Dear 343 Industries,
November 10, 2014 11:55pm. All I remember was being excited, like a kid knowing Christmas is the next day. I made my decision about 3 months prior to take off work the day that the Master Chief Collection was coming out. I’m not one to take time off of work for reasons other than traveling but this felt different.
Now a brief backstory, Halo was basically my childhood. I grew up on battle creek 2v2’s with friends and team slayer lobbies with my clan mates and friends. Halo 2 was also my first run in with MLG and the world of E-Sports and competitive gaming in general. It’s safe to say Halo 2 played a part in who I was as a kid growing up. Halo 3 was no different, I never missed a day of High School in my life…..besides the day Halo 3 came out. Even my own mother understood how much I loved the franchise when her, along with my friend’s mom allowed us both to skip and get the game and play. We beat the campaign during the day just so we could play multiplayer all night. Halo Reach was no different and Halo 4 was the same deal, I sat at a GameStop from 11pm till midnight, came home and hopped right into multiplayer with my roommate (college) and played till the sun came up (so college).
Unfortunately, Halo 4 had a short lived cycle. With the introduction of bloom, sprint, and loadouts the landscape of Halo had changed dramatically for the worst. It felt like Halo….yet it wasn’t Halo. Now let me state that the Halo 4 campaign was AWESOME, the multiplayer however, is where I have my issue.
It felt as if 343 tried too hard to make their own imprint on the franchise. The introduction of loadouts was the start of the trouble for me, add that to a non existent ranking system and an almost Call of Duty like progression system and you had a recipe of disaster for Halo fans. Before I continue my rant I must say with Halo 4 343 Industries had an uphill battle to climb, Call of Duty was hitting it’s stride as the best console FPS and Halo after Reach which was just “meh” had some work to do to win back fans. What 343 went for was bold…..but way to bold. Halo fans are simple to please, don’t make me sprint, give me a BR, let me figure out where the power weapons spawn and give me a solid rank system and we’re set. 343 did NONE OF THIS. They made our characters too mobile, the DMR became a god tool, and the power weapons were replaced with an almost COD like “kill-streak.”
This was where the sadness started my friends. My love for Call of Duty blossomed because of it, but that’s not the point. The point is the sadness that occurred on November 11th 2014.
So after standing in the freezing cold on November 10th 2014 the clock struck 12:00am and the date switched to November 11th and I was allowed to enter the Best Buy and pick up my copy of Halo: Master Chief Collection.
This was the crown jewel of gaming, or supposed to be. The be all end all of FPS’. They stated for 60 DOLLARS you get Halo 1, Halo 2, Halo 3, and Halo 4 (who cares) all the campaigns and more importantly the multi-player with a touched up version of Halo 2. WOWWWWWWW. WOWWWWW. WHATTTTTTT. I just started throwing money at my TV at that point. I literally went out and bought an Xbox One solely for this game and Halo 5. I remember vividly just sharing old Halo memories with everyone in line just waiting to go home and load up some Halo 2 online slayer matches.
This is when my nightmare began. I come home at 12:21am and load the game into my console, start the download (takes about an hour). Whilst it’s downloading I decided to play some Halo 1 campaign just to relive those memories.
Multiplayer is now downloaded and I go to load into a match….it’s still loading…..and loading….and loading….and loading….and loading. I sat on my couch until 4am to get into one game. One game. My god, when I got into that one match it was like a symphony playing a classic song it just felt right, it felt beautiful, it felt like I never left. However, 2 hours after that match it’s 6am and it’s still the only match I played. I go to bed. Defeated yet excited for a full day off of work to do nothing but play Halo 2 multiplayer.
Like an utter savage I wake up at 9 am (Yolo no work). Tired as can be I stumble to my Xbox One and boot up Master Chief Collection and attempt to load into a Halo 2, Halo 3, Halo 4, Halo 1 match….nothing happens…..for THREE HOURS. Now it’s noon and for 12 hours I collectively had played 1 match. I ended up on Reddit threads reading similar stories. Finished that day playing 4 matches in 24 hours. 4 matches in TWENTY FOUR HOURS.
Ok, that’s fine….343 will have this fixed in a few days, one week tops. WELP. That surely didn’t happen as the game struggled with latency and lagging well into February, 4 months after launch. By then the damage was done, my love for that game was fading. At that point I had moved on to numerous other games.
The whole situation just left me with a terrible taste in my mouth. I understand that 343 has a lot of pressure on them but this mistake was unforgivable. One of if not the greatest FPS franchise of all time now has a blemish on it. If anything, I was more upset for younger gamers who never new what it was like to go on a killing spree on single flag CTF on Zanzibar in Halo 2 while your 2 buddies road around in a warhog killing everyone in the process. They saw it as a broken franchise and swiftly re inserted their Call of Duty and Destiny discs.
I want nothing more than Halo 5 to be a massive success. Maybe I will buy it. For now though, I will wait. I’ll wait till reviews are out and even a month after it’s launch to see how it’s doing. It is a lot harder nowadays for games to have staying power, yet if anyone is capable of doing it, it’s the Master Chief himself.
I will seesaw all week up until this game releases on whether or not I should buy the console and game. My fear is real and I firmly believe that if this game bombs it’s the end of an era for one of the most beloved franchises we’ve come to know.
That is a day I hope we never have to see.
Godspeed 343 Industries, please don’t mess this one up.