2015 is shaping up to be a jam packed year when it comes to big budget games ( and of course a good mix of smaller ones as well). Pre-E3 we already had a good feel on what games we would be seeing by year end and while that line up may have seen its fair share of delays and push backs , its still shaping up to be an awesome Q4.
The big category that everyone on the internet is keeping an eye on is Shooters.The flame wars and Internet debates over what Shooter will reign supreme every year is a time honored tradition that we gamer’s get to partake in every year.However , every TWO years we get an extra special treat because that is usually when we see the HALO franchise rise up and pound its chest.
Unlike Call of Duty, Halo has an approximate 2 year development cycle which means the community and fans gets a good amount of time between releases to actually appreciate the franchise and also give the franchise some breathing room so it does not go stale like the aforementioned Call of Duty which in this writers opinion has SEVERE franchise Fatigue.
Our last outing with Master Chief was in 2012 and it was also the year that Halo was developed entirely by the studio 343 Industries rather than the franchise creator, Bungie. Halo 4 brought a lot of new ideas to the table as well as giving us the start of a new trilogy to sink our teeth into for the players who loved Halo for its deep mythology ( and who doesn’t ? ). While as a whole fans were pleased with Halo 4, there was still a fair amount of criticism leveled at it for the liberties that where taken with core HALO game play mechanics. Many ” PRO” players cited a heavy Call of Duty influence and a departure from core gun play that the Halo Multiplayer experience had refined. Halo 4 was trapped in a no win battle with its fans , not enough change and it would be panned for lack of innovation yet change too much and it would get beat up for drifting too far from core fundamentals. The end result was a game that stalled somewhere in between and in the end everyone went back to playing Black Ops 2 which was that years Call of Duty release. Halo 4 stepped up to challenge the king of shooters and was unsuccessful that year.
Fast forward three years and we have yet again another showdown with Call of Duty and lo and behold…its Black Ops 3! The question on everyone’s mind is…”Can Halo dethrone COD in 2015″
Here is why I think it can and will.
1: Call of Duty has franchise Fatigue: After 10 years and an equal amount of games ( That’s right folks, you get a new Call of Duty game every year…surprise!) its a given that a certain amount of Call of Duty players will be suffering COD burn out. As the games continue to converge as far as a time frame and theme goes Activision is running out of wiggle room to innovate and WOW players with new and exciting games. Activision is now juggling multiple ” Numbered” franchises within its main franchise. This year we get Black Ops 3 which is a follow up to last years Advanced Warfare. While the game is technically different, it does share many similarity’s with the previous game that gamer’s may have a tough time not considering them a glorified expansion pack/DLC. Not only that but XBOX players have spent the last year playing Titanfall which Black Ops 3’s game play has more than a passing resemblance to.
2: Gamer’s love a good story: Narrative has always been Halo’s strong point and in the years since it was launched back on the original XBOX , the series has developed its universe to encompass novels, comics and even cartoons. The Halo story is one of the main reasons it endures to this day and Guardians is primed to take it to the next level with 4 player Co Op play and two different cast of characters. This is a game that promises to have an amazing story and not only that but you can play it with your friends every step of the way!
3: Innovation in all the right amounts: The biggest change to how Halo 5 Guardians will play is the new “Smart Aim” or ADS mechanic. I have had a long running bet with several friends over when Halo would buckle under industry pressure and implement this feature. To the clarify , A.D.S stands for Aim Down Sights or ” Iron Sights” Its a mechanic that was popularized with Call of Duty and is pretty much a standard in all shooters since. Halo had to balance a tiny tightrope when implementing this feature and the verdict is still out on whether it was a good choice. Regardless 343 is showing its moxie by challenging status quo and changing things up.
4: A rebuilt game engine built with specific hardware: We all knew this was coming. Halo 5 will be an entirely new engine designed for Next Gen Halo. Unlike this years Call of Duty title H5:Guardians is truly taking advantage of the hardware its running on.This will allow for bigger sandboxes and of course better graphics that we have ever seen in a Halo game before. This is also the first time ( outside of last years Master Chief Collection) that we will get Halo running at 60fps. Halo 5 Guardians will truly be a Next Generation Halo built for Xbox One!
5: Dedicated Servers in Multiplayer: While in itself not a game breaker for whether the franchise will see a resurgence in its popularity it does out a bullet point on its cover. Its a huge bullet point with the E sport crowd. This will allow Halo matches to be played out with next to no lag and rock solid connections EVEN when playing in private matches. Just like Titanfall, Microsoft is using its Azure server farm to equip players with dedicated servers to play there matches on . These servers will be handed out whenever a multiplayer match is qued up regardless of game type or whether it is a public or private match. Very few games if not any can can say that they have that kind of resources behind them.
Only time will tell if my prediction is correct but there is no denying that Halo 5 Guardians has a tremendous amount of momentum building up behind it and this may be the year that gamer’s around the world just decide that they want in on some of Master Chief action .
This book has not closed yet…