Debate of the Day: Is Halo Reach’s Armor Lock for Noobs or Pros?

Alright, this is something that’s been on my mind a lot recently, as I get further and further frustrated with Halo Reach, to the point where I’m tempted to go back to getting zergling rushed in Starcraft 2 just to get away from it.

The new armor abilities in Halo Reach are something I’ve never been a fan of. I miss the old item system with shield depleters and regen fields and such. But the fact is, 4 of the 5 armor abilities don’t change the game all THAT much. Sprint and Jetpacks just help you get places faster. Hologram is cool in concept, but rarely used effectively, and Cloaking is somewhat useful, but it’s radar scrambling for everyone around you is highly annoying, and not worth the tradeoff to me.

And then there’s armor lock.

Many will argue that armor lock is awesome, and it’s the best ability and they love it. And yes, it is the best ability. By far. So much so that it can render the game almost unplayable.

Here’s a list of the things you can do while in armor lock:

– Survive any amount of damage from standard weapons or grenades

– Save yourself from being splattered, sworded, meleed

Even hammered?

– Reflect rockets back at the shooter

– Explode anyone’s shield nearby when you release it

– If inside long enough, start regenerating lost shield.

And I’m told in the beta, it even healed your life bar if you were injured. Are you kidding?

Now, there are two sides to this. One side, which thinks that the careful use of armor locking and unlocking by skilled players is the key to any victory. The other, which thinks it’s noob-iest mechanism ever as any time you start getting hit, you just turtle.

“Durrr go get ’em guys. I’ll be right here.”

After careful study of both sides, I’m firmly in camp “it’s ruining the game” which is a combination of both sides. Starting with the noob argument, it’s tough to argue that an entire team using armor lock requires any sort of skill. When coordinated, all any given member of a team has to do any time they’re in trouble is to turtle, call for their team, who will then come and wipe out the people standing around like idiots waiting for the person to unlock. And if that team diverts their gaze to the reinforcements, the original guy unlocks and kills them as the other teammates armor lock. It truly is a no-win situation every time.

As for the “pro” use of armor lock that focuses more on 1v1 battles, I will admit it takes skill. The ability to hover in and out of armor lock to avoid grenades, butting, swords or even shotgun blasts does take a decent amount of timing and skill. But it also takes all the fun out of the game. Armor lock has completely changed the dynamic of Halo, as it is by FAR the best ability, so instead of actual combat, good players will spend 1v1 battles glitching in and out of armor lock, bending over and standing up like their doing some sort of tribal rain dance until one side slips up and dies. It’s just not fun, and it feels like you’re playing a completely different game than the series we’ve been used to for almost ten years now.

The idea that one ability is so much better than the others should be enough to nerf it or take it out of the game completely, but the counter argument of “well if it’s so good, why don’t you just use it” is annoying as well. I can use it, and I do sometimes, but I want to play HALO not ARMOR LOCK MADNESS and I’d like to play the game in the style I used to love, and not having to worry about the everyone on the screen being invincible every three seconds, myself included. I could give in, and play armor lock all the time, but then where would we be? This would be what games looked like if everyone adopted the “pro” skill:

I understand that many people have ridden armor lock to great success in the game, but the fact that you can’t “ride” any of the other abilities to similar results should suggest that the ability is way overpowered. The fact that so many people DO love armor lock, and the other abilities don’t have similar fan bases should suggest a severe lack of balance among the loadouts. I’m personally of the philosophy it should be completely eliminated, as I think any kind of pure invincibility has no place in games like this. A temporary overshield could be a good substitute, but any ability that has four people emptying clips, hucking grenades, swinging swords and shooting rockets at ONE person with absolutely no effect is far too overpowered to exist.

What are your thoughts on the armor lock issue?

Here’s a “best of” montage while you think it over: