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Halo Infinite: Master Chief and the Weapon

Why Halo Will Never Return To The Glory Days

We will never get the old Halos back, even if they did everything the consensus fandom wants them to do. Why?

Because it’s not about order-taking and just doing what people want you to do. 343 has to believe in, abide by and take autonomous actions centered around the core concepts of Halo. Otherwise, they are just doing things without understanding why they are doing them.

They will never have the moral high ground to push back on excessive requests because they don’t share the same goals and values as the fandom. When you’re aligned with your fandom and have their trust, you’re allowed the cache or creative freedom to take risks and experiment because you all want the same things at the end of the day. You all share the same vision.

Not being aligned is like a bad relationship with some good moments, bad moments, and some really bad moments. 343 made it clear that they were out of touch with the release of Halo 4 and the Master Chief Collection. Halo 5 erased all hope that things would get any better, but not for the reason you think.

Halo 5 was a significant step in the right direction as far as embracing the core concepts of Halo. I know that is a controversial statement, but hear me out. If 343 had built rapport with the fandom and shown that they had a least a clue about what the fandom wanted, they could have made a pretty good case and marketing strategy for advanced mobility and the game’s new shiny look and feel.

While the campaign was poorly executed on multiple fronts, Halo 5’s multiplayer is easily my favorite multiplayer of any Halo game so far.

Halo 5 Multiplayer Action Scene - Cromatisism
Halo 5 Multiplayer

Many prominent Halo content creators outright despise sprint and advanced mobilities of Halo 5. However, from a purely objective standpoint, removing nostalgia and past Halo experiences, these features made for a well-rounded, fun, and immersive multiplayer that I couldn’t put down. I was obsessed with the game. I felt like a real Spartan even if the gameplay went in an entirely different direction than the older games. Sometimes change can be good, but you have to have the cache, vision, and foresight to see them through.

Unfortunately, prominent Halo content creators had more than enough cache within the community to demonize these features with some well-grounded arguments. Whose side would you take? 343 botched the campaign and the marketing of Halo 5. They continued the pattern of not releasing fully completed games and deprioritized fundamental aspects of Halo, such as split-screen, further losing any remaining credibility or goodwill they had with the fandom.

The fact is that 343 will never establish or align themselves with the core concepts and principles of what makes Halo, Halo. They have had more than a decade to do.

My life experience tells me that this is just the nature of corporations like Microsoft. Yes, Bungie was also a part of Microsoft.

However, Bungie was more of an indie developer acquired by Microsoft well into the development of the first Halo. With 343 being more Microsoft than not and fully integrated into corporate culture, the corporation’s needs will always outweigh the wants of the fandom.

Their philosophy will always be to democratize and optimize the process and lean on leadership that is talented in driving lucrative projects, but with little experience in creativity, care, and attention to what makes a franchise like Halo so special in the hearts and minds of the people who actually play the game.

We can see this with the proliferation of microtransactions and the new model of live service games. Microtransactions have been tolerated and begrudgingly accepted by weary fans over the last 5 to 10 years. The live service game model, while not as offensive as microtransactions, was propelled by the success of Fortnite.

Corporations begin attempting to capitalize on this phenomenon without genuinely understanding the foundation needed to support such an undertaking. And as expected, the player experience didn’t factor into the list of priorities with many game makers, especially Halo Infinite. They saw dollar signs and wins for everyone involved except for the actual customer.

Halo Infinite Multiplayer
Halo Infinite Multiplayer Courtesy of 343 Industries

Those familiar with the typical corporate culture can see it from miles away. The news media may attempt to play point and explain away why numerous high-level execs have left 343 over the past few years, but that many people leaving such a high-profile project is a huge red flag.

I can’t say if there were creative disagreements, impossible expectations, or just good old-fashion burnout, but I know that a project can not succeed with that level of turnover.

These factors explain why Halo has been such a mess since 343 took over from Bungie. There isn’t a stable foundation built around core principles of what a modern Halo game is supposed to be. Halo is nothing more than an asset on a balance sheet from Microsoft and 343 Industries.

Yes, they have the manpower and the deep pockets to deliver something passable and hit gold every once and a while with Halo 5 multiplayer or the Halo Infinity grapple hook, but a birds-eye view of their work exposes a sad truth.

The Halo will all knew and loved is gone. Halo is no longer an experience that supports such a diverse community.

The Act Man illustrates the community eloquently by liking Halo to a statue that Moders, Competitive Rank Players, Pro-Players, Forgers, Machinima, Co-op Campaigners, Lore Heads, Montogers, Memers, and Content Creators hold up, raising the all-mighty Halo statue higher than any gaming company could ever raise it. I added in a few more groups, but you get the point. Without the tools needed to do what they love to do, these communities are losing steam.

Unfortunately, we are not alone. We have already seen this trend ripple throughout the gaming industry, the movie world, and our culture in general.

Star Wars suffered a worst fate when the franchise was gifted to Disney. Spinoffs and fan-fiction were canceled, leaving the Disney Corporation to destroy everything we knew and loved about the Star Wars Trilogy. Corporations answer to their shareholders, not to the hearts and minds of those who have grown up attached to these franchises.

There is a long list of reasons things are changing with our beloved franchises, including the parasitic ideas that have engulfed our culture. I’m not going to get into that here.

However, we need to understand that these stories, ideas, and tales that gave us our culture will never be the same. And in a way, they are under lock and key, controlled by faceless, nameless, soulless entities that ultimately only see capital as valuable.

It may be challenging, but the sad truth is that we have to hold these entities accountable. We can not continue giving them our hard-earned dollars if this is how they will treat things we hold dear.

To learn why Halo was so special to me read my article Why I Fell In Love with Halo: Combat Evolved or why Halo 4 was such a big disappointment.