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HCS Settings Discussion: Summer 2017

Disclaimer: This is an opinion piece that reflects the views of the author. 

The Halo community is constantly debating how the game should be played competitively. Radar, automatic weapons, all things that were never present in the competitive settings of previous games. The idea of “universal settings” has come forward in an attempt to unite the player-base into one community. However, this idea has only made both the competitive and casual communities more frustrated. Let’s take a look at what I believe can make Halo 5 a much more competitive and entertaining game, while also examining why universal settings doesn’t work.


Universal Settings

Halo, since its inception, has been one of few franchises that could include many different kinds of players. Communities focused on lore, map-making, and fun mini-games have all risen. Alongside these communities were the players who played at the highest level. Competitive players had their own playlist from Halo 2 to Halo: Reach. This allowed the community to design the playlist and settings to their hearts content, even if it was different from what a first day player might be interested in. In  Halo 2, this meant just changing the starting weapon and weapons on maps. In other games, it meant weapons changes, but also damage and movement speed alterations. All were done to make the game more competitive, and Bungie allowed our community to get our own playlist so we could do what we wanted without having to appease other communities.

Quinn DelHoyo, MP designer at 343. Courtesy of Quinn DelHoyo.


This is where 343 Industries has failed, leading to community divides only growing. Competitive players feel like the game appeases casual players with the inclusion of automatics and radar. Casual players feel like the game is too competitive-focused, or “sweaty” to just have fun on. Both sides feel like the other is being catered to and neither side is happy. Universal settings are great for games that are balanced around competitive play at their foundation; Halo, by satisfying so many different communities, is not one of these games.


Proposed Settings Changes

While given a whole new game to work with, I would push for the removal of functions such as sprinting, that is not feasible for a break between seasons. These suggestions are in no particular order.

  1. Team HCS Playlist: Competitive players need to have their own place to play how they feel they should. As said before, Universal Settings are a bad idea for Halo, and this community having their own playlist ensures that the experience of other communities remains intact.
  2. Pistol Starts: Automatic weapons objectively take less skill than precision weapons. However, no class of weapons should be entirely irrelevant. Unfortunately, they are currently too powerful to remain as starting weapons. Each player start with only pistols. Remove all Brute Plasma Rifles, Storm Rifles, and SMGs. Replace these weapons with Assault Rifles. However, there should not be more than 2-3 autos on the map, and each should behave similar to Tier 2 weapons. This way, they won’t re-spawn until the weapon is empty.
  3. 18m Ability Radar: The problem that many have with the current ability radar is that it makes autos even stronger. Paired with the previous suggestion, the ability-only radar makes sure players earn their information. It also discourages sprinting and charging.
  4. Removing Splinter Grenades: Splinter Grenades are inexcusable. Originally meant for zone control, they are rarely used for that. In conjunction with the radar, these grenades allow players to instantly level the playing field, if not outright killing their opposition. However, unlike Plasma Grenades, Splinters are easy to use.
  5. Removal of Grenade Hit-Markers: Grenade hit-markers function similarly to the radar. They give the player free information. This leads to more spamming of grenades and easy, mostly undeserved kills.
  6. Less Precision Rifles: Precision rifles in Halo 5 are excessively easy to use. They are hit-scan and have very fast kill times. This is fine, but the fact that so many exist on maps is what leads to them being too prevalent.



Professional players and fans alike detest the current settings. It makes the game far easier than it should be and generally does not feel like Halo should.

The current settings quite simply aren’t fun to play for many competitive players. This is the first game that I think has potential that I don’t bother playing. I love what this game could be, but I dislike what it currently is. With these few changes, this could truly be a great competitive game.

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