*Posted this a few weeks ago, and had the beginnings of some good discussion but kinda got overshadowed by the two-part special. Figured some people might like to join in and talk about the issues of differentiation within a crowded marketplace,etc
"343 Industries is learning the hard way, what happens when you abandon the identity of your game and the desires of your core fanbase to pursue the almighty 'Call of Duty audience'.
Halo Charts tracks the online populations of the multiplayer playlists. Unlike Microsoft's Xbox Live charts, simply playing Spartan Ops or the single-player while your Xbox is online doesn't count towards these numbers. While Major Nelson claims Halo 4 was the second most-played game on Xbox Live behind CoD last month, the real numbers show a different story:
Speaking as a long-time Halo fan, my interest in Halo 4 multiplayer is cratering. And it makes me sad. The core gameplay, buried somewhere beneath the stupid leveling system, the random ordinance drops, the lackluster map design, the [seeming] abandonment of skill-based matchmaking and the culling of multiplayer modes, is still beautifully elegant, competitive and satisfying.
But it has been dumbed down, or in better words, CoDified. I don't hate CoD as much as some. I certainly don't like it as much as Halo, but I see it's appeal. It is a blindingly fast, visceral game that rewards hand-eye coordination above all else and lets players tinker with loadouts to maximize their preferred playstyle. I really do get the appeal. The problem for Halo 4, is that now it's stuck in limbo between the two games - it's not fast or visceral enough to beat CoD at it's own game, and it's no longer pure, tactical or competitive enough to appeal to longstanding Halo fans.
343i could, in theory, stop the bleeding by putting in a host of 'classic' playlists that remove ordinance, spawn weapons on the map in traditional fashion, and limit what weapons you can put in a loadout. But I think the damage is done, and I question if they're too proud to admit the direction they took the multiplayer was the wrong one.
In a genre composed 99% of CoD copy-cats Halo had it's own multiplayer flavor. And now they've tossed it aside to be another copy-cat."