Halo is an incredible franchise that has changed the face of gaming as we know it. It acted as sort of a bridge between the old school arcade style shooters, with weapon and health pickups, and new military style shooters, with regenerating health and loadouts. It put the Xbox name on the map back when Microsoft was the odd third party console manufacturer stomping around Nintendo’s turf. It revolutionized concepts of online multiplayer, being one of the first console multiplayer shooters to actually be played primarily in an online setting. Halo was, undoubtedly, incredibly important as an artifact of video game history. But is it still important? Is Halo outdated?
I pose this question because of how the Halo franchise has evolved. In more recent installments, focus has been taken off the old-school arcade gameplay in lieu of the familiar loadout based gameplay of military shooters. Games are no longer about rushing to find the shotgun or plasma sword. They are about leveling up your character and making sure you have the right toys to serve you during every respawn.
Now that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Military style shooters are fun after all. But not every game has made the concession that you need to feel like Call of Duty to succeed out there. Look at Team Fortress 2 . It is still one of the most played games on the internet… I blame the tiny hats. But more specifically, the game stays true to its arcade roots. There are still health and ammo pickups to deal with, instead of the regenerating health of a military shooter. Cover is not as important as circle strafing. It’s a great blast to the past.
And this is part of why I say Halo may be outdated. We have to ask ourselves “what does Halo give us that other FPSs don’t?” The arcade feel has been lost and is being taken care of by games like Team Fortress 2 . The military feel is still cornered by Call of Duty and it’s thousands of clones. Heck, even the idea behind vehicles, which used to be one of Halo ’s big selling points, has translated over to the Battlefield series. Does Halo really have anything to give us besides nostalgia?
Now, don’t get me wrong, nostalgia is a powerful force. Nintendo is practically still alive due to nostalgia alone. When was the last time a Legend of Zelda game has been truly unique?
I’m not saying that Halo needs to die or that we shouldn’t purchase Halo 5 . However, I am saying that Halo isn’t the game we remember it to be. We played Halo and Halo 2 because of their revolutions in online gameplay and multiplayer shooter gameplay in general. Its shield regeneration really did help craft the face of FPS games today. Its multiplayer console lobbies are copied by basically every single online console game in existence. But now, we continue to play Halo not because it is doing anything crazy and innovative, but because we have fond memories of Halo s past. Halo is the Final Fantasy of FPS, so to speak. So, we look forward to Halo 5 not because we want to see what new things it will do, but because we hope for it to recapture the nostalgic feelings of playing Halo that we all have.