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These two elites were right in the path of my rocket before a perfectly timed dual sidestep.


Bungie heralded Halo: Reach as the long awaited return of the fan favorite enemy, the Elite, to the series. This promise, however, was ruined for many by their unfortunate decision to redesign the Elite's AI to place far too much priority on evading your attacks. No other enemy makes fighting a chore like the Halo: Reach Elite. Their focus on evasion makes the entire game less satisfying for veterans and less approachable for newcomers to the series.


In the original Halo the Elites dodged the occasional grenade, but they had to see it coming and have ample time to get out of the way. They would avoid damage and take cover but they weren't focused on avoiding your shots as much as putting themselves in safe positions or fighting back.

The Elites in Reach sidestep and dodge out in the open as their first strategy. They frustrate attempts to shoot them rather then being cautious. Then when you fire an explosive weapon they avoid the attack with perfect timing.

Explosives are supposed to be game changers. A strong tool you save to overcome a difficult situation. Instead, the Elite is so focused on avoiding the danger that you are punished for using them at all.

Just fire at a high rank Elite with a needle rifle. Half of the shots will cause them to dive roll or activate armor lock. This is because if you somehow hit them with three shots after their shields go down they will explode, and the AI takes explosion threats as their top priority.

Never mind that the explosion hardly ever happens because you are going for headshots, which kill faster with the needle rifle. Never mind that the DMR is more deadly but doesn't provoke nearly as much dodging. The needle rifle is classified to them as an explosive weapon, so the AI dive rolls.

This sort of behavior feels unnatural. Their reactions have nothing to do with logical decision making. They are playing a predictable reaction, placing higher priority on making sure you don't hit them with an explosive then on their own survival. The needle rifle causing them to dodge so often actually locks the enemy into being unable to fight back because it is too busy avoiding you to do anything else.

The AI's evasion focus provides no positives for the player's enjoyment. The player missing an important shot with a high power weapon is a negative experience that discourages use of the most valuable weapons in the game, and constant evasion of small arms fire wastes the players ammo and time while providing little extra gameplay complexity.

Casual players are turned off by having their aim constantly toyed with and are unable to learn to kill the enemy reliably. Hardcore players, meanwhile, eventually get used to shooting the evasive enemy, and use it's predictability against it. They attack enemies from a distance where they are not a threat. Then when the enemy charges to put pressure on the player at close range they are too busying running directly at you to dodge and die easily.This gives the smart player a predictable enemy and the ability to create exploitable situations to win fights with less effort.

Bungie's attempt to make the Elite a more challenging foe for veteran players has only succeeded in making the game less satisfying. Less satisfying in hitting the enemy consistently with well aimed shots, and less satisfying in facing an intelligent foe.