Wish List Rebuttal

Ducain over at High Impact Halo put up a wish list for Halo 3. I thought I'd take some of his points and respond to them: ones I liked, and ones I didn't. Thanks to Louis Wu at HBO for the notice.

1. Online co-op for campaign - a must. I've written quite a few posts about this in the past, so I'll mostly leave it alone here, but again I'll say that a quality campaign game coupled with an effective and enjoyable online co-op experience would keep Halo 3 in the cd tray of many Xbox 360s for many years to come. Here's hoping we get this great feature.

Couldn't agree more. If Doom 3 can do it, so can Halo 3, if Bungie makes it a high enough priority. Have they? Don't know, but here's hoping.

2. Wide open levels with the ability to play them through in numerous ways (like SC). I'm pleased to hear (from the updates) that it appears we'll be getting some of this. Excellent news.

Also goes without saying. Halo 3 doesn't have to be a breakthrough in nonlinear gameplay and storytelling. It just needs to not make us feel as if we're trapped in a shoebox.

3. Melee attack to be as identical to Halo 1 as possible. The melee in Halo 2 is just weak and useless in most cases, where Halo 1 it was a vital part of campaign combat. I'm begging Bungie to restore this to its former glory.

That one I'm not sure of. I have to admit, I truly enjoyed the few opportunities Halo 1 provided for "stealth" play. However, it also raised a number of questions. Why are you able to kill Covenant units, who cry out in pain and fire a few weapon rounds, without alerting others nearby? Why do Covenant patrols tromp right over fallen comrades without giving the alarm? This one may be too tough a nut to crack without seriously altering what Halo is, and what Halo is, is not a stealth game.

Tell you what-- I'll trade you. I'll take a stronger, longer-range standard melee attack, if Bungie takes out the sword lunge completely and puts back fall damage. Deal? If the lunge was the only way for sword players to get in a kill, then how about making it deflect bullets?

4. As with number 3, I'm wishing that the grenades resemble their Halo 1 counterparts as much as is possible. The grenades in Halo 1 just felt perfect. They were satisfyingly deadly and ... ya. Can we have them back please? The Halo 2 grenades seemed horrible to me. Please let them die.

I'm gripped by the sense that if Halo 2 had been released with Halo 1's grenades and vice-versa, there would be universal clamoring to nerf grenades as they are too overpowered and lead to players simply spraying and praying with grenades.

5. No skulls or similar features that change the game physics. I know this request will suprise a few people, but to be honest, I never have liked the skulls. Don't get me wrong though - I'm not against cool features that surprise the players, and I certainly enjoyed the HUNT for the skulls, but I want the physics to be the same for every player, all the time. I don't want a skull that changes the gravity, or the force of explosions.

Duke, let me offer an amendment to your wish here, by trying to anticipate your reasons for doing so. I really don't want to see the skulls go away. There's a great history in Bungie games, going back to Marathon, with modifiable physics. I want some access to tinker with the game that way, and I liked the hunt for them. If anything, I'd like finding skulls to be harder, but give the player some way to activate them through the menu once found. Just in the interest of saving time. I like to play some parts of campaign with the Thunderstorm skull, and creating multiple profiles to have save points near skulls is tedious. Make the skulls tougher to get the first time, and then easily accessible afterwards.

What I think you want, Duke, is a way of knowing, when you're looking at a trick, what skulls are active. Right now, you've got to trust the trickster (or make judgments based on what you see.) With the addition of saved films, I can only hope the game engine will store this information somewhere accessible, so that you can see what, if any, skulls or skull-like modifications were active at the time the film was recorded. If the game displayed a little icon on the screen for each active skull, that would be great, too, as it would also provide an indicator for films created the old fashioned way.

6. Insta-kill areas just suck. Please loose them. Barries - sure. Insta-kill - sucks.

Also a hearty agreement. I suppose if I had one thing to say on that topic, it's that within a few months, if not weeks, after the release of the new game, someone will find a way to finish each and every level while consuming only part of the level's content, and in a fraction of the time the designers originally intend.

This does not require additional action from the designers to prevent it. The replayability afforded by allowing for the possibility of logical and reasonable exploration outside of the areas designated for player interaction in my opinion far outweighs the negative consequences to immersion and suspension of disbelief afforded by methods put in place to prevent such exploration.

It is an essential component to the player's sensation that they are in a living, breathing world that they can go just about anywhere at any time without artificial restrictions, whether it's a place they are "supposed to" go or not.

Sure, allowing this means allowing players the ability to skip huge portions of levels. That doesn't seem to affect anyone's opinion of the game, or that level, negatively.

Look at Assault on the Control Room, for instance. Easily one of Halo 1's longest levels when played as intended, it can be among the shortest if one uses all the available tricks: jumping down off the first bridge, stealing a couple of banshees, done. But this is all up to the player's choice. If they want to skip that content, they can. If they don't, they don't have to.

7. Campaign stats - wow. I'd like to see as many stats kept for campaign as MP.

I'd also like to see that. Myth had them, why not Halo? I realize that Halo's campaign is not supposed to be about shooting percentage or killing percentages, but it would add even more replayability. Perhaps have this feature unlocked by completing the game's campaign? On Legendary?

8. We NEED a water level. I mean, I would LOVE to see a level where we ride in boats/submarines, fight on/below the water, etc. That would be excellent.

I could take or leave this one. Air combat in Halo is already under-utilized with Banshees the only combat unit. Pelicans and Phantoms can neither be flown, nor destroyed. I'd sooner see Bungie expand air combat than add sea combat. Gameplay-wise, what distinguishes combat in a sea vehicle from combat in a land vehicle, except that the terrain is absolutely flat and uniform? Doesn't sound interesting to me. The only way to make it interesting would be combat on a river, and that just sounds too much like Half-Life 2's canal sections. Thanks, but No Thanks.

9. Can we have the Halo 1 physics back please? Since this is all pie-in-the-sky anyhow, I'd like to request from the Bungie gods that the physics be EXACTLY like Halo 1. Everything about the Halo 1 physics was SO FUN to play, from the bouncey, launchable warthog, to the grenade physics, to the shields and overshields. For the life of me, I can't understand why that amazing combination of goodness was changed.

Dear Lord, no. I can see what Duke misses here. Despite Bungie's admissions about how simplistic Halo 1's spring-based physics were, I also have a soft spot for them. Melee strikes somehow seemed more solid. Bouncing heavy things is fun. But the system was I think far less comprehensive than Bungie wanted, and I want Bungie focusing on art, music, character, plot, and sound. Licensing Havok gives them physics they can customize, and frees them up to do those other things.