5 GAMES THAT NEED TO BE MADE - HALO
(This new article series “Games that need to be made” is where I pitch 5 games that need to be made in a particular franchise, company, genre etc... If you enjoy and want more of these lists let me know in the comments on social media! Tell us which of these 5 was your favorite, and what franchise or theme you want to see next!)
For the third installment in my new article series "5 Games that need to be made" where I pitch 5 games that I want to be made; I selected one of my favorite game universe, the one that got me into gaming in the first place, the Halo universe. I have been in love with the universe, characters, locations, weapons, and all of it since I was a kid playing way back on the OG Xbox. While we already have 5 main games, several spin offs, and a new one on the way, there is plenty of room for more.
One thing that astounds me sometimes about absolutely massive IP’s is sometimes the people that own them fail to realize just how big it is and don’t give it the support the IP’s deserves. For example, I think of Disney granting EA exclusivity to Star Wars for almost a decade, and EA barely doing anything with it. Star Wars is massive, big enough to support at least one if not more Star Wars games each year by different developers.
Halo is another massive gaming IP that I think even Xbox underestimates just how important it is to their brand. Xbox and Halo go together in gamer perception hand in hand. Halo is to Xbox as Mario is to Nintendo. They are inseparable, and niether would be where they are without that franchise. I know I am far from the only one who have been Xbox loyalists for 20 years largely because of Halo.
I played countless hours of Halo 1&2. I stood as a small child at the store before a pallet of PS3’s and Xbox 360’s with the choice to get one. Knowing nothing other than the Xbox 360 could play Halo 3 was why I chose it. Likewise years later my adult self purchased the less popular Xbox One over the PS4 that all my friends got again for Halo 4&5.
I love Halo. Xbox should realize just how important Halo is to their brand. Yet, why they seem content to let Halo be used so infrequently is beyond me. They seem content to let 343 be the sole studio behind such a massive brand; despite rotating leadership trouble, despite 343 showing clear signs of difficulty getting out a game.
At “holiday 2020” Halo Infinite was already poised to be the longest gap between mainline Halo games, and that was before it recieved a massive one year delay into 2021. Worse yet, the game has seen countless development struggles. Halo 5 was disappointing to fans. We haven’t even gotten a spinoff in years. It is clear 343 is struggling to develop one Halo game, and the amazing Halo universe is something that should be given more support. Thanks to Xbox emptying out their wallets, they now own a massive growing list of talented studios. These studios keep pumping out disappointing IP like State of Decay 2, The Medium, Grounded, etc...
I think Xbox made a mistake in not moving resources around, not moving heaven and earth to get Infinite finished on time for launch of Xbox Series X. I think Xbox is making a bigger mistake by not taking Halo away from (exclusively) 343 so that we could get another Halo game before we make it to Mars.
Before i get to my 5 games, I wanted to say that for 5 games in the Halo universe to even be feasible in the first place, Xbox needs to realize how important Halo is and start putting their army of studios on other Halo projects. Nintendo gets how important Mario is to their success which is why we get 9000 mario games a year, and I’m not saying that level of excess is what Xbox needs, but they need to learn from Nintendo. It is possible to under use valuable assets and that’s what I think they are doing with Halo.
So that all being said, here are 5 games that need to be made set in the Halo universe, and I will even suggest who Xbox should have work on it.
5. Halo Armada
Platform: Xbox Series X | S, PC, Mobile
Price: $59.99, Included in Xbox Game Pass
Possible Developers: inXile Entertainment or Creative Assembly
Halo is a universe with absolutely massive and amazing ships. We see fantastic capital ships, large scale orbital engagements, and fleets devastating planet surfaces. For a universe with such expansive space ship lore and design, I find it absolutely shocking we don't have an Armada genre game. We have two Halo Wars that focus on ground combat, and 5 main line games that while often visit space still focus on the ground. I want a space focused fleet command game. I want to control fleets of UNSC or Covenant ships in massive battles. This would have a single player campaign, with the option for a multiplayer component. Players would over see a "battlefield" in space where they issue orders and commands to fleets of ships set in the Halo universe.
