So recently I went back and played the first 2 Gears of War games and I totally forgot how much they made me feel like Delta Squad was a family and how often they actually broke up the squad during missions which could have been interesting in Halo 5, or future Halo installments *wink wink nudge nudge*. I think they kind of did this at one point (if memory serves) while Blue team is on Genesis where you have the option to basically fly through the level or run which was a cool moment and they could have had more where the squad (Blue team or Osiris) would have to break up for a time. Part of the team has to scout ahead or a path gets blocked just as one or two members get through, but I think it could be interesting since I noticed some people felt like being with a squad all through Halo 5 was overbearing or that they just didn’t care. I mean hell you were never with every member of Noble team during Reach but you were still able to get to know them. Imagine being able to see how individual members of each squad interact one on one!
From a level design perspective, it would allow players to utilize the secondary pathways that have already been carved out in the levels, and being separated from your team would change the atmosphere. Could you imagine during the Argent Moon mission if Master Chief remained separated from the rest of Blue team after encountering the hunters? You would have to move through those narrow corridors alone while they stalk you, and there could be a close encounter where you have to get away from the hunters and sprint down the hallway not knowing where to go (Maybe dead end or two and hunters crash through wall/crates?), subtly highlighting the fact that Chief no longer has Cortana to guide him (kinda Halo 3 esq since he didn’t have her there either…or you know anyone?). Then when the level opens up and you have your final confrontation with the hunters who have been chasing you all this time. Blue team rejoins Chief showing that they’ve got his back. It wouldn’t be a huge dramatic moment but it would be a change of pace that teaches the player that they are safer or stronger with their team than alone. (It would have to make sure that the player is not totally powerless, I mean they are the Chief after all). It would add a faster-paced section to this level and would feed off of Argent Moon’s atmosphere very well.
But also from a story point of view, we could see how characters interact with each other. The parts of Halo 5 I enjoyed most were when we would get ambient dialogue (aside from Fred being called Fredric by his family and everyone ignoring the fact that Osiris is going after Blue team, not just Chief). It would be interesting to see how characters act when paired together. For example, what kind of conversations would Vale have with Locke when its just between them? Would she question their mission? Or maybe she would ask Locke about the Arbiter and gain his perspective on Chief and Arbiters relationship (Locke being all like I don’t know if chief knows that arbiter glassed reach maybe don’t mention that ~le~). Maybe Locke and Tanka are more comfortable with each other, she might be more apt to share her opinions on their mission with him rather than the whole group. It would be cool to have these characters confide and/or question either Master Chief or Locke when they’re alone with them. Imagine Kelly comforting Chief when Linda and Fred have been sent to high ground, it would be in a small way, but seeing that kind of interaction between spartan legends would be great! Don’t get me wrong I’m happy we got anything at all, but it would be amazing to see how these characters react when you get separated or when they are alone with you. Even in co-op that would be cool, Buck and Tanka have gone off and you get to see how they tease each other. I’m totally biased but that would be incentive enough for me to play co-op more often even without local split screen plus it would give these characters a chance to shine; which is not easy when there are 8 main characters +/- a gold-plated alien.
These are all things that would require a lot of work of course and I thank the Devs for the work they’ve done, I just hope 343 considers breaking up teams for seconds of missions (still would have coms) because I think it is worthwhile to get players to see the “importance” of their team if they continue to move forward with squad-based combat. I know that whenever Gears or pretty much any Bioware game took away squad members from me temporarily I felt essentially naked, and having the ambient dialogue could go a long way to having people learn to care about these characters. 343 please let these characters shine, let them have moments.
Maybe one day I’ll make a proper post that dives into squad-based combat and storytelling.