to keep the experience fresh each week and to test the community's response to different game types.” Why not leave new playlists? If the population is a concern then why does Halo Reach have five more playlists with a much smaller install base? Also, why are popular playlists like double team and team snipers missing? Halo 2, 3, and Reach had both of these playlists because of their popularity. I would argue that 343’s current strategies have kept the game stagnant. Loyal Halo fans want to enjoy a plethora of choices when they go online, but they can’t anymore.
This is where the playlist analysis becomes more detailed and nerdy.
Five playlists doesn’t sound like much, but it’s more than just a number. More than anything, it’s the content of these playlists that are suspect. Let’s start with the most popular playlist, Big Team Infinity Slayer. It’s easy to see why this playlist is so popular. It has everyone’s favorite gametype, team deathmatch, and nothing else. Therein lies the problem. Halo Reach and its predecessors combined objective-based gametypes with deathmatch to keep the experience fresh. Currently, you can only play deathmatch on seven maps if you have the DLC, which collectively accounts for seven different match variations. You could easily have your fill of this playlist in just a few days, as I did. Halo Reach, on the other hand, has 12 different gametypes. The map comparison wouldn’t be fair, because of all the DLC and forge maps with Reach, but the gametypes combined with just two maps greatly increases the “fresh” factor in Reach compared to Halo 4.
The next comparison I will draw on is between Team Objective in Halo Reach, and three playlists in Halo 4. If you jump into Reach’s Team Objective right now, you will find that you have 285 different scenarios because, there are several different gametypes within each playlist, which isn’t the case for Halo 4. Compare this to Halo 4’s CTF, Oddball, and Regicide playlist, which accounts for only 18 different variations. Once again, Reach has more maps, but even if I dropped 200 variations from Reach the comparison would still be overwhelmingly in favor of Halo Reach. In short, Halo Reach has many gametypes per playlist while Halo 4 only offers one gametype per playlist. If Halo Reach took the same approach to playlists as Halo 4 Reach would have close to 100 different playlists.
I’m only scratching the surface of my complaints, but I want to get the community talking about the most pressing issue, content. Fundamentally I enjoy the game, but I have played everything Halo 4 has to offer and I’m left wanting more. In turn, I have moved onto other FPS games that have a great collection of gametypes. Once 343 catches up with what Bungie did for their community I’ll be back on board, but until then, you can find me in the Black Ops 2 lobbies.
What is your opinion on Halo 4? Let me know in the comments below. You can also watch the video about this article here.