This genre is popular and works perfectly for the halo universe. It could have unique elements like FTL jumps, AI assets, and more. One of the things that are popular in the Halo universe is Orbital Defense stations, that could be used to aid players in planetary defenses. There could be a galaxy map where you have to control territories, such as defending Reach, Earth, and various Halo Installations. If defenses are breached, you might need to plan ahead during engagements to have ODST and other planetary fallback to depend on holding the planet when all ships are destroyed. This could mirror a similar space / ground system that was in Star Wars Empire at War. Bringing space combat into this could easily just be an idea for Halo Wars 3, but I want space to be the focus with the ground optional.
The power of next-gen could lend well to this be a genre bending game. Instead of it just being a top town strategy game, the game could be in such a way that at any time during a battle, players could take direct control of any ship in your fleet from a third person perspective. Imagine being able to fly a small fighter in a massive space battle, or even directly pilot the massive UNSC Infinity. This could be a massive hybrid of a game that shifts between very fleet strategy focused vs direct combat and flight focused depending on how the player takes it.
4. Halo Conflicts
Platform: Xbox One, Xbox Series X | S, PC
Price: Free to Play or $39.99 Included in Xbox Game Pass
Possible Developers: inXile Entertainment or Creative Assembly
How is Halo Conflicts different from a pitch for Halo Wars 3? Well Halo Wars is entirely top down, and contains a campaign. Halo Conflicts is a "First/Third Person Tower Defense". Borrowing my idea for the hybrid Top Down / First & Third Person mode from Halo Armada and applying it to the ground, one player controls an army or an individual unit. Players either control Covenant or UNSC, (with room for Promethan & Flood factions to be added). Players have access to points and resources they use to deploy troops and vehicles. Each player starts off with a base, with a massive field separating them from the other player. You have time to build your base's defenses. You can deploy tanks, aircraft, turrets, traps, troops (low level grunts all the way elite and even hero units), and whatever you can think of. Players have a set time to build a defense, and wait for the coming onslaught. In single player there could be waves, or even an endless mode of units attacking your base. In multiplayer, you could be forced to advance and meet in a neutral middle field, with a flag in each base to win.
This isn't a simple mobile game either. While this may be a top down strategy game, at any time players can use points to take over characters and control the battlefield from the ground. From that perspective, the game looks like traditional first person Halo. You can drive tanks and fly vehicles. As the covenant you can even play as Hunters.
How well you do will ultimately still depend on strategy, instead of shooting skill. You never have to control individual units. How well you spend your resources to build your defense is the difference between lost and victory. This massive battlefield pits teams of dozens or even hundreds of units in battle to defend a base or advance to capture the enemy base. Imagine if blood gulch was made today with modern technology, and a massive army.
I pitched this as a free to play game, as the Halo Universe would lend itself well to a cosmetic battle pass. In single player you could be given power ups and perks to call in to save you. In multiplayer, you could have cosmetics for your army. Do you want pink hunters? You got pink hunters. However, monetization would have to be executed perfectly, and I would be happy with a premium price / game pass instead.
3. Halo: Grand Assault (1000 player cloud based grand warfare)
Platform: Xbox Cloud Gaming
Price: Free to Play, Included in Xbox Game Pass
Possible Developer: ID Software, New Dedicated Cloud Gaming Studio?
In 2021, cloud gaming is in it’s infancy, far from the gaming standard of the future it wants to be. For the services that exist, it requires phenomenal internet that often just isn’t as available. The biggest barrier right now to cloud gaming is the cost of consoles that can out perform cloud services. Why use a service to stream a game to you when an xbox or ps4 can be had for less than 300$? The ability of the cloud to stream those console quality games to your game is one advantage, but until xbox’s cloud hits iphone this is also still a huge barrier.
Google Stadia is failing hard due to bad business model and over promised technology. Amazon’s cloud service is probably going to fail as hard as their first 5 games failed because Amazon doesn’t know anything about games. I predict the future of cloud gaming, the “Netflix of games” title will be held by Xbox. They are taking it most seriously; they are most importantly taking their time to perfect it, and best yet they have a great business model behind it thanks to Game Pass. Despite all their set up for success, Cloud gaming won’t really take off until we see games that are “only” possible in the cloud. We need cloud exclusive games. I don’t think we will see cloud exclusive games for a few years when Xbox Cloud Gaming is more widely adopted and has enough player base. It’s a bit of a long term gamble that is a bit of a chicken or the egg problem. Building a cloud exclusive game means you need enough players, but cloud gaming needs exclusives in order to take off.
