Halo 4 comes out today, and is unsurprising one of the biggest releases of the year. The general consensus seems to be that the game is pretty damn great, even if it doesn’t do a lot to push the series forward. While Halo 4 may not be the most innovative game, the Halo series is one of the most influential series in the history of video games. Halo has contributed several key innovations to the industry, as well as some more subtle contributions. I think it’s safe to say that without the Halo series, first person shooters, especially on consoles, would simply not be what they today, whether that is a good thing or not is up to the individual. I am not here to judge the positives or negatives of Halo’s influence on the industry, I simply want to illustrate just how influential it has been.
10. Downloadable Content
While not the first example of downloadable content, the several map packs released for Halo 2 were one of the first examples of being able to add on to a console game. Sure, mods and updates had existed on PC games for years at that point, but being able to buy new content for a game, especially on a console, without having to go buy a boxed expansion pack was certainly a fairly new concept at the time, and it certainly paved the way for the DLC scene of today that started becoming popular when the 360 launched a year later.
9. Two Weapon Limit
Before Halo came out in 2001, the concept of a weapon limit was a pretty foreign one. It had been done before, but like many of the features on this list, it was popularized by Halo. The two weapon limit added a layer strategy to your weapon selection that wasn’t present in games like Doom and Quake where you could carry as many weapons as you wanted.
8. Theater Mode
Once again, demo recording had existed for years on the PC by the time Halo 3 implemented Theater Mode, but it was still an influential addition. This was one of the first times that demo recording was a feature built into the game with an in-game way to edit and share your videos. Without Theater Mode in Halo 3, you wouldn’t have seen similar features being implemented into Uncharted and Call of Duty.
7. Online Community
For as long as video games have been playable with others over the internet, there have been online communities. However, instead of the game and the community being two separate entities, Halo combined them. Halo 2 was one of the first games to provide players with a means of connecting within the frame work of the game itself. The game had the most in-depth friends list at the time, with fully integrated clan support and interesting connectivity between the game and the website. Players could connect with their in-game friends on the game’s website and easily manage clans and view their friends status. This may all sound basic by today’s standards, but at the time it was an amazing step forward.
6. Stat Tracking
Connecting nicely to the last topic, Halo 2′s website was also revolutionary in terms of stat tracking. Players could view their entire game history, complete with detailed statistics. If you were beaten badly by another player, you could go onto the website, look up the game, and then view that players game history and skill level. With subsequent releases in the series, they added crazy amounts of stat tracking like heat maps, detailed weapons stats ( accuracy, kills, headshots), and detailed accounts of your medals and game averages. Like most of the entries on this list, this type of stat tracking is pretty much expected today, but at the time it was truly amazing.