Written by Colby Monday, 12 March 2012 06:00
When Halo 4 was announced last year at E3, many gamers were completely blown away. Obviously, the end of Halo 3 left it open so that Master Chief could return, but with Bungie stepping away from the IP and a new Microsoft console on the horizon, many are taken aback to see that 2012 would be the year Master Chief returned. In a genre that has become exceptionally stale, Halo 4 has its work cut out for it if it wants to return to being the leader of the console FPS genre that the original Halo was. The following items are some things you should expect to see in Halo 4.
A New Enemy
Don't get me wrong, I think that the Covenant are one of the greatest enemy factions in video games period, but a new set of enemies would be a welcome change in Halo 4. One thing about Halo that has always been interesting is the fact that there is never just one enemy faction at work. The flood versus the Covenant and the brutes and their strifes to fit in with the Covenant create a dynamic that is always at work and puts at least three different factions on the table; humans and at least two others. Whatever that crazy ship is we see Master Chief heading towards in the 2011 E3 trailer may contain that mysterious enemy we have not yet encountered.
A Visual Boost
As Bungie has worked so close in the past with Microsoft in actually helping establish hardware for the XBox and at least knowing what was under the hood of the 360, Halo games have almost always seemed to utilize the graphical horsepower of said consoles. When I went back and played some Reach over the last weekend, I was slightly disappointed in how the visuals look compared to some of the games that have been released this year. In my opinion, Arkham City and Gears of War 3 are the best looking games on the console, so Halo 4 has some catching up to do. At this point in the console's life cycle it might be pretty difficult to squeeze any better graphics out than what have already been presented, but maybe what Halo 4 needs isn't just a visual boost from a technical standpoint, but more importantly from an art standpoint. I would love to see some sort of stylistic change as 343 tries to make this game their own.
I still remember the first time that guy at my local, long since closed, Blockbuster told me that Halo could be played with other players that weren't even on the same console. Halo: Combat Evolved helped define a decade of games, as it was the first to really nail down FPS multiplayer on consoles. Now the genre has become incredibly stale, with Modern Warfare iterations being released every year with only marginal improvements. I want to see something new out of Halo 4 multiplayer, and that doesn't mean that I want some tacked on justification for why blue Spartans are fighting red ones. The meta-game aspect of shooters has great potential to grow and in order for Halo to stay relevant it needs to bring something revolutionary to the table. Most shooter games have been tacking on some rip-off of the Gears of War Horde mode, and quite frankly if it's not going to be as good or better than in Gears, then please don't even bother. Focusing resources on the games' strengths is critical (I say this obviously having never actually developed a game). I have full faith that the many Halo vets at 343 can get it done, as long as they are given the free reign to do so.
Rampant Homophobia and Racism
Of all the things I expect to see in Halo 4, this is the one I'm not looking forward to. Xbox Live is an absolute haven for rude, crude idiots. It's like the cantina in A New Hope, there are just slime balls everywhere. If anything has the potential to kill online gaming, it's not the games, it's the people. Party systems and a one-button mute system need to also be taken to the next level, because I don't need 12 year olds questioning my sexual preference. I would absolutely love to see some sort of report/ban system that was easy so people who refuse to be excellent to those they play with can be punished.
Let's face it, I've already got Halo 4 on pre-order, so whether these elements are fully realized or not, I'll be buying the game. I look forward to seeing more details released leading up to the Holiday season launch.
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