It’s a bit of a similar problem VR has. The best VR games need to be made specifically for VR, not multiplatform. But VR is such a smaller market, its a business gamble to make VR exclusive games. The same would be for cloud exclusive games. Microsoft has an advantage though. They could make a cloud exclusive game, but thanks to their establish platforms it would have huge platform reach. The game might require the cloud, but it could be streamed to Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Android, iOS, and PC. Having such platform reach would make a cloud only game be as competitive as any other always online game.
That is a long bit of context to my pitch for what I want Xbox to make next, what I tentatively Halo: Grand Assault.
It is a free to play, always online, cloud exclusive game that is so technologically impressive, it needs the cloud to function. It also sports player counts never seem before, never possible before. It delivers on failed undelivered promised made by Google Stadia for 1000 player games.
Halo Grand Assault is a massive, 1000 player match game where players are boots on the ground in the most massive battlefields ever created in gaming. These maps drawf those of the popular online games now, and instead of 60-100 players, over a thousand players populate this battlefield at once. We get to see war truly simulated with two massive 500 player armies face each other.
Imagine dozens of tanks, hundreds of foot soldiers, all advancing forward to meet the other army in a open field. Halo Grand Assault gives us the type of army vs army battles we only get to see in top down RTS games today. But instead of one player controlling a massive army from far away, each soldier and vehicle is a player.
The best part of this, is not just the scale of these battles, but how a cloud exclusive game would be 100% hack proof as the game never is downloaded to a player; and the game would be perfectly cross playform and cross progression. It wouldn’t matter if you played on your phone or high end PC.
Xbox can lead the charge with deliering the biggest, most grandest shooter ever created. Halo Grand Assault is on all platforms, free to play, and I would propose this be a 2023-2026 title due to it’s massive size, scope, technological requirements. With Halo Infinite being proposed to be a Destiny style ongoing game with expansions and longevity, it could be marketed as a “Call of Duty Warzone”-Style stand alone expansion for Halo Infinite. I selected ID Software because they have experienced in ultra-polished shooters with the reboot DOOM series, as well as impressive experience in optimization. They Doom built in such a way that it runs well on Nintendo Switch and in this case Google Stadia. They know how to make a quality AAA game run in unusual conditions, which I think will lend well to this unique and first first cloud only title.
2. Rein of Cortana
Platform: Xbox Series X | S, PC
Price: $59.99, Included in Xbox Game Pass
Possible Developer: Ninja Theory
Rein of Cortana is definitely the most out there and least likely for 343 and Microsoft to even think of, let alone make. I have selected Ninja Theory for this because they have the closest parallel with HellBlade. They have the experience with a mentally ill protagonist, a female protagonist dealing with grief, and the darker third person action I picture. Despite its barely nonzero chance of being made, it is one of my personal favorite pitches I’ve made yet, because I know it could be absolutely awesome.
Rein of Cortana would be a first for the franchise as it is a third person action adventure game. Halo dominated and helped build the popularity of the first person shooter genre, however some may not know but originally, way back Halo was originally a third person perspective before becoming the game we know today.
Rein of Cortana is not your typical Halo game. It takes place at the farthest point in the Halo timeline yet, shortly after Master Chief eventually dies. He may be a super soldier, he may even have Captain America level aging, I don’t know but he is still mortal. He will eventually die.
While Halo Infinite is still far away and we know so little of its story, Halo 5 (despite its flaws) did manage to do something impressive. It kept a secret. The fact that Locke wasn’t the real villian, it was in fact Cortana didn't leaked ahead of time, and it sure surprised me. Halo 5 asks the question, what if Cortana wasn’t an ally. They have her starting to go crazy and evil in as early as 4 and full blown cookoo for coco puffs in 5. I will admit I don’t know 343’s long term plans for Cortana with Infinite. They may have her die, be redeemed, grow worse. She may once again be a villain in Infinite. I will say that the "evil AI villain" trope is a little cliche; so what if she was the protagonist? Putting Halo Infinite aside for a moment, I have a pitch for a game that I think could be absolutely fascinating.
