Friday, May 18, 2012

Halo Anniversary Mythic Difficulty: Rhyme & Reason

Hey guys!  Your friendly neighborhood Tyrant here :)  

Last week I began publishing my video guide for Halo Anniversary Mythic Difficulty on, starting with the "Pillar of Autumn".  As many of you know, the skull pallet of Halo Anniversary is quite different than the one presented to us in Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST, and Halo Reach.  To give you a quick comparison:

Standard Mythic  Skulls

1) Iron: Eliminates checkpoints.  If you die, you restart the mission.  Arguably the "heart" of Mythic.
2) Mythic: Doubles enemy health.
3) Tilt: Enemy shields become nearly invulnerable to human ballistics.
4) Black Eye: Your shields no longer automatically recharge.  You must bash an enemy to regain them.
5) Catch: Enemies throw grenades much more often.
6) Tough Luck: Enemies are more likely to dodge your attacks.
7) Thunderstorm: Ranks of enemies increase by one level.
8) Fog: Use of your radar becomes unavailable.
9) Famine: Ammo you retrieve from downed forces is half of what it is normally.
10) Cowbell: Explosion radius is increased.
11) Grunt Birthday Party: Nailing a Grunt headshot rewards you with confetti and children cheering.
12) IWHBYD: Characters say rare expressions more often.
13) Blind: Removes your HUD, arms, and weapon from the screen entirely.

While it is widely believed that Blind should at LEAST enable you the ability to see your arms and weapon and simply remove the HUD to make aiming a bit tougher, the above pallet makes the game both challenging and balanced.

Anniversary, however, introduced a new set of skulls.  Many contradicting others, and some redundant to others.  Here's a list.

Anniversary Mythic Skulls

1) Iron: Eliminates checkpoints.  If you die, you restart the mission.
2) Mythic: Doubles enemy health.
3) Black Eye: Bash an enemy to regain shields or grab a health pack.
4) Fog: Use of your radar becomes unavailable.
5) Famine: Ammo you retrieve from downed forces is half of what it is normally.
6) Grunt Birthday Party: Nailing a Grunt headshot rewards you with confetti and children cheering.
7) Boom: Explosion radius is increased. ("Catch" equivalent)
8) Grunt Funeral: Grunts explode like plasma grenades upon death.
9) Eye Patch: Auto-aim is removed.
10) Malfunction: Each time you die, a different part of your HUD becomes unavailable.
11) Bandanna: Grants the player infinite ammunition.
12) Pinata: Bashing an enemies causes them to drop grenades.
13) Recession: Each shot you fire counts TWO slots.
14) Foreign: Player is unable to use Covenant weapons.

These new skulls certainly make Anniversary Mythic quite a different experience from the previous installments.  Some even argue that it becomes significantly easier with Beneficial Skulls such as Bandanna, a skull which delivers absolutely no disadvantage to the player other thann losing the ability to learn to conserve ammo.

That being the case, it has often been asked if me to redefine Mythic for the sake of Anniversary and use only "detrimental skulls", thereby eliminating skulls such as Bandanna from the equation entirely without counterbalancing with others.  I'm here to explain why it cannot be done without hacks or cheats in that manner.

In "Standard Mythic" you use the Famine skull which takes away roughly half your ammo.  In Anniversary, they add Recession to the mix.  At this point, you now lose ammo at 4x the normal rate.  To add to this further, the worst offender of all is Foreign which effectively eliminates half your arsenal, some of which is needed to help deal with enemy shielding.  

4x the ammo loss.  Half the arsenal.  Take a moment to think about it.

Now lets factor in Mythic and Eye Patch, skulls that make your enemies tougher and harder to hit.  You're now on average spending more rounds each time you down a foe.  Add this to 4x ammo loss and only half your arsenal.  Keeping in mind, of course, that in many missions, your human ammo "drops" become fewer and far between.  Quite simply put, there isn't enough ammo in these missions to kill all Covenant.  Also realize that in missions like Truth & Reconciliation you are REQUIRED to kill x number of waves of enemies in order to proceed.  It isn't an option (unlike the battles you can skip in the other Halo games).  It's mandatory.

Once you run out of ammo--and in most missions you will--melee is your only option.  You already can't melee Grunts due to Grunt Funeral, and trying to engage multiple Elites at a time in melee combat, especially with skulls like Black Eye (keeping you from having full shields), and Mythic (increasing their health), it isn't possible ALL the time, and in fact, is rare that you'll be able to pull it off.  However, with no ammunition, melee becomes your only option.  At that point, you may as well quit.  Even the best in-game sharp-shooters won't be able to make their ammo last on most missions under these conditions.

At this point, Bandanna becomes a necessary evil unless you switch off Foreign and at least one ammo reduction skull.  At this point, the difficulty mode becomes confusing.  You've now gone to Legendary all skulls to Legendary and choice skulls.  Some will argue that Mythic should be the hardest possible setting in the game.  I agree.  However, it's clear that the absolute hardest setting in the game isn't doable, so once again it becomes a gray area. 

So in the end, to keep it simple, I left it at Legendary all skulls on.  No, it isn't the same as before.  It does make the game interesting and adds a new spin to Mythic.  And believe it or not, even with infinite grenades, it requires quite a bit of planning and strategy NOT to die.  That goes double for when Boom and Grunt Funeral are active.  Hopefully down the road for future Halo games, this will be a bit more fine tweaked, but for now at least, I'm sticking with the current definition of Mythic Difficulty.

Mythic Difficulty: Legendary, all skulls activated, no deaths/saves, and scoring (where applicable).