The joy of melee

Watching the Halo Infinite reveal in the recent Xbox Showcase reminded me about the groundbreaking elements of the original Halo and how it transformed the console FPS genre. That moment of wonder when you escape The Pillar of Autumn in a dropship and set foot onto an alien world, when you look up at the awe-inspiring Halo ring towering above you and marvel, most of all, at the freedom of that open space. Freedom is the true essence of Halo.

That means lots of freedom in how you tackle encounters. Different weapons, grenades, and that legendary two-gun slot pushed you to be truly experimental. And you ended up with favourites. My preferred mode of attack was the Halo staple of melee. It felt truly thrilling, as the enemy behaviour made you feel connected to them and the Halo universe. Each new weapon had different melee animations, so I was addicted to collecting them all like Pokémon. The first time I chased a screaming Grunt and hit B, when Master Chief flipped the M6D Pistol in the air and smashed the grip onto the noggin of a Grunt? That had me hooked. Ever since that moment I made it my mission to melee Grunts with every single gun I acquired in the game. Creating my own narrative regarding the combative relationship between Master Chief and the Covenant, I decided he felt sympathetic towards Grunts and tried his best not to shoot them.

By him I mean me, of course. Grunts are one of the greatest enemies in the Halo universe because they were designed to be funny: they had personalities and vocalisations that draw you towards them. I just couldn’t bear to shoot them, so I tried my best to melee them or throw sticky plasma grenades at them. Grunts saying “Noooooo oh oh” and running away was priceless.

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