I’m picturing a few decades, or even could be a hundred years, after the events of the halo games so far, Master Chief is dead. He could have died from old age. The game begins with his funeral. It’s a massive event with everyone there. Cortana is there, having the one and only person she really cared about now taken from her. We get some exposition. In the decades that have past the covenant and UNSC are now allies. There is widespread peace. We see just how far peace and unification have evolved with Covenant and UNSC ships flying in formation together. We see Human and Covenant troops interacting. We get a technological exposition that explains why cortana is still alive (AI in Halo don’t live forever). She is the first in now immortal/long lived AI. More importantly, it is clear whatever her problems in 4 and 5 are the distant past. She is calm, civil, and on the side of good. We also see how technology has evolved to her being more than a hologram. While she looks the way we know her, she now has a semi-physical form. Her blue holographical form can now walk around and interact with objects. Moreso, she is one of the last people alive who knew Chief personally. For everyone else, a Legend has passed, but for her it was her friend, someone she loved.
It is a bright and sunny future, marred by the death of a galactic hero. After the opening, the game jumps to a few years later. To say the tone changes way dark is an understatement. That same fleet of unified ships we saw before, now in ruin. The same planet we saw before, now burnt and destroyed.
The story takes place with a now evil, mourning, Cortana ruling over her own faction of machines. She has oppressed her will on the galaxy in a war against mankind and the covenant alliance. There could be a story element where she blames humans for MC's death. There could be a story element where she is somehow trying to resurrect him with some ancient artifact.
Watching WandaVision these past few weeks has really inspired me with the story of a powerful unstoppable heroine grieving the loss of a great love in her life. Cortana is super powerful, and she has long since crossed the line, into the moral grey, making herself this ruler of a powerful machine faction.
The gameplay would be a third person action adventure, because Cortana in this form doesn't need guns, but she does have offensive abilities. We see her fight for the first time and she is an unstoppable force that causes UNSC and Covenant troops flee in fear. There are several story points that see her dealing with the grey that would come from a malevolent AI overlord oppressing her rule on planets and enslaving populations.
She might even feel justified in her oppression. The story might be tapping into Forerunner technology that she plans to use to digitalize the mortal races much like the Prometheans.
I just love the idea of playing as an unshackled, unchecked, rogue AI that now over sees a faction of ships, planets, and machine soldiers. It could be a fascinating, dark, and mature story that sees the player redeem her in the end or fail and have the galaxy be destroyed in the end. Don't tell me you don't like the idea of playing on the side of Skynet for once in your gaming career.
1. Halo ODST 2
Platform: PC, Xbox Series X | S
Price: $39.99, Included in Xbox Game Pass
Possible Developers: ID Software, Rare, Obsidian
Out of all the games I pitched, and I want to play them all, but the one I want most is Halo: ODST 2. While I think Halo 2 is the technical “best” in the franchise and holds a special nostalgia filled place in my heart, and Halo 4 had the best visuals, my third favorite goes to the perhaps controversial and unusal pick of Halo 3’s spinoff/stand alone expansion, ODST. While I think Rein of Cortana is my best and most unique idea, I placed ODST 2 at number 1 because it actually has a chance of being made.
ODST, or “orbital drop shock trooper” to this day is one of my fondest early gaming memories. I just remember loving how different it was. ODST is not like regular HALO. In Halo, you always played an unstoppable superhuman. You were fast and badass. In ODST you get to play as a more “normal soldier”. The game introduced a sense of dread where you were stranded alone, behind enemy lines, and it would take effort to survive. The game introduce a new need cor stealth, and for the first time silenced weapons. The entire feeling just feels different. The best part is how the game feels like it all takes place in a single night, as you sneak around to recover what happened to you lost team. It introduces us to a new protagonist, Rookie, who manages to distinguish himself from Master Chief despite being silent and faceless.
I absolutely loved this experience, and one I hope to see remastered along with main Halo 3. But more than a remaster, I want ODST 2! I’m not entirely certain what I want the story to be. I’m not sure if it should take place after the events of the first one, with the same characters, or if I just want a similar, slower, stealthier, more grounded experience. Where Halo Infinite will give us a fast, high octane, experience with Chief grappling foes across the map, I want ODST to give us another slow stealth experience at night, alone in an enemy occupied city. I do want Rookie back, that I know for sure.
Like the first game, it would be a shorter, more story focused experience. It could be built off the same engine and assets as Infinite, perhaps as an expansion. It would also be a sub-60 price tag. While ODST isn’t the most loved in the franchise, it is special to me and I know it has a faithful following. I know that there are enough of other gamers like me who would love to have another game like this.