First off, I really enjoyed this episode. I’m a new listener to the podcast (though I’ve known about it for years) and I like most of what the guys talk about in the show. As a note of interest, I listened to a previous episode that talked about Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn and I remember having strong reactions. So much so, in fact, that it became part of the impetus for starting this blog. Here are my reactions to some parts of this episode.
Quick-Time Events in Campaign: Yes, I agree that they were too short to be challenging but I disagree that it was lame. They used this mechanic to drive the story forward and give players a more visceral sense of being Master Chief. I know that sounds like something quoted directly from Kiki Wolfkill, but I truly see it in the way that they do. I think it would be awesome if Halo 5 were to have more challenging QTEs, but I can also imagine the legions of fans crying out “Not Halo!” if that happened. I may just be more open to 343i’s vision than others. Hell, I’m probably one of the few out there that believed in them from the beginning.
Spartan Ops: This new way of bringing content to the players has the blessing and curse of being a hybrid of TV show and Firefight. It can’t tell stories in the length of time that TV shows do and it’s not a meaningless alien-stompfest like Firefight was. Spartan Ops, however, takes the essence of both by cramming subtle details into each episode while giving missions more purpose. With that said, going directly into Sarah Palmer’s story would not have made sense in Episode One. The episode touched on the fact that people died in New Phoenix because of what happened at the end of Halo 4’s campaign. It explains humanity’s (poking their morbidly curious noses in Forerunner stuff) and the Covenant’s (religious zeal for Forerunner stuff) reasons for being on Requiem. They managed to do all of that in a very short amount of time. Likewise with the first 5 missions, they seem monotonous and inconsequential at first, but I believe they’re just the warmup. I get the impression that 343i is doing just like what they did with ‘Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn’ by letting the first couple of episodes feel like a drag. It’s hard to understand or appreciate a new story in an established universe if you don’t see how it connects to pre-existing knowledge. But now that Episode Three is out, you can already tell that things are getting interesting (I mean, c’mon, how many of you actually predicted that ending?)
Halo 4’s New Progression & Scoring System: I am part of the small percentage of Halo fans who play Halo for the story and not the multiplayer. I tried to change that when Halo: Reach came out, but it didn’t work. This new system gives me an opportunity to care about multiplayer enough to give it (yet) another chance. Sure, I’d love to improve my K/D ratio, but if my one random Hail Mary was the five points my team needed to win, then I feel good knowing I did something right (besides avoiding death as much as possible). 343i has said they want to bridge the gap between campaign and multiplayer and this system does that. So yes, it may seem like an annoyance/inconvenience to the fragternity to not have their kill counts prominently displayed, but it’s a gateway drug for us story-driven folk. 343i is already doing things to keep multiplayer fans happy, so it’s nice that they remember players like me exist.
I understand that change is hard, but I think it’s too soon to give a complete verdict of 343i’s take on Halo. I like the fact that I have more things to look forward to even after the game’s release. No amount of DLC (except maybe the Anniversary map pack) gave me that same excitement in previous games.
All in all, great job Podtacular. I look forward to hearing future episodes!
Long Live Halo!