Thursday, August 9, 2012

Bandana's Blight

I remember the first time I used a Halo game's in-game mechanics against the missions in general.  It was Halo 3.  Mythic Difficulty (Legendary all skulls on, no deaths/saves, scoring activated).  The glitch involved standing far enough away from enemies so that they couldn't "see" you, but you could still see them.  From there, you could easily launch an overcharged plasma pistol shot to down a Brute's armor.  This tactic became a major staple in the first walkthrough I ever conjured... The Halo 3 Mythic Guide.

People rejoiced.  It was awesome to be able to beat the game on the hardest possible settings with a tactic they'd never seen before.

The next was the "hammer-jump" on the game's final mission which not only allowed the player to literally skip the first have of the level, but also granted them access to a Spartan Laser (the strongest weapon in the game) with infinite ammunition.  Praises were to be had, and the mission Halo was crowned the second easiest mission to complete on Legendary or Mythic.

When the 2.0 version rolled around a year later, less time was spent glitching, and more time was spent skipping major encounters.  Again, this was something that players had not witnessed before and were thrilled that they could shortcut missions using these new and improved tactics.  The same tactics were applied with Halo 3: ODST hit the shelves, and as a result, out popped another successful guide.

By the time Reach was released along with my first guide, THAT is when the community began receiving flak.  For the first time ever, people were actually complaining about the Mythic Community making the game too easy via skips and despawns.  Nightfall serves as a prime example.  When the Forklift glitch came to light, it was revealed that the player had the ability to skip the entire last third of the mission.  Some people viewed this as "cheap", but it didn't stop most from using it once the weekly LASO challenges hit the stands.  Like with the Halo 3 "ranged-shots", we were simply taking advantage of the game's mechanics to make the mission easier.

It was then that I started up my own channel and began releasing full-length narrated video guides on how to beat Halo 3, ODST, and Reach on both Legendary, LASO, and Mythic.  It wasn't uncommon to hear commentators wanting me to ditch the skips and go completely hard mode.  As time has gone on, the requests have only continued to get more insane, especially with the arrival of the Bandana Skull in Halo Anniversary--a skull that grants the player unlimited ammo.  So here I am to set the record straight; why I use the tactics I do, and why YOU--the viewer--should learn to appreciate them.

The main manner in which my videos stand out among others is that I do not do speed runs, playthroughs, or videos centered around entertainment value.  I tend to not factor in the commentary since that's just how my personality really is.  What are my videos?  Walkthroughs and guides; videos designed to offer the player the BEST methods for completing the mission successfully.  Think of it like picking up a strategy guide from your local game store with the main difference being that we've moved from text to video.  The purpose in the walkthrough is to help the player as much as possible rather than intentionally trying to make the mission more difficult for them.

This is where Bandana comes in to play.  It's not a skull I use in most missions, but there are some in which I can justify it.  Halo CE is a different monster from its later installments.  It wasn't meant to be done in one go, hence the checkpoint system with infinite lives.  It basically dictates to the player "you can screw up as much as you want, but in the end you'll still come out a winner".  Because of this mentality, the player is presented with many unreasonably hard challenges such as large numbers of rocket launcher wielding Flood combat forms in relatively tight quarters or having ammo-dump scenarios were enemies will spawn out of seemingly nowhere in the form of nearly a dozen waves forcing the player to either test their luck and try to run past them OR stay and fight until they have almost nothing to fight with.  Your safest option is usually the latter.  This is where Bandana does come in handy.  It gives you a fighting chance to win without being royally screwed for your next encounter.  On Legendary, this still isn't a Gawd tool.  It's still quite easy to die given that your enemies are far more powerful and you are far more squishy, but the skull allows you to balance the odds a bit more given the unfair advantages given to your enemies.

Can these missions be done without Bandana?  Of course!  But now the question is, if you have the tool available to you and your goal is to simply beat the mission, why are you going to forfit the tool?  Especially considering that it will never hinder you from getting any achievements or punish you in any other aspect.  This is once again where folks need to learn to separate videos that are constructed for the purpose of walkthroughs vs the intent of entertainment.  If I run through a mission and find a tactic that makes certain segments much easier, what kind of walkthrough writer would I be if I didn't share that tactic with the fans?  Not a very good one.

Does this defeat the "spirit of the challenge"?  Perhaps.  But then again, if you're looking to truly challenge yourself in the game, then perhaps what you SHOULDN'T be doing is watching videos on how others before you have conquered the mission.  If you're doing that, you're already jipping yourself out of a challenge without my help.  By the logic presented above, I should also go through Flood missions without using the shotgun or the pistol.  After all, given that these are by far the best weapons to use against the Flood, am I not taking something away from the challenge by using them?  Just like Bandana, they are an in-game mechanic, but UNLIKE the Forklift glitch in Nightfall or the Bridge Decent in Assault on the Control Room, this is a mechanic that the player is intended to use.

If you're looking for a challenge, there are plenty of ways to handicap yourself aside from using certain skulls and skipping certain segments of missions, but as a guide writer, if I'm not doing everything I can to make the mission easier for you, then in my opinion, I'm not doing my job.

Use my tactics, or don't use my tactics.  But at the end of the day, don't hate on the writer who's going out of his way to do his very best to help you out by telling you that the WALKTHROUGH that you're watching (which is clearly stated in the title) isn't make the game challenging enough for you.  Use your logic, and most of the time, you'll go further in life.

I plan on using lots of cool and interesting tactics in the upcoming Halo 4 guides.  My humble advice to all of you, my viewers and readers, is this.  If you're gunning for a challenge, save the guides for a rainy day and challenge YOURSELF by getting through the missions without any help.  But when you do get stuck, and many of you will, you know where to find the videos that will get you through to the end.  That is, after all, why they exist in the first place.