Halo’s nostalgia problem
Now lets make this clear. We’re not saying that Halo on PC is a bad thing. In fact, it’s a dream come true. The problem is far more nuanced than that. If you were into gaming in the early 2000s, you likely played your fair share of Halo. Doesn’t matter which one, the early games all felt like their own pieces of art, chiselled from the same ones and zeros as Micheal Angelo. The gun play was interesting, the 3D graphics were awe inspiring and the art direction was phenomenal. Sure, it had it’s limitations, but compared to other games of the era, Halo certainly stood out as an instant classic.
They weren’t without their flaws, though. Halo: Combat Evolved was notorious for interesting bugs that made competitive play at the highest level look like hackers in CSGO. Weapon switches, grenade bugs and animation glitches were the only way to truly be good in competitions and it made casual play feel far removed. This isn’t a huge problem, but it does discourage newer players getting into the competitive scene. Halo 2 wasn’t much better, and Halo 3 had massive net code issues. It was widely known that your Assault rifle bullets would commonly be swallowed by the internet, making them almost obsolete in anything but campaign, which was a sad sight for one of the most iconic weapons in videogames.
The Masterchief collection has brought these older games back into our hands with a fresh coat of paint, meaning players from the original games and curious newcomers can relive the good old days of blasting elites and tea bagging Spartans. The issue is, this is NOT Halo: Combat Evolved or Halo 2. They are ports done by separate companies (most notably GearBox Interactive) that attempt to fix old bugs but have brought with them lots of differences that makes the experience feel a bit… eerie. Sure, you’re playing the original Halo games, but something feels off.
Another problem is the ever growing list of playlists. Halo: Reach allows you to delve into various playlists, multiple disciplines in 1v1, 2v2, 4v4, 8v8 and even 12 player combat – not to mention Invasion and Firefight. This creates a saturation problem, meaning each playlist has less players in it as they are all trying to find games across each game type. On top of this, filling in the gaps, are Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2 AND Halo 2: Anniversary, which is considered its own separate online game, even though it’s buy and large a re-skinned Halo Reach game. This means if you wish to play Halo 2 SWAT, you have to limit your search to ONLY people playing Halo 2 and SWAT. Players on Halo: Reach SWAT make your search even less likely, for instance. Remember, We still have Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST and Halo 4 to come to PC.
The problem is simple – We love Halo, but we don’t want to give any of it up. We all love the idea of playing Halo: Combat Evolved Big Team Battle on Blood Gulch, but we’re spreading the player base so thin that we’re struggling to find like minded players who have the same gaming craving. Not to mention that the games aren’t exact copies, making the whole experience feel like a strange pipe dream with Halo assets.
How do is fixed? Well, removing games and playlists is always going to be controversial, and Halo 5: Guardians has proved that Halo fans don’t exactly love change. The obvious fix is to have a weekly playlist that everyone uses, with rotating games and game modes, but ultimately nostalgia might fail to triumph and we’ll all go back to Halo Reach, as it’s arguably the best feeling Halo Game on PC at the moment.