Food for thought: The MA5C ruined Halo. (analysis through retrospective clarity)

#1KageNoSenshiPosted 1/21/2013 8:55:06 AM
80/80
**TL;DR warning up front** This is for people who are willing to have a deep discussion about the history and progression of Halo.

And no, I am not saying that the MA5C was a bad or broken weapon. It was merely introduced at the wrong point in the series.

Halo: CE "legitimized" console FPSs. That's not to say that it was the first good one, but it had so many aspects between the core gameplay itself, solid gametypes, and the additional variety/customization available that made it a very addictive game. It was almost universally loved. It was the reason to own an Xbox. I know I bought I Xbox specifically for Halo, I can only imagine many others did as well. There was almost nothing to hate about this game, it was very well executed (even for the campaign).

If there was any complaint to be had about CE's multiplayer, though, it was the M6D. Some people didn't like or understand that the M6D was so much more deadly than the MA5B. They also didn't like how effective it really was: w/ its 12 round mag it was capable of 4 kills before needing a reload, and w/ its fire rate it could kill people very quickly. Whether or not you agree w/ this complaint, Bungie still took measures to rebalance this.

The MA5B became the M7, and the M6D became the BR55. And the majority rejoiced. In addition to the aesthetic changes to these to satisfy one of the major complaints of CE, and the nerf of the BR from a 3SK to a 4SK to satisfy the 2nd, these changes had another significant driving factor: dual-wielding. Now the "AR" could be dual-wielded to increase its effectiveness, while the "pistol" couldn't be, because it was now a 2-handed weapon. This was a huge deal, not only to the players and in the scope of the game, but in the lore itself. One of the major inclusions to the Mark VI upgrade was the ability to simultaneously track the status of two independent weapons.

Along w/ this came a reimagining of certain weapons and an overall change in balance, but also w/ it came different possible combinations to deal w/ different situations accordingly. This further diversified the gameplay experience, and even though the weapons by themselves weren't grossly underpowered (except maybe the Needler), they weren't overpowered when dual-wielded either.

Now granted, Halo 2 wasn't perfect either, but for the most part this system worked greatly. One of the major complaints (outside of the "button inputs" and super-jumping) was that spawning w/ only the SMG left you at a distinct disadvantage against anyone else who hadn't just respawned themselves. Anyone who had picked up anything else could easily get the upper hand on you, and you had to find another weapon immediately just to be at all competitive.

So, now in progressing from H2, Bungie has to fix those 3 issues I just mentioned. The engine issues were more cut and dry, but the weapon issue is where there was a split from the spirit of H2. Realistically, the issue could been fixed w/ 2 simple changes: a slight buff to the SMG's (and all other dual-wieldable weapons') accuracy, and spawning with a sidearm pistol in reserve. This would allow you to at least stand somewhat more of a chance of dropping the shields of an enemy, then switch to your secondary and finish off the kill. You are still at a disadvantage when it comes to TTK, but you are not so hopelessly outclassed.

Bungie went a different route though: they introduced the the MA5C. Likely an attempt at bringing back nostalgia from CE, this weapon was buffed in an attempt to make players more viable at spawn. That's what people wanted, so it should have been satisfactory, right?

This had another universal effect on the game though: the AR was now a 2-handed weapon again, and therefore no longer dual-wieldable. So now what does this mean overall?
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#2KageNoSenshi(Topic Creator)Posted 1/21/2013 8:56:51 AM
This means that the SMG and the AR cannot be equally powerful. Having 2 SMGs now would be doubly effective compared to someone who just spawned w/ an AR, and therefore spawning w/ the AR would leave you totally outclassed again. Dual-wielding more or less suffered an overall nerf in H3, and the marginal benefit of dual-wielding didn't seem worthwhile compared to just rolling w/ the AR you spawned w/ & finding something else.

This worked completely against the nearly universally enjoyed new system implemented in H2, and even made the lore upgrade less significant. So now that Bungie has effectively worked backwards, now they need a "new" new thing to separate H3 from H2, otherwise the gameplay will feel like an overall step backwards. Their answer? Equipment.

