The Halo series is “fundamentally different” to other shooters because of the way it responds to the player, says former Bungie dev – but it’s not “magical dynamic difficulty” that gives the game’s combat its unique feel.
The Halo franchise has received many plaudits for the quality of its enemy AI in the singleplayer campaigns, and former Bungie dev Jaime Griesemer believes that it is the game’s refusal to dumb that down that gives them their unique “flavor” amongst modern shooters.
“I think the reason Halo feels different is because of how it is tuned,” says Griesemer. “Most games have a single difficulty, or you know, maybe they have multiple difficulty levels, but at any one time you are only playing on one difficulty. And the AI does a set amount of damage and each encounter has a certain challenge, and you either are good enough to beat it or not, and if not maybe you learn or get lucky the next time and get through it.”
“Halo is fundamentally different in that it lets the player set the pace.”
He continued: “It doesn’t do any magical dynamic difficulty; it doesn’t make itself easier if you suck. But just naturally, how it is tuned, it waits to see what you will do, how hard you will push, and then it pushes back at just the right resistance. If you play carefully and pick guys off, you can work your way through a big encounter without too much risk, but if you charge in, guns blazing, it will push back really hard and probably kill you.”
It is in that responsiveness to the player’s actions that Halo differs from its competitors, Griesemer told Joystiq: “if your shields go down and you run for cover, it backs off and lets you catch your breath. In most games, if you hide behind cover the AI comes around the corner and roots you out, but the enemies in Halo won’t usually do that.”
He concludes: “I think that give and take, that dance that the game is doing with the player, is what gives Halo its flavor.”
You’ll be able to put that legendary AI to the test when the Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary HD remake lands on November the 15th, with Halo 4 kicking off a whole new trilogy in late 2012.
Keep up to date with all the latest Halo news here on BeefJack.