Halo: The Master Chief Collection will easily go down as one of the most disastrous and disappointing game launches of all time. It held so much promise, and the final product was too full of bugs and glitches for fans to be able to enjoy it. However, after months of updates and patches. the game is finally “fixed”. At least, somewhat. I won’t say that every problem has been solved, but it’s in a playable state for most gamers, and people are starting to finally get a taste of the fun that could have been had back in November. So, with that said, what’s next? What do we do now that the name has been tainted and the community has largely abandoned the game. I’ll run down my thoughts as far as what 343 Industries needs to do to keep improving Halo: The Master Chief Collection, and where they should go from here.
Make it Right
This is an easy one as 343 has already taken some big steps to make things right with the people who bought Halo: The Master Chief Collection. Fans who suffered through the tumultuous launch will be receiving a free copy of ODST and a new multiplayer map for Halo 2: Anniversary. One important thing to note though, these need to be working perfectly when they’re released. ODST can’t have any Achievement bugs, and the new map had better be well balanced. If not then these gifts will only remind players of why they are receiving them in the first place.
Beyond this though, 343 can go further to making things right with their fans. Right now ODST will only include the campaign, cutting out the fan-favorite Firefight mode. If this was added in as a surprise then it would go a long way at bringing back the community’s love for the series. Another obvious, though likely much more difficult addition, would be to bring Halo: Reach to the collection. Master Chief appeared right there near the end, so it’s not totally going against the theme. It wouldn’t even have to be free, perhaps just a discount for those that played Halo: The Master Chief Collection some time in 2014.
Frankly, despite all of the work that has been put into Halo: The Master Chief Collection the playlists are just not up to par at the moment. Each game has its separate playlist, but there are few options for those that don’t want Big Team Battle or Team Slayer. 343 recently added Team Ball (an assortment of Oddball gametypes), but why not simply add in a Team Objective playlist? CTF, KotH, and Assault offer some of the best moments in Halo history, and yet, to get them, players have to wade through match after match of Team Slayer.
I get that testing these out takes time, which is exactly why previous Halo games featured a Grab Bag or Action Sack playlist, something that sorely needs to return. This would feature untested and experimental gametypes, such as Ninja Assault, and the now famous Grifball. Many players didn’t yearn for the return of this series so they could play through Team Slayer BR’s on Lockout over and over again, though that was amazingly fun the first dozen or so times. The voting system allows casual players to dictate the sessions for those that simply want to try something new. Throwing in some new playlists will really help fix this. Of course, to do that there needs to be a large enough community, which brings me to my next point.
Grow the Community
Unfortunately Microsoft has stopped providing Xbox Live activity stats for their games, but it is obvious that Halo: The Master Chief Collection has suffered due to its many failings. Without proper stats it is impossible to say for sure, but it definitely seems like a large portion of the community has left the game behind. There is also the question of how many people didn’t buy the game due to the problems. All of this adds up to an online population that isn’t high enough to sustain the large number of playlists that Halo games usually offer.
To fix this, and simply to get people talking about the game again, 343 and Microsoft will have to get players back into the game. The recent bundle, offering an Xbox One and Halo: The Master Chief Collection for $349 was a fantastic move. More needs to be done though, as 343 needs to put a focus on bringing back the players who might have abandoned Halo: The Master Chief Collection. The new remade map will help, but there are so many more options. Daily and weekly challenges always go a long way at keeping players engaged in a game. They would need to also add in some incentive, such as unlockable cosmetic items, but it would certainly be a great addition for the community.
This one is tough, because once you lose a customer it is even harder to get them to come back. Thankfully the Halo name still holds a lot of clout, so pretty much anything will help in some small way. Do some free weekends where players don’t need Xbox Live Gold to play. Throw some community events where players who log in over the weekend will get a chance at some prizes. Honestly, just engage with the community in some way and they should respond.
I know I said that for the purposes of this article we would assume that Halo: The Master Chief Collection was pretty much fully operational, but there is still a lot that can be improved. Players still get kicked all the way to the playlist selection screen when completing a game, many playlists still don’t have a ranking system, the netcode for some of the older titles could really be updated, and it couldn’t hurt to bump up the number of dedicated servers as matches that use them are much better than peer-hosted games. Also, adding in the long and often requested Custom Game browser would make a ton of fans happy. These aren’t the colossal, game-ending issues that plagued the game upon release, but they still need to be addressed.
Along with these more basic needs, 343 could put some focus on additions and upgrades that simply make for a better game. They’ve already shown that they can add new maps and even entire campaigns with ODST and Relic. They could keep this going all the way up to the release of Halo 5: Guardians. This would keep the community interested in the franchise, all while delivering on the promise of the ultimate Halo package in Halo: The Master Chief Collection.
Make Halo 5 Amazing
Easy to say, hard to do. The Halo name has taken a beating thanks to Halo: The Master Chief Collection, but that can be reversed. The recent multiplayer beta definitely seemed like a good indicator that Halo 5: Guardians was on the right track, but it really needs to follow through if the series is to have any chance at redemption. The single player campaign needs to be engaging, and the multiplayer needs to feel like Halo while delivering some new elements to shake up the formula. Most of all though, it needs to function properly. If the launch of Halo 5: Guardians is anything like Halo: The Master Chief Collection then the franchise is in serious danger of following so many previous shooters into obsolescence.
I know this is asking a lot of a company that has already had to put in months of additional work beyond their original plan. However, Halo: The Master Chief Collection literally sold many people on the Xbox One. Its announcement has went down in history as one of the greatest in E3 history, but the actual launch has tainted that fantastic memory. The Halo series as a whole is more important than almost anything that Microsoft owns at this point, in terms of gaming at least. They need to preserve it at all costs, and right now it is in danger. Doing even a few of these things will definitely help redeem the series and once again place it among the best that gaming has to offer.