In my opinion, and with the utmost confidence, I can say that dual-wielding SMG’s in “Halo” is one of the most satisfying strategies of play in the entire series. Yes, it is more fun than using ground pound to single-fistedly bury your enemy six feet under in the course of a millisecond. Yes, it is more fun than Spartan-charging your way into an enemy base and knocking down your enemies with 1,000 pounds of Mjolnir armor. But then again, that’s just one gamer’s opinion.
That being said, I find the absence of dual-wielding in more recent “Halo” games to be most disturbing. For a number of reasons, I find the lack of the ability to make next to no sense, both in terms of lore and gameplay. The vast array of stories in the universe showcase at least a handful of regular humans, in addition to Spartans, having the capacity to fire two one-handed weapons at the same time. And when it comes to gameplay, I cannot help but raise an eyebrow when I think about a Spartan being able to use thruster packs and form instant craters with ground pound, and yet he cannot hold two SMG’s simultaneously.
Before I get into my reasons as to why dual-wielding needs to return to “Halo,” I should take the time to address the other side of the table with those who are happy to see dual-wielding gone. There are sound arguments for its removal, such as balancing issues, as well as its inherent ineffectiveness at any range besides up close and personal. No one wants to be the guy that was killed by Rambo from across the room with two rapid-fire weapons. However, I believe these two arguments as contradicting each other. I honestly feel that dual-wielding was balanced in the “Halo” games which featured it because of its limited range of use. For instance, no dual-wieldable weapons can use a scope when combined with a second weapon, which means snipers and long-range riflemen will pick them off quite easily. It encourages the player with two weapons to think more strategically in order to flank or ambush enemy players when they get close enough. There are even viable counters to dual weapons at close range, such as the Energy Sword, the Shotgun, or even a well-timed sticky grenade. One other argument I have heard against dual-wielding is that it became rather gimmicky and lost its relevance as a result. I can agree with the fact that dual-wielding became less popular because next to nothing was done to change or improve the experience, aside from taking away dual Needlers (hallelujah…). But I still think that dual-wielding can be made a balanced and fun addition to the next “Halo” game if done correctly.
I understand that Sprint in “Halo” is quite a touchy subject, but that’s a discussion for another day. I’m going to come right out and state that Spartans should be able to Sprint with dual-wieldable weapons. It only makes sense that super-soldiers can easily run with such light weaponry and for players to have a chance to close in on their enemies on the more open maps. There should still be balancing measures in place, such as preventing shields from recharging while sprinting and needing to wait a split-second to aim after Sprint. I know that a sizable population of fans is avidly against Sprint in general, but this will all come together in one final argument closer to the end of this.
I feel like developers will have a considerable amount of room to experiment with dual-wielding if it makes its return in future games. Remember when I said that dual-wielding prevented players from scoping? Well, what if there was a zoom benefit to firing one weapon at a time? Or allow the scope feature to remain if the player is wielding two identical weapons, like Magnums? This is admittedly little more than spit-balling ideas here, but bringing back dual-wielding exactly the way it was might not be enough to bring back its popularity from days past. Dual-wielding was rather limited and inflexible for a number of reasons. Melee combat, switching to the reserve weapon and entering vehicles would all force the player to drop their left-hand weapon, but what if the developers could alter a few of these restraints in order to give the player a bit more freedom with their choices? I personally think that holding two dual weapons in reserve would not be such a bad idea, and it would also be pretty cool if players could bring dual weapons into the passenger seats of vehicles like Warthogs and Mongooses.
I should also make a note about the multiplayer map design as well. Dual-wielding is one of the forms of “Halo” combat most hindered by unforgiving map designs. A more open map would obviously welcome more long-range combat and discourage players from bothering to dual-wield at all. The pool of maps in any “Halo” game should be plentiful and diverse enough to welcome every range of infantry combat, even if it means discouraging some strategies from time to time. But in a game that features dual-wielding, there has to be at least a good number of maps that encourage the feature in their design and layout. Midship and Ivory Tower from “Halo 2” are both very good examples to look into.
Finally, dual-wielding as a feature should include a great deal of configuration from the players themselves, as with virtually every other feature in a worthwhile “Halo” game. Players already have the power to create their own custom games and maps, controlling which weapons and vehicles spawn in the map as well as what weapons and grenades and how much ammo they spawn with. If dual-wielding is to ever return to “Halo,” I think a slew of specific creative options should come into custom games along with it. By default, game makers should be allowed to toggle dual-wield on and off, which would be a plus for the more competitive areas of “Halo,” like classic, MLG and tournament playlists. It would be great to see players decide which actions can and cannot be done while dual-wielding, such as melee combat, scope zoom, sprinting and entering vehicles. There could also be a “back-pack” option, something that can be turned on or off in the options menu that controls whether players can store both dual weapons in reserve when switching to another weapon. And here is where things could get crazy for custom games – allowing players to enable or disable dual-wielding for each weapon in the game. The community could potentially go nuts with the possibilities. Imagine a game mode where players start with dual rocket launchers and have extra jump height… It would be a chaotic, yet fun experience.
The biggest reasoning for wanting dual-wielding to come back is the idea of simply giving more options for “Halo” players. One of the signature features of the series has been to give players more and more creative control, which results in more game modes and more memories to share with friends. The number of dual-wieldable weapons was amazing, with SMG’s, Plasma Rifles, Spikers and Maulers. When I first heard that dual-wielding was getting cut from “Halo,” it was a sad day, because it took away something from the community’s control, which is the exact opposite of what “Halo” was known for. Nowadays, we have Forge, more expansive custom games and more REQ weapons than you could shake a Gravity Hammer at. Bringing back the SMG was a nice touch for “Halo 5,” but not bringing back dual-wielding almost took away the joy of playing with one of my favorite weapons once again. The SMG was practically made for “Halo’s” new dual-wielding feature. Hopefully, we will see the Chief holding and firing two SMG’s before the series is over.