The Culture: ‘Halo’ is in trouble
I’ll admit it. It hadn’t occurred to me that having defined the first-person shooter on the original Xbox, Halo isn’t doing so hot these days. The latest game in the franchise, Halo Wars 2, is great by most estimates, but it’s not a replacement for the mainline franchise. A recent article puts a finer point on the issues plaguing the Halo universe. Its movie project was shelved, and no game developed by 343 Industries has managed to eclipse the sales of Halo 3. I felt like I needed a drink after reading it.
Published by Glixel, the long form piece goes into detail about what’s hurting the Halo franchise. In particular, it focuses on how Halo 4 and Halo 5: Guardians made some huge mistakes that also doomed Bungie’s Halo 2.
“Halo 4 might have played it safe, but in getting the series moving again, it was also a success. It’s tougher to say the same about Halo 5: Guardians, which arrived in 2015 and sold about half as well as Halo 3 – which was released at roughly the same point in the Xbox 360’s lifecycle. Here, having apparently not been paying such close attention, 343 repeats the most glaring mistake of Halo 2 – it introduces a new character and makes us play as him, even though playing Halo and being Master Chief are one and the same thing. In fact, Halo 5’s deviations go even further than Halo 2’s Arbiter missions, setting us at odds with Master Chief and calling his (our?) motivations into doubt. The result is a stuttering campaign constantly undercutting its own momentum.”
Now, having loved Halo 5: Guardians‘ campaign mechanics, I’m fulling willing to admit that something about the game was off: the story. The new team member controls and movement mechanics were solid, but splitting time between two characters wasn’t fun. I wasn’t a fan of the Hunt The Truth PR build-up that sold everyone on a narrative completely different from what we got in the story either.
Anyway, read the piece. It offers a balanced examination of where the series stands. All the while, keep in mind that we have to be in for a Halo game in 2018. At least, it feels like it’s about time for another. I’ve told this story many times on the podcast; if it wasn’t for Halo 3, I wouldn’t have had an Xbox 360. I picked one up to get my hands on Star Trek Legacy. When I realized it was garbage, I picked up Halo 3. I’ve been a fan of the franchise ever since.