This not only changed the way encounters went down in Halo, it also even changed the button layout used in the game. This turned into a slight change in the "feel" of Halo, and more or less became the foundation for the remaining entries in the series. AAs in Reach further expanded on the equipment idea from H3, and now AAs and perks and whatever other attributes you can assign to your character in H4 expanded on the AAs from Reach. All of this the result of not choosing to build upon the effectiveness and balance of dual-wielding.

Now they are in a situation where every new entry in the series has to build upon the previous entry. And as such every entry becomes less and less like "Halo".

Imagine how much different the current state of Halo would be had the MA5C not been introduced in 3, and instead we only got the MA37 in Reach. The "main" series would have been able to build upon the gameplay and feel of H2, and Reach could have been a return to the feel of CE. In fact, due to the lore of Reach, introducing the AAs or equipment in Reach would have made sense as well. Sprint could have been introduced in H3, and other AAs and equipment could have been expanded upon in other Halo games that either serve as prequels or don't revolve around S-IIs/S-117.

We could have two separate "trees" of Halo, that are different from each other, but aren't forced to sacrifice as much of the original feel of Halo to still be "Halo". As it is, Halo is forced to try to change too much and please everyone everytime and in the process they are sacrificing the soul of Halo. They also would not be forced to compete w/ and replace each other, so subsequent Halo releases would not have to "overshadow" or outdo the previous one.

Now we have Halo 4, which feels absolutely nothing like Halo: CE. But how much different (better or worse) could you see the current state of Halo had Bungie stuck w/ dual-wielding as opposed to giving us the MA5C in H3?
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#3RasafarianPosted 1/21/2013 9:31:18 AM
erm... mah DMR goes PEW! PEW! PEW!

Actually this is a well considered and thought out theory. I applaud yer efforts and it's clear you care about the series and the direction it takes. Good read.
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#4Phoenixmon2Posted 1/21/2013 9:58:57 AM
I think you're comparing weapons in a very rock-paper-scissors way. There's some merit to your argument, but I don't think weapon balancing and role reassignment was in any way related to new ideas like equipment and armor abilities. The first one is just a logical step in improving a game, and the other one is a logical part in making a sequel.
#5__balePosted 1/21/2013 10:34:05 AM(edited)
i would love to discuss this but i have no idea what the weapons from each game are called. i know theres a BR from halo 2 and 3, and an assault rifle in all games except 2, but i dont know what their military names are
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#6SpiduxLimitlessPosted 1/21/2013 10:12:05 AM
You say the MA5C ruined Halo, or ruined what Halo was, but you use this paragraph to really deliver your opinion/theory, which has nothing to do with the weapons what so ever.


This not only changed the way encounters went down in Halo, it also even changed the button layout used in the game. This turned into a slight change in the "feel" of Halo, and more or less became the foundation for the remaining entries in the series. AAs in Reach further expanded on the equipment idea from H3, and now AAs and perks and whatever other attributes you can assign to your character in H4 expanded on the AAs from Reach. All of this the result of not choosing to build upon the effectiveness and balance of dual-wielding.


I'm not totally disagreeing with you, you put a lot of thought into this, but there were several factors over the H3->Reach->H4 progression that 'killed halo' as we knew it, not just the weapons or the equipment/AA's. I made a long rant a few weeks ago about Sprint and why it was a key factor in the downfall of Halo; basically they tried to keep the core physics the same as possible from previous Halo's while also throwing things on top of the engine that weren't there before and didn't belong without overhauling the entire system; some of those things were the AA system, sprinting, and stuff along those lines.

The problem with a complete overhaul to make the AA/Sprinting/Etc system fit seamlessly is that it would definitely not feel like Halo anymore, even less than it does now. The Dev's didn't want this, this is Halo after all, so they crammed these new aspects on as best as they could in the hopes that it would all fit together nicely. Obviously it's lacking.

