Halo Wars 2, the next RTS instalment in the Halo universe, is just around the corner. Fans will soon be battling ‘The Banished’ and its Brute leader Atriox, but let’s take a look beyond the upcoming release to the future, and the inevitable new chapter in the core series; Halo 6.
Many fans were less than impressed with the campaign in Halo 5: Guardians, with the introduction of Spartan Locke and Fireteam Osiris receiving significant backlash, and the overall plot heading in decidedly convoluted paths. Only those with the time to explore the expanded Halo universe through various books and other mediums can truly appreciate what 343 Industries were trying to do with Halo 5 – the rest were left baffled and somewhat let down. Halo 6 needs to steer the ship back on course, and here are a few ideas on how it can do just that. Beware: this will contain spoilers from various Halo games, including Halo 5: Guardians.
Bring the focus back to Master Chief
It’s understandable that after four core games in the Halo franchise, 343 wanted to take the series in a different direction with Halo 5. In retrospect however, making newcomer Spartan Locke the primary protagonist of the game was misguided and a big reason for many fans’ disappointment in the game. Master Chief is now synonymous with the Halo franchise, and having the player take on a different protagonist is jarring, even if the core gameplay remains unchanged. Halo 2 faced similar backlash with the introduction of Thel ‘Vadam, the playable Covenant Artbiter – though it’s fair to say that his own reputation has improved somewhat since he took on a more supporting role in Halo 3.
Halo 6 needs to focus entirely on Master Chief – at least in playable terms. With Cortana wielding the power of the Forerunner Guardians and threatening all galactic life at the end of Halo 5, the sequel should prove to be Master Chief’s most epic, yet intimate mission to date. Having Locke around as a supporting character is absolutely fine, but if 343 wants to properly portray the new conflict between Master Chief and Cortana, Master Chief needs to be fully playable from beginning to end, along with his loyal Spartan Blue Team.
Return of the Brutes
Following the end of Halo 3, the Jiralhanae, known to the human race as Brutes, disbanded from the Covenant – though those still loyal to the Covenant cause formed a new faction called ‘The Banished’. This new group, led by the ferocious Atriox, features in the upcoming Halo Wars 2. It’s unknown whether or not the group will survive the events of the next game, but since it takes place between Halo 5 and 6, it’s not unreasonable to assume they’ll play some part in the new entry.
A lot of people didn’t like the Brutes when they were introduced in Halo 2, and for good reason – the iconic Elites were no longer the ‘alpha alien’, and the Brutes (at least in Halo 2) were nothing more than aggressive bullet sponges. Their leader at the time, Chieftain Tartarus, proved to be an uninspired final boss battle and led to a lot of backlash from fans. Developer Bungie didn’t back down though, and the Brutes were vastly improved for Halo 3, with clear hierarchies among their ranks, and a whole new set of Brute weaponry and vehicles for Master Chief to play with. Bringing the Brutes back for Halo 6 will undoubtedly only prove to be a distraction for Master Chief in the grand scheme of things, but the idea of cruising around in a Brute Chopper once more is exciting enough for me.
Open sand-box levels
Halo has always been famous for its large, open space environments from the very first game. Upon leaving the Life Support Pod in the second level of Combat Evolved, fans were treated to a vast expanse of rural landscape, with luscious green grass and ginormous waterfalls. This opened the gameplay up, giving the player many options in taking down the Covenant – you could take them head on armed with a powerful pistol, or you can hop into a Warthog, circling the Covenant groups whilst a marine guns them down with the mounted machine gun.
When 343 Industries took over with Halo 4 and Halo 5, the levels became noticeably more corridor-like, boxing the player into tight spaces more like Call of Duty. The core Halo gameplay remained unchanged, but the sand-box levels that the series became known for seemed long gone. Halo 6 needs to bring back a sense of scale, enabling the player make use of Warthogs, Ghosts, Banshees and Scorpion Tanks, opening up more combat options than ever before.
This is a more personal wish of mine than anything else, but I would love to see a flashback sequence in which the humans first came in contact with the Covenant. Halo: Reach touched upon the early days of the war, but we’ve never actually seen the moment of first contact, except in written form with Halo: Fall of Reach. The emergence of the Covenant as the dominant species was a sobering moment for the human race as they lost countless vessels and colonies, and much like the flashback sequence in Gears of War 4, this period could potentially translate well to a fully realised game.
Less Prometheans, please
I know, this seems like a bit of a lost cause considering where the overarching plot for Halo is heading, but I’ve seen quite enough of the Forerunner Prometheans. Featuring heavily in both Halo 4 and Halo 5, the new species were fun to fight against, but it’s time they take a back seat to something different in Halo 6. The Promethan weaponry was similarly a novel idea, but I’d sooner choose a Battle Rifle or a Needler over a Light Rifle any day.
Since the primary antagonist of Halo 6 is likely to be Cortana and her supporting A.I systems, it may be fun if these A.I are somehow able to take on a physical form. Similarly, if (hypothetically) Cortana is able to bring various species under her control, it could open the game up to some interesting moments – imagine a fight between Master Chief and the Arbiter. I’m no storyteller, and I have faith in whatever 343 conjure up for Halo 6, but I just hope they don’t rely on the Prometheans too much.
So, that’s it! Just a few of the things I’d like to see 343 Industries do with Halo 6. The stakes are higher than ever for Master Chief and humanity, and I really hope they don’t screw it up. If you have any ideas of what you’d like to see, let me know.