The Movement in Halo

With the release of Halo Master Chief Collection we can finally see how this classic game stacks up against the new trend in multiplayer shooters: movement.  Titanfall introduced the concept of wall running, double jumping, and fast dodging,  most recently Call of Duty Advanced Warfare introduced many of these same concepts.  Movement in video games has become more fun and more fluid and more changes are likely on the horizon.

Click past the break for some video on Halo 5: Guardians!

But where does Halo fit within the greater context of movement in video games.  Halo 4 started to expand armor abilities that were first introduced in Halo 3 and Halo: Reach.   For me the most useful and fun ability was the jet pack because it made movement more fun and the maps more accessible.  By giving the player more access to movement abilities the developers are also giving the player more access to the map and more options when playing.

This last point is crucial to expanding the state of first person shooters.  Now lets think about Halo MCC.  The remake of Ascension, titled Zenith, is beautiful and expands upon the map layout to give players more options.  But the gameplay in Halo fundamentally is still limiting the players choices.  Both of the outposts at either side of the map have a sniper nest higher up, but in order to get there you have walk up a long ramp which leaves you exposed.  There is no other option.  That is why Tower of Power works so well: the area is well guarded and it takes a truly massive force to take the tower down.

Imagine if Halo had a double jump.  Your options of attacking the tower just grew.  And defenders now have to be a little bit more alert as players can attack from multiple directions.  Halo succeeded because its maps typically allow for multiple points of attack which kept players engaged while defending and attacking.  Now that gamers have been introduced to new movement models,  the way we attack and look at different maps has changed.

When I go back and play some of the multiplayer that Halo MCC offers, I feel that something is missing.  The nostalgia factor for this game was so high that almost nothing could live up to my expectations.  But running around on these classic maps with classic controls and movement, feels classic.  I want to be able to double jump like Destiny, I want to dash dodge like Titanfall, and I want to be able to sprint and slide like Call of Duty.  These different types of movement open up the game for more creative thinking on the players part.

Halo MCC is still one of the most fun experiences I’ve had playing video games.  The story holds up, the new graphics are fantastic, and the gameplay is beyond fun and responsive.  But I’m spoiled by other games.  I expect to sprint from cover to cover and then jump and dash to get out of the way of rockets and snipers.  I feel limited in Halo.  Not in a bad way, because at the same time the game feels pure.  But I feel limited because just by playing Team Slayer on Zenith I appreciated the fluidity  and fun that modern movement mechanics offer.

As we look to the horizon, Halo 5: Guardians might be the game to really get movement right.  Seven new spartan abilities have been introduced, thruster pack, ground pound, clamber, slide, charge, sprint, and smart scope.  Each one looking to offer the player more options in each fire fight.  Check out the video below for one of the first public Halo 5 Exhibition Matches.

Also, does anyone else notice that we are Guardians in Destiny, Halo 5’s subtitle is Guardians, and in Halo 2 you could be killed by the Guardians?  Hmmmm

-Jake

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