Now, they could improve upon everything and fix it. The core physics of this game are excellent, the potential is there. Slight changes to the hitboxes, slight nerfs of a few things while also slightly buffing other things, the ability to toggle certain things off, they could fix this game. I doubt they will, however, because they probably have the majority of their Dev crew already working on the next Halo and are probably using this game as a public beta, or trail of sorts for their next game in which we are promised "it will be much better".

We can hope, right?
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#7SpiduxLimitlessPosted 1/21/2013 10:12:50 AM
From: __bale | Posted: 1/21/2013 10:10:12 AM | #005
t i have no idea what the weapons from each game are called. i know theres a BR from halo 2 and 3, and an assault rifle in all games except 2, but i dont know what they're military names are



Yeah... That was confusing me a bit too.
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#8KageNoSenshi(Topic Creator)Posted 1/21/2013 11:09:54 AM
#4 Phoenixmon2 Posted
I think you're comparing weapons in a very rock-paper-scissors way. There's some merit to your argument, but I don't think weapon balancing and role reassignment was in any way related to new ideas like equipment and armor abilities. The first one is just a logical step in improving a game, and the other one is a logical part in making a sequel.

My theory is that the direction of weapon balancing was a result of reinstituting a 2-handed main spawn weapon. I also feel that role assignment is an expansion on equipment, which was implemented as a counter to the reduced importance of dual-wielding in Halo 3 in order to have "advancement". It took what they did w/ Reach and further made your character more "specialized" toward a specific style of combat and tactics.

Also, Halo worked fine before role assignment. In fact that was one of the main elements of the gameplay; Spartans (especially S-IIs) are supposed to be able to scrounge on the battlefield, make use of whatever they can find and adapt to dynamic situations. This is another aspect that was core to the experience, and again, this was a huge part of the lore itself that is almost being retconned by the direction the game design is taking.

#5 __bale Posted
i would love to discuss this but i have no idea what the weapons from each game are called. i know theres a BR from halo 2 and 3, and an assault rifle in all games except 2, but i dont know what they're military names are

I kinda did that out of space constraints and convenience of typing. But they are as follows:
M6D = CE pistol
MA5B = CE AR
M7 = H2 SMG
BR55 = H2 BR
MA5C = H3 AR
MA37 = Reach AR

#6 SpiduxLimitless Posted
You say the MA5C ruined Halo, or ruined what Halo was, but you use this paragraph to really deliver your opinion/theory, which has nothing to do with the weapons what so ever.

Again, it's not so much the weapon itself as much as it's the existence of the weapon and its effect on the overall flow and balance of the game. The MA5C effectively negated dual-wielding and thus completely changed the direction the Halo series progressed.

In effect, it's more like I'm saying "their decision to introduce the MA5C in H3 ruined Halo", not the actual weapon itself. It does what its supposed to; it does make an effective spawn weapon. And since Reach goes back to the Mark V armor, which doesn't "allow" dual-wielding, the MA37 fits perfectly and it didn't have to deal w/ being balanced against dual-wielding, nor would it have had to replace dual-wielding in the Mark VI armor either.

On somewhat of a tangent, the DMR in Reach is also supposed to be a sort of "extension" of the CE pistol, but they went too far to nerf it. AAs and bloom, AND 2 more shots to kill on top of that. The DMR in Reach would have been much better w/ properly implemented bloom and a 4SK. Again, trying to tweak too much at once and not doing a good job of it.

The series can obviously be fixed, it's just a matter of them figuring out what they need to do to fix it. And I'm thinking a big part of that is going to be "not trying to implement everything up til now and then keep adding more on top of it".
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#9Moody_DroidPosted 1/21/2013 11:55:02 AM
Definitely not reading any of this casual whinefest
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#10KageNoSenshi(Topic Creator)Posted 1/21/2013 11:59:18 AM(edited)
kthxbai

Like I said this thread is only for those willing to engage in high level discussion. You are free to not participate.
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