A Love Letter to Halo 3: ODST’s Firefight Mode

The Firefight mode in Halo 3: ODST is easily the best in the series. It's also a fantastic cooperative experience for those that want to play with friends and not feel intimidated by going against skilled players. However, Firefight mode isn't just a breeze walk in the park because it can put you on the edge of your seat!

A Love Letter to Halo 3: ODST's Firefight Mode

Halo 3: ODST was a surprisingly excellent expansion to Halo 3 back in 2009. I remembered I wasn’t sure what to expect from this add on from the marketing Bungie did back in the days, but it turned out to be one of my favorite Halo experiences.

It was so cool to experience Halo in a city environment. It also had a different approach at story telling which made the campaign felt like it had its own personality compared to the Master Chief’s campaigns.

I remembered the days when the expansion was fairly controversial for its full price setting since the campaign was shorter than the base game, but I always thought it was better and more re-playable.

Another reason why I adore this game was its survival mode, Firefight. This was easily the coolest and newest addition to the series.

The Comeback of Survival Modes

Gears of War 2 definitely popularized cooperative survival back in 2008 with its Horde mode, and this was Halo’s answer to it.

I’ve always thought Firefight was brilliant, and I absolutely believed Bungie nailed down what it’s like to have an intense and engaging survival experience in Halo.

The fact that Bungie took advantage of the game’s skull system to spice up the AI behavior and overall challenge to the game was more interesting than Gears of War’s increased health, accuracy and damage modifiers.

One of the best looking wallpaper of a video game!

One of the best looking wallpaper of a video game!

On one wave, the Grunts might not seem much of a threat because they don’t have the Catch skull on, so they’re not spamming Plasma Grenades at you. But when they do, you will immediately want to kill them as soon as possible.

Also, the Halo games have always been well designed in terms of the enemy’s role and what they do to challenge the player. Firefight felt simply like a celebration of how fun and satisfying it was to fight the Covenant in Halo 3 except it’s all about the combat and I was having so much fun with it.

The maps were all reused from various sections from the campaign, but Bungie chose the right areas to make it work in a survival environment. They all feel different, and I personally think there isn’t a single bad map that I never have any interest in playing. All of them are fun, and some of them are more vehicular-driven, but most of these maps are targeted to the core first-person shooter gameplay you expect from a series like this.

Halo 3 ODST Firefight Trailer HD (ViDoc)

No Online Matchmaking Woes…

Despite the mode not having matchmaking support at the time because Bungie wanted players to have a more “intimate” experience by playing with friends through online and LAN play, it missed its fullest potential. I didn’t understand why Bungie didn’t add online matchmaking to a mode that was easily a fantastic addition to the series. It definitely felt disappointing after experiencing Gears of War 2’s Horde mode which players could play with other players with ease.

Ever since Firefight was so successful in ODST, Bungie decided to bring it back in its final Halo title, Halo: Reach. The great thing about Firefight in Halo: Reach was they finally added online matchmaking to fulfill the fans’ requests.

It was also cool to see Reach had a decent amount of customization of the kind of enemies you can throw at the player. You can also modify their stats too.

As fun it was to play Reach’s Firefight, it just didn’t feel as engaging as ODST. It really felt dumbed down from its originator.

Halo: Reach added a system where you can infinitely respawn ammo from certain weapons like the DMR which is easily your best multi-purpose weapon. What that means is the player just simply needs to keep their DMR and switch their secondary for whatever weapon they desire. This was an issue because it completely removed any sort of strategic element from the mode. In ODST, there was really no such thing as a perfect weapon for every situation. Your SMG will be amazing against Drones, but it’s not great at decent-sized pack of Brutes. Your Rocket Launcher will be the solution to that problem, but it isn’t going to be great against Drones or Engineers.

Things are getting hairy!

Things are getting hairy!

The list just goes on and on and it makes ODST Firefight feel so fun to play because you have to constantly improvise every time you’re in the moment.

Halo 5: Guardians eventually had a Firefight update to its experimental multiplayer component titled Warzone. It was basically Halo’s attempt at trying to create a larger scaled multiplayer experience. I wasn’t too keen on it because I just wasn’t a big fan of its monetization system behind it, but it was fun to see how Halo 5 created a very bombastic Firefight experience with it. It was also nice to play a Firefight mode that encouraged vehicle gameplay which Firefight does feature some of it in both ODST and Reach, but not to the same extent like Halo 5 does.

But nothing ever felt as satisfying as ODST’s Firefight. It was truly the definitive Firefight mode, but I was always disappointed that it never had online matchmaking which it truly deserved.

The Master Chief Collection Effect

Sometimes, dreams do come true, and that’s what happened with Halo 3: ODST from the Master Chief Collection. The game would eventually be updated to support Firefight online matchmaking.

Halo 3: ODST Firefight Teaser | Halo: The Master Chief Collection

I couldn’t believe I would live to see the day where I can finally play my favorite Firefight experience over a public match experience. I definitely had to be patient, but it was truly worth it, and I remembered I had an amazing time when it was in its inception. The young me would be able to rest assuredly since I have finally experienced ODST firefight in a public online experience.

However, that moment did not prepare me for the unexpected Flood Firefight variant for ODST. This was a really cool twist to ODST’s traditional Firefight mode against the Covenant. It should also be noted that Halo fans have not encountered the Flood since Halo 3 which the game was released back in 2007. That means the Flood hasn’t had a proper comeback when it comes to the shooter games, but in 2022 it makes a return.

Flood Firefight was cool for allowing the fans to fight against the Flood again, and is certainly an easier variant compared to the Covenant version, but it does add more life to the mode. The Flood in Halo 3 always seemed like they were less threatening than they were in Halo 1 & 2 due to being more vulnerable. However, things can get spicy when you swarmed by a decent amount of them and you weren’t expecting it.

A very stylish and fitting wallpaper of Flood Firefight.

A very stylish and fitting wallpaper of Flood Firefight.

Some Last Words…

I’m not sure if down the line there will be additional maps like how Halo 3 did have new multiplayer maps which wasn’t included back in the Xbox 360 era. But that would definitely be another dream-worthy thing to have because I still play ODST’s Firefight mode when I’m in the mood for cooperative shooter content.

It would also be interesting to play on a map that wasn’t a reused asset from the campaign. Ever since ODST has gotten so much quality of life additions to its Firefight mode, I rarely see any reason to play the Firefight from the other games.

The Firefight mode in ODST is simply pure perfection of what a wave-based survival mode should feel like in a first-person shooter. It should be challenging, fun, engaging, and at the same time, keep you wanting more the moment you finish a match.

If you want to accumulate massive amount of kills, take advantage of the Warthog's gunner seat.

If you want to accumulate massive amount of kills, take advantage of the Warthog’s gunner seat.

The mode is both fun to play solo and cooperatively, but it’s best to play it with other players without a doubt.

This was my love letter to Halo 3: ODST’s Firefight mode, and if you’re into a robust cooperative experience, look no further.

1 Comment

  1. Great article! I love hearing about how much people love Halo – and why.


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