It’s a bit funny that my first post as a content producer should be about change, but I can assure you that it is completely coincidental. Rather, the idea struck me earlier today as I was changing the way that I play Halo, switching from the classic Recon layout for my controller to the arguably better Bumper Jumper. Now, I’ve been meaning to make this change for a while. I attempted it in Halo 4 and soon gave up, the challenge of learning a new layout wasn’t worth the benefit of being able to look while jumping to a player of my skill level. When Halo 5 came along, Recon became even more of a problem, trying to ground pound with the B button is uncomfortable as well as being a hassle. Even then, I gave up on Bumper Jumper once or twice before finally committing to making it my standard controller layout about a week ago. Which brings me to my point: change is hard, and we as gamers often overlook how important it can be.
Let’s talk about Halo 4 for a minute, more specifically, the multiplayer aspect. Halo 4’s multiplayer wasn’t well received by the community, and with fairly good reason. Armour Abilities were already a touchy subject following Reach, and the addition of perks and loadouts did little to make Halo fans happy. But why was that? Loadouts and abilities are really popular, with games like Call of Duty and Titanfall using them with great success. Why not Halo? Well, because they’re not Halo, that’s why. Halo has always been an arena shooter. That means that, when you start, you start the same as everyone. Everyone’s skill being equal, no player has an advantage over another. The ability to customize your player works in a game built around customization, but in a game like Halo it comes up short.
As a community, gamers (or at least the loudest and most disparaging) tend to vilify change, often with little or no reason. I’m sure you’ve all seen the “343 is ruining Halo” comment with very little behind it. Why are they ruining Halo? Well, because they’re not Bungie of course, and only the creators of Halo can be entrusted to take the reigns of the series. I jest of course, but this is something I’ve heard too many times. No, 343 is not ruining Halo. Have they made mistakes? Undoubtedly. I can confidently say that the additions in Halo 5 were detrimental for the series. So is change bad? No, of course not. But as I said at the beginning, it’s hard. Much of the push back to change comes not because of the change itself, but simply because it is change. Is this how I learned to play? Is this what I remember doing as a kid? When we answer “no” to these questions we often jump straight to the conclusion that whatever change has been made is bad, regardless of the merit of such a belief.
One of the hardest things that we can do is look past our own opinions and see what’s truly best, rather than what we believe to be best. Dual wielding was popular, but it was dropped as a game concept because it wasn’t very balanced. Everyone loves the multiplayer of Halo 2, but a lot of that is nostalgia. It’s an excellent, well-made game to be sure, but were it released today, with 2004 era gameplay, I highly doubt it would get anywhere near the praise it currently receives. Those are changes that worked. Loadouts, Armour Abilities, and ordnance drops weren’t. Change isn’t a bad thing, change is a good thing. There can be bad changes, but they aren’t indicative of change as a whole. The bad stuff is (usually) removed, while the good parts continue and are expanded upon. Change in video games is just like it is in life, a learning experience. Without change no improvement can be made, nothing will get better. It’s hard and it’s risky, a developer can get into big trouble should they change a defining aspect of their series. However, should they change nothing, they haven’t made a new game – they’ve re-skinned an old one. And so I leave you with the words of Mahatma Gandhi: “be the change you want to see in the world, our words are backed with nuclear weapons.”
What are your thoughts on change in video games? What are your best and worst changes, in Halo and other games?
Let us know in the comments below or on our subreddit!