Halo 4 has been out for 6 days now and I feel I’ve played enough of the multiplayer to give my perspective on the franchise’s latest installment. My feelings towards the multiplayer are still a bit mixed and undecided, but on the whole I enjoy it. There are however a few issues I have, mainly with things that have been tweaked or changed unnecessarily. As a note I play relatively competitively, enjoying MLG matchmaking more than the default playlists so this is written from a competitive gamer’s point of view.
One of the most useful things in previous Halo matchmaking has been how easy to identify where your allies have died. A red cross would be clearly show for a few seconds while the player respawns and from a team point of view a call out such as “One shot on my X” was quick, easy and made sense. However, in this game it’s been removed. A small cross appears on the motion sensor, but not visible on the playing field. It’s nothing deal-breaking, however it’s something that didn’t need to be removed in my opinion.
In all Halo games before this you would be taken out of scope when you took damage. This would mean BR/DMR battles at range would require a fair amount of skill and accuracy to win as you would largely use an unscoped view to avoid being constantly knocked out of scope. However, in Halo 4, this is not the case. Instead it’s like Call of Duty where you remain in scope regardless and I just feel this removes an element of skill from the game that separates the “okay” players from the “good” players. It wouldn’t be so bad if it were a setting that could be altered, for example in the MLG playlist, however it’s not – it’s hard-coded in. Title updates might reverse this change, however I doubt it.
Next up are grenades. They said in this game they had been further toned down, however it doesn’t feel like that at all. In all Halo games grenades have felt like mini-nukes and Halo 4 is no different. While a grenade at a player’s feet should completely remove their shield, it shouldn’t do when detonating further away. I also don’t particularly like the grenade indicators, due to the tail on the grenades and the noise that’s made when a grenade is pulled it’s fairly easy to realise when one is being thrown. Again, this removes a little element of skill from the game.
Random weapon drops are also annoying, I fail to see any point in adding in a random element to a fairly tactical game. Previously you would need to “time” weapon drops and ensure your team held certain positions of the map at certain times to ensure you got the power weapons. If a team can spawn and immediately have access to a power weapon due to luck, it seems a bit unfair.
All of the above are minor important details that I feel need to be looked at, however none are as big as the BR/DMR balancing. I understand that they needed to separate the BR/DMR out so they had unique capabilities, whereby the DMR is better at range than the BR, however I fail to see any shortcomings in the DMR as it is extremely powerful at all ranges. Whereas the DMR has a massive advantage over distance due to the BR’s recoil, the BR has no clear advantage at close range against the DMR. The DMR has bloom so it can’t be fired “rapidly” however it can fire quick enough, with enough accuracy, to beat the BR in most situations.
Join in progress is also flawed. While it works for the likes of Call of Duty it simply doesn’t work for Halo. Largely in a Call of Duty game there is no real “teamwork”. There is obviously competitive CoD, such as MLG, however large parts of it work fine with drop-in players. However it doesn’t work for Halo. If you join a game and you’re two flag captures down and the other team has map control you’re likely going to continue to get pummeled. While players quitting out was annoying as it ruined that game and made it unfair, I don’t like this solution either. I don’t actually know what the solution is, but this certainly isn’t it.
You could argue the light rifle needs a similar balance, it’s also extremely powerful at most ranges. It’s better at range, and not so good at close range, however due to the “remaining in scope while being shot” change it’s insanely powerful at medium-long range. In my opinion the BR and DMR should be relatively equal over all distances. I would either increase the DMR’s bloom and increase the BR’s range capabilities or remove a large portion of the BR’s recoil and increase its range so it can effectively compete at range with the DMR.
Having said the above I do enjoy Halo 4. Not as much as I enjoyed Halo 3 but Halo 4 is definitely a massive improvement on Halo: Reach. There has obviously been no mention of title updates just yet, but hopefully a few of the niggles above will be addressed. If they were to fix the BR/DMR balance and the “scope” issue I would, largely, be happy with it. If I had to give it a score I would, in its current state, give it an 8/10 as it is enjoyable – just not the near-perfection that Halo 3 had in terms of gameplay.