How to improve Halo 5: Guardians – Bring back health packs! – Transcript
G’day guys, Pyroteq here and I’m bringing you the first part of a series on improving Halo 5.
In this episode I’m going to discuss the health system, why the health system is so important and provide an in depth explanation on why the original Halo health system would benefit Halo 5.
Before I discuss the health system in Halo 5, I just want to give a quick history lesson for those that didn’t play PC shooters in the 90’s.
In 2001 Bungie released Halo and the FPS genre was changed forever.
Halo did many things differently that strayed away from the standards set on the PC first person shooters. One of the major changes was the way the health system worked.
Before Halo most first person shooters had no regenerating health. You had a health pool which would decrease every time you took damage and to avoid dying you had to find health packs and other power ups to replenish your health pool.
Besides your health you often had armour as well. Armour would generally absorb a percentage of the damage taken and to replenish your armour you’d have to find armour shards or similar power ups.
This system worked really well, however it wasn’t without its faults. One issue was that a player on 1% health often had no chance of completing the level if there was no health packs nearby. While it definitely made things very tense this type of challenge wasn’t for everyone.
Halo went about things completely differently.
In Halo you had a shield that absorbed all incoming damage until it was depleted before your health pool was decreased, in contrast to the armour in other games that only absorbed a percentage of the damage taken.
On top of this your shield would regenerate after a few seconds meaning even if you were on 1% health, it was still possible to complete a level as long as you played cautiously and let your shield recharge until you found the next health pack.
This was a great system. You still felt vulnerable when you had low health, however you didn’t feel completely helpless. Halo had the best of both worlds.
Unfortunately, this didn’t last.
With Halo 2 we saw the removal of the health bar and health packs. While health was still in the game, it was invisible to the player. The health would slowly regenerate in the background but this led to a lot of confusion and frustration when players would die to a single grenade with no way of knowing what their health percentage was.
It also had other negative effects that I will discuss in just a minute.
After Halo 2 we saw many first person shooters follow in Bungies footsteps and remove health packs from their games altogether. Bungie continued the trend with Halo 3 and shortly after Call of Duty Modern Warfare entered the scene with a similar system where players had no health displayed on the screen at all and instead relied on visual and audio cues when they were about to die such as heavy breathing and a bloody screen.
Halo Reach saw the return of health packs however your health would also regenerate in chunks of 33% meaning if you took only 15% damage once your shields were depleted your health would recharge back to full.
Now onto Halo 5.
In Halo 5 once again we have regenerating health. Regenerating health has always been an issue in the Halo series, however in Halo 5 these problems are exacerbated thanks to the new movement mechanics. If you get a player to 1% health they can simply sprint or thrust to cover and wait for their health to recharge.
This leads to a number of issues.
Firstly, players aren’t punished for their mistakes. If a player wanders out into the open like an idiot they should be punished for this mistake. Hiding behind a wall for a few seconds isn’t enough of a deterrent.
A proper health system rewards players for superior positioning and awareness because they’re less likely to take damage to their health. Players that are caught out of position should be disadvantaged for the next encounter.
Think of it this way. In close game if you put shots into a player that then hides behind a wall to recharge their health you have literally just wasted ammo even if you connected every shot.
You are actually being punished for shooting the player because you’re wasting your ammo which can be a precious resource in stale mate games when you can’t afford to move out of position to gather more.
An FPS should never discourage players from taking a shot at an opponent.
Secondly, regenerating health slows the game down.
Allowing a player to constantly recharge their health over and over every time they get into trouble slows the game down and encourages camping and stale mates. If a player continues to move into poor positions the opposing team isn’t being rewarded with a kill they deserve which drags the game on longer.
Health packs encourage weak players to find health packs which encourages map movement and improves the flow of the map. Teams can use the time the opponent is getting a health pack to break a setup or to ambush the weak player.
The biggest improvement though is definitely smaller games such as 1v1 and 2v2 where one on one encounters are more frequent.
In 1v1 health packs promote map movement and improves the meta game since weak players need to decide if they will risk a confrontation, move to the next map objective or find a health pack. The weak player is forced to make wise decisions while the player with the advantage can use the time to gain map control or to deny health packs from their opponent. This means both players are making interesting decisions – A concept called counter play.
This leads to a much smarter 1v1 game which Halo has been lacking since Halo 1.
I propose health packs and a classic health system should make a return to Halo 5 in normal arena game types. Regenerating health can keep its place in casual play lists and Warzone.
In the competitive community a lot of people dislike sprint and thrusters because it allows players to escape unfavourable confrontations too easily.
The great thing about a health system is that it automatically nerfs these abilities without the need to remove them from competitive play ,which is incredibly unlikely since 343 is setting the rules for the HCS.
A player that sprints behind cover when they’re almost dead will be at a disadvantage if you decide to chase them around the corner and challenge them, or they’ll be forced to find a health pack which means although you didn’t earn a kill you can use the advantage to get map control.
There’s so many interesting decisions that health packs can offer players and I really don’t see a good reason for its removal.
The Halo 5 health system currently makes little sense from a game design perspective. You already have regenerating shields so having regenerating health also just seems redundant. You might as well just put them in the same pool and then have head shots do double damage.
On a last note, I don’t think sprint and thrusters are so bad as long as players are punished for their mistakes. In a game like Quake 3 players move around the map at Mach 3 while shooting railguns at each other. A lot of confrontations aren’t won straight up, instead players will whittle down their opponents health until they finally land the killing shot.
This works thanks to the classic health system. Even though players can escape confrontations quite easily, they’re still being weakened every time they’re caught in a bad position.
If 343 is unwilling to implement health packs into the official play lists, I’d at least like to see the option available for Forge and custom games so I can make some good 1v1 game types.
So, what do you guys think?
Please leave me your feedback and comments below.
If you’d like to see health packs make a return hit that like button, subscribe and share this video.
I hope you enjoyed this video!